Charlie Stross on the stop/go nature of technological change

Charlie Stross's keynote speech to the Yet Another Perl Conference is an inspired riff on the weird, gradual-then-sudden nature of technological change. As Charlie points out, almost everything today -- including the people -- was around 20 years ago, and most of what's around now will be around in 20 years. But there will be some changes that would shock your boots off. Improbably, he manages to tie this all into perl programming, which, apparently, is the future of smart sidewalks. Charlie's thoughtfully provided a transcript of his talk, and there's a video for those who prefer to hear his rather good comic delivery.

So here's my takeaway list of bullet-points for 2034:

* It's going to superficially resemble 2014.

* However, every object in the real world is going to be providing a constant stream of metadata about its environment — and I mean every object.

* The frameworks used for channeling this firehose of environment data are going to be insecure and ramshackle, with foundations built on decades-old design errors.

* The commercial internet funding model of 1994 — advertising — is still influential, and its blind-spots underpin the attitude of the internet of things to our privacy and security.

* How physical products are manufactured and distributed may be quite different from 2014. In particular, expect more 3D printing at end-points and less long-range shipment of centrally manufactured products. But in many cases, how we use the products may be the same.

* The continuing trend towards fewer people being employed in manufacturing, and greater automation of service jobs, will continue: our current societal model, whereby we work to earn money with which to buy the goods and services we need may not be sustainable in the face of a continuing squeeze on employment. But since when has consistency or coherency or even humanity been a prerequisite of any human civilization in history? We'll muddle on, even when an objective observer might look at us and shake her head in despair.

YAPC::NA 2014 keynote: Programming Perl in 2034

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