|By Roger Strukhoff||
|May 29, 2014 03:21 PM EDT||
"Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before--turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries."
Pretty big statement.
As I approach our @thingsexpo in New York (June 10-12 at the Javits Center), I get thinking about big issues like this. The old joke about the Buddhist telling the New York hot-dog vendor to "make me one with everything" springs to mind.
As does the concept that "everything" is actually a subset of "things," rather than the other way around, and in any case proving the mathematical truism that some infinities are larger than other infinities.
We are talking about trillions of things in a few years, so infinity seems kinda close, intuitively.
How Big Is It?
But wait. Let's try to get a grasp on some of the underlying numbers here. A mere one trillion things, each generating a teensy 1K signal per second, means a bandwidth requirement of 1,000 trillion bytes per second, or 8,000 trillion bits.
This is 8,000 terabits (or 8 petabits), per second. Consider that a typical undersea fiber-optic cable may provide a few terabits at a cost of a few billion dollars, and you get the idea of scale.
Start to calculate the investment required to build the processing, memory, storage, and routers to drive and support such a beast, and we can see that the size of an IoT of a trillion things will easily surpass today's global GDP of about $60 trillion. Not quite infinity, but certainly as far as the human species can see.
This clearly won't happen overnight, and one might wonder, why should it happen at all? It's easy enough to imagine the doomsday scenarios.
I'm already considering how to write the potboiling screenplay - let's call it Something's Wrong - in which a nefarious gang of outlaws or rogue government hijacks the IoT to bring the world to its knees.
Realistically, I am worried that the domestic (and global) intrusion by the U.S. government's NSA will be potentially aided and abetted by magnitudes of additional potential entry points for mischief. Cisco, to cite just one prominent example, is already grappling with unwanted efforts by the Feds to backdoor its stuff.
Additionally, shouldn't we be like the modern-day Bill Gates and try to kill bacteria, viruses, and mosquitos, rather than create even more shiny new toys in an increasingly virtual cyberworld?
But Why Not?
Well, I say the IoT should happen, the quicker the better. Clearly, the United States (as well as every other country) needs to produce political leaders with the intellectual heft to be curious about technology and its potential, and more important, the moral compass to direct it towards the good. Life is hard, democracy is hard, and governing is hard, but these are challenges from which none of us should shrink.
I, for one, will stop wasting time thinking about all-time baseball teams and recounting college bachhanals, and spend more time holding our political leaders to account. What can you do to contribute?
Second, I've firmly believed for a generation now that ICT is a rising tide that lifts all boats. I first heard that term from the recently departed Patrick J. McGovern, Jr., founder of IDC, Computerworld, and the multi-billion-dollar global IDG family of companies.
Pat "got it" more than 50 years ago, and it behooves those of us who were lucky enough to work for him to not only "get it" today but spread the word as relentlessly and joyously as he always did.
They're Right, You Know
I think Cisco is spot-on when it concludes its sweeping statement by noting the "unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries."
There are still a few billion improverished amongst us on the planet. All one has to do is travel, or live, in any developing country to see a jarring, heartbreaking juxtaposition of human potential set amidst near-hopeless conditions.
What the railroads, electricity, oil, and telecommunications have so far failed to achieve can be achieved through the IoT. We sit on the precipice of a great leap into a renaissance of manufacturing and the end, finally, of human poverty - if only we don't screw it up.
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