From hardware-based sensors of the physical to software-based sensors of the social
Quotes in this blogpost are
by John Seely Brown and Feng Zhao.
Confluences and their combined confluence
Looking back at the first decades of the third millennium, humans will see them as the era of the Great Transition, an unexpected result brought to us by a confluence of many confluences.
Writing about an omni-present, planet-scale sensor network that will dwarf the Internet by many orders of magnitude, and its implications for biological and computing ecologies, John Seely Brown mentioned:
“The transformational force underlying this change is the confluence of recent rapid technological advances such as micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) sensors and actuators, wireless and mobile networking, and low-power embedded microprocessors When the sensor grid becomes ubiquitous it becomes like an enormous digital retina stretched over the surface of the planet.”
The idea of a planet-scale sensor network evokes an orbital view of not only the confluence of technological developments that make it possible but also, the other confluences that such network contributes to and mingles with. For example, the confluence of shifts from authority to authenticity as driver of social organization, from scarcity to wide availability of knowledge, and from groupware to massively distributed social media that link up mega-millions of minds.
“Let's add intelligent browsers to this vast sensing system that lets scientists, government regulators, or environmental advocates use the internet to ask questions never before imaginable.”
When we’ll use such browsers for navigating on the ocean of data obtained from networked indicators of social well-being, collective moods, diseases in the global social body, and challenges to collective intelligence and wisdom, then we’ll have made a decisive step towards the bulk of humankind joining in a self-aware meta-being.