The disappearance of Technology: how cloud computing is making tech invisible
The growth of cloud computing, the unstoppable integration of Internet and software, the increase of the connection speed and the rapid expansion of connected objects are generating the gradual “disappearance” of technology? The question is far from being paradoxical and perfectly portrays the evolution that has been underway for several years and seems to have now reached full maturity.
The technology for years has assumed critical importance in our lives: its presence is constant and total and the digital evolution has changed for a long time our lifestyle, our way of working, communicating, informing & entertaining ourselves. A GIF that has been circulating for some time on the internet shows the evolution of a working desk over the years, from 1980 to 2014, with the gradual disappearance of several working tools and their incorporation into a single device: the computer.
The last step of this advancement is now before us and it has to do with the Internet in two ways: through the integration between the network and a new generation of objects (an integration that no longer concerns just computers and smartphones) and through the growth of cloud computing, a “remote environment” where files are stored and software and operating systems “live”. These two changes are drastically diminishing the importance of hardware and increasing that of connectivity.
In this way Internet changes the face of consumer technology because it involves and enlivens more and more normal environments and objects that are part of our daily life: wearables, home automation devices, cars, more recently also household appliances and soon smart clothes. Nearly everything is connected and the strictly technological devices gradually lose importance, because every object becomes a technological device: in other words, the tech goes incognito.
According to the “futurist” Steve Brown, connected devices will be smaller and more powerful but above all “everyday objects will be imbued with some level of computing power”: we are moving from the era “where you can carry computing with you” to the era “where the computing just blends into the world around us […] and you can turn anything into a computer”.
Integrating technology with our physical world therefore may have very interesting consequences: it could mean the birth of a new generation of connected objects but also the “abandonment” of many other objects which today appear to us indispensable. Not least the smartphone, which is now in effect a substitute for laptop but tomorrow could be reduced to a mere remote control of our “personal apps cloud”, or even disappear, replaced by our smart clothes, our wearables, our smart car, our furniture and our always-connected smart cities. Just as it is occurring (in fact, it has already happened) to the desktop software, replaced in large part by web-based softwares because of “their simplicity, ease of collaboration and frequent product updates”.
This trend inevitably will further encourage the work of software developers rather than that of hardware manufacturers: predictions of some experts – who foresee Google’s final “victory” over Apple due to its “customer experience across all devices and all technology use cases” – follow this line. The world’s largest Internet company could become the world’s largest enabler for smart objects/environments and our smartphone, which today seems so necessary, could soon become a simple piece of a bigger, personal cloud of services and applications.