The Future of Technology Looks Blue and Bright

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

The annual IBM shareholders' meeting was held in Miami this year. Since I own a few shares of "Big Blue", I decided to attend.

The meeting had an upbeat tone. Revenues are up, profits are up, and the future at IBM looks bright. It was the message the chairman wanted to convey.

A short video was presented during the meeting. In it, IBM research scientists explained what they were working on, and how it would make for a better world for all of us. Here are a few examples.

English has 26 letters. Chinese has thousands of characters. Therefore, it can be quite complicated to generate Chinese characters on a keyboard. IBM voice recognition software has been around for years, but not this good and not in Chinese. Soon a billion Chinese will stop composing complicated Chinese characters on their Chinese keyboards and start talking to their computers.

Americans will also be talking to their computers, but they will not know that they are because computers will be embedded in their cars. You will be able to have the computer in your automobile read your e-mail out loud to you while you are stuck in traffic on I-95. You will talk back to your computer and have it e-mail a reply before you reach the next exit.

In the laboratory IBM can make computer chips that run at 1000 MHz. That means they will soon be producing computer chips as small as a dime. Chips this small and this fast will be embedded in all kinds of appliances: toasters, microwaves, refrigerators, etc.

Faster and more powerful computers will allow scientists to solve problems not previously possible. While meteorologists can predict where a hurricane will reach land ahead of time and thus save lives and reduce property damage, today the cannot accurately predict where a tornado will strike in time to save lives. New drug interactions and other biomedical discoveries will also be possible.

But you say you do not speak Chinese, and you rather listen to the radio than answer e-mail in your car. IBM also had some neat demonstrations that hit closer to home.

One was a digital flat panel display. The screen resolution and image quality was so good, that for the first time, high definition television (HDTV) looked interesting to me. The Federal Communications Commission has dictated that by the year 2006 all television transmission will be in HDTV.

There also was a demonstration of a hand held device, running a browser communicating with wireless technology to download all the specials at the grocery store so you could do all of your grocery shopping from anywhere. You send your order, pay for it electronically, and have it delivered to your house. No more standing in line at the check out counter.

Laptops everywhere, tablets left and right, and a plethora of smart phones in the market as well as many others devices, are examples of rapid technological advancement. With this in mind, multinational corporations in this line of business are continuously striving hard not only to make big profit, but more importantly, to maintain their commitment to provide people with the most sophisticated and up-to-date high tech gadgets.

I asked tough technical questions to the IBM folks on how and why these things worked and came away very impressed because of the depth of their answers. IBM engineers have not only thought about how to make the technology work, but also how to make it practical and useful.

Yes, the future of technology looks blue and bright.

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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