Friday, September 18, 2020

Review: The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead The Road Ahead by Bill Gates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why read this book almost 25 years after it was first published? Well, I just always wanted to, for one thing. And I was interested to know how the author's predictions stood up. It turns out he was right about a lot of things, some of them just coming into fruition this year, like so many people doing their jobs remotely, and "Aspenization" (the flight of urbanites to suburban and rural areas).

He was wrong about a couple of things. We're not getting offered money to read emails -- something I wish he had been right about. And we don't have VCR's that use 100GB tapes.

Unlike most prophets, Gates was quite specific in his predictions, though he did not pull them out of the air. He was in a position to know some of the alternatives and possibilities. The internet was entering adolescence, and Microsoft was spending $100 million per year on research.

The closest thing to complete realization of his vision of the information highway, I think, is 5G. It remains to be seen if this will be as successful and widespread as predictions indicate. But if it is, it will bring what Gates' information highway to nearly everyone, closing economic gaps, and removing cultural boundaries. Whether it makes the world a better place, of course, depends on how we use it, as have all technologies from agriculture to nuclear science to artificial intelligence.

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