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In 2010, it is safer because software technologies provide protections. However, the world has also become more dangerous because the atmosphere of mutual trust that was the basis of the early Internet has been largely obliterated. In the peer sets of 2010, each member of a peer set has its own internal model of what its environment is supposed to look like. The infamous Spyware Debacle of 2005 is long past. As a discipline, software engineering in 2010 has changed in some rather striking ways, although some might argue that it has simply returned to its roots. Outsourcing of both the private and the open-source varieties has removed most of the more mundane programming tasks from the main job market. Sophisticated automation of simpler programming tasks has led to a further reduction in the need for traditional programmers. A particularly popular approach has been to use interactive wizards in household appliances and entertainment devices. The fact that vendors sell many such software packages as integral parts of small, dedicated hardware appliances (rather than bits) further enhances software development's growing resemblance to traditional forms of engineering, such as civil and electrical. Such packaging dramatically increases the provable levels of many desirable system properties by resolving the physical-access bypass problem that has plagued software security since its origins. The creativity programming market uses many of the same languages as the late 1990s and early 2000s, of course, but with several surprises. Ada, once given up for dead by the US Department of Defense community that created it, has become the darling of the commercial-properties-composition industry. XML has continued to expand. Open source software has ceased to be controversial after businesses began to interpret it as an effective way to control the long-term support costs of the shared software infrastructure. The result is a much more stratified use of open source and proprietary software, with the widely shared infrastructure typically being open source. Finally, one of the more-interesting ongoing news items of 2010 has been the partial collapse of the international patent system, centering around claims of "patent feudalism" in software and biotechnology industries.
Date of Publication: Nov.-Dec. 2004