There is value in "old computing" innovations: a faster, smaller, cheaper, better machine was necessary to overcome many of the limitations that make computers impracticable (multi-million dollar piece of equipment the size of a school bus that took twelve hours to calculate the interest on a loan). But the author feels that we have reached a point in the progress of technology that further refinement of the machine will yield only minute improvements, and the more significant innovation is in the "new computing" goal of making machines more useful to people.

The "most contentious battles" for resources are presently fought between the researchers who want to develop machines and applications that have little to do with improving the user, and those that want to put the needs of the user in the driver's seat for future innovation.

EN: this is nothing new. This describes the ongoing battle between "pure science" and "applied technology")

The author provides a quick sampling of the evolution over time, from the primitive first computers through a number of moments when there were significant improvements, and suggests that the future will continue along this thread.

The author mentions Kurzwell, the theorist who compared the computer to the human mind, and who presently theorizes that it will not be long before the power of the computer exceeds that of the human mind. But Kurzwell is entirely missing the point: the computer is not a replacement for the human mind, but a tool that can be used to serve it, and to empower human beings to accomplish more and greater things.

EN: He continues with visions of what technology could provide in the future - but this always seems dreamy and foolish, so I'm skipping it)

He draws analogies to other technology: the bulldozer that enables a person to move a great weight in a short time, but the machine facilitates the job of construction. It does not replace the human element. Moreover, with the exception of taking over mundane and routine tasks, technology never has replaced the human element, and likely never will.

The Skeptic's Corner

Malicious individuals, organizations, and nations may apply technology for destructive purposes, and the skeptics are quick to blame "technology" when this sort of thing happens. Keep in mind that it's just a tool, ethically neutral, and the outcome will be as good (or as evil) as the motives of the human beings who employ it to do their will.