The Vanishing Interface

The tools that connect us are increasingly temporary. With each new technology, the distance between humanity shrinks or, in some cases, disappears. And not just physical distance, but all distances — time, feedback systems, meme spread, tribal and ideological identity … much of what defines us individually is accelerating collectively. Moore’s Law tells us that computers will continue to get more powerful, shrink in size, and converge to near-zero cost. Within generations, the “devices” we use to connect to this emerging network will become a generic and transparent part of life, integrated into clothing, furniture, walls, vehicles, and anything else we encounter throughout our day.

This evolution took another big step with India’s Ministry of Human Resources Development announcement of a $35 tablet in the works. ¬†This isn’t a full-featured computer, but rather a cloud device. As more and more heavy lifting is done in the cloud, tablets such as this become a common user-interface. Yet in a few generations, the idea of “tablet” will seem quaint, as connective technologies become an invisible part of everyday life, and perhaps even part of human biology.

The cloud, of course, is where virtual tools and all but the most sensitive information will eventually reside, with all people and cultures having equal and immediate access. The cloud includes communication protocols that will eventually offer a seamless language bridge for all data (text, speech, visual, etc.). It really won’t matter what language we write or speak — the intelligence of the cloud will make virtually all human symbolism understandable to everyone, at any time, in real-time. Anyone on the planet will connect with anyone else without the historical barriers of language, time, or border. This assumes, of course, that the Internet(s) remain free from overt government or commercial restrictions (see prior post, China, Iran, etc.).

The distance between us will continue to collapse (cost, size, ubiquity) until we literally become the interface, if we chose to.

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