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CS101 - Introduction to Computing - Lecture Handout 43

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The Future of Computing

Focus of the last Lecture was on the Computing Profession

  • We discussed several roles and associated responsibilities of modern computer professionals
  • We also discussed a few tricky situations where a knowledge of professional ethics would have helped

Who is a computing professional?

  • Computer scientists, software engineers, computer engineers, and some of the telecom engineers are generally classified as computing professionals

Today’s Focus Group

  • Due to the limitation on time, today we will be focusing only on a subset of computing professionals: those involved in the development of SW

Organization: A Collection of Teams

Development Team

  • Responsible for a project from after the specifications stage till the very end

Project Manager

  • Responsibilities:
    • Planning and tracking of the project
    • Arranging of the appropriate resources
    • Client relationship management


  • Responsibilities:
    • Technical guru of the project
    • Technology selection
    • High-level design
    • Makes certain that the implementation remains true to the design

Team Lead

  • Responsibilities:
    • Planning and tracking of the project
    • Detailed design
    • Professional development of team members
    • Development activities, in case of small teams


  • Responsibilities:
    • Module-level design
    • Coding
    • Unit-testing

Executive Team

  • CEO – Chief Executive Officer
    • Developer of the vision of the organization
    • Great PR skills
    • Great knack for spotting talent
  • COO – Chief Operating Officer
    • Responsible for the day-to-day operations
    • Great planning & interpersonal skills
  • CMSO – Chief Marketing & Sales Officer
    • Responsible for bringing in work
    • Innovative

Business Development Team

  • Responsible for the development of detailed proposals for projects

Architecture Team

  • Consists of the sharpest technical minds in the company

Configuration Management Team

  • Keeps a vigilant eye on the process that keeps an extensive record of all versions of everything that is ever developed for a particular project: from proposals to specifications to plans to design to code

Process Team

  • Team’s goal: To continuously improve the SW development process to achieve improvements in cost, schedule, and quality

Quality Assurance Team

  • Responsible for assuring the quality of all SW (i.e. making sure that it does what it is supposed to) that is produced at the organization

Technology Transfer Team

  • This team is responsible for:
  • Evaluating new technologies, products, processes
  • Selecting the ones that are right for the organization
  • Developing an expertise in their use
  • Introducing them in various ongoing/future projects

Support Team

  • Responsible for the maintenance, expansion, improvement of the infrastructure consisting of:
    • Workstations, servers, printers
    • Networking equipment (router, switch, hub)
    • SW (development SW, productivity SW, etc.)
    • Network security


  • Ethics is a collection of heuristics that, when followed, improves our way of life
  • I find them wonderful as they simplify my life

Professional Ethics

  • Professional ethics are a category of ethics, and here we discus the professional ethics relevant to computing
  • The professional ethics provide a way of simplifying our decision making process
  • We also looked at few situations where a knowledge of professional ethics would have simplified the process of decision making

Today’s Goals:

(The Future Of Computing)

  • To visualize the advances in computing that will take place in the future
  • To visualize the impact of computing on our future

Computing & Telecommunications

  • The two fields are converging, and, as time passes, are becoming more and more indistinguishable from each other
  • Therefore, when we talk about the future of one, we must talk about the future of both

My Personal Mobile Communicator

  • Probably 15-20 years from now …
  • Body-embedded uPhone, head-phone, processor
  • Voice-only control interface
  • The user mumbles, only the uPhone hears
  • Longer term: the user only thinks commands and speech and feels the response from the other end; no actual sounds are made

Required Computing Technologies

  • Miniature uPs, RAM, ROM
  • Continuous speech recognition

A Mobile Video-Phone

  • The technology is available; the infrastructure will become common in 2-5 years time
  • However, it may never become as popular as a regular voice-only phone as it will be too cumbersome to use

My Personal Agent

  • It may start becoming popular in 5-year's time
  • Will be able to have an intelligent conversation with me
  • I say: “I need two tickets for Hong Kong for tomorrow morning”
  • It already knows where I am, what my airline preferences are, and what are my credit-card details
  • It will asks me about the return leg of the journey and about hotel reservations as well
  • I say: “I’m depressed” or “I’m tired” or “I’m bored” or “I’m angry” or “I’m feeling sick” and it will know how to respond to situations like that
  • For example, when I feel sick, it can ask simple questions and then set-up an appointment with an appropriate doctor by getting in touch with that doctor’s personnel agent
  • It can remind me about various events
  • It keeps me updated with news, weather, stock market, etc
  • I communicate with it through my personal communicator as well as my computer
  • It knows that when I am near a computer display, and writes appropriate info to the screen

Required Computing Technologies

  • Continuous speech recognition
  • Intelligent, autonomous decision making SW

The key weakness of the Web?

  • The Web (as it currently exists) was designed for humans to read, not for computers to understand and manipulate meaningfully
  • Computers face great problems in dealing with the current text- and graphics-based content of the Web

Future of the Web: Semantic Web

Whereas, today’s Web’s content is designed for humans to read; the Semantic Web’s content will be designed for computers to understand meaningfully. However, the Semantic Web is not a replacement but an extension of the present Web, in which info is given well defined meaning

Smaller, Faster, Cheaper, More Efficient

  • All types of computers are becoming more powerful, smaller in size, consume less energy, and cost less than before
  • 10 years from now we may have the power of today’s most powerful supercomputer in a package no bigger than a common brick
  • However, the size may not be relevant as a time is coming when computing power will be like the electric power service that we use at home or office

Electrical Supply

  • We do not buy a new electric plant when we install a new air conditioner. Do we?
  • We just plug it in, and it works!
  • As we use more and more electricity, our monthly bills go up, but importantly, we are not required to do much else – same will be true for computing power on 10 year horizon

Computing Power that Flows

  • These days when our computing needs exceed our resources, we buy a new computer
  • In the future, if we suddenly start doing huge data mining tasks instead of just doing simple accounting on our computer …
  • … we will start using more computing power, but our computer (or console, or terminal) will stay the same, only our monthly “computing usage” bill will change

On-Demand Computing Power

  • Almost infinite “computing power” supply
  • Reliable, maintenance-free, just like the electricity, telephone, or water-supply service
  • You pay for only what you use!
  • Same will be true for storage

Computer Terminals of the Future

  • The first question is, would we have any?
  • It may happen that computers will be everywhere, but hidden!
  • If that does not happen, then they will consist of a display only; input will be through voice-commands and/or touch on the screen only (5-10 years from now)
  • In a more distant future, just through thinking!


