The future of software is in the mind

Advancements in bioengineering mean exploration into the hardwired view of connecting into the brain for the sharing of information, says Kevin Derman, Director for Cloud, First Distribution.

Johannesburg, 03 Aug 2017
Read time 6min 30sec

Have you ever stopped to think about the future of software and how it can affect your use on a daily basis?

Most of us in business will probably use a word processor, some spreadsheets, e-mail, an Internet browser, perhaps an ERP or accounting system and some CRM. All of these pieces of software have the role of capturing the output from our brains, translated through the typed or spoken word, into a device for either storage or manipulation. It's our way of adding value to the world in the shape of data. Once captured this data can be utilised and manipulated by others thereby creating further value, says Kevin Derman, Director for Cloud, First Distribution.

The Software revolution

To date, we have gone through about four major software delivery revolutions. The initial mainframe and dumb terminal world had input stations with the execution of the processing being completed on a central system.

The next phase involved the distribution of the processing and the software to the end computers and has aptly been named the era of the Personal computer where the software was locally installed. You inserted multiple diskettes to load the necessary software onto your computer hard drive which was then executed and run on your local machine.

Later, we moved back to the client-server software relationship. We utilised a client version of the main system to which we were networked. This allowed us to contribute data without the overhead of the processing power sitting on our local computer, much like the mainframe days.

The cloud revolution has added to this ability by further separating the execution of code and storage of data from the individual responsible for the creation or consumption of the data. This, coupled with an ability to scale globally has allowed for anywhere, any device access and a revolution in computing involvement in our daily lives.

However you view this evolution, one aspect has continued throughout, there has always been some code that has been executed on a computer, regardless of where it sits.

The question remains where are we heading with the evolution? Will we always be confined to this paradigm, or will our nature to disrupt intervene.

How we will utilise software in the next 20 years

My personal view is that over the next 10 to 30 years we will go through a major change in the way we utilise software. I see the world where the input and consumption of data will happen directly in our brain, much in the same way we hear and see data today.

The science behind this evolution involves the advancement in bioengineering. The ability to understand how data is stored and processed in our brain. This includes the ability to understand the various methods of inputting data into our brains. There has been much exploration into the hardwired view of connecting into the brain for the sharing of information.

This has shown great success to date, for example, a mouse who has not been in a maze, when connected to one who has learned the successful pathway to the cheese, has the ability to immediately follow the successful path. This method however is extremely invasive and risky as one would imagine.

Elon Musk recently unveiled his involvement in NeuraLink, a company whose sole purpose is to explore and commercialise the real possibility of inputting data directly into the brain via a neural lace, essentially a mesh that is injected under the skull, enabling a way of physically interacting with the brain.

Consume data directly into our brains without physical intervention

However, the transfer of information via non-physical connected mediums is also no stranger to us today. Think cell phones, WiFi and Bluetooth as some great examples. Research into this method of transferring information into the brain is advancing, and the possibility exists that we will be able to consume data directly into our brains even without the need for physical intervention.

Coupled with these technological advancements is an understanding of how memories are stored and accessed, the file system of the so-called "hard drives of our mind". We now know that memories have a natural decay rate. Unless memories are regularly accessed, they will fade away. The potential to place these memories in an area that will have a predictable decay rate is probably not too far off.

What does software of the future look like?

So what does the potential "software of the future" look like? Imagine the ability to input data without a terminal. To be able to construct an e-mail and send it without having typed one word. This is one possible scenario of where we are headed. The software and the ability to do this would be downloaded to our grey matter in much the same way software is loaded onto a PC. It comes complete with formatting ability, spell checker etc., but also the ability to understand the communication protocols that it must use in order to communicate with others.

Enhance human ability through downloaded software

Taking this one step further will be the ability to enhance our skill set with downloaded software. A great example of this is the traveller who is heading to France for the weekend and would like to speak French.

Download the two days "Speaking French" special and you have access to be able to speak French all weekend long. On Monday morning, however, as you return to the office it all becomes a little hazy due to an understanding of how to allow this information and knowledge to decay. A week later and no more parlez vous francais.

Pirated software will become a personal danger

While this seems incredibly exciting, it will also open up a completely new world of bio-hacking and viruses that will now be downloaded into our brains. I do not doubt that the security opportunity will be huge in this area. The risk of utilising pirated software will become a personal danger, and the rates of piracy should go down as a consequence.

How far are we away from the so called "future of software"?

So you are probably wondering how far away this wonderful future is. According to The Emerging Future organisation (, the rate of our advancement has accelerated to the degree that we should see our perception of the rate of technological advancement change by a factor of a thousand times in the next ten years and a million times in the next 20 years. I do not doubt that we will see these changes within 10 to 20 years.

It is an evolution of the "Internet of things", to the "Internet of Minds" or IOM. It is also, of course, an evolution of the cloud ecosystem that facilitates the possibility of this occurring, and we all will be a part of it.

Looking forward to seeing you in the cloud.

Read this, and other blog posts from First Distribution, here.

The IOM, Internet of Minds

Editorial contacts
First Distribution Carina Sadie
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