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Ubiquitous nanometric sensing & computing

Longtime reader Eoin Clancy from the UK brings our attention to a piece in Nature (1.6 MB pdf) by senior reporter Declan Butler on the prospect of ubiquitous sensing and computing:

“Everything, Everywhere: Tiny computers that constantly monitor ecosystems, buildings and even human bodies could turn science on its head…Computers could go from being back-office number-crunchers to field operatives. Twenty-four hours a day, year-in, year-out, they could measure every conceivable variable of an ecosystem or a human body, at whatever scale might be appropriate, from the nanometric to the continental…

“These trends show no sign of slowing down, and that makes pervasive sensor nets not so much possible as inevitable. One does not need to be a visionary to see that soon, tiny devices with the power of today’s desktops will be cheap enough to put everywhere.”

Prototype sensor webs were funded by “the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency, which is interested in the technology’s military applications.”

The focus of the Nature piece is on the benefits to science, which should be huge. But we need to look at other uses as well, and try to ensure they promote our shared values rather than undermine them. —Christine

4 Responses to “Ubiquitous nanometric sensing & computing”

  1. Eric Tulloch Says:

    When this vision is fully realized, it will make our current concept of privacy completely obsolete. I guess it will be up to us as concerned citizens to make sure that the appropriate laws are in place to prevent misuse of this technology. Of course, limiting access to the information provided by these sensor nets will pose yet another problem.

  2. L. Blanck Says:

    Those of you involved in this Lucifer inspired mission to create super-artificial intelligence, in an attempt to play GOD, and control humanities destiny, will one day find out that the REAL GOD, who created everything in the first place, the GOD whom you reject, will have the last, and final, Word! Imagine being monitored and controlled by your artificial God through sensors placed in, on, and around you! Imagine that God, made in the image of new age humans, who tell those who don’t agree with them that people must “…adapt, or die…”! Such a loving concept, isn’t it? Guess some of us are in the way of progress! You don’t suppose that Super AI might be something more than humanity will be able to control do you? That “it” might read human thoughts and cause human “dreams”, including nightmares, to become reality? Could “it” even cause other humans to construct an image for “it”, so that you superhumans can worship “it”?

  3. Christine Peterson Says:

    This particular post is about networks of relatively dumb sensors, rather than artificial intelligence per se. This is not to say that there aren’t legitimate concerns to raise about AI. —Christine

  4. Phillip Huggan Says:

    I agree with L Blanck: Praise Allah. Those humans who wrote scriptures thousands of years ago obviously didn’t make any mistakes. Kill the abortionists/Arabs/Jews/dumb people who don’t understand my perfect opinion (isn’t a 100% certainty about there being a god actually a sin of perfection?)

    I think sensors will be able to be jammed pretty easily at a high cost. But the sensors searching for very dangerous goods like Unfriendly AI and WMD should be protected by law, even if they infringe upon some personal freedoms.

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