Many of these uses sound as farfetched as did science fiction predictions of 30 or 50 years ago that suggested that late-twentieth-century technology would make flying cars and vacations on the moon part of the everyday fabric of life. While some of his predicted applications are likely to be commonplace in the relatively near future, they are blended indiscriminately with applications which appear to be impractical and unlikely.
One such example is his extrapolation of the current trend toward telecommuting as a more efficient way of conducting those aspects of business which do not require an employee to work from a set location. He suggests that the information highway will eventually enable customers to connect directly and immediately with the specific individual designated by a company as able to handle the customer's particular need or complaint. For instance, a company which manufactures and sells hiking equipment might have an expert on staff in the construction and use of ice axes. Current telecommunications technology would allow a customer to contact that expert directly and ask detailed questions about the appropriateness of a particular axe in climbing a particular mountain. However, Gates' suggestion that the two human beings involved in this conversation would eventually be able to interact in real time at any moment of the day convenient to the customer does not take into account international time differences and the fact that the expert might be asleep or out climbing a mountain when the call was placed.
Gates admits that many of his specific predictions may soon appear to be completely off-base. He is at his best when he is concentrating on the larger questions that the information explosion poses and the lessons that can be learned from the past. He argues, "The relevant question is, 'What if communicating were almost free?'" (p. 18). Many of his predictions are attempts to answer this question in s...
Bill Gates' The Road Ahead. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 23:26, September 27, 2016, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303593502.html