Innovation is a big thing here in Silicon Valley these days, and vast sums are being invested in innovations. However, most of these "innovations" will fail. Here are some problems.
The investors want an innovation just like the innovation that made the last guy rich. It's not only the investors but also the technologists. For example, a vast number of proposals are based on psyching out the behavior of web pages and feeding them the pages they ought to have. Maybe one or two such applications will survive.
Many people think that everyone will want to be "in touch" and reachable all the time. There are a few people who have an actual requirement for that. Most people's requirements will be satisfied by having a good cell phone.
Some futurists and many startup promoters predict innovations that will be trivial in their benefits. Robert Lucky had a nice piece in IEEE Spectrum, 1999 March, making fun of the predictions that everything will be connected to everything else. He wondered about his toaster's future web page. It's necessary to figure out which interconnections will be worthwhile and which won't.
I think the dot com collapse permits me to say, "I told you so" to at least some of the entrepreneurs.
Here's a slightly updated 1970s essay on science fiction as prediction.
There will be some more skepticism.
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Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I sometimes make changes suggested in them. - John McCarthy
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