The Internet of Things and the Emergence of Planetary Public Policy
It is always good to re-read Kevin Kelly’s Rules for the New Economy (article came out in 1997, the book in 1999). My Tec de Monterrey students will remember that we read it in 2003 as “contemporary political theory.” The following passage is taken from the 1999 book:
A trillion dumb chips connected into a hive mind is the hardware. The software that runs through it is the network economy. A planet covered with hyperlinked chips is shrouded with waves of sensibility. Millions of moisture sensors in the fields of farmers shoot up data, hundreds of weather satellites beam down digitized images, thousands of cash registers spit out bit streams, myriad hospital bedside monitors trickle out signals, millions of web sites tally attention, and tens of millions of vehicles transmit their location code; all of this swirls into the web. That matrix of signals is the net.
The following film done by the IBM a-smarter-planet crowd interprets this idea in 2010:
The net is not just humans typing at one another on AOL, although that is a part of it and will be as long as seduction and flaming are enjoyable. Rather, the net is the total collective interaction of a trillion objects and living beings, linked together through air and glass.
… The network economy is already expanding to include new participants: agents, bots, objects, and servers, as well as several billion more humans. We won’t wait for AI to make intelligent systems; we’ll do it with the swarm power of ubiquitous computing and pervasive connections.
The surest way to smartness is through massive dumbness.
The surest way to advance massive connectionism is to exploit decentralized forces—to link the distributed bottom. How do you build a better bridge? Let the parts talk to one another. How do you improve lettuce farming? Let the soil speak to the farmer’s tractors. How do you make aircraft safe? Let the airplanes communicate among themselves and pick their own flight paths. This decentralized approach, known as “free flight,” is a system the FAA is now trying to institute to increase safety and reduce air-traffic bottlenecks at airports.