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Toward a smarter planet

Last month, IBM took out a two-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal that touted their vision for a smarter planet. They believe:

The world continues to get “smaller” and “flatter.” But we see now that being connected isn’t enough. Fortunately, something else is happening that holds new potential: the planet is becoming smarter.

That is, intelligence is being infused into the way the world literally works—into the systems, processes and infrastructure that enable physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold. That allow services to be delivered. That facilitate the movement of everything from money and oil to water and electrons. And that help billions of people work and live.

Furthermore, they write that the smarter planet is powered by three drivers:

  • The world is becoming instrumented. By 2010, there will be a billion transistors per human, each one costing one ten-millionth of a cent.
  • The world is becoming interconnected. With a trillion networked things—cars, roadways, pipelines, appliances, pharmaceuticals and even livestock—the amount of information created by those interactions grows exponentially.
  • All things are becoming intelligent. Algorithms and powerful systems can analyze and turn those mountains of data into actual decisions and actions that make the world work better. Smarter.

What does this mean for the futures of our various institutions?  For our hopes in quality of life?  IBM examines these questions in their blog, Building a Smarter Planet. They don’t provide answers, but they get the conversation going.

With the world becoming increasingly instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent, what new opportunities and challenges are presented to education and human capital development systems?

Virtual worlds colliding

Two interesting pieces of news emerged on virtual worlds:

  1. At the Virtual Worlds Conference, IBM and Linden Labs announced plans to develop a set of open standards that would allow avatars to traverse from one virtual environment to another.
  2. Multiverse Network is building tools that will allow virtual world developers to access and incorporate elements from Google‘s rapidly expanding warehouse of 3D models, based on real objects.

This appears to be trending toward an open standards-based grid, which allows for the rapid development of virtual worlds based on the real world. As society increasingly prefers virtual reality over “real” reality, what can impacts in education, the workplace, and other knowledge-producing environments can we expect from this de-realizing?