Robotics, Biotech, Nanotech, Artificial Intelligence, Wearable Computing and Cyborg technology in the prototype stage and/or nearing deployment.
The idea is that by harvesting the incredible amount of data “exhaust” that every one of us generates as we traverse a city, planners can optimize services in the city to make them more efficient, cleaner and cheaper.
But there is a fear that such top-down programs may threaten the very vitality that attracts people to cities in the first place …
According to Carlo Ratti of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology SENSEable City Lab, cities occupy just 2% of the world’s surface, but house 50% of the population, consume 70% of the world’s energy and are responsible for 80% of the world’s carbon.
PlanIT is a €10 billion, four-year project to build a new smart city in Portugal to house some 225,000 people. With sensors built into every building it presents itself as an urban utopia where smart buildings can sense our presence and anticipate our needs.
What socially beneficial uses can you think of for a billion loosely coupled, low power microprocessors and their associated sensors? Because in 20 years time, buying and deploying such a network will be cheap enough for city planners to consider it routine.
The logical end-point of Moore’s Law and Koomey’s Law is a computer for every square metre of land area on this planet — within our lifetimes. And, speaking as a science fiction writer, trying to get my head around the implications of this technology for our lives is giving me a headache.
We’ve lived through the personal computing revolution, and the internet, and now the advent of convergent wireless devices — smartphones and tablets. Ubiquitous programmable sensors will, I think, be the next big step, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their impact is as big as all the earlier computing technologies combined.