The Future of Multimedia

The above entry is a great example of how video can sometimes convey an idea much more easily and dramatically than text. In the future, text, images, audio, video and other datatypes will merge into a multimedia whole that will be far more effective in conveying information than any previous technology. The exact balance of datatypes will depend on the message that is meant to be conveyed as well as the technology being used.

For example, the newspaper of the future will be a primarily textual medium with images that morph into video at the viewer’s request. The static image of the President giving a speech next to the reporter’s story about his speech will become video clips of the speech. Stock quotes in the investment section will be updated live throughout the trading day. The comics will become short animations. Advertisements will be video commercials. While this future newspaper might look and feel similar to paper, it won’t be. Instead, it will be a flexible, even foldable high-resolution color screen with its electronics miniaturized and layered into a device no thicker than newsprint. Rather than throwing the newspaper into the trash when done, corrections and updates to top stories will occur automatically, and every morning the latest issue will, magically it seems, appear.

Around the same time, CNN and the other news channels will merge with their websites. Since most viewers will have multiple screens attached to their desktop computers, or will be using augmented vision devices to overlay virtual reality onto reality, video and text will intermingle in our perception, interactive to our own personal demands.

All of this is possible with current technology, but will finally become reality over the next few years, as technology is refined and costs plummet. Look for such technology to proliferate around 2010 as the commercialization of the Grid begins, typical connection speeds increase to greater than 100 Mbps, cable channels begin using the Internet as another distribution channel, computer chips reach speeds in excess of 20 GHz and include well over a billion transistors, and paper-thin displays start showing up in everything from advanced television sets to cereal boxes.

And what happens after that? Just wait until automation and artificial intelligence take over news reporting and content production. You haven’t seen anything yet.

Creature from Cornstarch Lagoon

When you stir cornstarch it begins to thicken, unlike most liquids, due to the property of shear thickening. Physicist Robert Deegan of the University of Texas in Austin and other team members vibrated a tray of cornstarch and then blew holes in the surface with a straw. The holes remained intact at high enough accelerations. At even higher accelerations, a single hole transformed into a bizarre-looking series of cornstarch tentacles that multiplied across the surface like some alien creature from a horror film.

Reading about such research is one thing; seeing it is another. The researchers took video of the strange activity. While the video is supposed to work in QuickTime right from the browser, I was only able to get it to work by copying the following link and pasting it in the File>Open dialog box in RealPlayer:

More pictures and a reprint of the research paper are available at the researchers’ website.

Source: New Scientist, 15 May 2004 Issue

Computing Predictions – Update 05/04/04

I maintain a spreadsheet of predictions based on Moore’s laws and the trends I see in computing technologies. Today I reviewed my predictions and made necessary adjustments:

  1. Increased hard drive capacity from 0.40 to .50 by 07/01/04
  2. Decreased CPU speed from .0060 to .0040 by 07/01/04

Hard drive capacity is growing faster than I expected. So far, there is no word yet on when the first terabyte memory systems will reach commercial production, so I stick with my original prediction of an introduction early in 2006. CPU speeds are not increasing as quickly as I expected, but their complexity and density increases still follow Moore’s Law (speed is not considered a good indicator of a CPU’s abilities but has been an easy way to market advancement to consumers). With AMD’s Athlon64 doing extremely well and new technologies expected to hit Intel’s chipsets this summer, the recent perceived plateau in computing should come to a quick end.

I have not officially changed my predictions of expected highlights although I am very tempted to do so. Machine/Brain interfaces may come much sooner than I originally predicted, but there is an apparent lull in AI advancement.

In the technology cycle we are currently in a period of commercialization and normalization of existing technologies. Behind the scenes, research and development of advanced technologies continues as always and I expect 2006 to be an important commercialization year, much more so than even 2004 is shaping up to be. By 2006, terabyte memory systems should start revolutionizing how we use our computers, the Grid and the Mesh will both make important progress, and momentum will continue building for the second Internet revolution I see shaping up by the end of the decade.


Hard Drive


Terabyte Memory




Nano CPU




01/01/03 0.20 TB 0 0.0030 THz 64-bit 0 Graphical, Voice
07/01/04 0.50 0 0.0040 0 Graphical, Voice Multi-gigabyte versions of terabyte memory systems released
01/01/06 1.00 5 TB 0.0080 0 Voice, Graphical Terabyte memory system replaces today’s memory subsystems
07/01/07 2.00 10 0.0160 0 Voice, Graphical, Gesture, Haptic
01/01/09 4.00 20 0.0320 0 Voice, Graphical, Gesture, Haptic GRID and Mesh, computer size down to deck of cards
07/01/10 8.00 40 0.0640 0 Voice, Graphical, Gesture, Haptic, 3-D
01/01/12 16.00 80 0.1280 1 THZ 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic Nano computers released, size shrinks from deck of cards to microscopic over next decade, AI entities emerge
07/01/13 32.00 160 0.2560 2 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic
01/01/15 64.00 320 0.5120 4 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic, AI AI/human general contact, AI-generated data feeds for humans
07/01/16 128.00 640 1.0240 8 AI, 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic Optical Nano and/or quantum computers released
01/01/18 256.00 1,280 PB 2.0480 16 AI, 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic, Brain interface “Downhandling” of data to human brain, embedded microscopic super computers
07/01/19 512.00 2,560 4.0960 32 AI, 3-D, Voice, Gesture, Haptic, Brain interface AI/Brain interfaces replace all other interfaces (the rest become virtual interfaces used as necessary)
01/01/21 1024.00 5,120 8.1920 64 AI/Brain interface AI/Brain interface bottleneck recognized, medical approaches and body enhancement attempted
07/01/22 2048.00 PB 10,240 16.3840 128 AI/Brain interface Commercial nano asssemblers
01/01/24 4096.00 20,480 32.7680 256
07/01/25 8192.00 40,960 65.5360 512
01/01/27 16384.00 81,920 131.0720 1,024 PHz
07/01/28 32768.00 163,840 262.1440 2,048
01/01/30 65536.00 327,680 524.2880 4,096
07/01/31 131072.00 655,360 1048.5760 PHz 8,192
01/01/33 262144.00 1,310,720 2097.1520 16,384 Singularity
07/01/34 524288.00 2,621,440 4194.3040 32,768
01/01/36 1048576.00 5,242,880 8388.6080 65,536
07/01/37 2097152.00 10,485,760 16777.2160 131,072