In a couple of weeks, many of the tools and technologies destined to enhance the lives and livelihoods of future generations will move from development laboratories to the San Jose Convention Center. Indeed, as you read this, ACM is putting the finishing touches on one of its most ambitious events—a specialized futuristic conference to educate and enlighten the public and the profession on life in the next millennium. ACM1: Beyond Cyberspace… A Journey of Many Directions will explore how computing will influence, even determine, the future directions of such diverse fields as biology, oceanography, astrophysics, life sciences, social sciences, and education. Hundreds of leading high-tech firms, schools, and research labs from around the world will exhibit hands-on technologies that would otherwise be unavailable to the public for years. Industry leaders and visionaries will be on hand to offer their predictions of the future roles and responsibilities of computing on a global scale. The conference will be held March 1014; the exposition will be open from March 1013; and Educator’s Day is March 10; see www.acm.org/acm1.
Inspired by this theme, the Communications staff set out to examine what life may be like in 1,000 years by inviting many of the industry’s leading lights to write essays exploring their personal expectations of the great digital beyond. The response was overwhelming, in fact more than 60 authors contributed to this project and we are extremely honored and appreciative of their participation. As you will see in these essays, the views of the next millennium include a colorful mix of invisibly networked technologies, crash-free software that anticipates the user’s every need, digital immortality and human life spans hundreds of years long, cyborgs and cyberwear, and so much more. You will also read of fears and frustrations regarding the very real potential to abuse and annihilate what has been and will be created. And you will read how none of our dreams and hopes will be realized if we do not do address our educational weaknesses today.
We’ve divided the issue into four sections: Tools and Technologies, Red Flags, Software Solutions, and Education. Each section offers an abundance of ideas and imagery we hope you find illuminating. My deepest gratitude to all whose dedication and determination made this issue about the future a reality.