The Visionaries: IT Leaders Make Predictions about the Future


Q: Will computers be more or less secure in 2028 than they are today?

A: Computers will be just as insecure, but computing will be more secure. Right now our major problem is that computer security is brittle; when it breaks, it breaks completely. As computing becomes embedded and invisible, it will become more resilient. Different systems will work in tandem, providing defense in depth. Cyberspace is no different than the real world: The individual pieces may be insecure, but the collection of pieces we call society hums along just fine.

Q: If you were to take a stab at labeling the technology eras of the future, out to the year 2028, what would you call them?

A: Ten year: the embedded era. I think we’ve moving from computers to small embedded computing devices. Fifteen year: the invisible era. Eventually computing devices will become invisible, just as they are today in cars. Twenty year: the intelligent era. Invisible devices communicating with each other will mimic intelligence. The world around us will become "smart."

Q: What transformative technologies will be coming down the pike in the next 25 years, and when do you think those will happen?

A: Pattern recognition is the key to so many activities. It’ll be able to find things we’re interested in, identify people as they’re walking down the street, and detect interesting events before they’re perceptible to us. It’s not AI [artificial intelligence], but it’ll be the closest thing to intelligence we’re likely to see for a while. As to when, I have no idea. Substantive changes require jumps in thinking, which are hard to predict.

Q: What major technology issues today will become inconsequential or significantly less important in the future?

A: Bandwidth, certainly. Eventually bandwidth will be free, just as storage largely is today. On the other hand, user interface will become vital in the future. Computers need to be intuitive, and they’re just not. They’re not really mass-market consumer items, even though they are sold as such.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.