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Never Underestimate the Power of Tomorrow

April 14, 2013 Founders' Messages No Comments

Bill Gates said, “People always overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10.” While I half expect a letter from some poor Xerox PARC guy challenging the provenance of that statement, the truth of its content is undeniable. In the immediate rush of the present we can sometimes lose sight of the futuristic miracles emerging right before our eyes. Those 10-year cycles are coming to fruition every day and continuing on to create the miracles of the next 10 years.

There is a spot at the Boeing Museum in Seattle where you can stand between a P51 engine from the mid ’40s (capable of pulling a P51 up to 400 miles per hour) and look across the room at an SR71 engine from the early ’60s (capable of pushing the SR71 to more than 2000 miles per hour). Young men who flew P51s in combat scratched the edge of outer space at Mach 3 before their kids were out of high school. Less than 10 years later, they watched men walk on the moon.

In 1976, a bus shaped like the Space Shuttle arrived at my school. That day I watched a lady hold one of those famous shuttle tiles in her hand while she fired a jeweler’s torch at it for three minutes. I was the kid who got to come out of the audience and touch that piece of the future and find that it was hardly warm. The heat was directly converted into light and radiated away. Today, I have a dental crown made of that same material. I watched on a screen as artificial intelligence was used to render a 3D model of my tooth and guess VERY CLOSELY at the shape of my crown. After the dentist made some adjustments within the virtual world mapped from my molar, a robotic mill the size of a laser printer carved my crown from a billet of space history.

A couple of years ago, scientists in Copenhagen “teleported” billions of atoms about 18 inches, using quantum entanglement. An array of 122 lasers in Livermore, California, might soon ignite a pellet of Deuterium and usher in the age of nuclear fusion. While you read this, an artificial intelligence-enabled robotic scientist named Adam is formulating hypotheses, designing and running experiments, analyzing data and deciding which experiments to run next. I can’t help but anticipate the sudden roaring success of all this. I expect it all to be ready to industrialize and be delivered to my door by next fall.

Yes, I’m overestimating what can be done in one year. Are we all underestimating what can be done in 10?

Timothy Rohde

Co-founder/Publisher & COO

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