Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Any given Tuesday

Back in 2005, I gave a presentation called "Any Given Tuesday" which describes two entirely different scenarios for the same day. In the first scenario :-

I wake up at 6:45 am, spend 10 minutes trying to find my watch, leave the house at 7:15 am, drive like a madman to the station, spend 30 minutes waiting for a train due to cancellation, get to London bridge at 9:15 am, get soaked because it is raining, rush to work missing my coffee, arrive at work 9:35, discover my CFO has been trying to call but I've left my phone at home, realise I have football today but no boots as I threw them away last week, my partner calls to remind me it's Mother's day and my Sister's birthday tomorrow - both of which I've done nothing about. Overall : I'm wet, late, had no coffee, I've annoyed my CFO, I'll miss out on football and I've still got to work out what to do about Mother's day and my sister. I'm hardly in the best mindset for work.

In the second scenario, I wake up fifteen minutes earlier at 6.30 am, pick up my watch and phone that are on the kitchen table, leave the house at 6.50 grabbing an umbrella from beside the door, arrive at the train station at 7:10 am and catch the 7:15 am, arrive at Canon Street at 8:20 am, pick up pre-ordered football boots from the sports store, grab a coffee, walk to work putting up my umbrella when it starts to rain, arrive at work 9:15 am, tell my CFO the reports been done and when my partner calls explain that I've sent my Mother flowers and my sister has a new ipod which will be delivered tomorrow as her last one broke. Overall : On time, dry, plus coffee, I'll be able to play football, mother and sister's presents are sorted and reports done. I'm in the right mindset for work.

Ok, so what happened between the two scenarios? Did I become Mr organised or learn the twenty seven secrets of successful people? No, it's all done with technology and asking a few simple questions.

First, everything is tagged, everything is online and everything is a network. My network of things knows it's a Tuesday, how long it takes me to get ready, what I need for work, where those things are and the weather forecast. It can interrogate the train stations network to get times and cancellation information, it knows where I need to be. It knows I play football on Tuesday and that I threw my boots away. It knows I like coffee, that it's Mothers day tomorrow, that I bought flowers last year. It can ask my Mother's network what sort of flowers she has and whether anyone is buying her flowers? It knows it's my Sister's birthday tomorrow, it can ask her network for suggestions. It now knows she broke her ipod, that she hasn't replaced it and what her favourite songs are and where she will be tomorrow. My network knows my CFO was in a meeting where they discussed a new way of analysing value from users.

My network of things can now, find a shop with the boots I need, find a coffee shop, pre-order, and calculate a route to work to pick up both. Calculate time for journeys and dynamically deal with cancellations. Sort out ipod and flowers. Analyse CFO meeting and determine most probable analysis to be done and who to contact.

All it now needs to do is ask me some basic questions :-
  • Do I want to buy some new boots for £35 so I can play football tomorrow?
  • Do I want to send my Mother flowers for Mother's day?
  • My Sister's ipod is broken, do I want to buy her a new one for her birthday?
  • The CFO is after an examination of user spend vs latency on the site, do you want me to prepare an initial analysis?
Then it needs to calculate my journey and wake me up when I need to be woken up. This is what I call augmented intelligence - ask the questions, take care of the details. All of this was technically feasible in one way or another back in 2005, just it was incredibly difficult and uneconomic to do so. However today, things are changing rapidly and it's all becoming much more economically feasible.

To start to really achieve the above, we need smart agents and this is more than just smart devices but instead devices which can record, analyse and start to interpret all the data exhaust we create. Our network needs mechanisms for sharing between agents i.e. the information that I'm prepared for my network to give to your network depends upon who you are.

All the components for this are coming into place. On the iphone we have SIRI on the android we have EVI.  We have compute utilities, analytics capabilities and Amazon has recently released a distributed task and decision manager in Amazon SWF. We have increasing use of printed active RFIDs and near field communication. We do need some security mechanisms but there are smart people like the Bromium crowd who are working on things which may well solve those relationships.

The world above is within spitting distance. This future of augmented intelligence goes way beyond popular misconceptions of heads up display information. There are also serious social implications but for now, I'll just say, that I think some people are seriously underestimating this.

The LEF is running a study tour on this issue later in the year because we think the subject is huge.

-- Update 26 January 2014

Seems like pre-ordering with Starbucks will soon be here.


rcathey said...

A succinct and tactile example of a useful contrast. That is, technologies like SIRI are not about voice recognition. Rather, they are about a personal (world wide) web.

securatica said...


Simon - interesting post and I look forward to getting there. The key challenges to developing the described network are:
- tech is still linear (it cannot adapt - hence the video link above)
- human preferences tend to change (variables to do with age, social background, culture, emotions etc)
- tech changes (tech is not static, tools to maintain the 'network' change)

I'm keen to look back at this post in another 7 years!

Andrew Doble said...

3. Scenario.

I wake up at 8:30 wondering why the alarm has not gone off. At 8:45 I realize that my whole augmented intelligence has crashed. At 9:00 I go back to bed as I know the day would just be awful.

In short this is only going to work if we can trust the system to arrange things for us.

Ash Minhas said...

@Andrew, you are thinking of CSC designing the solution that's why (i jest! )

I found a definition for this sort of thing, i think it's called Articulated Naturality

We are withing spitting distance but i dont think it's a technology problem. I think it's a people issue. All our smartphones are dumb because the people using them don't realise we need to make them work for us just yet.

swardley said...

@rcathey - thanks for the kind words and yes, SIRI / EVI are far more than just voice recognition.


@p.a.a.1 - a number of factors are needed:-

* the sensor network (of which SIRI / EVI can be part of)

* ubiquitous computing (to collect and process the information)

* large scale analytics capabilities including meaning (big data / cloud can help provide this)

* mapping of social networks and a mechanism of trust / compartmentalisation of agents (this is actively being developed from different angles)

* willingness of consumers to adapt to these services (i.e. trust / acceptance of greater transparency)


@Andrew - yes, the system fails and we fall over to our previous mode of working. Trust is a critical issue in terms of adoption, of controlling what agents can do but also resilience etc. Fortunately with commodity computing environments we're moving into a world of greater resilience at lower cost including distributed systems, design for failure and chaos engines (i.e. chaos monkeys, masters of disasters etc).


@Ash Minhas - I research on behalf of our clients for the LEF which is owned by CSC. Whilst I have very little involvement with the parent company, I'm very grateful for the environment that they operate. My ability to write, speak and present on many of the concepts, hypothesis and research behind competition, evolution, cloud, organisational warfare is a direct combination of client and CSC support.

Now, to the question of "it's a people issue" - always. You need concept, suitability, technology and a willingness of people to adopt.

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