A Silent Revolution: Editor-in-Chief’s Column on Hacking

Over the past ten or fifteen years, I have often had the feeling that the explosive growth of technology is ending. It’s been a long time since it was like in the nineties and early 2000s, when computers became obsolete in a few years, and IT news excited the mind every day. But this feeling is completely false!

Let me explain what I mean by explosive growth. Let's take, for example, 2006, when I first went to work at the editorial office of the online Computerra. Then YouTube and Twitter opened, Windows Vista was released, MacBooks with an Intel Core processor, also brand new, began to be sold.

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The following year, the iPhone and Android appeared, and registration on Facebook became available not only to American college students. Next year – Google Chrome and the App Store. And so on: things that we still use (Windows Vista does not count) fell on our heads with amazing accuracy.

Looking back, we can say that everything is logical: humanity urgently reaped the benefits brought by the advent of first the PC, then the Internet, and then cellular networks and smartphones. This can't go on forever, can it? It’s hard to say, but so far it seems to be continuing.

I recently spent an evening selecting free Hacker articles to post on social media over the weekend. Since materials published before 2015 are all free, these are obvious candidates. Only the level of obsolescence there is such that it’s scary to watch.

First of all, everything related to phones is outdated. Ten-year-old Android and iOS look cavemanlike, and their advice to users resembles guides to sharpening stones and digging mammoth traps.

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Materials about web development are also outdated. It didn’t even help that the “Hacker” in this topic was at the forefront at that time and wrote about all sorts of fashionable things like Meteor.js. Where is that meteor now? Over the past ten years, web development has made so many jumps and somersaults that another editor is needed to keep track of this acrobatics.

It’s a special pleasure to read old articles about cryptocurrencies, where a cue ball costs 800 bucks, and the author discusses whether cryptocurrencies will have life after the end of the hype wave in 2014. It will happen, darling! Yes, such that behind the waves of the seventeenth and nineteenth years, that first one can no longer be seen.

And of course, old articles about AI look as naive as possible. Yes, ten years ago convolutional neural networks appeared and already seemed like a miracle of miracles. But it was unrealistic to imagine how this topic would develop in the twenties.

But these are only the topics that Hacker writes about. Over the last decade, for example, delivery services have completely transformed, and no one is surprised anymore by the ability to receive almost any goods the next day (if not twenty minutes) after ordering. The instant rental of scooters and even cars is also not surprising.

Moreover, both are just consequences of the mass distribution of smartphones. Before our eyes, the same neurons have gone from the first concepts to viable products. And then there are more and more applications that change entire industries and aspects of life.

Yes, today we can talk about whether Apple Vision will give rise to another revolution right now, or we’ll wait for a cheaper and easier AR device. Or, take, for example, Sora – the latest of OpenAI's neural networks. You can shrug your shoulders: they say, who needs these weird generated videos? But development will not end there, and we can continue to expect new and new ways to get the desired picture from a computer.

And again you can take it wider. We can still barely imagine the development of near-computer things, but progress will affect other areas. Doctors and biologists, for example, have been fascinated by the ability to edit the genome using the CRISPR-Cas9 method all these ten years. What if modern AI also helps in research?

Or you can read like Hannu Ryaniemi (one of my favorite science fiction writers, and now co-founder and CEO of the startup HelixNano) reasons about computer augmentation of the immune system. Along the way, he also refers to an interesting pocket device called MinION Mk1B, designed for genome sequencing. A sort of Flipper Zero for biomedics.

So maybe today the reels are where the people are drive in Apple Vision on self-driving cybertrucks and walking Boston Dynamics robots are more of a joke, but they convey the right mood: the future is amazing and is coming, albeit imperceptibly, but inevitably.

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