Almost a year ago, I wrote a short quip that is turning out to be an evergreen reminder:

… thought leaders are in full force with quips like, "it will be really easy to be left behind.

That’s gatekeeping, and it’s a lie.

I was thinking specifically about the growing hype around AI when I wrote that. While the hype hasn’t subsided, it has become clear to most people that the large language and diffusion models that constitute the “artificial intelligence” space right now are increasingly approachable. The notion of “prompt engineering” as a required skill will soon vanish.[1]

This week’s future of computing

That post came to mind this week when tech attention shifted to Apple’s Vision Pro, which customers began receiving a couple days ago.

There’s some reality distortion happening; others have been in the mixed-reality space for a long time, but Apple is receiving a substantial amount of credit for creating something very different. Admittedly, their first efforts are impressive, and offer a glimpse of new computing paradigms. However, they’re hardly the first in this space, and the barrier to entry is staggeringly high for most people.

Tim Cook says it’s tomorrow’s technology today.

The problem I have with Tim’s assertion is that it implies it is the only technology - that spatial computing is the future. It’s absolutely going to be an interesting part of the future, but spatial computing will not be the singular experience for computing.

Ask ambient computing how that worked out.

Not left behind

The second, larger issue, I have with the topic is that there’s a push (even within indie developer circles) to make sure your app experiences are customized for this new platform. The prompt being, you don’t want your users to not be able to experience your app in a spatial environment.

Here, the implication is that you’ll either miss out on critical sales, or that other experiences will steal the attention of current or prospective users and you’ll never have a chance to win their usage or business.

In that post I go on to say:

“Imagine being 10 years old right now, and having some old dude say, you need to learn [tech of the day] or you’ll be left behind.”

That’s not how technology works. You can join at any time, with any past experience, and start learning something new. There’s a place for you.

There’s still going to be a place for you. It’s okay to sit on the sidelines for the first round and be a spectator.[2]

The Macintosh was 28 years old when I started my first professional job targeting the platform. Against all odds, I managed to learn enough to be paid a healthy salary doing that work, in spite of being born just months before the Macintosh was released.

Don’t sweat it. You won’t be left behind when the future of computing arrives.

  1. The idea that special intelligence is required to use artificial intelligence is pretty rich ↩︎

  2. If you were excited about getting a Vision Pro, but couldn’t because of the cost, compatibility with your eye prescription, or because of where you live… I hope that Apple will address those issues in the next revision. I’m very interested in the platform, and have felt some FOMO too. But it’s simply not in a place that makes sense for me today. ↩︎