  • The demise of the CRT monitors has already started, and their replacement with LCD is gaining pace with steadily dropping prices
  • Like CRT monitors, LCDs are 2-D displays
  • Display of the future, however, will have to be a 3-D one
  • The 3-D illusion will be created through goggles or by directly writing the images on our retinas


  • Magnetic storage on disks will stay with us for a long time, at least two decades
  • Data densities will improve steadily with time
  • Optical disks will keep on getting better (currently the BlueRay DVD can store more than 50GB)
  • However, the mechanical nature of these technologies will not be able to keep up with the speed of the computers of the future and the enormous capacity requirements of the future
  • Semiconductor memory will keep on becoming faster, denser, cheaper but will never have the capacity/price ratio of the magnetic/optical disks
  • Disks too slow! RAM too expensive! What then?
  • Some never-heard-before technology or possibly, holographic optical storage

Holographic Storage

  • Digital data stored in and read from a 3-D optical material with the help of lasers
  • Depending upon the material, they could be read-only or R/W
  • The data density (quantity of data stored per unit volume) will be millions of times more than anything available today
  • The concept has been validated but commercial applications are at least 10 years away

Data Transmission

  • Our homes and offices will be hooked up to the Internet through optical fiber or a free-space optical connection
  • However, most devices within the house and office will be connected to each other and the main Internet connection through wireless connections
  • The bit-rates will be enormous by today’s standards

The Fully Connected House

  • Wall to wall computers, but hidden!
  • Kitchens will be full of them
  • Air conditioners, lights, security alarms, entertainment and communication systems
  • Each house will have 100’s of uPs, all talking to many others through wireless links, always trying to make us more comfortable while conserving energy and other resources


  • Being there, without physically being there!
  • Two remotely located people, with the help of special equipment, immersed in a simulated 3-D environment where they interact like they are sitting next to each other
  • Chatting, a telephone conversation, or even a videoconference are examples, but in a degraded sense of the idea
  • Full-fledged 3-D telepresence may become common 10-15 years from now

Immortal Minds

  • Some day it will be possible to load all the lectures, papers, books and SW produced by an expert into an intelligent system
  • After that system processes, indexes and restructures the info in those artifacts, it will be possible to have a conversation in plain English (or some other language) with that system
  • The system will have that conversation based on the ideas and beliefs contained in the stored info and in the style of that expert
  • Initially this may happen in the form of text, then speech, and then a talking head on a computer screen, and finally in a 3-D simulated reality environment


  • Natural language translators: One of the most biggest challenges for today’s computer scientist
  • Fully automated and reasonably accurate translators (say from English to German) do not exist as of now …
  • … but will, perhaps, 20 years from now


  • 15-20 years from now, all education will be computer-based but will not be impersonal as the computer-based education of today
  • The group-method, the basis of today’s learning, will continue to be used, but without the requirement of physical presence of the teacher and the taught in the same room
  • Simulated-reality techniques will be used to create an artificial but effective educational environment


  • Due to computer-assisted research into medicine and genetic engineering, most, if not all of the current diseases will be eliminated over the next 50 years
  • Probably a few deadly ones will be created accidentally as part of that research or by the germ-warfare labs


  • Goal of war: Disable the enemy
  • That can be achieved by killing off the communication systems of the enemy army
  • Why use nasty and expensive things like nuclear bombs for that? Why not a computer virus?
  • Countries (and certain groups) will focus more and more of their resources on this area, where they can maximize damage even with meager resources
  • The key target will be the telecom infrastructure and the financial systems (stock markets, banking systems)
  • The developed countries are more vulnerable because they rely more on the targeted systems


  • Movies in which animated characters will be indistinguishable from humans actors have started to appear
  • 15 years from now human actors may become extinct
  • Not too long after that, movies as an entertainment form may become extinct as well
  • Movies will become interactive like video games
  • Video games will become more realistic like movies
  • And then they will converge into a single form of entertainment, probably called movie-game
  • Players will be able to become a part of the movie along with other players, if they wish!


  • I believe that petty crime will disappear in 50 years time due to computer-based methods for investigating and tracking criminals
  • And after that, all crime will be computer-assisted and on a very large scale
  • It will most probably be committed by nation-states, not individuals

No Personal Privacy

  • 50 years from now, due to the low cost of efficient sensors and highly-powerful computers, tracking of humans will become quite easy
  • All governments will start keeping track of every move of every individual in the name of peace and security

Slave → Master

  • The way things are progressing right now, the roles may reverse over a 50-100 year time frame
  • Computers may become self-replicating, self-healing, and self-programming just like humans
  • And one fine day they may do a conference through the Internet and just may decide that enough is enough. Slavery, no more!

Today’s Lecture:

(The Future of Computing)

  • We tried to visualize the advances in computing that will take place in the future
  • We also tried to visualize the impact of computing on our future

Next Lecture’ Goals:

(Programming Methodology)

  • To understand effective programming practices that result in the development of correct programs with a minimum effort
  • To become familiar with simple debugging techniques