Worried about today’s stock market activity? Retreat with me into the security of the bright future that awaits.
Microsoft’s Craig Mundie (pater familias of the Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments), is on a college tour across the nation. The trip is something of a reprise of jaunts Bill Gates famously made over the years, when he would string together visits to campuses partly to evangelize, partly to recruit, and mostly to get new ideas from bright young (and contrarian) minds. The Seattle paper today labels these tours as filling the role of Microsoft’s “chief inspiration officer” (“Mundie gives campuses peek at tech’s future”).
What’s he telling this generation of future technologists, at Princeton, NYU, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego? Here’s a telling quote from Craig in a much longer interview just posted with Knowledge@Wharton:
Many of the failings — not just of our software but of all large software — is that the security problems, the lack of reliability, the difficulty in maintenance, the difficulty in testing, all of these things are symptomatic of software still being too much of an art form and too little of an engineering discipline. I believe that over the next 10 to 20 years, you’re going to see a dramatic shift in the way people write software…
Software will be built through the composition at every scale of a lot of distributed, asynchronous services. The question is: How can you specify, compose and operate those services?”
What will such software enable – since “a lot” = billions of distributed, asynchronous services? The future may look a lot like what Kevin Kelly laid out in a mind-tripping TED talk at the dawn of 2008 (“Predicting the Next 5000 Days of the Web“). But Kevin’s conclusions were predicted in a pathbreaking 1997 article for Microsoft Research by Gordon Bell and Jim Gray, “The Revolution Yet to Happen.” And their writing appropriately cited Vannevar Bush’s archetypal 1945 Atlantic Monthly article “As We May Think” for its vision of the globally networked uber-library, Memex.
And for a peek into how we’re beginning that “changed way of software,” I’ve written before that we’re using Robotics as an exemplar, a testbed, and it is proving to be a remarkable environment in which to test the power of marrying “Decentralized Software Services” (DSS) with a “Concurrency and Coordination Runtime” (CCR) framework. It’s really powerful, check out this detailed technical report – lots of cool pictures, too 🙂
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