Sunday, June 13, 2010

Obvious things that I can't see

Everyone takes for granted these days that the future belongs to cloud computing and China. Google will dominate cloud computing, the PC will die, and everything will be stored and processed by big server farms. China will . . . I don't know what people think China will do but it will become the world's "superpower."

The thing is, the cloud is far from certainty. A lot of people are uncomfortable with trusting companies with all of their personal data, without an on-site backup. (Google admitting to spying on people didn't help their case.) More importantly, our wireless networks aren't even close to fast or reliable enough to do anything other than back up data on the cloud. Amazon just launched a new data service to utilize their server farms, but, as anyone in the know would expect, they are asking users to send large chunks of data through ... FedEx.

China, meanwhile, has a GDP (PPP) per capita of about $6,000. Hong Kong is rich, and a few mainland cities (e.g. Shanghai and Beijing) are comparable to Mississippi in development, but the fact is that China is a very poor, technologically backward, uneducated country. Even if China manages to grow 8% a year and the U.S. has anemic growth at 2%, it will take China 35 years to catch up with the U.S. But that seems unlikely as, right now, China is playing catch-up, utilizing cheap labor and old technology to manufacture products developed countries used to make for themselves. Korea, Taiwan, and Japan did the same in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and as all growth models predicted, their rapid growth tapered off before they caught up with the U.S.

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