ECONOMY

Future of computers lies in simplifying their complex design

«After the Internet bubble, we now have the complexity bubble,» Nicholas Negroponte, the Greek-born director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab, said yesterday. Speaking at the 14th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT), a biennial meeting being held in Athens by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) from May 19-21, Negroponte noted that technology products, such as computers, remain complex and that to date it has not been possible to simplify them. Due to this complexity, the use of computers and other related appliances remains expensive, but this cannot continue, he said, adding that many such machines are becoming by the day even more complex to use, as new capacities are added to them. An example is laptops, which can now be operated as sound systems or photographic cameras. «The only limitation now is the size of the human hand, but we need simplification and a change of design in PCs,» Negroponte said. A major challenge concerns the design of communication methods, or interfaces, between gadgets and humans, with a view to making such machines easier to use. «You must be certain that when a you make a small mistake, that even a 7-year old boy can understand, the computer will not stop working,» he said. «We must make appliances that have common sense; in the next decade, we shall begin seeing such computers and telecommunications systems,» he added. Negroponte said it is a mistake to keep adding more and more power to increasingly smaller machines, effectively turning them into potential explosive devices. He cited wireless telecommunications as an example of how to improve the use of technology in the future. He said most people believe there is an overutilization of radio frequencies, oblivious to the fact that at any given moment not more than 1 percent of them is used. This shortcoming is not due to inadequate technologies but to the regulatory framework, which doesn’t allow the optimum management of frequencies. Greece’s Giorgos Ioannidis, managing director of Internet provider OTEnet, said that for the limited acceptance of technology, the blame cannot be solely placed on consumers but also on telecommunication service providers, which must change the way they promote their products. Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis, who opened the conference, said the government is preparing a draft bill toward creating a predictable, stable and secure environment for investment in electronic communications.