April 28, 2003

Kevin Werbach on the Next Layer of Innovation

Kevin Werbach peers across the web at O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies conference, and finds that it confirms three of his basic beliefs about the world today. The era in which integrated circuits were the cutting and most exciting edge has long passed (but technological progress in integrated circuits has not slowed down: it has provided the foundation along which everything else was built). The era in which personal computers were the cutting and most exciting edge has long passed (but technological progress, et cetera...). The era in which the internet was the cutting and most exciting edge has long passed (but technological progress, et cetera...). And now--well, according to Kevin we don't yet have a word for where the cutting and most exciting edge is. But it is definitely there:

  • Contrary to popular belief, innovation hasn't stopped. There are exceptionally exciting technologies and companies out there. Some are solving new problems, while others have new approaches for big old problems that haven't gone away. Why did we ever think the NASDAQ index was a proxy for the health of the technology industry?
  • The exciting innovations are inter-related, in ways we don't yet have words for. Social software, Weblogs, rich Internet applications, Web services, unlicensed wireless, grid computing, digital identity, broadband media. We keep seeing more connections pop up everywhere. I believe decentralization is the most useful prism with which to understand these developments, but it's not the only one.
  • We're experiencing a generational shift. "Yesterday" now means the emergence of the Web, not the PC industry. It's time for a new crop of innovators, leaders, and conferences. Of course, some of those who grew up in the prior era will make the transition and offer their valuable experience. But the reference points have changed.

Posted by DeLong at April 28, 2003 09:25 PM | TrackBack

Comments

"The exciting innovations are inter-related, in ways we don't yet have words for. Social software, Weblogs, rich Internet applications, Web services, unlicensed wireless, grid computing, digital identity, broadband media"

Weblogs and grid computing??? It sounds like he's still looking for incremental improvements in the last big things(computing/internet/wireless) instead of looking for the next big thing. Right now we're in between big things, but something mind blowing tends to come along every ten years or so. In the past it has been things like airplanes, space exploration, telephone, television, microwaves, & vaccines. I think personal computing/internet/wireless have had such a huge impact on our daily routines that it is easy to forget that technology means other things too. Of course these things will be made more convenient, it's just that so much of the revolution has happened already that even video enabled mobile phones won't be such big news.

The next 2 or 3 decades will bring widespread adoption of things like LED lightbulbs, solar power, and cars which drive themselves and don't use petroleum. Hopefully they will also bring major medical discoveries as well. Of course no development is certain, but these technologies all have their own "Moore's law" of progress and they are viewed as impractical until the right functionality is achieved at the right price.


Posted by: snsterling on April 29, 2003 05:27 AM

I am hoping the following will be in my lifetime, and these should all be revolutionary - each one more than anything before it:
1. Better than Human level Artificial intelligence

2. Nanotechnology universal builder

3. Fusion-based safe powerplants

4. Advanced DNA-based technologies

All of these, I think, depend upon some massive increases in the capability and logic in computers. Any one of these would probably change the world more than anything before it.

Posted by: theCoach on April 30, 2003 06:55 AM
Post a comment