First technology produced the boom. Then it brought the bust. And now? Will it lead us into another round of gizmo-led growth? We asked two of the industry’s smartest leaders around. Here’s their take on the technofuture. Edited

Chief technology officer and executive
vice president of corporate strategy and
business development, Lucent Technologies; President, Bell Labs
Murray Hill, New Jersey

It’s inevitable that we’ll see a tech recovery and a telecom recovery. But as the broader tech sector recovers, the telecom industry won’t be the leading indicator. Instead, you’ll see service providers begin growing revenues. Only then will equipment providers begin to build out networks again.

One thing is certain: We won’t make the same mistakes twice. Now we’re developing new products at Bell Labs that are exciting for the short term, but are also capable of real, long-term revolution in the industry. We’re excited to announce things like a single-molecule transistor, a product that uses multiantennae to boost wireless connections, and software that enables data, voice, and video networks to converge onto one infrastructure backbone.

Most important, these new data, wireless, and optical products have a remarkable level of intelligence. They can survey the network and discover what other elements are available, and then they can configure themselves. These are tasks that used to take 100 or more people to solve and configure by hand. Intelligence in networking is absolutely the next wave of technology.

Bill O’Shea is Lucent’s chief technology officer and executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development. O’Shea also serves as president of Bell Labs, where he has worked since 1972.