I believe we will see more change in the next five years, both in our industry and here at Intel, than we have seen in the last 25 years. This isn’t a new idea—futurologists like Ray Kurzweil have been making these predictions and talking about the exponential increase in the pace of technology development for a long time—but I wanted to focus on what this means for all of us, here, working at Intel.
The last 25 years of change
Think about how far things have come. YouTube recently announced their users are now uploading a full 24 hours of video every minute, and serving up two billion videos a day. Check out their celebration video. It was only last October they passed the one billion mark. And just five years ago there simply was no YouTube at all.
Five years ago there also was no Nintento Wii , no iPhone , no Netbook, no Kindle , most people hadn’t even heard of Facebook , and even WindowsVista was something people were still looking forward to.
Go back further in time. A decade ago, to the dawn of the fresh millennium. There is no iPod , no XBOX , no PayPal , no Firefox , no Gmail , and not even trusty Microsoft Windows XP. Sure, Eminem is on the radio, but the Real Slim Shady isn’t playing on iTunes. Because it doesn’t exist yet.
Let’s go further still. It’s 1995, and I’m working for Intel back in the UK. I have hair, and only one chin. Where are you? What are you doing in 1995? Coolio is at the top of the charts in many countries and at the movies Mel Gibson is painting his face blue and shouting a lot about freedom. The few folk that are online are on dial-up. There is no Google , no Yahoo! , no eBay , no TiVo , no Playstation , no Hotmail, and not even the first fruity-looking iMac has been born yet.
Further back….twenty years ago now…back to 1990. You won’t find any Linux, there is no such thing as a browser, Netscape hasn’t been formed, there is no Intel® Pentium® Processor, no Windows 3.1, no Doom , no World of Warcraft, and the World Wide Web is only just being invented.
If you’re old enough, keep going back…back to 1985. It’s summer and I have just started as an intern at Intel. Michael J. Fox is trying to reach 88 miles per hour in “Back to the future”, Madonna is racing up the charts telling us she is “Like a virgin”, and Mikhail Gorbachev has recently been anointed as the new soviet leader. It’s the year of Live Aid, new Coke, and Money for Nothing (and your chicks for free!)
Side note: the [video for that Dire Straits track was considered to have some pretty impressive computer graphics for its time.]
We are already four years into the PC era, but there is no VGA graphics (monochrome text, baby!!), no such thing as Flash memory, no CD-ROM, no Windows , and no Tetris. This year, Intel releases the trusty Intel®386 processor. Our supercomputer group is building systems around Intel286 chips and selling them for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet they have less compute power than you can find in a $299 netbook today.
Now look forward; go back to the future
Now that I have your mind firmly anchored back in 1985, race your brain forward to the present day. As you rush through time and imagine the changes around you whizzing by like you’re the protagonist in an H.G. Wells novel see if you can feel just how far we’ve come. Our world has changed beyond recognition. And some of that change is thanks to Intel and the power of Moore’s Law. Our modern lives are transformed. We manage our bank accounts from our phones, hold video chats with friends on the other side of the planet, for free, and we can purchase almost anything with the click of a mouse. Intel-based supercomputers are searching for cures to the world’s nastiest diseases, making our cars safer by conducting thousands of virtual crash tests, and helping us understand climate change.
Here at Intel we are all be proud of our role in this dramatic change. But also mindful of what lies ahead:
- We still have about another five billion people out there who haven’t really benefited from our technology—yet.
- We must be ready for every aspect of our world to change, rapidly.
- We have an incredible opportunity to shape the future in ways our parents could only dream of. And we mustn’t squander that opportunity.
Now imagine as much, or more change happening from 2010 to 2015 as you just experienced in your mini time travel from 1985 to 2010. You may wish to wrap a wet towel around your head at this point.
There are plenty of blogs out there predicting the future, so I’ll spare you that. But here at Intel we are excited about the incredible change we see ahead. Change is rewarding, sometimes painful, but always exhilarating. Change is constant, and accelerating. And we are well aware of our central role in the globally-important technology industry, and the opportunity and responsibility that comes along with that.
What will change mean for us? Very soon I expect Intel chips to show up well beyond the PC, inside all manner of new devices—from sewing machines, to cars, to exercise machines, to digital signs in the mall, to Smart TVs, and even robot-controlled tractors. We want to empower billions of people who today are not connected to the Internet by putting low-cost computing into their hands and connecting them up via wireless broadband. And you can expect Intel to be getting into software in a big way.
Here at Intel, we are getting ready for the ride of our lives. It’s going to be an absolute blast. In my view, this is probably the most exciting time to be working at Intel in the entire history of our company. And potentially the most rewarding. The opportunity to use our skills, our passion, and our marvelous technology to truly make the world a better place is unprecedented. We change the world every day with the products we make in 2010. Just imagine what we will be able to do in 2015. I can’t wait. Can you?
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