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When things wake up: how the IoT is shaping our Day After Tomorrow Peter Hinssen - March 4, 2019

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Technology and information will become like water: an immense and awe-inspiring fluid mass that completely surrounds us. Information used to ‘live’ in the computer, but in the trillions ecosystem of the Internet of Things - as Mickey McManus calls it - we humans will live in the information. 

Mickey McManus wrote the ‘field guide’ to the Internet of Things with 'Trillions’. He believes that the number of intelligent,connected devices in IoT will climb into the realm of trillions. Today we’re used to billions. We have just under 7.5 billion people in the world, and we have billions of smartphones on our planet, but that’s nothing compared to what's next. Soon now, the unbounded complexity and scale of IoT, will open up a ‘world of Trillions’. Mickey believes that the design techniques that have served us well will be wholly inadequate for the problems of scale we will soon face. 

“The answer to these problems”, he argues, “lies in nature”. The reason behind this is that humans might be pretty comfortable with ‘millions’, but are in no way prepared to manage for the scale of trillions. We’ve built organizations that have more than a million employees, for example, and we’ve become reasonably good at keeping them functional. Walmart has more than 2 million employees, and so does McDonalds. The United States Department of Defense has 3 million people working in its ranks. Facebook has close to 2 billion users on their platform, exchanging information, messages, pictures and videos.

But that doesn’t even come close to the scale of the IoT. Nature, on the other hand, has been running massive, mature, ultracomplex, resilient information systems for (ironically) billions of years. These have the most effective memory, storage and communication systems for handling this scale of trillions. Just to give one small example: our human body has approximately 37 trillion cells which seem to be working together pretty well (most of the time). Mickey believes that it will be crucial to orchestrate the ‘World of Trillions’ to ensure that this unleashed complexity does not become malignant but helps construct a world that is safe, pleasant, humane and profitable. 


Find out more & download my e-book on the impact of IoT on society and work below. It's the extended version of one of the chapters of my business book 'The Day After Tomorrow', and the first in a series of 5 e-books. Keep an eye on the nexxworks blog if you want to catch the next ones!

When Things Wake Up Cover

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Peter Hinssen
Peter Hinssen

Peter is a serial entrepreneur, Forbes contributor

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