Within the next decade, computers will get smaller, faster and -- most importantly -- smarter.
The world should expect to see just as much -- or more -- development in computing technology through the next 10 years as there was in the past decade, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Friday, the Charlotte Observer reported.
In his speech that headlined the N.C. Technology Association conference in uptown Charlotte, Ballmer spoke to an audience of technology workers about everything from health care costs to the launch and future of Microsoft's new Internet search engine, Bing.
“Nothing ever slows down,” he said, emphasizing the need for continuing research and development even in a weakened economy. “There continues to be amazing change, and it's not just in the new things you see and read.”
Just 10 years ago, fewer than half of households had desktop computers or cell phones. Now both electronics are ever present across the globe. The next decade, Ballmer said, will be marked by even more rapid changes in technology.
New age computers will not only displace the classic pen and paper, Ballmer said, but some will even be able to intuit what you're searching for online. For example, when you type the word “Chicago” into a search engine, the Web will be able to determine whether you meant the city, the band or the musical based on your Internet search history.
Another part of the future is the development of a more natural interface. Computer users will soon be able to speak to, touch and gesture at their computers even more.
Ballmer's also discussed the key role of information technology in repairing nation's tortured economy. He said that about half of today's Fortune 500 companies began business during a recession, and that companies can help themselves and the country bounce back by pursuing high-tech research, development and innovation.
“There is an unnatural opportunity and responsibility to help drive the productivity and innovation that can let the economy come back and grow again,” Ballmer said. “It is a tough time, but it is a time for those of us in the technology industry to say, ‘Hey, it's our time. It's our time to do something great.'”
The N.C. Technology Association, chaired this year by Charlotte-based Peak 10's David Jones, is nonprofit industry organization that regularly holds conferences, hosts speakers and collects data to promote the information-technology industry.
The conference was Ballmer's first visit to Charlotte in five years. Microsoft has about 1,200 employees working out of Charlotte and 200 near Raleigh.