In the spirit and style of the Internet of Things video from earlier this year, we have just released this new film, System of Systems. The video features – from IBM – Mike Wing, Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Julia Grace, sharing their personal opinions on what SoS means to them, and how we all might find some new ways of thinking about this important subject.
From the introduction:
“If you look at our planet from space, what you see is something like a neural network with the cities as its nodes, and that is as good an image of the planet as a complex system of systems as one could hope for.
With the emergence of the internet in the mid-90′s, the world became one global commons. In the past, we could understand that there was some mysterious unity to the various dimensions of life but we couldn’t understand its dynamics, we couldn’t observe and measure their interactions. We basically operated like the drunk who looks under the streetlight for his keys because that’s where he can see.”
IBM employees are curious. We try to seek out relationships that lead to expanding our knowledge in exciting areas of innovation and thought. When we engage with experts from outside our company, we take the time to listen, the time to think, we ask questions. Sometimes we find ourselves in these situations where – if we approach with respect and an open ear – we afford ourselves the opportunity to collaborate, to further the conversation, to build valuable relationships. We are a global network of experts seeking to further our innovative insight through our innate curiosity, our collaborative nature, and our respect for the work and achievements of others.
As an example of this, a handful of IBMers over the last few years have visited the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory in Cambridge Massachusetts to meet with the students and faculty members there, and to learn about some of the innovative projects they have underway. Just as IBM has been exploring how to make our cities more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, the folks at MIT have been investigating and testing their own ideas in a number of cities over the last 6 years. Their projects are fascinating.
One project from the SENSEable Cities Lab that has caught the eye of many IBMers over the past few years is called Trash Track. In a nutshell, this project involved attaching RFID tags to everyday garbage items so that the geographic movement of the trash could be tracked for up to a year depending on variables. An Internet of Things project of sorts based on Location Awareness, with mapping, analytics, and ultimately analysis of the tags as attached to their hosts traveling about — glass, metals, plastics, organic waste etc — this project provided unique and surprising lessons for all involved.
In hearing about this project, IBM Fellow John Cohn agreed to take a trip to the MIT campus — his alma mater — to participate in a discussion with SENSEable Cities Associate Director Assaf Biderman to learn more about Trash Track. This video is the result of that trip, and some of the things we learned that day.
In our latest video, we wanted to address a few of the basics behind IBM’s smarter planet strategy. We interviewed three IBMers, featured in the video above – in order of appearance: Mike Wing, Andy Stanford-Clark and John Tolva – and asked them to talk about what Internet of Things, System of Systems, and Smarter Planet mean to them. We tried something new with this video, interviewing these gentlemen, then animating around some excerpts from the audio captured.
Although Internet of Things and System of Systems are not IBM-bred concepts, they help to explain a great deal about what is happening now where the digital world meets the physical and intellectual. An excerpt from the film:
Michael Wing: “Over the past century but accelerating over the past couple of decades, we have seen the emergence of a kind of global data field. The planet itself – natural systems, human systems, physical objects – have always generated an enormous amount of data, but we didn’t used to be able to hear it, to see it, to capture it. Now we can because all of this stuff is now instrumented. And it’s all interconnected, so now we can actually have access to it. So, in effect, the planet has grown a central nervous system.
Look at that complex set of relationships among all of these complex systems. If we can actually begin to see the patterns in the data, then we have a much better chance of getting our arms around this. That’s where societies become more efficient, that’s where more innovation is sparked.
When we talk about a smarter planet, you can say that it has two dimensions. One is to be more efficient, be less destructive, to connect different aspects of life which do affect each other in more conscience and deliberate and intelligent ways. But the other is also to generate fundamentally new insights, new activity, new forms of social relations. So you could look at the planet as an information, creation and transmission system, and the universe was hearing its information but we weren’t. But increasingly now we can, early days, baby steps days, but we can actually begin to hear the planet talking to us.”
In episode 2, John Cohn explains how a smart grid works, and gives us a tour of the one at IBM’s Burlington, VT site. And then he makes lightning with a fork.
The proliferation of data-generating sensors and mobile computing devices, and the emergence of new forms of communication such as social networking, are driving unprecedented growth in the collection, storage and management of all types of data. Not surprisingly, this phenomenon has sparked growing demand for the ability to extract intelligence from these massive mountains of information—intelligence that can enable organizations to improve their decision-making and run their businesses more effectively and efficiently.
