The main bottleneck to progress in software is increasingly our ideas, rather than technological limitations. This is a sign that our field is stagnating.
I recently spoke to a friend in biotechnology who depressingly proclaimed to me: “The entire field is full of great ideas, but we won’t have the technology to bring them to life for another decade at least”
That was one of the more exciting things I had heard in a while!
In 1960 computer science was in its infancy. Mainframes were starting to be adopted in large industries to solve very specific issues. The world was beginning to realize the incredible potential of computation. But already in the 60’s the field was full of ideas! Many of computer science’s great ideas were thought up much before we had the technology to bring them to life.
The following decades saw computing moving ever close to the consumer. Only a few decades later a personal computer would be commonplace in many households. Everyone’s lives were now directly being affected by the industry.
Biotechnology sounds to me much like computing in the 60’s. The first real applications of the field are being brought to life in large industries, but are still many steps removed from the consumer. Like computer science, this will rapidly change. This decade might bring cultivated meat to my local store. Who knows what the following decades will bring.
Innovation happens in fields where our ideas are limited by our means to pursue them. Software is no longer such a field, our brightest minds should be going elsewhere.