Friday 1st April, 2016
9:40am to 10:30am
It's in the papers! The world is talking about smart phones, smart cars, smart buildings, smart cities. What is smart? Isn't it only people and their actions that can be smart?
Meanwhile, in technology, we are talking about software defined everything: a new generation of infrastructure that is more plastic and adaptable, like the Amazon cloud where machines come and go transparently, and it `just works'. We tend to think that it is the infusion of programmability into all the things that makes them smart solutions, because we want to have our hands in the machine. Perhaps smart means `application centric'? How do we reconcile the role of passive infrastructure to enable smart behaviour?
The brains that make all this happen are hidden from view. But, are these infrastructures themselves smart, or merely controlled by smart users? In DevOps, we try to reconcile human development processes with mechanical deployment processes. Is this smart?
For many practitioners, these are dumb questions: the goal is just to make something work; but, for town planners, building designers and software architects, these are questions we need to be asking. In this note, I want to compare what we mean by `smart' with the technologies and processes that matter to us, now and in the future. We might need to rethink what we believe smart is. If smart is simple and generic, can we engineer it into everything? What would that mean? Could we live in a truly smart world?
CTO and Founder of CFEngine. Previously Professor of Network and System Administration in Oslo. bio from Twitter
Mark Burgess is a theoretician and practitioner in the area of information systems, whose work has focused largely on distributed information infrastructure. He is known particularly for his work on Configuration Management and Promise Theory. He was the principal Founder of CFEngine, and is emeritus professor of Network and System Administration from Oslo University College. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and papers on topics from physics, Network and System Administration, to fiction. He also writes a blog on issues of science and IT industry concerns.
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