Software Hasn’t Come Close to Eating the World
The programs that were supposed to be fun, smart and make our lives easier are so disappointing.
Bloomberg, October 18, 2017
Software is so disappointing.
It was supposed to — in the words of one sage — eat the world, the implication being that it would be modern, brilliant, liberating, hip and fun (assuming it didn’t make you and your job obsolete). Instead, it’s pretty terrible.
It isn’t that we are hurtling too fast into the future, but the exact opposite: Why is the future taking so long to get here?
Some of the blame goes to the programmers who write the software, along with the marketers who endlessly hype and oversell the tech future. Too much time and brainpower is devoted to designing improved sexbots and not enough on making a working robotic personal assistant. There are billions of dollars to be made solving these problems for the first company that figures out the latter.
Forget Moore’s Law; as an alternative, consider Ritholtz’s Law of AI: our impatience grows exponentially with each step closer to functional machine learning and artificial intelligence. It leads us to realize that what we want is even further away than once imagined.
Contrast that with the words of Marc Andreesen, who wrote in a 2011 op-ed under the headline “Why Software is Eating the World“:
Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works.
“Finally works”? Six years after that was published I can say with confidence: Maybe it works, but it sure doesn’t work anywhere near as well as it should. My list of software fails goes back a decade, and almost none of these issues have been resolved. To cite just a few examples…
Continues at Software Hasn’t Come Close to Eating the World