The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

The edge and the interconnection of things

This article from the BBC talks about UN predictions about the use of RFID and other techniques for putting computing in things that will change the world. It looks at the issues from more of a global perspective. Discussing how multi-national business are forcing countries to adopt the new technology.


EDS' been talking about "the edge" for a number of years, but looking forward, when nearly everything has some level of embedded computing capability, the edge will disappear into the environment, providing a much more finely grained and contextually aware world.


There are already examples of self-organizing systems (in the wild) that can collect information about their surroundings. It is only a matter of time until we figure out what to do with the technology. When we get to the point that loads of bananas (or any other perishable item) can self direct themselves based on their condition to the most effective location for maximum profit for the enterprise, we'll be to the point of a contextually aware and efficiently running environment.

Latency and progress in computing

I went to the University of North Texas recently with a number of other folks to talk with a class completing their master’s degree in computer science. One of the topics we discussed was the rate of change of computing capability. A presenter provided a chart similar to the following:

  • 2010 - 3,000 MIPS: Lizard-scale intelligence
  • 2020 - 100,000 MIPS: Mouse-scale intelligence
  • 2030 - 3,000,000 MIPS: Monkey-scale intelligence
  • 2040 - 100,000,000 MIPS: Human-scale intelligence

His numbers were more aggressive than these (saying we are already at mouse level computing capability today, but I looked around and pulled these numbers from another source). The details don't really matter, it's the concept of advancing technology that is important.

What struck me about this level of advancement is that the hardware that is capable of performing computation at the level of a mouse is actually being written by people who are most familiar with lizard-scale capabilities. It takes at least one generation to take real advantage of any new technology, once it comes on the scene.

There are many reasons why this happens, but one is: the zealot of today is the Luddite of tomorrow. We've probably all experienced the extinction of technologies we thought were leading edge at one time: structured programmingOO programmingSOA.

That's why EDS creates tools like BuzzTracker to allow us to see the relationship between technologies. It makes you realize that everything has a time when it is delivery-ready and a time when its usefulness draws to a close. Many times, its usefulness can be directly related to another complementary technology.

Organizations don’t currently appear to take into account these migration costs as part of their technology implementation. Anything that goes into production will be removed someday. With concepts like SOA, utility computing – additional flexibility and lower disposal costs will be available to those who want to take advantage of it.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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