Bruce Sterling reads GE’s “chest-pounding, visionary” white paper on the “industrial internet” and bristles at a sentence: “The full potential of the Industrial Internet will be felt when the three primary digital elements—intelligent devices, intelligent systems and intelligent decision-making— fully merge with physical machines, facilities, fleets and networks.” He comments:
That sounds like everything got “intelligent” all of a sudden and only a stupid guy would fail to leap around with glee about the prospect. But that’s not how this prospect would actually look-and-feel should it be implemented.
Try describing it this way instead: “The full potential of the Industrial Internet will be felt when the three primary digital elements—algorithmic devices, algorithmic systems and algorithmic decision-making— fully merge with physical machines, facilities, fleets and networks.”
Now you’re talking about an entirely plausible world, where heavy industry is entirely infested with software on wireless broadband. Okay, fine. We all know what software is like, because everybody interacts with it all the time. Forget talking about jet engines that are “intelligent.” Start talking about jet engines running apps and swapping data. The jagged, crunchy outlines of an “Industrial Internet” get immediately obvious then.
I’m not sure I get the crunchiness of data zipping through the air, but I second Sterling’s sentiment. Let’s can the insulting marketingspeak of “smart” and “intelligent” and use some more precise adjectives. We’ll all end up feeling a good deal more intelligent.