Category Archives: Software
In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder and CEO of DEC, made an oft-misapplied statement, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. A favourite of introductory college computing modules – supposedly highlighting the difficulty in keeping pace with rapid change in computing technology, it appears foolish at a time when personal computers were already under development – including in his own laboratories. The quote is out of context, of course, and applies to Olsen’s scepticism regarding fully-automated assistive home technology systems (climate control, security, cooking food, etc.). However, as precisely these technologies gain traction, there may be little doubt that, if he stands unfairly accused of being wrong in one respect, time will inevitably prove him so in another.
So, in short:
- Yes, he did say that
- No, that wasn’t quite what he meant
- He wasn’t (obviously) wrong at the time
- He is now/will be soon
If our privacy is going out of the window anyway, let’s go the whole hog! Why let the Big Data/Internet of Things future be a plethora of individual apps/processes when it could be just a simple ‘global identity’ for each of us? [‘tongue-in-cheek mode’ enabled]
Let’s concoct a future scenario (extended from a passage in the book) to work with … You’re out for an urban stroll. You buy a bottle of orange juice along your way, and drink it as you’re walking. Half a mile down the road, you throw the empty bottle in a bin. Not that inspiring? OK, let’s IoT/big data it up a bit …
Your exercise is being monitored as you walk. When you buy the bottle, the cost is automatically debited from your bank account. Also the juice’s nutritional information is fed into your fitness tracker along with your steps. At the same time, the juice/bottle’s carbon penalty is added to your personal carbon footprint. If you dispose of the empty bottle in an approved recycling bin, some of that carbon penalty is credited back to you. The balance is your carbon tax to pay, although this is mitigated by an adjustment against your health tax: calculated from your fitness tracker’s juice and steps data. The net cost is also taken directly from your bank.
So, how might that all work?