The return of the mainframe?

I wonder will PCs revert to being dumb terminals with a twist.

I imagine buying this hardware that can’t do much, like a chrome book, that connects to everything and learns all there is online about me and it “knows” what to do next.

I connect to Facebook and suddenly my computer knows my funny bone.

I connect to Twitter and suddenly my computer knows my interests.

Just type in your Google account and we’ll teach your machine about who you are.

I imagine this future and I feel it coming at light speed. With Intel and Nvidia cranking out chips tuned for ML, with Google and Apple making farms on top of farms of computers built only for ML, the basic software, the operating system has to be just a pack of protocols and a browser which sports ML specific APIs that can access ML specific hardware, including ML specific storage.

I don’t believe in computers that won’t work without the internet. No matter how advanced we get in this area, I mean even if Facebook Free Basics will eventually break through and informationally enslave, or colonize, half of the planet, the idea of moving data through air or cables is prone to out of service events. Unless we begin to teleport electrons into machines, we’ll need offline capabilities.

But I do believe in computers that use the internet to become better. This is already the case for a decade. But ML and in particular industrial, global, privacy shredding ML will make computers actually become better online, not simply being more useful which is the case for now. Software will be about the same thing: learning. What do we want the computer for? Do we not want a wizard, an Oracle, that knows in advance what we need, instantly what we want and always what we mean? We don’t need productivity. We need tools that make what is required of us, in our place.

Machines need not be “creative”. We got all the creativity the world requires. Because it is our world. When machines will get creative, it will be their world. You know why, don’t you? Yes, it is because that is what creativity does: building worlds inside the information space. Creative machines will start making their own worlds.

But, this is reality not the far future at the end of A.I., the movie, with those jelly robots who couldn’t reverse that Ice Age. I hope you’ve seen the movie only if for that final act.

In reality, my future computer will be some kind of interactive machine which will support any kind of input and make sense out of it, not because it “thinks” like a human, but because it “learns” like one. We are heading in the future where your service providers will know you better than you know yourself. They already do, but we’re blessed with bad practices of interoperability that still keep data in silos. For now.

I amuse myself with the idea that the keyboard for future generations will be an “accessibility” option. Think about a 3D space where a ML tuned system predicts with 90% accuracy the next word in your sentence and if a checkbox is checked, predicts the entire thought line in less than 300 milliseconds, building on your chat history, which it has learned from since you were six and your parents gave you your first iDevice (or mDevice, who knows). Why type? Why speak? We already have an inner representation of a linguistic 3D space in our brains. That is why we like to move our hands and our bodies, to redraw the imaginary route between how concepts are connected inside.

If ML turns out to work consistently and reliably on small form factors every giant software company will be able to crank out their own chips because it will be worth it, because each consumer will want various ML enabled devices for all kinds of things. The home hub everyone tries to invent might be GPUs stuffed in an internet connected box, and the brand to make it will be the next Apple.

The problem with the entire internet becoming a huge virtual assistant is who will pamper our soft inside?