In the digital realm, the next big advance will be voice recognition. The rudiments are already here but in primitive form. Ask a computer to “recognize speech,” and it is likely to think you want it to “wreck a nice beach.” But in a decade or so we’ll be able to chat away and machines will soak it all in5. Microchips will be truly embedded in our lives when we can talk to them. Not only to our computers; we’ll also able to chat our automobile navigation systems, telephone consoles6, browsers, thermostats, VCRs, microwaves and any other devices we want to boss around7.
That will open the way to the next phase of the digital age: artificial intelligence. By our providing so many thoughts and preferences to our machines each day, they’ll accumulate enough information about how we think so that they’ll be able to mimic our minds and act as our agents. Scary, huh? But potentially quite useful. At least until they don’t need us anymore and start building even smarter machines they can boss around.
The law powering the digital age up until now has been Gordon Moore’s: that microchips will double in power and halve in price every 18 months or so. Bill Gates rules because early on he acted on the assumption that computing power—the capacity of microprocessors and memory chips—would become nearly free; his company kept churning out more and more lines of complex software to make use of the cheap bounty. The law that will power the next few decades is that the bandwidth (the capacity of fiber-optic and other pipelines to carry digital communications) will become nearly free.
Along with the recent advances in digital switching and storage technologies, this means a future in which all forms of content—movies, music, shows, books, data, magazines, newspapers, your aunt’s recipes and home videos—will be instantly available anywhere on demand. Anyone will be able to be a producer of any content; you’ll be able to create a movie or magazine, make it available to the world and charge for it, just like Time Warner!
The result will be a transition from a mass-market world to a personalized one. Instead of centralized factories and studios that distribute or broadcast the same product to millions, technology is already allowing products to be tailored to each user. You can subscribe to news sources that serve up only topics and opinions that fit your fancy. Everything from shoes to steel can be customized to meet individual wishes.
1. voice recognition:语音识别
2. rudiments:处于早期或未发展阶段的东西，常用复数形式。如： the rudiments of a plan of action (一个行动计划的雏形)。
3. Ask a computer to “ recognize speech.” and it is likely to think you want it to “ wreck It nice beach.”:你要求计算机“识别语音”，而它很可能认为你要它去“毁坏一个美丽的海滩”。这是一个翻译成中文后就无法反映的文字游戏。以较快的语速读“ recognize speech“，其声音效果很像“ wreck a nice”。使用这一文字游戏，旨在说明
4. chat away: 不停地聊。 away:意为“continuously”(连续地)，如: It is raining away.雨不停地下着。
5. soak it all in:全部理解，这里的意思是 :能没有差错地识别语音，理解意思。
6. telephone consoles:电话机座。 console:意为“a cabinet for a radio, television set, or phonograph, designed to stand on the floor” (用来放置收音机、电视机或留声机的机箱或机柜;机座 )。
7. boss around:意为“ to give orders to, especially in a domineering manner”(发号施令 )。
8. artificial intelligence:人工智能
11. Gordon Moore：戈登·穆尔，英国英特尔公司创始人之一， Moore’s Law (穆尔定律)以他的名字命名。穆尔定律即是第三段中他的预言。
12. churning out:意为“to produce in an abundant and automatic manner”(大量产出 )，如: He churns out four novels a year.他一年出四本小说。
1. The techniques of voice recognition A are mature enough for extensive use. B are in its initial stage of development. C will aid people to chat through computers. D will assist people to recognize each other’s voice.
2. According to the second paragraph, when we reach the stage of artificial intelligence, A machines can be our agents us they understand our thoughts. B machines will give orders to smarter machines they build. C machines will not need us any more. D machines will be intelligent enough to boss around.
3. What’s the best description of Gordon Moore’s law as mentioned in the third paragraph? A It motivates the development of the digital world. B Bill Gates rules the digital world with the law. C It enables computing power to become free. D It helps the development of the bandwidth.
4. What can people do in a future scene as described in the fourth paragraph? A Compose music and make it available to the world. B Make films and charge for it. C Write books and sell them. D All of the above.
5. Which of the following statements is true of a personalized market? A The personalized market tends to be replaced by the mass market. B The same product is distributed to millions of users. C In a personalized market, products are tailored to each consumer. D Individuals can control centralized factories and studios.