April 22, 2015

Does the Movie “Transcendence” Portray the Future of the Internet of Things?

Process flexibility and governance are key architectural elements to have in your…

Last weekend I saw Johnny Depp’s latest movie, Transcendence. While it might not garner glowing reviews by the critics, it is a classic science fiction story that definitely tackles some of the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and an inextricable part of it – the Internet of Things. Without giving away the plot, the basic premise of the movie was to question the role that Artificial Intelligence plays in our future. Specifically, what limit should machines (i.e. computers) have? Should they be able to perform computations beyond solving a formula or responding to an input request? Should they be able to make decisions on their own?

As the story unfolded, it became blurred who was the villain, and who was the hero. In this way, the movie did a good job of presenting this issue in such a way so as to stimulate thought and discussion. Clearly, the topic of governance is an important one – one that must be carefully considered as we race towards an Internet of Things future.

Productivity and efficiency improvements are a driving force to embrace a future where machines can “act on their own” so as to help make our lives easier. Keeping these actions clearly defined, and having sufficient governance on how these processes can be changed will go a long way towards avoiding problems down the road. An audit trail of changes is key, as well as an “undo” function to get back to the prior process architecture. This level of process traceability means the systems running the machines must be well secured, with role-based access control coupled with sufficient protection to prevent a hacker from taking control of how these processes are performed.

Halfway through the movie, some exciting technological breakthroughs are presented in areas such as human health (think nanotechnology taken to a new level) as well as the well-being of our planet (think more effective farming techniques) – good timing with Earth Day now upon us today. These analogies are in alignment with some of the exciting breakthroughs we have to look forward to with an increasingly networked and machine-connected world. The key will be how quickly individuals and companies can respond to these new opportunities.

As is the case when facing a new chapter of technological revolution – the biggest impact items are seldom anticipated. Those implementing an Internet of Things strategy within their manufacturing, quality or warehouse operations should keep this in mind. Careful consideration should be applied to align yourself with flexible, ideally process-based architectures, so as to minimize the potential of locking yourself into a “dead end” technology path.

Another excellent strategy to stay current and abreast on the latest technology developments, such as the Internet of Things or the merging of the Virtual + Real worlds, is to attend conferences on relevant topics. One such event is coming up soon that might be worth attending: the Solid Software, Hardware, Everywhere conference. An exciting array of speakers are lined up sure to present engaging topics worthy of thought-provoking conversations. As a media sponsor, Manufacturing Transformation can offer you a 20% discount coupon code (MNTRN) that can be used at time of registration. If you are interested in learning more, go here.

One thing for certain is that if Hollywood is now incorporating the Internet of Things as a topic for movies, we must be getting close to reaching the “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” as Gartner defines it in their Hype Cycle research reports. It could be 2-5 more years before we can have a clearer picture on realistic time frames to accomplish a select group of technology breakthroughs associated with the Internet of Things. Until then, expect to hear a lot of discussion, and perhaps another movie or two!

Gordon can be found on Google+.

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