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What the Future Holds

Recently I had an opportunity to attend the Tapia Conference and an interesting keynote given by Irving Wladawsky-Berger which provided interesting food for thought about the future of computing research and innovation.

"The digital technologies are to the 21stCentury what steam power was to the industrial revolution."

Wladsky-Berger compared the current and future level of change to that experienced during the industrial revolution which, with the development of steam power and machines, brought the science and technology to the physical world. Now he says, we are bringing these new technologies to both the physical and virtual worlds.

"Every time we think we've seen it all, something new comes along."

Wladawsky-Berger posits that we evolved from the industrial revolution to the new knowledge/information economy in the mid-90s with the advent of the Internet and the notion of a globally integrated world. As is often the case with these huge economic and social shifts, some of the consequences have been wonderful and some, very scary.

This new economy has resulted in a profound shift in North America from an agricultural and manufacturing economy to a service-oriented economy, with the majority of the economic value being produced in services including management, professional, and technical (35.5%); sales and office work (24.8%); and other services (16.5%).

Wladawsky -Berger noted that as the world's physical, digital, and financial infrastructures continue to converge, the problems we face in the future will be more complex and more community centered.

These convergences will require more students to think holistically about their education and career choices. They will need to understand not just how to solve complex computing problems, but how to bring the power of computational problem-solving to the mix of disciplines that will need to work together to develop the innovations needed to address these more complex but also more interesting problems.

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

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