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By 2026, the majority of our decisions will be based on data mediated by massive computer systems. We will routinely collect terabytes of data per person per day and use massive new machine learning techniques to discover new patterns. The data will be multimodal; it will include video, text, speech, personal activity data, and it will be cross-linked to other multi-structured databases such as stock markets, weather patterns, traffic information, and so on. Managing this data, and extracting useful information while preserving our privacy, will become one of the major challenges for CS in the pervasive computing age. These developments require new expertise in machine learning, software engineering, databases, privacy, security, architectures, and related disciplines.
By 2026, many individuals in the developed world will own on the order of 104 CPUs. Because people cannot operate 104 keyboards, these computers will be equipped with sensors and actuators through which they can affect our environments. Most computers of the future will be low-cost, embedded, and massively distributed. They will be networked, and they will be physically embedded in our environments. These pervasive physical sensor networks will enable us to monitor in minute detail our own physical activities, and they will provide a seamless bridge to the virtual world. These developments call for new expertise in algorithms, machine learning, networking, robotics, computer vision, computational geometry, and related disciplines.
By 2026, we will spend a significant fraction of our time in virtual worlds. Present-day examples of this new trend include chat rooms, instant messaging, BLOGs, virtual classrooms, online gaming, and interactive movies. In the future, teaching will increasingly rely on virtual classrooms, enabling students and teachers to interact over long distances. In our business interactions, we will use virtual worlds to gather information and interact with each other. And in our free time, we will explore remote physical places through virtual interfaces, and engage in virtual games and interactive movies with people far away. Virtual worlds will fundamentally alter the way we interact. And some of those digital interactions will seamlessly integrate with physical environments.
By the mid of 21st century, computer science will be pervasive in many other scientific and engineering disciplines. Already, some disciplines rely heavily on core computer science to advance their fundamental research. One ongoing revolution is currently taking place in the biological sciences, where computer science has made fundamental contributions to many aspects of fundamental biology research. Likewise, computer science has also transformed most engineering disciplines. In the next two decades, computer science will grow in importance in many other disciplines, such as cognitive psychology, neuroscience, medicine, and economics.
With time, CS may influence many less obvious disciplines, such as philosophy, arts, and athletics. This transformation will create enormous opportunities for the field of computer science, whose impact will transcend well beyond its present scope. These developments call for a new computer science that reaches out to these new computer-enabled disciplines. As a result of this transformation, the field of computer science will be characterized by enormous growth.
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