Lileks describes (tangentially) what I believe to the the future of computing: the computer as an appliance.

Buy this box, and you can record TV anytime. Buy this box to go with it, and you can watch anything on your TV on your computer, even if the TV’s in the basement and the computer’s upstairs. Buy this box, and all the music on your computer can be played on any stereo. Buy this box, and the music goes in your car. Buy all these boxes, turn them on; they find each other and they know what to do. Here, let me take your photo with this nice new white camera. Click: it’s in your computer. Okay, take this remote, point it at the TV, press “photo,” arrow-key down to the album we just made. They’re your photos on the big TV downstairs for the family reunion. Beats the old slide-projector, eh?
Eventually, computers will be fast enough that no one will think about processor speed. Storage will be so cheap as to be practically free, and no one will consider the size of a hard drive. &c. Computers will become black box appliances that operate in an expected and intuitive manner, and will function as desired without elaborate trouble-shooting.

The desktop computer is a vastly more complicated system than anything else a person is likely to own, and it's no surprise that it's taking decades to reach the level of simplicity and reliability that people expect from microwaves and televisions. Artificial intelligence, my field of expertise, is integral to making this vision a reality. We're still a long way off, but I doubt my grandchildren will ever have to upgrade a home computer system.

No one upgrades (or even repairs) a TV, you just throw out the old one and buy a new one. The technology continues to improve, but it's transparent to the consumer, and that's how computers will be in the not-too-distant future.



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