Tomi Ahonen wrote recently about his vision of the future of mobile telecoms. Makes for interesting reading.
I contrasted this with Ray Kurzweil's essay The Law of Accelerating Returns, which I read recently. The two essays are comparable because, although Kurzweil provides much more detail, his essay essentially deals with the ways in which computational advances will change our future. So, very similar themes.
But the comparison doesn't really flatter Ahonen. His conclusions are all very interesting but what I would have been more interested to know is how he arrives at each of these ideas. After all, there is no way for us to verify any of this aside of waiting 20 years! Kurzweil does provide both empirical and theoretical bases for his ideas.
So, a better way, IMHO, for Ahonen to have presented and discussed ideas would have been to go through a logical set of arguments, with the final conclusion taking a relative backseat.
(NOTE: I'm not saying his conclusions are wrong! I'm no expert and he certainly is! All I'm cribbing about :-) is that his predictions seem to be driven by imagination, rather than reason. Not that imagination is a bad thing...)
That takes care of the more general criticism.
More specifically (and this is all shamelessly inspired by Kurzweil's essay), I don't quite agree with the thought process in some specific areas. For example, he writes:
I argued that in very rough terms and considering the performance and specifications, a mobile phone of today will be like a laptop computer 5 years ago; a desktop PC 10 years ago; a mainframe computer 15 years ago; and a supercomputer 20 years ago. With Moore's Law we can expect those trends to roughly hold true into the next 20 years. So to see roughly what kind of processing power we can expect from top-end "smart phones" of 2025, we can look at a supercomputer today - such as the IBM BlueGene/L, which as 16 Terabytes (=16,000 Gigabytes = 16 million megabytes) of memory and which runs at 70,000 Teraflops (=70 Trillion floating point operations per second) of speed.
In contrast, Kurzweil's main thesis is that technological progress is inherently non-linear. It grows not just exponentially but "double-exponentially". (Read his essay for details.) If one were to accept Kurzweil's thinking--and it is difficult not to given the amount of background he provides--then Ahonen's simple extrapolation doesn't work. The amount of progress that we achieved over the past 20 years will be much, much lower than the amount of progress we will achieve over the next 20 years. Kurzweil goes so far as to say (and "prove") that the 100 years of the 21st century will see 20,000 years of progress as measured at today's rate of progress.
I wonder what Ahonen and others think.