Acorn co-founder Hermann Hauser has claimed the world is entering a new "sixth wave" of computing, driven by the arrival of omnipresent computers and machine-learning.
Speaking at a Software East event this week, the celebrated computer whiz said we are entering an era where computers are everywhere and often undetectable - citing Google Glass as an example of this synergy between technology and society. He also pointed to Google's planned driverless car as an example of a learning machine which will revolutionise the computing industry.
He warned that the certainties of old - like Apple and Intel's dominance - could be overturned by the changes that are coming.
“The new wave doesn’t co-exist with the old wave for very long and it’s quite a violent event," he said. "We’re right in the middle of one now and it’s best seen in the unlikely David versus Goliath struggle taking place between Intel and ARM. I think ARM is going to win this one.”
“ARM sold 9 billion units in 2012,” he continued, “more units than there are people on earth and more units than Intel has sold in its entire history.”
Dr Hauser has a list of achievements and accolades so lengthy, they almost deserve to be classified as big data. As well as helping to start up Acorn, he is co-founder of investment group Amadeus Capital Partners, a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Academy of Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of King’s College and Hughes Hall, Cambridge.
His theory of five "waves" starts in 1947, with the introduction of mainframes. The second wave is minicomputers, followed by workstations and then personal computers, before ending up in the fifth wave: smartphones and cloud computing.
Dr Hauser credited Steve Jobs for ushering in the current smartphone era, but warned that Apple could be knocked off the crest of the wave they created.
"[Jobs] was very arrogant and impossible to talk to but he was brilliant and very unexpectedly made the phone the leading computerised device in the world today. [However], the incumbent always misses the next wave”.
He discussed the Google Car as a manifestation of sixth-wave computing, observing that it "has had 400,000 miles of random driving without any accidents”. He also praised voice recognition software, which "gathers information and improves" every time you use it.
The doctor added:
“The whole point about machine learning is that computers observe and adapt themselves to what we want and a computer, with a whole host of sensors, really becomes part of your environment. It becomes like your pal – and let’s just assume it’s a nice pal.” ®