The Internet of Things

Introduced of Cory Doctorow, science-fiction author Bruce Sterling, spoke on the themes of ubiquitous computation. Now based in Belgrade, Sterling continues to blog and write fiction as he observes the rehabilitation of a failed state. The Internet of Things, predicts Sterling, will take around thirty years (as did barcodes) to emerge fully…also predicting that at age eighty-six, he’ll be needing an Internet of Things…

Currently, the field is still defining its vocabulary and terminology as experimenters begin to tinker with the technology. By ‘freezing’ the terminology of artificial intelligence and thinking machines, Sterling contends that AI’s potential was funneled into narrow directions. Google appears to be intelligent, but is not presented as a thinking machine like Microsoft Bob and Ask Jeeves…a linking, ranking and sorting machine, not a classical ‘AI’ – Turing vs Google! Artificial Turings and Feynmans may not be able to efficiently compute the cheapest local plumber…perhaps talking about sorting machines rather than AI would have produced a Google in the 1980s…

The socially generated knowledge of the Internet is not about intelligance, but changing our relationship with the physical world through laptops, phones, PDAs and cameras. Objects can be labelled with electronic tags that can be sorted, ranked, located and connected…objects that are auto-Googled?

Sterling goes on to describe spimes, fabjects and blogjects as the artefacts of an Internet of Things – our posessions are no longer inventoried in our heads, but by machines around us. Google my shoes! Trackbacks to my car! Interestingly, at ETel, Peter Cochrane spoke ot logistics and things as a large global economic growth area; Sterling seems to underline the potential here and reflect the timescales noted by Cochrane.

After introducing ThingLink as a generic term to encompass identifiers for objects, Sterling contrasts spimes with Blogjects, with the latter providing a near-term realisation of the potential of Things. Evocative Knowledge Objects, Ubiquitous Findable Objects,

BTW, I wrote about Sterling’s fabjects a couple years ago as part of a rif on fabbing and P2P….the napsterisation of things? Things 2.0…pick your meme 🙂

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