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Digital Revolutionaries Discuss Past, Future of Technology


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Qualcomm's Irwin Jacobs, Google's Vinton Cerf, and Stanford's John Hennessy

Rod Searcey

Microsoft technical fellow Butler Lampson, Google chief Internet evangelist Vinton Cerf, and Qualcomm chairman Irwin Jacobs discussed the past, present, and potential shape of digital technologies at a symposium sponsored by the American Academy for Arts and Sciences.

Jacobs predicted that "[the cell phone] is going to be the main means of access to the Internet for people worldwide as we go forward," and speculated that our connection to the Internet via the cell phone will be constant. He also argued that the arms race between people who wish to secure and compromise cell phones is a never-ending one.

Cerf warned about the danger of "bit rot," in which vast corpora of information could be lost because future digital technologies would be unable to interpret information recorded in older, obsolete formats.

Lampson suggested as a future technology a camera- and earpiece-equipped device that can augment the user's knowledge about people through face recognition and other innovations. He also expressed confidence that automated cars will become a reality in less than two decades.

Cerf said he wanted to see a "direct brain-Internet connection" that could channel answers to online queries directly to the auditory nerve.

From Stanford Report (CA)
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