Many of my customers are always asking for my thoughts on the future of information technology. They always ask me what is coming in the next twenty years. Forecasting technology twenty years ahead is nearly impossible. The last 100 years of scientific and technological development has been mostly based in the field of physics. Harnessing the electron as a medium for calculation ushered in the current digital age. As we approach the very finite size limits imposed by the circumference of the electron, a new technical revolution will emerge. With all the money being spent on health, it's obvious that the next major technological revolution will be based on biology.
I foresee substanital advances in harnessing biological processes in technology. For example, I foresee the printing of organs for transplant into patients. This capability is currently in it's infancy but will continue to expand in the coming years. Expect to see full organ manufacturing within 20 years. Also, I see the merger of biological systems with nanotechnology, such as bioengineered single cell organisms to function as nanoscale devices. Since we have reached many of natures limits, we will begin to harness nature to overcome those limits.
Even though the major advances will be in bioengineers, physics advances will continue and we will probably see the first true quantum computer in 15 years. Current quantum computers are not true quantum calculators. Prepare for significant changes in security authentication systems (RSA and such) to meet the demands of unparalleled codebreaking capabilities.
Look for a massive leap in broadband technology within the next 5-10 years. Based on current efforts to open up television broadcast whitespace for wireless broadband functions, eventually the FCC will get on the ball and open up massive investments in a national wireless cloud.
As such, computing will continue to become more of a utility. The next generation of computers will likely be simple internet appliances that connect users to services and applications in the cloud. The era of localized computing with applications and data stored locally is rapidly coming to a close. The future PC will simply be a dumb terminal capable of connecting either via wired or wireless internet connections and will probable cost less than US$200. Incidentally, these devices already exist, all I am predicting is near ubiquitous penetration. And no, I am not talking about internet enabled cell phones, though those will also continue to be popular after they come down in price.
Let me know what you think! Do you agree with my predictions? Am I too conservative? Too off the wall?