2010 Computing Outlook

Guest Editors' Introduction • Vinton G. Cerf and Munindar P. Singh • January 2010

Theme Articles

This month's theme includes the following featured articles:

Future Imperfect
As Internet traffic continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to think about the information being transferred and whether we’ll always be able to interpret it as intended. More »

The Growing Interdependence of the Internet and Climate Change
Can we reduce the carbon intensity of Internet computing rapidly enough to keep the ICT industry’s emissions from increasing, even as it expands its global reach? More »

Fighting over the Future of the Internet
Looking at current debates over Internet-related economic, social, and cultural issues can help us anticipate how those issues will shape the Internet’s future. More »

Back to the Future of Internet
If we design and prepare for the future Internet, we won’t have to back track and fix anything because of the decisions we made in 2010. More »

Intercultural Collaboration Using Machine Translation
Machine translation could help foster international collaboration, but a variety of technical and cultural issues would need to be addressed first. More »

Building on Realism and Magic for Designing 3D Interaction Techniques
Combining imagination- and reality-based interaction in the design of 3D user interfaces could lead to design guidelines promoting higher-level consistency and usability for those interfaces. More »

Where's My Personal Robot?
The market outlook for personal robots has been lagging. Will such robots become commonplace in the coming years? More »

IEEE Internet Computing's Jan./Feb. 2010 issue includes essays from 14 experts about where the Internet is headed in the next decade. (Download the whole set for just $19)

What else is new? »


2010 Computing OutlookIn Computing Now this month, we take a broad look at prospects for computing in 2010, focusing on technology, policy, and applications. We've included several essays from the "Internet Predictions" issue of IEEE Internet Computing (Jan/Feb 2010), in which invited experts share their thoughts about the prospects for the Internet in the coming decade. We’ve also included a couple of articles from recent issues of other IEEE Computer Society publications.

Internet Predictions

As our lives and society in general become increasingly dependent on information and its automatic processing, we find ourselves storing more and more information online. We often worry that the information will be revealed inappropriately or misused. But we also face the opposite problem: the information simply becomes inaccessible and unusable because the hardware technologies and formats have changed. After all, who doesn’t have old music, pictures, and movies that they have a tough time using? In "Future Imperfect," Vint Cerf addresses the challenges of preserving information in a meaningful way.

Over the coming decades, we’ll increasingly call upon computers in general and the Internet in particular to take on large-scale systemic problems facing our society and our biosphere. In "The Growing Interdependence of the Internet and Climate Change," Larry Smarr discusses the ways in which we can use computers to ameliorate the negative effects of modern life on the planet, especially with regard to climate change.

Computers have had and will continue to have a substantial influence on society. Naturally, society should have a lot of say in how technology policies are set. In "Fighting over the Future of the Internet," David Clark addresses one aspect of this back and forth, namely, how social forces—governments, corporations, people, and cultures—seek to control the Internet’s direction and growth. He ends with a word of caution against government's potential to use computing technologies to control the populace, which he terms a data-driven bureaucracy.

Viviane Reding addresses similar concerns in her essay "Back to the Future of Internet." She sees a lot of potential for what the Internet can help society accomplish, but she sees in it technological and political challenges. She argues that we must ensure the openness of the Internet as a key mechanism for facilitating innovation and empowering users.

People have long been saying that modern computing and communications technologies are making the world smaller. But today's technologies merely connect people at the lowest level and don’t do much else to bring people together. People can see popular TV channels around the world, and you can pick up the phone (traditional or voice over IP) and talk to anyone who understands your language. In "Intercultural Collaboration Using Machine Translation," Toru Ishida predicts enhancements in machine translation technology that will facilitate cross-cultural communication and help make the world truly smaller.

Other Growing Trends

Immersive interaction is a fast-growing research field. As the Internet evolves the capability to support such interactions, 3D user interfaces could begin to support applications in practically all settings in which networking is applied. In "Building on Realism and Magic for Designing 3D Interaction Techniques," Alexander Kulik surveys the field of 3D user interfaces. These interfaces enable users to apply their imaginations as they manipulate graphical objects in a virtual environment and navigate and maneuver through virtual spaces. This article is an interesting read about the shape of futuristic user interfaces that are already seeing some use.

We’ve long been intrigued by robots, and for years, many have felt that robots would soon become commonplace. We won’t be surprised if, in the coming decade, the wait is finally over and advances in mechatronic hardware and networking yield personal robots. In "Where’s My Personal Robot?" Mark Ingebretsen discusses the prospects for the expansion of robots and talks about some projects for designing robots that would be more personal and more personable.

We hope that these articles will stimulate new ideas and new perspectives in our readers and that dialog will ensue, illuminating the path forward into the future of information technology in the Internet age.

We'd also like to know what you think will be the top technology trends in the coming decade, so take this month’s poll and let us know!


Vinton G. CerfVinton G. Cerf is vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google. His research interests include computer networking, space communications, inter-cloud communications, and security. Cerf has a PhD in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Contact him at vint at google dot com.


Munindar Singh

Munindar P. Singh is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. His research interests include multiagent systems and service-oriented computing. Singh has a PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. Contact him at singh at ncsu dot edu.



What's New

Implementing Organizational Strategies: Progress Made in 2009
The IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors is pursuing innovative strategies to best position the Society for the future and to provide the most value to our members. More »

Why Didn't We Spot That?
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Bickering In-Depth: Rethinking the Composition of Competing Security Systems
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Real-Time Operating Systems for Small Microcontrollers
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How Pair Programming Really Works
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Computer Society 2010: Innovation, Leadership, Community, and Careers
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"We All Live in a Virtual Submarine"
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An Interactive Attention-Ranking System for Video Search
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IT and Business Alignment: The Effect on Productivity and Profitability
A survey of pharmaceutical industry business and IT executives shows a positive correlation between sales and the five-stage Strategic Alignment Maturity model. More »

It's a Streaming World! Reasoning upon Rapidly Changing Information
The new, multidisciplinary stream reasoning approach will build on the Semantic Web and provide abstractions, methods, and tools for integrating data streams and reasoning systems. More »

An Update from VisWeek 2009
VisWeek’s three conferences offered ample opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn about cutting-edge research in the visualization and data analysis fields. More »