ASP99: BT's Peter Cochrane sees info-chaos

Technologist says microprocessors rule the earth -- humans, and governments, need to catch up.

In a well-received keynote at ASP99 Thursday morning, BT's Chief Technologist, Peter Cochrane OBE, outlined a vision of the future in which 95 percent of global communications will be machine-to-machine, as the world shrinks and distance and geography become irrelevant.

Warming up the audience with an anecdote about his home life, Cochrane explained that there are "certain benefits to my job, including a one and a half megabit line straight into my house" -- yet his children still want to know, "When are we going to get some serious bandwidth in this place?"

The central theme of the keynote was the triumph of bits over atoms, that the smart money was now shifting into logistics companies and that information overload is leading to chaos. "There has always been chaos but now we can see it," Cochrane said.

"Binary now rules the world with 20 billion microprocessors to 6 billion people... and by 2010 the GDP of the entire world will be eclipsed by the Internet." Survival in the Internet age will require adaptable companies, with flexible management and flat structures.

Cochrane is a well-known advocate of wearable computers, and did not disappoint the audience today, doing a twirl to reveal several devices attached to his belt, and predicting that in the future "real-estate on belts will be the most expensive."

Major industries are going to disappear in a massive disintermediation that will grip world commerce as old industries fail to adapt to the e-economy, said Cochrane. "There is not a shadow of a doubt that the world e-economy is now worth more than a trillion dollars," he said.

Governments need to catch up, if they are to deal with entrepreneurs buying supertankers, sailing them to international workers and using them as e-commerce server farms, thus avoiding all local taxes, according to Cochrane.

Take me to the ASP News Special.