With this capacity to rapidly sift thru data and gain new insights comes a significant challenge and responsibility when it comes to personal information, or information that relates to identifiable individuals: how to enable the exchange and analysis of data, while protecting privacy. Thoughtfully-designed technologies can play a key role here.
For example, an IBM Researcher has solved a thorny mathematical problem that has confounded scientists since the invention of public-key encryption several decades ago. The breakthrough, called “privacy homomorphism,” or “fully homomorphic encryption,” makes possible the deep and unlimited analysis of encrypted information — data that has been intentionally scrambled — without sacrificing confidentiality.
IBM’s solution, formulated by IBM Researcher Craig Gentry, uses a mathematical object called an “ideal lattice,” and allows people to fully interact with encrypted data in ways previously thought impossible. With the breakthrough, computer vendors storing the confidential, electronic data of others will be able to fully analyze data on their clients’ behalf without expensive interaction with the client, and without seeing any of the private data. With Gentry’s technique, the analysis of encrypted information can yield the same detailed results as if the original data was fully visible to all.
Using the solution could help strengthen the business model of “cloud computing,” where a computer vendor is entrusted to host the confidential data of others in a ubiquitous Internet presence. It might better enable a cloud computing vendor to perform computations on clients’ data at their request, such as analyzing sales patterns, without exposing the original data.
Other potential applications include enabling filters to identify spam, even in encrypted email, or protecting information contained in electronic medical records. The breakthrough might also one day enable computer users to retrieve information from a search engine with more confidentiality.
In this video, we have provided a glimpse into the world of cyber security and one of IBM’s cryptography research groups. The Hawthorne N.Y. group works on a number of crypto projects that help to keep the internet both safe and secure.
We try on this blog to stay fairly grounded in technological topics that are affecting the way we live and work today. Theorizing too much on what might be possible in 20 years can sometimes get in the way of what we can actually accomplish today. That said, this is worth the digression. IBM Research announced a fascinating project today with significant implications in how we conduct personalized medicine in the future. I’ll let the researchers behind the science tell the story themselves in the video above. But I’ll posit this one question. Considering what only a few years ago cost $3 billion might soon cost only $1000, what role could inexpensive individual genome sequencing have on personalized medicine?
(Stay tuned in the near future for more on this topic – in particular, the how privacy needs to play a central role in these personal technological advances.)
As Gridweek takes place down in Washinton D.C., we take a look today at one of our favorite energy-related stories unfolding in the battery innovation arena.
As the world grows and develops, there are more and more cars on the road. The current state is most likely not sustainable and the system needs to be transformed. Many feel that the electrification of transportation could help move the world towards smarter and more efficient means of using energy.
In order to make purely electric vehicles a reality, however, batteries, including the amount of energy they are able to store per charge, need to be greatly improved. Current technology doesn’t allow a purely electric vehicle to go very far on one charge. Imagine a family sedan that could go hundreds of miles per charge. It would have a transforming effect on our energy and oil use, the auto industry and more.
Recently, researchers at IBM gathered some of the world’s leading experts in the field of electrical energy storage and advanced battery technologies in San Jose, California, to brainstorm on how to create next-generation rechargeable batteries capable of storing ten times more energy than today’s most powerful Lithium-ion batteries.
In this video, Daniel Sperling, author of Two Billon Cars, and IBM researchers talk about what the challenges are and the science and development needed to make it happen.
This week’s New York Times article has a more factual account of cloud computing… if you prefer facts with your history.
“A butterfly flaps its wings in China, and sometime later a thunderstorm drenches Chicago . . .” These words open video below “The Tale of a Smarter Planet.” This is a story that touches upon aspects of so many of our lives as we enter into this era of change. The bottom line? We now have the tools to literally change the way the world works.
The challenges and opportunities ahead of us are far too large, various and inherently global for any government, industry or nation to tackle alone. It will take all of civil society to transform the way the world works. And the good news is, we can. This goes far beyond repairing the old economy. We can now prepare a new one, for the 21st century. Computational power is being put into things we wouldn’t recognize as computers — phones,cameras, cars, appliances, roadways, power lines, clothes. We are interconnecting all of this through the Internet, which has come of age. There is a tremendous mandate today for positive change, and this moment will not last forever. Let’s seize it — not simply to fix a flawed past, but to build a smarter future.
For all multimedia content around Smarter Planet, visit the Media Library.