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366 The Future

a factor of 10 better in terms of quality, as measured in defects per thousands of lines of code, and at a productivity rate that is a factor of 2 to 3 times higher, as measured in thousands of lines of code per person per day. This development environment is often called a software factory, and as with any U.S. factory, no one wants to work in on~ certainly not America’s creative software engineers

Thus, over the next decade, when software products become better defined by standards (e.g., VHSIC's VHDL language for describing digital systems) and by well-developed algorithms and paradigms in well-defined domains (e.g., spreadsheets, electronic computer-aided design [ECAD] for very-large-scale integration [VLSI] design), Japan will dominate the software products market just as it dominates nearly all markets for physical goods. In any case, the software industry will remain only a small fraction of the entire high-technology industry until all computers cost just a few hundred dollars.

American engineers, coupled with the American MBAs who manage most U.S. organizations, will ensure the continued decline of the information-processing industry, because this deadly duo focuses on the human organization (and especially its political structure), not on the technology and product. The remaining bastion of American creativity, software products, may be eroded more rapidly than hardware. The highly disciplined, process-engineering nature of Japanese software engineering is antithetical to the U.S. software-engineering culture. As is the case with the steel-making industry, the old ways are too deeply ingrained in the culture to permit change. Thus, other countries will study and profit from the considerable body of knowledge about software engineering accumulated and taught by the U.S. academic establishment long before the United States does. Here, as in other aspects of engineering and manufacturing, the U.S. must switch its role from teacher to student and colleague.



This book has presented many technology and product ideas to stimulate the reader. I see almost unlimited possibilities for products extending well beyond the year 2001, just by extrapolating from the technology currently expected to be available. In this regard, the Kurzweil time line establishes many wonderful goals.

If any of the new-product development scenarios are to become a reality, however, it will most likely occur outside of the evolutionary product development process that is characteristic of established companies. Thus, entrepreneurs and venture capital must continue to exist. Hence, the opportunity for start-ups. If the reader is in a large organization and is trying to invent or even innovate, the challenge is to outperform the start-ups, the Japanese, and the rest of the world-all of whom are trying to build better products.

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