The Future of PCs May Be in Jeopardy

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If you believe even half of what you read, you may become (gulp!) a Mac user before it’s all said and done. Among the predictions slated by technology gurus over the next 10-15 years are optical computers and related nanotechnology devices that will make PCs so last season.

By 2033, PCs are expected to become obsolete as computing becomes more personalized. In fact, according to Dan Tynan of PC World, computers are only becoming more "powerful, mobile, and connected." And with that kind of advancement comes security and privacy concerns. Yet, these are not the biggest factors to consider...

(For more on computer security, see our March feature story, "Emerging Healthcare Technologies: Putting the Padlock on Health Security.")

The Wall Street Journal reported last November on a ‘Jetson-like,’ technology-driven world. Now, 4 months later, those predictions aren’t far off base. The name of the game is choice, and that means being able to customize and self-create the features of your computer from the memory to power to aesthetics (HP has the right idea with their Blackbird002 model). How is it then possible that the PC will become a dying breed--a thing of the past? A look at the next 25 Years in Technology may shed some light.

Says Doug Tougaw, an engineering professor at Valparaiso University who is developing nanocomputers, "We're getting closer to our goal of creating computers that are a thousand times faster and smaller and use one-thousandth of the energy of today's computers. As processors get smaller, they'll be embedded into more things. We'll also use standard-size machines packed with hundreds of chips. So we'll have very intelligent consumer products and unbelievably powerful PCs."

The nanocomputers serve as a faster, cheaper model in a condensed version of electronic molecules, the prediction for them being that you will be able create structures that are so integrated that they go right off the existing roadmap (of existing technology).

But, as Tynan reminds us, the PCs of the future will be a "dumb terminal, with storage, software, and processing power distributed across an Internet cloud." Amazon, Dell, and IBM have introduced cloud services for businesses; and Google and Zoho now serve up Web applications to consumers. This cloud service is a data system filled with product and application goodies.

Some pretty contradictory predictions, indeed. Only time will tell what the future brings.

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