Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own. Now, in this, the final edition of our column on smartware, we’ll consider how the powerful capabilities of smartware will enable new interactions and user experiences that, over time, will become seamlessly integrated into our digital lives. Read More
The push for education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by governments and in business is now more than a decade old. Over this period of time, society has embraced intelligence and welcomed geekdom—at least on the surface. We see this in aspects of popular culture that demonize bullying, glorify inclusivity, and make it admirable, if not cool, to be smart.
At the same time, scientific research is experiencing a golden age. One reason for this boom: the ubiquity of the Internet, which revolutionized communication and information dissemination in the 1990s and has fostered greater cross-disciplinary involvement among researchers in disparate fields. New tools and technologies have galvanized the cross-pollination of ideas and revealed the intricacies and secrets of the human animal as never before. Over just the last two decades, we have developed plausible solutions for questions that have beguiled us for all of human history. This is an incredible time for scientific discovery and insight—one that will also have profound impacts on the everyday technologies that will surround us in the 2020s. Read More
In this column on the future of computing, we’ll look at how a handful of advances—including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), sciences of human understanding like neuroscience and genomics, and emerging delivery platforms such as 3D printers and virtual-reality (VR) headsets—will come together to transform software and hardware into something new that we’re calling smartware.
Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own.
A Tribute to Dead Machines
Humanity and technology are inseparable. Not only is technology present in every facet of civilization, it even predates archaeological history. Each time we think we’ve identified the earliest cave paintings—such as that by an unknown artist in Figure 1—stone tools, or use of wood for fuel, some archaeologist finds evidence that people started creating or using them even earlier. Indeed, while our own species, Homo sapiens, is only about 300,000 years old, the earliest stone tools are more than 3 million years old! Even before we were what we now call human, we were making technology. Read More