GE asked me to define The Industrial Internet. Full disclosure, my 1st thought in response to this question was to imagine machines talking to machines and predicting what we’ll do. In this scenario, the industrial internet sounds like Skynet, a fictional self-aware computer network from the Terminator where humans have lost control. Why? Skynet’s operations are almost exclusively performed by machines talking to and building other machines.
“Together we must decide what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable within the Industrial Internet framework so that it is truly of the people, for the people, by the people.”
In reality, the definition of the industrial internet lays in its promise
It can either work for us, or it can work against us. Technology isn’t inherently good or bad, it is what we humans choose to make of it. In this case, some serious legacy thinking is required. The definition must represent not just the interests of the underlying business opportunities that come with leveraging technology (like putting sensors on everything and injecting enough processing power to make smart enough nodes which can then talk), to my thinking the definition of the industrial internet should reflect who we are as humans and who we aspire to become. A perspective I’d like to hear more often when asked to comment on big data and the industrial internet.
The Human + Machine framework
I look at this time in history as a watershed moment to collectively define what it means, but also to find a deeper meaning in the process of bringing all stakeholders, including everyday people together, to co-create its future by asking more holistic meaningful questions during its formation.
As my friend John Perry Barlow shared on #wethedata: “The internet is an organism in the process of being born.” As it is with the Industrial Internet.
Within the human + machine framework, the notion of where decisions come from starts to blur and any number of issues and innovative solutions emerge. In that spirit, I took a step back from the question GE asked (What is the Industrial Internet and how will it affect business) and crowdsourced this post.
As Machines Listen/Talk to Machines, People need to Listen/Talk to People
Just as there are failures when humans think they are communicating enough information, but aren’t, there can be and are spectacular failure when these measuring and communicating modules miss communicate. Just think of Skynet.
All of this is driven by information – or data – but making sure the problem is understood by all of the stakeholders is even more important.
To truly define the internet of things, we need more humans representing a diversity of thought and cultures at the (Quora) table. The biggest business opportunity I see for the companies that will help us innovate our future comes to those that will set the groundwork and design a human to human process that incorporates the means to make sure we have the building blocks to diversity in the co-creative process: platform access & openness, digital literacy and a space to build digital trust. Together we must decide what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable within the industrial Internet framework so that it is truly of the people, for the people, by the people.
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