TECHNOLOGY tends to cascade into the marketplace in waves. Think of personal computers in the 1980s, the Internet in the 1990s and smartphones in the last five years.
Computing may be on the cusp of another such wave. This one, many researchers and entrepreneurs say, will be based on smarter machines and software that will automate more tasks and help people make better decisions in business, science and government. And the technological building blocks, both hardware and software, are falling into place, stirring optimism.