karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

When cars fly—

Not all science fiction writers predict the future. Some dwell on alternate pasts; some explore the present in terms of immediate breakthroughs. For one thing, predicting the future is risky, not just because of technology but because of economics. Remember the Pan Am space plane in 2001: A Space Odyssey ? Forget space planes; have you seen any Pan Am planes lately?

But British science fiction writer Charles Stross has gone on record with some actual specific technology predictions in his recent blog post titled The real reason why Steve Jobs hates flash. Stross contends that Steve Jobs is obsessed with controlling the Apple user's environment because he can foresee that in five years the entire computing world will have shifted to cloud computing. Stross thinks Jobs wants to lock Apple users into a beautiful but walled-in ecosystem to keep them away from the likes of Google. Here's a quote from this really intriguing post:

    “Apple is known to be investing heavily in data centres suitable for cloud hosting. There are persistent rumours that "iTunes 10" will be some kind of cloud service, slurping up your music and video library and streaming it out to whatever device you've registered with Apple. There's MobileMe for email, and iWork.com for office documents. There will be more — much more.”

I'm not so sure I believe it. For one thing, I work in IT, and I don't think most IT departments will be so willing to adopt cloud computing solutions for processing critical corporate data, not in only five years. Maybe in fifteen or twenty years when today's Facebook generation will be in charge of networking at good-sized IT departments things will change radically. But in five years, I think the iPad-type entertainment device may well carve out its own niche and widen the gap between personal and corporate “computing.”

Corporate data are backed up, secure, and often have server redundancy to ensure online availability. The average home user, on the other hand, has his movies, music, games, email and word processing files on his hard drive with (possibly) an external hard drive for backup. One good house fire, and he is screwed. To the home user, the cloud will seem more secure, not less. The VP for IT, who has to worry about Sarbanes-Oxley rules and what the board of directors think, may find it a harder sell.

But it's nice to see someone willing to make such a firm prediction. Now if we could just get working on those flying cars. . .

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Tags: technology

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