Kurzweil Tries To Predict Future Of Technology Advances

"It's very important to track technological trends. People assume that technology will be essentially the same in five years, but exponential growth is very seductive and surprising," said Kurzweil, speaking at the CRN Hall Of Fame event last week in Santa Clara, Calif.

Kurzweil predicted that by 2010, computers will begin to disappear, instead becoming embedded in the environment and into materials such as clothing and eyeglasses. Later, in 2029, is when technology really gets interesting, because by this time computation will move from the device and become Web-centric, Kurzweil said.

"There is going to be a worldwide mesh consisting of tiny devices, nodes in clothing and in the environment, each sending and receiving their own messages, as well as passing on other peoples' messages," Kurzweil said.

Joe Bardwell, president and chief scientist of Connect802, a wireless solution provider in San Ramon, Calif., said that resellers of wireless communication equipment today, regardless of the market in which they're playing, need to recognize that their own piece of the puzzle is just thata piece of a larger, converging and integrated communication system.

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Innate human pattern-recognition abilities will be instrumental in the development of future Web-based applications, according to Kurzweil. For example, he said Google has developed a speech tool for English-Arabic and Arabic-English translation, despite the fact that no one on the development team spoke Arabic.

"I think this will be a standard feature on mobile phones by the next decade," Kurzweil said.

Kurzweil believes the law of accelerating returns drives innovation even in times of slow economic growth. E-commerce is an example of a relatively new technology that has followed a smooth exponential growth curve, despite the lower levels of online activity that characterized the dot-com downturn.

"Generally, the 'boom and bust' psychology is a true harbinger of what will ultimately be a true revolution," Kurzweil said.