A: The whole evolution of standards into grid and Web services is one. … I call them all the Internet standards. I think the second one is this whole notion [that] we'll learn how to do much more semantic analysis to extract intelligence out of all this information.
Q: What must happen to make this possible?
A: No. 1, we need massive research. These are really difficult problems, so you need big investments in R&D. In the United States, the government needs to make sure there is long-term funding for research. Private companies like IBM need to make sure they invest in R&D to make sure these things happen. Those things will happen if you put the right R&D punch behind it, and it will take time.
Q: What major technology issues will become inconsequential or significantly less important in the future?
A: Worrying about .Net or J2EE will be seen as a quaint little problem at the turn of the century. … I think that a lot of the issues on operating systems will become more and more commoditized. People will say, "And wasn't there this silly lawsuit [where] some bad people tried to stop progress?' A lot of the skirmishes will just disappear, because progress requires more agreement by companies and government for standards. This bad behavior just gets shoved aside. You cannot tolerate it because of the common good. I think that a lot of the skirmishes will just get drowned.
Q: What about the problem of security?
A: Security has to be built into everything. I think that as technologies get more and more powerful, the ability to encrypt all communications will just be a matter of fact. … There will always be people trying to break into things and so on, so you're never done, but I'm pretty comfortable that it's an area where huge progress will continue to be made.
MARC ANDREESSEN, CHAIRMAN AND CO-FOUNDER, OPSWARE:
Q: What major technology issues today will become inconsequential or significantly less important in the future?
A: Outsourcing, offshoring to India and other countries. There's a lot of concern about that in the United States, and I think it's completely unfounded. It's great for consumers because they get products and services that are cheaper; it's good for American companies, so it increases profits. Since we still have the most entrepreneurial culture, we have the opportunity to take great advantage of that trend. The danger is that our paranoia is going to rebound in a really negative way and kill a lot of those benefits.
Q: Can you take a stab at labeling the technology eras of the future, out to the year 2028?
A: I actually think that a lot of these technology changes are generational, so they play out over 25 years. We're only eight years into the Internet era; we have another 15-17 years to go.
Q: What transformative technologies will be coming down the pike in the next 25 years, and when do you think those will happen?
A: The good news about transformative technologies is that you don't know they're going to hit until they hit … so they have to seem crazy in order to seem transformative. You look for the things that sound crazy and nevertheless are taken up. I think they're likely to come out of left field. Linux (a really, really big deal moving very fast), utility computing, the automated grid (definitely something coming around that people thought was crazy a few years ago). Nanotechnology, I think, is 10 or 20 years out.