Monday, 17 March 2008

Robots and Polar Bears

Still blogging about the UCISA conference – last post! The final morning saw a presentation by Nick Jones from Gartner on a look ahead at the future, and particularly the role of IT in the consumer market. It is interesting to note that IT developments used to be driven by the military, but now it’s the consumer market. Nick identified a few trends in the IT world – for example many of us have multiple personalities – some real, some virtual, avatars in Second Life, IM names. YouTube accounts etc. Will this affect the way we communicate - should we be using role based communication instead of personal ( he did raise the interesting issue of how to trust an avatar!)

Social conscience is becoming big determinant in what we buy – we need to be seen to be Green, with a lot of interest in our personal carbon and pollution footprint. Products have to let users show their values publicly

Human centric computing is developing, leading to the concept of personal area networks. Low power blue tooth chips which talk to mobile phone and sensors in our clothes and maybe bodies will allow a mobile phone for example to detect that we’re in a theatre, during a play, and will not allow calls through.

We should keep an eye on cyber crime, as this is a good indicator of dissatisfaction with technology, and where changes are needed. For example, the high level of digital piracy in music and video is a clear indication of dissatisfaction with Digital Rights Management.

Some interesting developments in Robotics are on the horizon – the Japanese are developing robots to look after old people. Would you trust a robot to look after you? Not sure if I would. Would depend what OS it was running on…

Finally, as is now traditional for the UCISA conference, we had a motivational speaker. This time it was Adrian Webster, talking about Polar Bear Pirates! An ex-policeman from Yorkshire, he was excellent. I particularly liked his story about policemen playing a game called chip sniffing, which I will leave you to imagine!

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