Exponential growth, evolutionary change and the economics of supply and demand combine to create interesting patterns that continually reshape technology. In this panel discussion, Greg Papadopolous, CTO at Sun, IBM's Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures explore the long term trends in networking and computation that are transforming the industry.
Papadopolous opens with an explanation of his "redshift theory" of computing which meshes economic theory with Moore's Law. The demand for computational capacity in some "redshifting" sectors of the industry continues to outstrip supply, while other "blueshifting" segments are over-served by Moore's Law doublings. As the supply of computational power grows, where will the future demands in redshift sectors come from? Papadopoulos predicts these expanding demands will drive the redesign of computing systems, with increasing returns from large, efficient computers and distribution networks.
Wladawsky-Berger engages in a thought experiment, comparing the growth of early biological systems to the current stage of computing. Once the basic building blocks of cellular machinery evolved long ago, the availability of standard components set the stage for a "Cambrian explosion" of intensive creativity. Computing, he proposes, is set for a similar expansion. Especially now, the internet brings the possibility of integrating people, process and information. Scaling is a still a problem, especially since humans are a non-deterministic part of the system. Still, careful analysis can teach us how to combine modular component, including humans, as we proceed with the transition from an industrial to a knowledge economy.
Myhrvold looks backwards and forwards at "visionary thinking" to find some old and new themes. For example, Moore's law has been a central idea in tech for quite some time, but we've recently turned a new corner with the advent of pervasive networking. It is vital to understand the real quality of exponential systems, that is, the most recent changes eclipse all those that have gone before. As computing grows by orders of magnitude, things that would once have taken a year, might now take an hour. The key to visionary thinking is to recognize and believe that such transformation can happen.
As Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Research
and Development at Sun, Greg Papadopoulos directs the company's
approximate $2B in R&D portfolio. His team leads Sun Labs, the
DARPA High Performance Computing Systems program, global engineering
architecture and advanced development programs. During his tenure with
Sun, Papadopoulos has held several positions, including vice president
of technology and advanced development for the company's systems
business, chief scientist for server systems engineering, and chief
scientist for enterprise servers and storage. Before joining Sun in
1994, Papadopoulos was senior architect and director of product
strategy for Thinking Machines, where he led the design of the CM6
massively parallel supercomputer.
Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger is responsible for identifying emerging technologies and marketplace developments critical to the future of the IT industry. His role in IBM's response to emerging technologies began in December 1995 when he was charged with formulating IBM's strategy in the then emerging Internet opportunity, and developing and bringing to market leading-edge Internet technologies that could be integrated into IBM's mainstream business. He has led a number of IBM's company-wide initiatives including Linux, IBM's Next Generation Internet efforts and its work on Grid computing. Most recently, he led IBM's on demand business initiative.
At Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold is focused on a variety of business
interests relating to the funding, creation and commercialization of
inventions. During his 14-year tenure at Microsoft, Dr. Myhrvold held
various positions within the company and was responsible for founding
Microsoft Research and numerous technology groups that resulted in many
of Microsoft's most successful products. In 1986, his company Dynamical
Systems was acquired by Microsoft. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral
fellow in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics
at Cambridge University and worked with Professor Stephen Hawking on
research in cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space time and
quantum theories of gravitation. Dr. Myhrvold holds 18 patents and has
more than 100 patents pending.
This free podcast is from our Supernova series.