Back in the mid-90’s, I worked for a few years at Electronics Boutique, a software and video game store. It was great! It was a fascinating time in the world of video games, going from systems like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, through failures like the 3DO and Virtual Boy, into the next generation with the Nintendo 64 and the first PlayStation. It was such a fun era to be working in a store like that.
Computers were also moving quickly, and I still remember a conversation I had with a woman that came in to shop. She had just purchased a 486 DX2 66, a very popular chipset for a few years. At the time, it was top of the line and could run any program or game we had in the store. In fact, it was seemingly so powerful at the time that she said “the power of this computer will last for the rest of my life”.
Having seen the progress of computers to that point, I knew she was completely wrong and that by the next year we’d already have games that she probably couldn’t run. “The power of this computer” wasn’t likely to last more than a few years, much less the rest of her life. It’s easy to get excited about the powerful new thing we have, but history shows that technology becomes obsolete remarkably quickly.
Case in point, the latest iPhone has roughly 650,000 times the computing power of that computer.
5 gig fiber?
This same thing has progressed as time goes on with storage space and speed, and we always need more. Right now I’m seeing it with internet speed, and “why would anyone need 5 gig fiber?”. In the short-run, they’re correct. I have 1 gig fiber and it’s fantastic; I see no reason why I would need 5 gig, but I also have no doubt that I will in the coming years. Perhaps it’s due to VR, or more 8K content, or a combination of things, but I’m completely sure that we’ll need increasingly fast internet speeds in the future. I can’t say specifically why we’ll need 5 gig fiber, but I’m entirely confident that we will.
Now it’s AI
AI will follow the same trajectory.
- I hear plenty of folks saying that “it’s easy to spot content written by ChatGPT”, and they’re right.
- The AI-generated images from Midjourney are imperfect, especially with things like hands.
- The AI-powered Bing search results are amazing at times, and stunningly awful at others.
This will all improve very quickly.
I can’t tell you what these engineers will do specifically, but this stuff is improving at a staggering rate. I can promise you this: your next computer will be faster than the one you’re on now, your next home internet package will be faster than you have now, and the amount of data behind the AI tool you use will be massively larger with each upgrade.
Multiply that by 10 or 20 years, and it’ll be a revolutionary difference.
If you think you have enough hard drive space for the rest of your life, or if that shiny new fiber connection is the fastest internet you’ll ever need, I think you’re wrong. I can’t say what exactly will cause those to become insufficient, but history has shown for decades that it will, and I’m excited to see what new technologies come along to make those upgrades necessary.