A couple of days ago David Lacey covered the recent Parliament and Internet conference in his blog. The proposal for co-operation in the paper issued in advance of the conference break-out session on “Tackling crime and achieving confidence in the on-line world”, chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael JP MP, was strongly supported by the audience, including by David. I, like David, was also profoundly impressed by the presentation by Nicholas Negroponte: not just by its potential to transform the prospects of children in the developing but also by its potential to change the nature of debate on security and cybercrime – and more – much more.
I tend to classify visions of the future into
– the boring: wonderful gewjaws doing what could already be done with current technology if we had the imagination and/or discipline to do things differently
– the breathless: science Fiction by Flash Gordon out of Dan Dare, usaully without the insights of an Isaac Asimov or Robert Henlein
– the breathtaking: usually based on extrapolating current technology in a realistic way to tackle known problems in a wholly new way that, in retrospect, makes perfect sense.
It was Nicholas Negroponte who said, a few years ago, that the best way to predict the future was to invent it.
I believe he has – yet again.
At the Parliament and Internet Conference he also repeated his insightlful comment that we tend to greatly over-estimate the short-term impact of new technologies (over the next five) and under-estimate their medium-term (ten years out) impact.
What struck me was that the “One per Child” was not only cheap, robust and child-powered (through a crank) laptop. It was also faster and more secure than most conventional laptops because of its use of stripped-out open-source software in place of conventional western “bloatware”.
More-over it has a slot for a windows card, three USB ports in place of the normal two, for add-ons and phenomenal wireless connectivity.
It therefore has the potential to render twenty years of hardware and software development obsolete and change the direction and location of product, service and content development.
It, and its derivatives, could soon be the access medium of choice across Africa, Asia and Souther America – including to the IPV6 based secure virtual trading world invisaged by the Chinese – in five to ten years.
More-over their inherent connectivity, security and ease of use could equally well make them access medium of choice for much of the western world.
If so, the business and conceptual models that underpin the Western ICT industries and also our current economic forecasting and regulatory thinking and planning are in for a very rude shock.