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I guess the problem of forecasting the future of computers lies in what we define as a computer. My cellphone now can do more than the first "computer" I've ever owned in my life, yet I don't call it a computer.
The standard definition of a computer is as follows.
1)A device that computes, especially a programmable electronic machine that performs high-speed mathematical or logical operations or that assembles, stores, correlates, or otherwise processes information.
2)One who computes.
The point im trying to make is that even though the definition of a computer covers an array of objects, we tend to only think about our personal desktops/laptops as our computers. Computers will have to go through and are going through an evolution as we speak to keep up with our need for more computational horsepower, some will even argue that laptops are a thing of the past as more and more companies jump into the netbook business. This need for computing on the go is the biggest driving force behind the iphone and other emerging portables in the on the go computing trend. A computer in your pocket is nothing new of course, and this need to do more and more computing on shorter time intervals is what will drive the next paradigm shift.
The next computer revolution will not come in cellphones netbooks or even internet tablets as apple is about to introduce. NO the next true internet revolution will be about the computer you never even see, the computer so small and so powerful that only you know when your online and when your not. There's many ways this revolution may come about some internal some external, voice interface, eye interface, or even brain interface all aid in hiding the computer of the future. The point here is that the mouse and keyboard days are numbered, the large screen may stick around for a little longer based on how comfortable it may be to see the screen overlaid on your vision or in your mind. Faster instant access will be the new digital drug of the cyberpunk junkies.
Augmented virtual cyber reality will be a part of our everyday lives. Our lives would be split into many, as we lead several avatar based lives in our heads. All under the careful watch of the eye a eye that is.
There's one more version of computer development I will like to explore before closing this article and sending it out into cycberspace. I believe that once computational cost have been driven down to near dirt, a new explosion in computers will occur on this planet as we literally put computer chips into everything imaginable. Microchips on plants to monitor levels of photosynthesis, a microchip on you clothes to power leds, and so forth. I hope you get the point everything around us will have some form of silicon in it, the internet will shift over to not just an internet of computers but an internet of things. This is a trend that will only grow and grow till we have digitized the planet, a type of pollution that is not yet seen as one.
The final stage of computer evolution!
While the final stage of what computer evolution will look like can not be known to us now, as the really sophisticated computers will not be designed by us, but by computers smarter than us. At this point we must ask our selves when does technology turn into a cancer? Why would computers ever stop growing in complexity or computational strength, as we speak computers are being used to decode and recode our dna, to turn us into more effective computers to carry future computer entities, before long this process will be done without the aid of humans and computers will slowly turn everything into computers.
All of life on this planet started out as a computer becoming more and more intelligent. An intelligence on the verge of hitting critical mass and setting out to venture into the deepest parts of the universe. The only problem about this computer revolution is that where not computers. If the future consist of the universe turning into a giant computer even if that's a billion or even a trillion years from now, then I would sleep tight knowing all biological life would eventually end.
Even if this is a natural evolution of intelligence in the universe, and all intelligent life eventually turns into computers, does that mean we should all welcome it. Our sun will one day die and while many will see this as a religious event and welcome it, some of us will find a way to escape this planet and continue living on another world. This to me is the same with the singularity and the evolution of computers, its been fun and thank you for the fish ;)
All kidding aside it's only natural that some of us will find a way to escape the singularity no matter how wonderful it may seem. Those that go through the singularity will experience what they came to experience and those that don't will experience what they came to experience, neither would be richer than the other in the eyes of the all. The real tragedy would lie if all of us turned into computers, or if all the matter in the universe turned into antimatter.
Remaining human will and should not be seen as not achieving your full potential or should it be compared to living as the amish no, remaining human will serve a more cosmic purpose. Humans will bring balance to the intellectual forces behind the singularity. Just like the entire universe should not be turned into computronium not all the humans should go through the singularity.
There will be a cosmic purpose for the humans as well, the humans will be protectors of biological life through out the universe. Giving all life the same chance we had to grow and come into our own, to master and most importantly balance our intelligence, with love, compassion, and wisdom.