Category: smart objects

superubiquitous computing

From an interview with William Gibson in the latest Rolling Stone:

Is there a downside to that blended reality? Or could it represent a change for the better?

People worry about the loss of individual privacy, but that comes with a new kind of unavoidable transparency. Eventually we’re going to know everything that every twenty-first-century politician has ever done. It will be very hard for politicians and governments to keep secrets. The whole thing is porous. We just haven’t really figured out quite how porous it is.

My SPIME is the bassline

More and more, objects are becoming intelligent. The realm of the senses will extend to encompass networks and interface layers within the world around us. Scifi author and guru Bruce Sterling devised the acronym SPIME to describe the path of a prototypical smart object from birth to death and beyond.

SPIME is a neologism for a currently-theoretical object that can be tracked through space and time throughout the lifetime of the object…The six facets of spimes are:

1. Small, inexpensive means of remotely and uniquely identifying objects over short ranges; in other words, radio-frequency identification.
2. A mechanism to precisely locate something on Earth, such as a global-positioning system.
3. A way to mine large amounts of data for things that match some given criteria, like internet search engines.
4. Tools to virtually construct nearly any kind of object; computer-aided design.
5. Ways to rapidly prototype virtual objects into real ones. Sophisticated, automated fabrication of a specification for an object, through “three-dimensional printers.”
6. “Cradle-to-cradle” life-spans for objects. Cheap, effective recycling.

With all six of these, one could track the entire existence of an object, from before it was made (its virtual representation), through its manufacture, its ownership history, its physical location, until its eventual obsolescence and breaking-down back into raw material to be used for new instantiations of objects. If recorded, the lifetime of the object can be archived, and searched for.

Spimes are not, defined merely by these six technologies; it is, rather, that if these technologies converge within the manufacturing process… then spimes could indeed arise.