Networking

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Christmas wish list

Dear Santa, I need help of a new kind...

Written at The Atlantic Hotel on the island of Jersey and dispatched via a free wi-fi service that actually needed no password - hurrah for common sense

Every year of my life seems to have been challenging for one reason or another. But I have always been able to stay ahead of the game and keep on top of technology and business.

The list from A to Z

Click on the links below to find out more...

A is for ADSL
B is for BT
C is for Cable & Wireless
D is for Dial-up
E is for Education
F is for Fibre
G is for Goonhilly
H is for HSDPA
I is for In-flight
J is for Janet
K is for Kingston
L is for Landlines
M is for Murdoch
N is for Next generation
O is for Ofcom
P is for Power lines
Q is for Quad-play
R is for Remote working
S is for Satellite phones
T is for Trains
U is for Unbundling
V is for VoIP
W is for WiMax
X is for Xbox
Y is for YouTube
Z is for Zombies

In the early days the hardware and software involved was well beyond the pocket of private individuals. Only giant corporations could afford the 100T computers that consumed kilowatts of power and acres of floor space.

These mighty machines have long been eclipsed by PCs and other devices that fit the bag, pocket or hand, consume a few watts and provide each of us with massive computing capabilities at vanishingly low prices. Adequate PCs and laptops are now hitting the $400 break point and all the associated peripherals come at inconsequential cost.

For decades my Christmas wish list has presented a viable spending opportunity - but not this year. To continue making progress and keep ahead of the game, I need things that are just not available.

Number one on my list is bandwidth, and throughout the Western world it just isn't there. I have to go east to find a world of satisfying connectivity and associated creativity. Number two is my need for a machine intelligence that helps me understand system and business complexities and guides me to better decision making.

I know from experience that more bandwidth and better connectivity improve my creativity and work output but in the West it is a prospect that continues to be strangled by the umbilical of old minds in old companies.

And in an increasingly complex and fast-moving world, any improvement in my office applications results in marginally more, or in some cases significantly less, output.

What is missing from my professional life? The software that will allow me to model, role-play, war-game, hypothesise and test out situations in real-time or ahead of actuality. In short, I need to be able to make more accurate predictions.

While I'm gaining more practical experience with every passing year, it is backward-looking. It doesn't really prepare me for the radically new. And raw computing power doesn't help. I really do need more intelligence of the silicon kind.

So Santa, here it is for Christmas 2007:

  1. Real broadband to my office and home at speeds above 100Mbit/s dedicated to me and me alone - no contention, please.

  2. Artificial intelligence on my laptop that can run alongside other applications, monitor what I am doing, anticipate what I need and help me make far better business, engineering, technology and scientific decisions.

What chance this lot will be in my Christmas stocking this year? Zip for sure. But it may happen in 20N7, where N is a positive integer somewhere between 1 and 9.

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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