An Evolution Toward a Programmable Universe

December 8, 2011 — Leave a comment

Over the next 10 years, the physical world will become ever more overlaid with devices for sending and receiving information. Already billions of processors are embedded in our smartphones, cars, appliances and buildings and the environment. These sensors can send out streams of data about their surroundings, and more and more it is anonymously transmitted to remote data centers — the “clouds” of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple. Computing has evolved from sensing local information to analyzing it to being able to control it. Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, explores what this means.

“As Mike Liebhold and his colleagues at the Institute for the Future have discussed, computing will have evolved from merely sensing local information to analyzing it to being able to control it. In this evolution, the world gradually becomes programmable.

At the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, we are using this vision to better understand the coming digital transformation of health, energy, environment and culture. We are experimenting with sensors to monitor electricity use in homes, buildings and data centers; the data can then be analyzed and used to control lighting, heating, cooling, appliances and computers to make them more energy-efficient.”

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