Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A bleak but bright future

So listening to Dan Gear on the Risky Business podcast talk about the possible future of computing today while flicking through my RSS feed. I came to a realisation.
The future of computing is going to be bleak. But maybe good for our security.
Dan was talking about the new iPad and existing single purpose devices as being the new wave of computers. Think about it a device that is so locked down and vendor locked in that it is inherently secure due to that. Devices that are single purpose, they don't and can't do everything your previous computer could, think about it a light and switch doesn't require updates or security patches. Its purpose is singular, provide light or not.
These computers would do this as well, provide a game, information, or what have you. We are already here to some extent, single purpose computers plugged into or inside televisions, locked down to the way the vendor wants, not necessarily locked down enough but regardless. They still have bugs, ways to circumvent the original intended operation, but generally speaking these bugs require the inclined to be in front of the device, not miles away in their parents basement.
Then while listening to this and pondering I read another article about "Cloud computing".
So the future will be these big provided clouds, some to play games in, some for businesses, others for research and development. Single purpose environments abstracted away from even the technical users. Who will use a single purpose thin client to access these clouds.
So on one front it sounds good, security and technicalities are abstracted away to an extent. On another front it means tinkering will be harder, with everything, technical people will actually be less technical than they are now, it will be a dumbing down all around.
I have played with Amazon's elastic compute cloud, Google app engine, and run a personal virtual server on my laptop and media centre as well as running several different ones in production so I can see the advantage for the moment, but they can pry my multi-purpose machines from cold dead hands when the time comes.