Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own. Now, in this, the final edition of our column on smartware, we’ll consider how the powerful capabilities of smartware will enable new interactions and user experiences that, over time, will become seamlessly integrated into our digital lives. Read More
In this column on the future of computing, we’ll look at how a handful of advances—including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), sciences of human understanding like neuroscience and genomics, and emerging delivery platforms such as 3D printers and virtual-reality (VR) headsets—will come together to transform software and hardware into something new that we’re calling smartware.
Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own.
A Tribute to Dead Machines
Humanity and technology are inseparable. Not only is technology present in every facet of civilization, it even predates archaeological history. Each time we think we’ve identified the earliest cave paintings—such as that by an unknown artist in Figure 1—stone tools, or use of wood for fuel, some archaeologist finds evidence that people started creating or using them even earlier. Indeed, while our own species, Homo sapiens, is only about 300,000 years old, the earliest stone tools are more than 3 million years old! Even before we were what we now call human, we were making technology. Read More
As recently as 25 years ago, the physical reality in which we lived was an analog world that was becoming increasingly global. While globalization is still very much a factor today, our world is now decidedly connected and is becoming increasingly virtual. However, thanks to a combination of enabling technology and the possible impacts of global warming, some aspects of globalization are shifting back to being local. This connectedness—both virtual and local—is contributing to the emerging world of smartware.
As we detailed in “The Smartware Transformation,” smartware is a convergence of emerging technologies and science. Artificial intelligence (AI) is fueling its rise. The technologies that are enabling smartware include the Internet of Things (IoT), mixed-reality environments, and additive fabrication, or 3D printing, as are incredible advances in sciences such as genomics and neuroscience. Some or all of these advances are core to the emergence of incredible new products that are just over the horizon—products such as self-driving vehicles and neighborhood parts manufacturing. In “Smartware, AI, and Magical Products,” we took a look at the current darling of technology and entertainment media: artificial intelligence. We’ll continue that analysis in this installment, as we look at some other core smartware technologies, before covering the key sciences underlying smartware in our next column. Read More