Sometimes, if you wait long enough, a problem solves itself. For some time, pundits have been warning about the collapse of our technical infra structure. Not only is our system susceptible to hackers living in the wilds of Nigeria, but to those in Russia and China who can open our high security systems as if they were bags of peanuts. Worse, because the systems we’ve invented are so complex, finding the glitches that leave us vulnerable are hard to uncover. Even without the intrusion of mischief makers, “our growing reliance on centralized, automated networks,” puts us at risk. (”Bytes,” The Week, July 24, 2015, pg. 16.)
Making the technology more complicated in the name of security or maintaining massive backup systems probably won’t protect us from future “hiccups.” With companies demanding faster and faster computer chips, how could that be otherwise? However, Adrianne La France points to changes on the horizon that will revolutionize computing. Google and IBM are building machines that will “usher in a new way of thinking about what a computer is.” (“Computing,” The Week, July 24, 2015 pg. 16)
As she explains, digital computers that store information as a series of zeros and ones (the binary code) may soon disappear. In the new era, computing will be done on quantum computers “which use quantum states of subatomic particles to process data.” (Ibid, pg. 16) Not only will these computers be super fast, but they will also solve multiple and complex problems in Nano time. Research that would normally require millions of years to solve on a digital computer could be solved on a quantum one in a matter of days. (Ibid pg. 16.) How that technology will change our view of the world is anybody’s guess.
Once that change happens, our digital worries will be over. A person can only guess about new problems that may emerge. In the meantime, I’m wondering what to do with the obsolete computer in my head. This morning I learned how to use “snip it.” In a couple of years the information may be useless, along with my knowledge about typewriters and video recorders. Sigh.