What makes something sentient? What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord? Is it a gift from God or hard science? Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size? There are many models, of course. But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!
Oh, wait …!
The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel: http://tinyurl.com/VicGroutConscious
Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future. The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before. People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated. But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why. What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!
A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer. But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true. And that’s only the start. Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it. And not everyone is on their side!
When Shazam first arrived on the scene, it was pretty amazing stuff; now, we rather take it for granted. But could the same idea soon work for people?
We know the scenario … You’re in a bar or a shop or listening to the radio or TV … or … just about anything really … and you hear a song that you either like or think you recognise or both … but you don’t know what it is. Frustrating, isn’t it? At least it was until music identification services such as Shazam first appeared. After that, no worries; simply allow your mobile to listen to the music for a few seconds, search the central database and, after a few more seconds, it reports back to you with full details of the name, artist and origin. It might even link you to a central library where you can find more of the same or possibly buy it.
Simple enough; but, might the same principle one day work for people? It’s really not that hard to imagine …
Accessible text version of photo
Then: “Ah, but this is only the free stuff. If you’re prepared to pay, I can tell you a lot more about him … “
It sounds like a science fiction ‘Big Brother for Everyone’ nightmare scenario. But could it happen? If so, how soon? Continue reading
(or “Is ‘Everything’ Going to be OK?”)
A very brief note, this one, along the lines of, “Why do we always over-hype ideas? Even the good ones?”
So is it the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) or the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE)? Or are they different things? If so, what’s the difference?
Well, we’ve been talking about the IoT for some time now. And it certainly seems to some that the IoE is just a better-sounding name for it. Cisco though seem to have other ideas. Here, “Cisco Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery explains how technology transitions like the Internet of Things are enabling the Internet of Everything to revolutionize industries and create value.” Any idea what that actually means? Nope, thought not. Continue reading
(This post is derived from a talk given at the 2012 Wrexham Science Festival.)
There are so many different ways of describing the Internet of Things. On the one hand, maybe it’s what the original Internet was always destined to be; on the other, it’s about as boring as it gets. Tag just about anything and everything we can stick a label on, let them talk to each other, then turn the existing Internet into a massive database of things that can be referenced, interconnected and used any which way we like. Great if you really need your fridge to reorder the milk for you or the plants to water themselves but hardly inspirational. Two features, however, give the proposed (and not yet fully considered) IoT a serious ‘Oooh!’ factor …
Firstly, the ever-increasing intelligence of the Internet will allow us to manipulate this data in new and exciting ways. More and more, the evolving Semantic Web will be able to understand the information it’s working with and make the best use of it for our benefit. Our personal and working lives are about to become completely automated and made easier by web intelligence. Secondly, and potentially on the darker side, other hardware and software developments will extend the IoT’s reach. Face-recognition, image-scanners and numerous other advanced detectors and sensors will soon mean that everything can be read, whether it’s deliberately labelled or not. We, and everything we use or own, may soon become part of the Real Internet of Things (RIoT) and we might have to expect to be identified and traced in everything we do. So what will the future will look like? Are we heading for paradise or Big Brother? Continue reading