A Look into the Future with Halt and Catch Fire

A combination of staying inside forever, calls to build, and stories about discoveries under quarantine (like... gravity) naturally leads conversation about "what's coming next?" Now, I am not the person to try to answer this, but I have a weird angle to try.

I just finished a show on Netflix called Halt and Catch Fire, which is a historical drama about a group of characters making their way through PC companies in the 80s and internet companies in the early 90s (10/10 recommend watching it). Throughout the show, (no spoilers) you see the characters working through futuristic ideas like building a computer that you can talk to, but they come up just short of the real-life world-changing ideas. It makes you want to scream at times because even though the characters are working so hard to figure out the keys to their future, we as the present-day viewer see the obvious pieces that they're missing.

In the scene that sticks out to me the most, (~1992) a venture capitalist makes a case to their partners that the firm needs to hold off on investing in any internet companies because the internet is "too unknown." Today, we can't imagine someone making that mistake. Soon after, the show cuts to a character from another group who outlandishly proclaims that internet search is a $1B+ opportunity. We know that this character was right, and then some. The main difference between these two groups? One had been deep into the internet for months, and the other had not. You can tell which one is which.

So, this had me thinking. What are the parallels to the internet being "too unknown" that we have today? Trying to re-create the framework from Halt and Catch Fire, it should be a technology or idea where the early adopters are claiming $1B–1T+ of opportunity, but in reality there are still minimal mainstream use cases. The answer could be something on the fringe, or it may already be right under our noses.

What will people in 2050 be laughing at in the 2020 version of Halt and Catch Fire? We need to embrace the unknown, and do our best to try to make it known.

Shoutout to The Dan Lebatard Show With Stugotz - Local Hour through Izzy Gutierrez via Mina Kimes for the Halt and Catch Fire recommendation.