For the past decades, we can see technology following a predictable path, where integrated circuits chips are becoming advanced to create smaller, but more power, devices and manual processes have been automated, allowing for increased efficiency and productivity. But today, this trend is anticipated to most likely change in the near future, where there is expected an extreme disruption in technology. As information technology would decrease in phase, second-order technologies—robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc—will become the center of attention, automating routine cognitive work. During this time, there will occur four major paradigm shifts that all of us should prepare for.
First, there will be a shift from chips to the system. While the Moore’s Law has helped power up the Digital Revolution to a level where computers have become more powerful and functional, while becoming cheaper, it is said to be nearing its end. There would be too many transistors to squeeze into a chip, causing them to malfunction or take too long for them to communicate with each other, also known as the von Neumann bottleneck. Well, this can be solved by shifting from the chip to the system, which is particularly called “3D stacking” that combines chips into a single three-dimensional chip. Though this can be difficult, as we have to devise new chip designs entirely, it would increase speeds at significant levels to sustain progress.
The second one is a shift from applications to architectures. Innovations, such as office document processors and graphics creation apps, have engendered the widespread use of computers, with the internet allowing for emails, e-commerce and, then, mobile computing. Basically, applications are running today’s world. So far, these programs that are taking place on devices using central processing units are working well enough, but for more advanced functionalities that we want computers to do, like those of self-driving vehicles, the von Neumann bottleneck also causes some limitation for progress. So, the solution would be to move from developing new apps to developing new architectures that have the capacity to handle these apps better. Well, there are already some technologies that can help us reach this level, such as neuromorphic chips, quantum computers and the new field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chips.
As for the third major paradigm shift, it is from products to platforms. While great businesses in the past have made their way to prominence by creating a single specific product, companies today achieve success by making money out of platforms. Great examples are the iPhones using the Apple App Store, Android devices using the Google Playstore and Amazon earning most of its profit from using third-party sellers. As you can see, platforms are very important as they allow people to access technological and business ecosystems, which we will see more in the future.
Lastly, there will be a shift from sustained periods of growth to shorter ones. According to economist Robert Gordon, while earlier innovations like the internal combustion engine and electricity have had broad implications, those of digital technology have been narrow. There are certain indications that future growth will be very different than the past.
In the coming age of disruption, it is very important to know more about these major paradigm shifts and to adapt to them to keep your ventures afloat and stay competitive.