The future of computing is being shaped by breakthroughs in many facets of the industry, but no matter the devices or the Internet services they access, all will be influenced by the computer chip. Innovations in this area will help drive advancements in others, and big names in the field are hard at work to enable emerging capabilities.
From the first graphical user interface to high-definition video streaming over handheld devices, computing has advanced exponentially during the last 30 years. Though the current application space enables individuals or small groups with little capital to become big players, two of Ma Bell’s titan offspring are setting trends as well.
The future of the Internet is beginning to take shape as Web 3.0 capabilities become available for everyday lives in both personal and professional capacities. But as technology continues to blaze forward at blinding rates, the opportunities for innovators to affect that future abound. Leaders of major companies agree on some of the trends consumers can expect to experience, but they also have their own ideas about how their organizations will shape, and fit into, the new digital landscape.
No one knows yet what a working quantum computer will look like, how long it will take to develop or how many functions it will perform, but one thing is almost certain—it will be critical to national security. If such a computer is ever built, it likely will be the most powerful machine on the planet for encrypting or decrypting information, easily capable of cracking current encryption codes used by the military, intelligence agencies and commercial entities such as the banking and financial services industry.
Actionable knowledge will be available to commanders at lightning speed as the U.S. military and industry institute more adept methods to sift through terabytes of raw intelligence data. With the help of language-crunching software, intelligence analysts will be privy not only to crucial data about people, organizations, locations and weapons but also to the relationships among them. The key that unlocks the door to this obscure information is technology that enables computers to recognize and collate words and their meanings. In a matter of minutes, it then organizes the data in a way that would take weeks for a human analyst to accomplish.
As the military world continues its march toward network centricity, software developers are making strides toward better collaboration as well. A project expected to roll out in the next few months will connect disparate researchers, allowing them to share ideas and products. This open-source idea swapping takes practices already in place in the private sector and moves them into the defense arena with the aim of accelerating production time while reducing costs. The purpose is to enable the rapid development and certification of products for the Global Information Grid.
By Cmdr. Danelle Barrett, USN; Boyd Fletcher; and Dave Huff
Misconceptions about open source software have made many U.S. Defense Department sectors reluctant to employ this technology. Although a 2003 department policy allows its use, many still believe that open source software poses an increased security risk to networks and that it is not supported as well as commercial products.
Developers are using an ultra-fast broadband engine designed to make video games faster and more realistic to improve warfighting tools. This breakthrough capability-called the next disruptive technology by some experts-is smaller and more powerful than its predecessors and is causing the military and defense contractors to rethink the way they design systems.
An emerging design methodology allows system designers to connect different vendor applications to share information across a network or networks and to adapt rapidly to changing technologies. With this structure, a variety of software tools can interoperate and organizations can establish metrics to monitor system use and data sharing between internal departments or external agencies.