Mobile phones, iPods, PDA and interconnected games consoles have become the components of a global mnemotechnic system. Adam Greenfield, In Futur 2.0, Fyp Éditions, 2007 mnemotechnic system
Our future will be marked by the generalized integration of digital interfaces within objects and spaces, forming an extensive dialogue environment with machines. The latters communicate with their users, but also with each other. Besides, they shall be able to « feel » and adapt to the environment, consequently to adapt the service that they will ensure to humanity. The status and role of informatics would be disrupted: this ubiquitous computing shall engender new capacities for the treatment of information and digital communication, as it is integrated into other devises than computers (mobile phones, cars, white goods, machine-tools)
This perspective is not futurist, it is already under implementation. However, if we observe it closely, we will note that it contains a hidden potential of considerable transformation in our relation with technology, objects, environments and even ourselves
The ubiquitous computing relies on a series of convergent technical evolutions: miniaturization of processors, omnipresence of wired and wireless networks, «intelligent agents», auto-organized networks, «natural » interfaces…. Accordingly, while equipping most of the objects, spaces, even bodies with chips, the human being shall be equipped with an enhanced capacity of knowledge and action on environment, in his relation with others. Nevertheless, the modalities of such chips coupling RFID, ambient networks, intelligent objects and interfaces, constitute a major issue of research and development and raise, at the same time, important ethic and social questions.
In addition to the semi-infinite combinatorial system represented by the communication initiated with all the objects and others, the – technical, economic and politic – issue is to define the models of interaction, scenarios, rights, controls, in brief a sort of « governance », without an excessive limitation of the potential of innovation and invention represented by the multiplication of possible links between objects, functions and persons.
This digital «dissolution» in objects, spaces and bodies forces us to recall our relation to objects, as well as the major role that technology plays in our life and in the functioning of societies. The innovation potential released by the ambient computing is considerable: a new world is coming to life and the upcoming decades will witness the emergence of concepts, services, products and utilizations – as well as unforeseeable conflicts, frustrations and accidents.
All these possibilities require equipping chips – or the networks that they constitute- with « intelligence »: Which information is important? What to do with them, to whom should they be conveyed? How to reach good conclusions according to the measures that we performed, in order to produce good actions (curbing, alerting the conductor, warning an assistance center…)? What data shall be collected, transmitted, stored? How to confront unexpected situations? Should this occur, in real time, inside a physical environment by unforeseeable definition, in the complexity of real life?