After Digital - what next?

Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
So as the endless debate about whether digital is better than analog or vice-versa rages on - I ask "What's next?"
Digital audio has been around since the 60s at least and has been a practical consumer format since the 80s. Digital photos, video and TV are more recent in the mainstream, but we are used to them now and are pretty happy with them. We like to think they are pretty cool.

" an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea." Douglas Adams

We tend to think digital is "it" even if analog looks and sounds better in the opinion of some folk. Digital is the modern world, and the modern world is digital. 0101011100, etc. How could we or our databases live without it? The Interweb runs on it, computers are full of it. But surely there will be something else along soon enough. What?

What's after digital? How will we store data and do calculations? DNA matrix? Carbon particles? Quantum storage devices? What will be the format, and what will the physical media be? And will we be nostalgic for bits and bytes when the new technology comes along? Will ones as zeros soon seem as quaint as the wire recorder and paper punch cards?

Thoughts?
 
Hi panomaniac,
I think it is, at present, impossible to deduce what will follow digital technology. I'm not sure anything will for quite some time. Advances in computing power through quantum computers will be the next great technical inovation if the technology can be made to work reliably and cheaply. Where that will lead us who know's.
When the laser was first invented nobody could have anticipated the uses that would be found for them. I'm sure that will be the same with quantum computing. Whether the software for quantum computers will still be using 0's and 1's in there present form I doubt very much.

As far as audio is concerned, representing everthing as 0's and 1's is extremely useful and enables us to manipulate music in an extraordinary number of ways. If sampling rates were to be increased by several orders of magnitude then the waveform would be getting much closer "back" to the original analogue form. This just takes computer power and speed but will still use 0's an 1's

I could ask another question "what happens after class A,B,A/B,G,H,D" What technology will appear that gives us a "straight wire with gain" ?
 
Digital will remain the underlying representation of music - it is the most fundamental way of representing information and can't be further reduced.

The medium for storing and transmitting will probably change. My guess is that 5-7 years from now there will not be CDs. Instead there will just be non moving storage devices that are filled with data via wireless or via PCs where the music has been downloaded from the net. Even music retail stores (if they exist) will just be wireless transmission sites for those with portable devices.
 
Digital will remain the underlying representation of music - it is the most fundamental way of representing information and can't be further reduced.

I disagree

Sound is the variation of air pressure, so the most fundamental way of representing it is as variations of air pressure (hmm :rolleyes:) or as some other magnitude proportional to it (e.g., deflection of a spiral groove in a flat polymer disk, magnetization of particles on a plastic tape carrier)

Kenneth
 

Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
Yes it's very hard to predict - but why not fire up the imagination? Could electrical recording have been predicted in 1900? Probably not. But it was just around the corner. Then came magnetic and optical recording. All analog, of course!

But undoubtedly something will replace digital. Maybe it's too soon to know what. aren't there any budding technologies out there?
 

EBM_dude

Member
2009-08-21 11:34 am
Germany
If there's another world war, then there will be no digital anymore, just a few stones and rocks our descendants will use for, well, whatever they think of.
Nerves work somewhat digital while DNA uses 4 "states" (=different molecules) for storing information and is self correcting to a degree.
 
... the most fundamental way of representing it is as variations of air pressure (hmm :rolleyes:) or as some other magnitude proportional to it (e.g., deflection of a spiral groove in a flat polymer disk, magnetization of particles on a plastic tape carrier)....

Kenneth

What's about the memristor :) it's a "new" electronic device... found approx 100 years after the other 3... There will be much space in the nano area to get things we can't imagine.... But somewhere technology will stop and break into another area... Computers can't run faster since 3 years (approx 3 GHz), so there's a frontier.. also in manufacturing, assembling, .......

Digital seems not to be the truth.. it's an amazing way to describe nature and simulate it , but maths and nature aren't digital... even if resolution is pushed (4-Bit -> 8 Bit ->.... 64 Bit -> ....), there's no complete description of nature or math... calculators can calculate very fast, but they must give up, if there is an equitation and I wanna have the generic solution, not a number :eek:

So future will be a better way of digital to describe nature or it will be (in what way ever) analog.
 
Modern electronics achievements prove that discreet (or so call digital) is a more robust and cost effective technology.

My prediction that future audio would be based on DSD recordings and digital stream would be separated in active speakers by means of digital crossovers to power up dedicated D amps connected to every driver directly. No passive crossovers anymore, no decimation filters. Actually it can be done today using SACD.

Storage for digital recordings could be any. Мagneto optics is the most reliable one up to date.
 
maybe a different medium, or a different name, but will be essentially the same thing. even what we called analogue waveforms are interoperated electrically and if you look close enough at the chemical transfer of the electrical impulses, is rather similar to digital, our DNA is also effectively encoded digitally. any form of information musty be broken up into more manageable sized bits in order for us to manipulate them
 
Although sounds are analog in transit and as transduced through eardrum, hammer, anvil, stirrup and cochlear window, it's fair to argue that the ultimate conversion to nerve impulses in the cochlea is digital. Individual hair cells in the Organ of Corti tuned to specific frequency ranges fire in response to hydrodynamic currents in the cochlear fluid (an organic ADC).

So in that sense the data from the hair cells resembles a multi-channel fourier transform of the analog data binned in specific frequency ranges with loudness encoded by the firing rate. Further up the chain the brain decodes this array of data and synthesizes the mental sensation of sound with all of its nuances, which we perceive as smooth and continuous.

This product of hundreds of millions of years of evoulution can be judged to be fairly well optimized, and since it is what we audio nuts are ultimately trying to please it would seem to suggest that there is no inherent bias against digital!:cool:
 
In the near audio future, animatronic robots, synced to hard drive music storage units, will perform great works of the western classical repertoire, on acoustic instruments, sans amplification, in our living spaces. It will be the perfect marriage of technology and art in the service of humankind. That, or the kids will all want cranial i-Pod implants.
 

benb

Member
2010-04-24 1:52 am
In the near audio future, animatronic robots, synced to hard drive music storage units, will perform great works of the western classical repertoire, on acoustic instruments, sans amplification, in our living spaces. It will be the perfect marriage of technology and art in the service of humankind. That, or the kids will all want cranial i-Pod implants.
The near future is here, well almost:
YouTube - Spruce Deuce v1.2
On the other hand there's Pat Metheny's modern Orchestrion, perhaps the most advanced "device" of its kind:
YouTube - Pat Metheny Introduces "Orchestrion"