Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
I’ve been learning a new computer application as of late. It’s had me thinking about specialization. If I were a regular adult, but 15 years older, application manuals and tutorials would be incomprehensible. I’m not regular—in this area, anyway. I’ve taken classes in operating systems, and it’s sort of my nature to want to understand tools and systems at least as well as the people around me. I’m comfortable with this type of learning.
But if I weren’t, I’d think that the inability to master, intuitively, things like computers or communications or social networking would make me feel obsolete. Disconnected. Useless. I’m racking my brain for an occupation outside of hospice chaplain or wet nurse that doesn’t require a generalized knowledge of computing.
But the days of the necessity for that ability are rapidly passing. We are moments away from a new revolution in human toolmaking with the Cloud, which is sort of the next step for the internet.
I think of the Cloud as a computing utility, like the electricity utility or the gas utility. Processing and bandwidth will be the commodities. The more you use, the more you pay. But any application will be available on the Cloud servers, and few users will need to be specialized in things like image editing, number crunching or story writing. Computers, the box, the thing with the power switch, will actually work the way our parents thought they’d work in the first place: You turn it on; it figures out what you want to do and does it.
This suggests two things to me. First, human beings with access to this technology will possess complete freedom of physical movement, limitless knowledge and total self-actualization. Second, government and industry will have complete access to our most private thoughts, actions and curiosities. They’ll be able to monitor or restrict access to data. Think of it like Skynet, only not as benevolent.