“When I was a kid, I always liked to tinker with stuff. I would tear things apart, figure out how they worked, and put them back together,” said Alistair Israel, Amihan’s Enterprise Architect and founder of Yehey, one of the pioneering web portals in the Philippines.

“I’m still doing the same thing now – learning, experimenting, seeing how things work – but now I’m doing it in the context of helping startups and large corporations innovate.”

On February 1, 2017, Israel spoke at A Space Manila’s _TALKS event on the subject of Tech Evolution. There, he shared learnings on the history and future of technological change from his 20 years in the industry. Other speakers at the event were Stefano Fazzini, CEO of Metromart, and Jean Ong, Product Manager at Global Telecom.

Israel began by describing the exponential growth of computing power since the 1960s. This is called Moore’s Law: every year, the number of transistors one could fit into a microprocessor would double. In the late 1980s, you had 100,000 transistors in a chip; by the year 2000, that number would be about 100 million; today, the largest transistor count is 7.2 billion. “If you take an Android phone today and recreate just the microprocessor using 1971 technology, you would need a supercomputer the size of a parking space.”

This is happening everywhere in tech, said Israel. He drew a connection to the rise of the Internet of Things: In 2005, we had less than half a billion Internet-connected devices. Today, we have more than 25 billion. “The story everywhere is accelerating change,” said Israel, “and it’s not slowing down.”

What will that future look like? Israel discussed other emerging technologies that are on their way to breaking through, chief among them being artificial intelligence. “If this decade is the decade of big data and cloud computing, 2020 onwards is going to be all about machine learning and AI.”

This is significant in that AI allows for greater abstraction. “You used to have to install everything manually in your computer, but now, you can take out your phone, go to the app store, and press the install button.” It has become abstracted; you no longer have to worry about the technical details, which allows more people to interact with the technology and build on top of it. Soon, artificial intelligence will create even more abstraction: “You just talk to your phone and ask it to compute something you and it will do it.” With more of the grunt work for everything being done by machines, the rate of change and innovation is poised to explode.

With all of this comes more opportunity for everyone. He described data as one of the great frontiers: “As the amount of data we generate and gather grows, computing and storage costs keep going down. That big gap right there to me represents the Big Data opportunity.”

In his view, technologists and entrepreneurs in Asia have the most to gain. “Multinational companies are already basing themselves in Asia more and more. And the opposite is also true: Asian technology is beginning to dominate the market everywhere.”

“This is only going to keep speeding up,” he said, “as open source software allows developers around the world to collaborate, open courseware enables more people to learn skills on demand, and the overall democratization of tech gives everyone the power to create.”

For Israel, who taught himself to code at age 10 and built one of the country’s pioneering web a few years out of college, technology will always represent this: a revolution in how people in countries like the Philippines are able to create solutions and connect the world. The best part is that it’s only beginning.