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Toward Things That Think for the Next Millennium
January 2000 (vol. 33 no. 1)
pp. 72-76

It's hard to imagine that as few as 40 years ago, US economists were forecasting a crisis of leisure that would arise because of society's increased time savings from technology. As anyone who totes a laptop, cell phone, and pager can attest, technology seems to have overcomplicated life rather than uncomplicated it. Something has gone terribly awry in the way people and computers relate.

If scientists like MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld have their way, however, the new millennium could bring a new order. Computers and information technology could come full circle, seeming to fade into the background--becoming almost transparent--even as they become all the more pervasive, useful, and powerful.

The author examines Gershenfeld's research into how computers could change radically in the next millennium and what it will take to design them. The article covers possible future applications and limitations, the primary obstacle being the cost of chip production. Significant cost reduction is needed in chip production before revolutionary changes in applications can occur.

1. R. Denney, "The Leisure Society," Harvard Business Review, May-June 1959.
2. N. Gershenfeld, When Things Start to Think, Henry Holt&Co., 1999.
3. M. Haywood, Managing Virtual Teams, Artech House Publishers, Boston, pp. 44-49.

Citation:
Janet Wilson, "Toward Things That Think for the Next Millennium," Computer, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 72-76, Jan. 2000, doi:10.1109/2.816271
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