background image
DigiCULT 25
world for the next ten years. Emerging technologies
such as quantum devices, nanotechnology, molecular
arrays and biological systems are unlikely to replace
CMOS fully in the foreseeable future. Rather, they
may complement CMOS technology by extending
some of its capabilities.
37
In the medium term, the
introduction of new systems design, which includes
self-testing and error-tolerant architectures, along
with increasing integration levels, will lead to Sys-
tems-on-Chip (SoC), for which on-chip micro-net-
works are deemed to be one of the most promising
design paradigms. SoC technologies should basically
lead to embedding processing power in any electron-
ic chip, making it much more convenient to package
processing power in any appliance or object.
38
Also data storage devices in recent years have
shown remarkable development, with cost decreas-
es of 35-40 per cent per year. Storage capacity will
continue to evolve at a spectacular pace. To give but
one example, the first generation of Sony's Super
Advanced Intelligent Tape (SAIT-1), released in 2002,
had a high-speed data transfer rate of 30 MB/s and
a recording capacity of 500 GB uncompressed data
(compressed 1.3 terabytes) on a half-inch, single-reel
cartridge. Sony's intention is to double capacity and
performance from generation to generation, achiev-
ing 4 TB, 240 MB/s with SAIT-4 in 2008.
39
Such
magnetic tape recording technology is not only used
as a cost-effective solution for traditional backup and
archival storage, but also for new digital media stor-
age and delivery applications such as those used in the
broadcasting industry.
Roberto Saracco (Future Centre, Telecom Italia
Lab) writes that `we are on the threshold of a tremen-
dous impact. By 2005 we may expect to have 500 GB
of local storage available in many houses, exceeding 1
TB by 2010. This growth of local storage leads to an
architectural change in the telecommunication net-
work: today's drive to stream data will fade away. Burst
communication will be the one used to download
movies. People may tend to create their own cocoon
of information locally always ready to tap.' Howev-
er, with cheap massive storage also becoming availa-
ble for consumers on carriers the size of a credit card
or smaller, completely opposite models are also possi-
ble. For example: `You go to a movie and as you pay
the ticket you get, for free, a card with the 200 mov-
ies of the year. Back home you plug it in a reader on
the television and you can get some peek at them.
Should you decide to see a movie you simply ask for
the decrypting code to be sent to you (and you'll pay
for it). Movie download has shrunk from 2 GB to a
few hundred of bytes, what it takes to ask and transfer
the decrypting code.'
41
S
MART
SENSORS
AND
TAGS
I
n the next 10-15 years, computers will follow Marc
Weiser's dictum: `The most profound technolo-
gies are those that disappear. They weave themselves
into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistin-
guishable from it.'
42
This means that `intelligence' will
increasingly be embedded in all kinds of objects in
our living environment like walls, floors, tables, chairs,
clothing, toys, pens, etc., ready to enhance our capa-
bilities in everyday activities. The objects will be net-
worked wirelessly, dynamically configurable, and
communicate with each other and the user by means
of ad-hoc networking.
A key role in this development is played by sen-
sors and actuators. Sensors are tiny devices based on
microchips that convert analogue data about anything
physical such as light, temperature, acoustics, pressure,
force, motion, position, distance, navigation, accelera-
Today's `life bits' ­ tomorrow's `meet your
ancestors' archives
Cheap, massive storage will allow people... indi-
viduals, families, groups of friends, communities
of practice... extensively to document their docu-
ments, images, videos, etc. of events, conversations,
meetings, work and so forth.
This is explored in the MyLifeBits project by the
Microsoft BARC Media Presence Group.
40
They
describe it as `an experiment in lifetime storage,
and a software research effort'. The technical set-
up of MyLifeBits includes a large database, tagging
tools, hyperlinks, search & retrieval and presenta-
tion mechanisms such as timelines.
According to Doug de Groot, who works on ava-
tars and other types of digital life at Leiden Uni-
versity (NL), such a system `could eventually form
the basis for ,,meet the ancestor" style educatio-
nal tools, where people will quiz their ancestors
on what happened in their lifetimes' (from
Newsci-
entist.com, 2002).
Sources:
MyLifeBits project: http://research.microsoft.
com/barc/mediapresence/MyLifeBits.aspx
Newscientist.com (2002): "Software aims to put your
life on a disk" (20 November 2002). http://www.
newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993084
37
Cf. European
Commission, IST
programme, Future and
Emerging Technologies
(2000): Technology Roadmap
for Nanoelectronics, Second
Edition, Editor: R.
Compaņķ, November
2000, http://www.cordis.
lu/ist/fet/nidqf.htm;
Giorgio Baccarani (ed.):
International Workshop on
Future Information Processing
Technologies (IWFIPT-
2001, 3-6 September
2001, summary report),
http://www.ercim.
org/EU-NSF/IWFIPT.pdf;
Consortium of European
Companies Determined
to Use Supercond-
uctivity, "Conectus
Superconductivity
Roadmap", March 2004.
http://www.conectus.org
38
A good description
of SoC is given in Luca
Benini and Giovanni
De Micheli, "Networks
on Chip: A New SoC
Paradigm" in IEEE
Computer, January 2002.
http://akebono.stanford.
edu/users/nanni/research/
net/papers/computer02.pdf
39
Cf. Sony's SAIT
roadmap. http://www.sony.
ca/storage/media.htm#
40
Microsoft BARC Media
Presence Group. http://
www.research.
microsoft.com/barc/
41
Roberto Saracco,
"Information and com-
munication technologies:
disruptions to look for and
their impact on countries'
evolution strategies,
Technology Foresight
Summit, Budapest, 27-29
March 2003. http://www.
unido.org/file-storage/
download/?file_id=10489
42
Mark Weiser, "The
Computer for the Twenty-
First Century" in Scientific
American, pp. 94-100,
September 1991. http://
www.ubiq.com/hypertext/
weiser/SciAmDraft3.html
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