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by M.G. Siegler


The Disappearing Computer

Walt Mossberg's last column:

But, over time, the products have gotten more reliable and easier to use, and the users more sophisticated. You can now hand an iPad to a six-year-old, and, with just a bit of help, she will very likely learn how to operate it quickly. That’s amazing, given that the iPad is far more powerful than any complex PC I was testing in the 1990s. Plus, today’s hardware and software rarely fails catastrophically like PCs did so often in the old days.
So, now, I’d say: “Personal technology is usually pretty easy to use, and, if it’s not, it’s not your fault.” The devices we've come to rely on, like PCs and phones, aren't new anymore. They're refined, built with regular users in mind, and they get better each year.


I expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology, the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought.
Your whole home, office and car will be packed with these waiting computers and sensors. But they won’t be in your way, or perhaps even distinguishable as tech devices.
This is ambient computing, the transformation of the environment all around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there at all.

This is a really good way to frame the current state of technology in our lives and where it's heading as it continues to permeate everything. A great final column. 

Aside: there was a fantastic send-off interview with Mossberg -- with Dick Costolo interviewing him -- on stage last night at the Code Conference. Well worth the watch when they release the video. 


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