Simon Wardley: Any Given Tuesday
When everything is tagged, everything is online and everything is a network, great things can happen. CSC Ingenious Minds’ Simon Wardley illustrates the potential of technology during his daily routine.
Consider two scenarios.
In the first scenario, I wake up at 6:45 a.m., spend 10 minutes looking for my watch, leave the house late only to wait 30 minutes for a train because of a cancellation and get soaked because it is raining. I arrive at work at 9:35 and discover my CFO has been trying to call but I’ve left my phone at home, realize I have football today but no boots as I threw them away last week, and remember it’s my sister’s birthday tomorrow.
I’m wet, late and without coffee. I’ve annoyed my CFO, I’ll miss football and I’ve still got to work out what to do about my sister. I’m hardly in the best mind-set for work.
In the second scenario, I wake up 15 minutes earlier, collect my watch and phone from the kitchen table, leave the house at 6:50 with an umbrella from beside the door, catch the 7:15 train, pick up pre-ordered football boots from the sports store and grab a coffee. I arrive at work at 9:15 and tell my CFO the report is done. I’ve already sent my sister a new iPod to replace the one that broke.
I’m on time, dry, and with coffee. I can play football, my sister’s present is sorted and the report is complete. I’m in the right mind-set for work.
What happened between the two scenarios? Did I become Mr. Organized or learn the 27 secrets of successful people? No, it’s all done with technology.
First, everything is tagged, everything is online and everything is a network. My network of things knows it’s Tuesday, what I need for work, where those things are, the weather forecast, and train times and cancellation information. It knows I play football on Tuesday and that I threw my boots away. It knows I like coffee. It knows my sister’s birthday is coming up, asks her network for suggestions and discovers she broke her iPod and hasn’t replaced it. My network knows my CFO was in a meeting and what was discussed.
My network of things can find shops for boots and coffee, and calculate a route to those shops on the way to work. It can calculate travel time, find the iPod and analyze the CFO meeting.
The network just has to ask me whether to buy the boots and iPod, and whether to prepare a report for the CFO. Then it can calculate my journey and wake me up when I need to be woken up.
This is what I call augmented intelligence — ask the questions, take care of the details. All of this was technically feasible back in 2005; it was just incredibly difficult and uneconomic to do so. However, today things are changing rapidly and it’s all becoming much more feasible.
To really achieve the second scenario, we need smart agents — devices that can record, analyze and interpret all the data exhaust we create. Plus, we need mechanisms for sharing between agents, since the information I want my network to give to your network depends upon who you are.
All the components for this are coming into place. The iPhone has Siri, the Android has Evi, and Amazon recently released a distributed task and decision manager in Amazon SWF. We have increasing use of printed active RFIDs and near-field communication. We need some security mechanisms but there are smart people like the Bromium crowd who are solving that problem.
The second scenario is within spitting distance. This future of augmented intelligence goes way beyond popular misconceptions of heads-up display information. There are also serious social implications, but for now I’ll just say I think some people are seriously underestimating both Siri and SWF.