Life in the tech age

Judy Estrin, former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems, recently wrote a book titled “Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy.” She said now that we have a strong information technology framework in place, the interesting work begins.

FCW: If you could instantly create one new technology tool or capability, what problem would you seek to solve?
Estrin: One of biggest problems in IT is security authentication. The Internet has brought us a richness of information but also a real problem in terms of being able to authenticate information and users. Enterprises spend millions of dollars on this.

FCW: What disruptive technologies do you see making their presence felt in the next two to four years?
Estrin: The most interesting developments in IT will be interdisciplinary, blending information from the physical world with information-processing systems. People think IT is a dead field. In terms of computers and networking, IT is a reasonably mature market now. But the application of information processing to the fields of medical data and imaging, security, alternative energy, and consumer entertainment will be exciting.

FCW: What technology or consequence of technology do you find most fascinating? Are there any that you think are regrettable?
Estrin: All advances have consequences. The Internet is a wonderful thing that amplifies both the good and bad of human behavior. Often when we invent technology, we don’t think enough about the human behavior part. I hope if we can get more collaboration between users and technology developers earlier on, we can think about some of the consequences. 

About the Author

John Zyskowski is a senior editor of Federal Computer Week. Follow him on Twitter: @ZyskowskiWriter.

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