Common Misconception: Technology Moving Too Fast

I noticed that a lot of people has this odd idea in their heads that the technology moves so fast we can barely keep up. The other day I was talking to someone who told me that he would never go into computer science because “In the time it takes you to get your degree, everything you have learned is already obsolete.” Wow, really? I mean, yes – the laptop you buy as a freshman, may be becoming obsolete when you graduate (but only if you use it for gaming), but the knowledge?

There seems to be this crazy notion floating around that the technology in 10-20 years, will be so crazy awesome that all our current knowledge will be useless against the brand new super science powering all the flying cars and bionic computers. Cause, you know – slow-tards don’t know about quantum computing, so the next best thing is like bio-engineering and shit. Have you ever experienced this? Cause it happens every time I try to talk about future advancements in technology. There is always someone saying – hey, the technology is moving so fast, that you never know what we will be using 20 years from now.

Unless we do reach singularity before that 20 year mark, I can tell you exactly what we are going to be using. Same old shit, only on faster hardware. For example, we will still be sorting shit using Quicksort because that’s pretty much the best thing we got. And guess what, Quicksort has been developped in 1960!

This may shock some of my non-technologically inclined readers (although I can’t imagine why would they keep reading me, since I keep offending them every chance I get) but a 47 year old algorithm is still the fastest and most efficient, way to sort shit.

Dear boys and girls, the valid and proven concepts and ideas never get old. The tools and languages we use to express these concepts with, may become obsolete and fade out of use, but the concepts themselves are pretty much constant. They are the base on which we build all the new software. Computer science is just like any other science – progress is achieved by building on top of existing body of knowledge. Not by rejecting everything and building shit from scratch like some people may think.

So 20 years from now, we will still be using the same algorithms and the same design patterns, in object oriented programing languages, and connecting to relational databases. And you know what, C, C++ will still be dominant fucking languages. Java still be everywhere, and I will still be browsing the web using Firefox under Ubuntu. And Microsoft will still be a pain in the ass monopolist. The only difference is that we will all probably be running on 64 bit architecture, with more than 4GB of RAM.

[tags]technology, concepts, ideas, clueless, singularity, future[/tags]

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10 Responses to Common Misconception: Technology Moving Too Fast

  1. Zack UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I experience this ALL the time. It just stems from people not really knowing the way technology is built. They think some new great computer is completely remastered from scratch…but it’s not. But I agree, this is a trend in the ignorant computer/technology users.

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  2. jambarama UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux Terminalist says:

    Quicksort, right I’d forgotten about that. I know I learned about it in CS, but whenever I’ve done sorting, I’ve used mergesort. For other sorts, and a visual representation of them, check out this professor’s page.

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  3. jambarama UNITED STATES Epiphany Linux Terminalist says:

    BTW – I’d agree with your comments, but I think there are some very real ways in which “nothing will be the same” is probably accurate.

    Especially with using apps & probably interfaces. If MS Word looks anything like it does now (2003 or 2007) in 20 years I’ll eat my shorts. Heck, if MS Word is still the dominant word processor and word processors are still the dominant app for writing stuff, I’ll eat my hat.

    The general concepts will be the same, and the building blocks will be the same, but the results will likely be very different. For non-tech people, learning computers is really learning apps, and so from their perspective they’re mostly right – little they know now about “computers” (read apps and OS) will be idential in 20 years.

    PS – Merge sort was written in 1947 – still in use (at least by me).

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  4. vacri AUSTRALIA Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    20 year old shorts? Yuk.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @jambarama – Yeah, I forgot about mergesort. :P

    As for apps… Both vi and Emacs were written in 76. They both did come a long way but they are not so drastically different. ;)

    Still, I think even 20 years from now most users will still be utilizing the same types of apps:

    1. a browser
    2. an email client
    3. word processing software
    4. spreadsheet software
    5. file manager
    6. media player

    If the current trends keep up, then I suspect that all these will merge into a single super-browser app that will blur the lines between online and local content.

    The chief navigational paradigm will be search – you will be opening files and launching programs by typing shit into texbox Quicksilver/Launchy like textbox. We did discuss it some time ago.

    Or maybe not. The point is, while the user interface may change, concepts will likely be the same. I don’t really see how could you improve or revolutionize word processing. I mean, at the end of the day it will still be a WYSIWYG text box, with some formating buttons all around it.

    Recall what you said here. Users really should be learning concepts and not applications. So while the interfaces may change, it won’t be that much different. One would think that people would understand that.

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  6. Muhammad SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    How about presentation and database software?

    Yeah, i do agree with you. What we use right now has pretty much stagnated into those 6 categories of software. I can’t foresee any revolution coming, but probably more of evolution in how we use those software.

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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Presentation software yes, databases not so much. Despite the fact that databases are everywhere, end users hardly ever actually touch them directly. Instead they interact with websites, and apps that store information in the database.

    And when end users actually do use a database, it’s Access and we complain, cause Access sucks.

    Speaking of databases – the relational database model is another thing that I expect to stay with us for a long time. It works, it has solid mathematical underpinnings and the research done in this area is extensive.

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  8. e UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    This technophile feels the urge to comment ‘cause I actually qualify as a non-technologically inclined reader (am really an amateur at so many levels).

    This lack of knowledge, unfortunately, permeates a large part of learning and society in general. People tend to grasp at and/or profess misconceptions as it is easier for them, I think, instead of trying to comprehend whether technology is evolving “old” into “new” (horrible terms but that is how it is conceived) or whether it is truly revolutionizing the way in which we do things (as you so clearly point out, the 47 year old algorithm). To some degree, I can appreciate an end-user’s desire to just be acquainted with apps and what immediate goals can be realized by those apps. However, I strongly agree with your comment about the underlying concepts that are the constants upon which we build. These are so often ignored because it requires a true desire for knowledge for the sake of knowledge rather than for immediate satisfaction (something that unfortunately has become a by-product of technology for the consumerist masses).

    All I can really say for sure I’ll continue to straddle the technological horse and continue to read your blogs :)

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  9. Jake UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Now this is plain bizarre. I got a comment notification on the above comment by “e,” while I had never even subscribed to this post… or read or commented for that matter.

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Actually I think this is a rare, and intermittent bug in the subscription plugin. I never got around to tracking it down myself, but I did report the overal sympthoms to the plugin’s author.

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