Mindless objects poised to get smart

Article By : Junko Yoshida

Billions of things, once connected, will eventually embody intelligence. The notion, while fantastic, is enough to make anyone uneasy.

« Previously: Connectivity will trigger IoT’s exponential growth
Lucio Lanza is expecting that all those previously mindless things, once connected, will eventually embody intelligence.

He anticipates an expanding list of connected objects to gain smarts and grow exponentially. “That’s fantastic,” said Lanza, “but it also makes me a little uneasy.”

Lanza doesn’t want to scare anyone. But think of it, he said. Once we start connecting many of what used to be inanimate objects, “We need to make sure that each of these connected things will behave like a ‘citizen’ of the world we live in.”

Of course, many in the IoT community often discuss fragmented IoT devices and applications, and more importantly, worry about the insecurity of IoT.

But Lanza’s concerns go way beyond the present. He foresees a future when each of those analog things—connected to the web—could eventually have smarts of its own, determining by itself how it behaves and lives with us in the same society.

“They must abide by the same rules that exist in our world,” noted Lanza. These objects must be kept safe, must not attack us and must be capable of security, explained Lanza.

While all humans are used to being the center of existence, we need to be prepared for a future in which things will be “a little more complicated,” when connected objects “will become more acceptable,” he noted.


To illustrate the “unbelievable changes” happening in the world we live in, Lanza gave the example of Numerate, a company where he sits on the board. His son Guido Lanza is the president and CEO.

Numerate, founded in 2007, has created a new drug-discovery platform to which it has applied novel machine-learning algorithms—at cloud-scale—to deliver new leads on targets and solve the problems of small-molecule drug design.

The basic idea is, by connecting data to the cloud, you gain the ability to “discover a compound for certain receptors,” said Lanza.

Of course, “16 years ago, we had no cloud,” he noted. It’s only in recent years that AI’s advancements have become more visible.

As more objects connect and their data gets analysed in the cloud, it almost seems to me that computers are hijacking our senses. More and more of what we see and hear is mediated, if not controlled, by technology.

As we move toward a world in which real life and technology start blending, Lanza wants people to think about IoT in a much larger context. It’s vital to make sure every connected object learns the rules of good citizenship which, ironically, too many of us actual human beings ignore.

First published by EE Times U.S.

« Previously: Connectivity will trigger IoT’s exponential growth

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