In an article for Xconomy, University of Washington professor Ed Lazowska identifies seven game-changing computer science advancements that emerged over the past decade and speculates on seven others to come in the years ahead. The technologies that came to the fore in the first decade of the 21st century–search, digital media, e-commerce, cloud computing, etc.–are marked by exponential growth. Ubiquitous high-bandwidth connectivity to all of the world’s digital data, to name one example, has accelerated the momentum of mobility and the increasingly central role of the mobile phone, Lazowska says. Cloud computing, meanwhile, facilitates universal access to and sharing of data, making private data centers less and less desirable. Among the technologies that Lazowska envisions coming into their own in the next decade are smart homes equipped with cheap sensors and machine learning that will, among other things, make the homeowner’s electricity bill instantly accessible. Lazowska also anticipates the eventual ubiquity of instrumentation within the human body so that medical diagnoses can be performed with all the convenience, speed, and efficiency of an automotive checkup. Intelligent robots also are expected to become mainstream in the next decade as they migrate from structured to unstructured environments. Lazowska projects a flood of data supported by the mass rollout of cheap high-bandwidth sensors that make data collection by all kinds of devices and venues easy and affordable, and this will set up the challenge of developing automated tools that can extract meaning from this vast corpus of information.
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