The “Super Intelligence of Things”

On our way to building the “Internet of things”, we’ll end up creating the “Super Intelligence of things”. But what does that look like?

I’ll explain by example. Smart appliances are starting to arrive on the market. The most compelling might be the home thermostat. By itself, it can learn our habits: “set AC to 75 °F at 9:00 AM on weekdays”, “set AC to 70 °F at 6:00 PM on weekdays”, “keep AC at 70 °F all weekend”, “turn on heater if T<60 °F". That's pretty good, but there are two things that turn this "regular intelligence" to a "super intelligence".

First, if all the smart thermostats in everyone's home sent their information back to a central server, it could be processed, analyzed, and used to send updates in behavior to all thermostats. The experiences of the entire system of things can be used to improve each individual thing. This is even better, but not yet "super".

The second dimension is linking different smart appliances together so that they can influence each other's behavior: The smart sprinklers shouldn't water the lawn if the smart lawn mower is running. If the ambient temperature is near room temperature, the smart house should open the windows. If the online weather service says it's going to rain today, the smart house should close the windows, the smart sprinklers shouldn't run, and the smart mower shouldn't mow. Again, each constellation of smart things should be able to share what it's learned with all constellations.

The combination of shared learning between all smart things and the learned feedback loops between things is the essence of the “Super Intelligence of things”. But good luck making it secure.

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