Steve Brown wears well his title as Chief Evangelist for computing giant Intel, spilling over with enthusiasm for the possibilities of the digital future.
His passion for computers emerged at a young age, when his father came home with what Brown calls “the first love of my life,” an early Commodore model. “This thing called a computer was going to change the world, and I wanted to be part of that,” Brown recalls.
Today, he’s a self-described futurist who happily quotes the late, great science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Illustrating how computers have transformed through the years from room-sized behemoths to fitting in the palms of our hands, Brown foresees the approach of computers that are “effectively zero cost, zero size, and zero power conception.”
What are you looking at, computer?
“If you think the internet wave was a huge game changer for the planet, you’re right. What’s the next wave? In my opinion, robots,” he says.
“We are on the edge of the Cambrian era of computing. The Cambrian era of evolution was when animals developed eyes,” Brown explains. “In the next 10 years, we’re going to see computers evolve eyes and ears… we’re talking about a computer that can actually see and understand what it’s seeing.”
If this robotic future sounds frightening, Brown is confident that it will be to our benefit. “Lots of change coming,” he says, “and all, I think, for the better.”
As we move into this new era, Brown urges innovators to think about users’ needs and wants. He illustrates how technology and culture can come together with an inspired metaphor, discussing a point off the coast of New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. “At first there’s a clash,” he says, “but then they seem to merge into one whole.”