Vision Paper for Oracle IT2020, written in 2010
"As he entered the atmosphere, he realized it was all her fault."
Tina woke up with this line on her mind. "Must be left over from a dream," she thought. Outside the hotel window, the city of Shanghai woke up as well. Tina was invited to attend an inspirational kickoff workshop – one of the rare business occasions where telepresence could not compete with physical presence. There was no need to hurry, so she spent some time checking her news. She took her CP [Note from the editor: A CollabPad is a personal device that is virtually always connected to the Net. It is the successor to PCs and combines personal information management, mobile communication, and collaboration in one device.], and in the moment when she touched the pad, the screen lit up and showed briefly a mind map with the notes for today's event. She had worked on it until late in the evening, but now the view zoomed out and focused on her personal news screen. [Touching the CollabPad is sufficient to activate the device and to authenticate the user. The CP has a project-oriented zooming user interface. All Tina's projects are spatially arranged on an infinite surface. She can pan around and zoom in to focus on one area at a time. The CP also recognizes typical usage patterns. Therefore it is possible to predict Tina's typical intention at 7:00 a.m. and present an aggregated news screen to her.] She skimmed a few headlines and read the teaser about the Human Obligations Act. Helmut Schmidt Finally the UN resolution, to complement the Universal Human Rights with responsibilities for everyone on Earth to protect the environment, seemed to be ready to sign. Meanwhile the article on the CP had expanded to offer a video of the press conference, as well as several related blogs and comments. A couple of them were highlighted because her friends and contacts had blogged about it already. [The News page contains a mix of global news and other stories that have been promoted to Tina's screen because some of her contacts in several social networks have marked this as ThumbsUp! The collective vote is one parameter to control the layout of the news page. News agencies and independent news scouts do also contribute to the global stream of news. Tog on Google News – The UN video is presented to Tina on demand. This is made possible by CollabPad's eye-tracking system. It is used to measure the attention spent on specific areas or even the reading of text. This triggers a background search for additional information that is offered to the user. Eyetracked Alert Messages] Another news section showed the latest news about Tina's current clients and projects. A business partner in Skagen seemed to be in trouble. She made a gesture to connect her CollabPad to the hotel entertainment system, in order to get more screen space. The wall kept filling with status charts from Denmark until it looked like ancient cave paintings. John Underkoffler Tina diagnosed the network map and flipped through her deck of desktops to find the system with the admin tools to solve the problem. With another tap of her finger she zoomed into the desktop environment and fixed the problem. [The desktop carrousel is a tool to provide access to remote systems like other CP environments or virtual desktops. The company in Denmark had created an admin workspace for Tina and granted her worldwide access to it.] Then she touched an icon of the company in Skagen to add a note to the internal status blog. A text field opened, and the words of her comment silently filled the screen. [Tina is not typing. For short texts she prefers to use the new MSR sensor technology on her neck. It detects minimal movements of her jaw and sub-muscular impulses of her tongue. MSR stands for Mumble Speech Recognition.]
Time was up and she was ready to leave for the workshop. She was looking forward to meeting with some colleagues that she hadn't seen for a while in RL – Including Ian. All of a sudden she remembered the origin of the sentence from this morning. It was Ian's tweet from ten years ago in twenty ten.
The tweet is real – The rest is possible.
Meanwhile I’ve added a few links to resources that inspired me to this essay. The only remarkable exception is Text 2.0 by Ralf Biedert, which I was not aware of when I wrote this text on Aug-2, 2010. Also related:
Technology has always been a major inspiration for future visions. Think of the novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in the 19th century and the work of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov in the 20th century. Sometimes the visions of our technological future have been dark, such as in the Terminator and the Matrix movies. Other times, our imagined future looks bright–particularly in the incredibly detailed world of Star Trek. Idealized or dystopian though, where future visions most commonly have gone wrong is in timing. We haven’t seen the day the earth stood still yet; the Space Odyssey of 2001 is still to come, and most likely the hoverboard from Back to the Future will be delayed until well after 2015.
What We Did Last Summer
Nevertheless, IT 2020 presents an Oracle scenario. In July 2010, Oracle asked the employees to submit a short essay in which they describe their vision of IT in the year 2020. Ten years into the future is enough time to let the imagination fly, yet it is close enough to still be realistic.
You've just read my short story. The White Paper provides a summary of all contributions:
IT 2020: Technology Optimism: An Oracle Scenario, Oracle White Paper, 2010
Background links and references to research projects at