Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology

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9781118176078: Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology
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We are facing a future of unbounded complexity.  Whether that complexity is harnessed to build a world that is safe, pleasant, humane and profitable, or whether it causes us to careen off a cliff into an abyss of mind-numbing junk is an open question. The challenges and opportunities--technical, business, and human--that this technological sea change will bring are without precedent. Entire industries will be born and others will be laid to ruin as our society navigates this journey. 

There are already many more computing devices in the world than there are people.  In a few more years, their number will climb into the trillions. We put microprocessors into nearly every significant thing that we manufacture, and the cost of routine computing and storage is rapidly becoming negligible.  We have literally permeated our world with computation.  But more significant than mere numbers is the fact we are quickly figuring out how to make those processors communicate with each other, and with us. We are about to be faced, not with a trillion isolated devices, but with a trillion-node network: a network whose scale and complexity will dwarf that of today’s Internet. And, unlike the Internet, this will be a network not of computation that we use, but of computation that we live in

Written by the leaders of one of America’s leading pervasive computing design firms, this book gives a no-holds-barred insiders’ account of both the promise and the risks of the age of Trillions. It is also a cautionary tale of the head-in-the-sand attitude with which many of today’s thought-leaders are at present approaching these issues. Trillions is a field guide to the future--designed to help businesses and their customers prepare to prosper, in the information.

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From the Authors: The Top Ten Business Take-Aways from Trillions

Peter Lucas

1. Pervasive computing is the next information technology paradigm. Connectivity is the seed of this change. Major high-tech players will disappear and new ones will be born overnight.

2. Your current business risk in information technology may be much higher than you think. The dominant IT technologies and practices--including cloud computing--are inadequate for the coming pervasive computing paradigm. They will not scale gracefully into a "trillion-node network."

Joe Ballay

3. We need to move beyond open source and move towards open component ecologies. Simple stable components--sometimes hardware, sometimes software--will be layered together and will create new forms of value that will compete in market driven feedback loops.

4. The good news is that trillions is a very big number. New revenue streams in the form of high-volume micro-transactions will become viable. New business models based on little bits of information collected over vast networks will rule the day.

5. Complexity is inevitable, but bad complexity will kill you. Consider how you can foster beautiful complexity in the form of hierarchy, modularity, redundancy, and generativity. Nature and evolution are the best teachers.

Mickey McManus

6. Design for Generativity and Emergence. Use architectural thinking as the foundation for your work. Then get in the practice of building dynamic simulations--even if made from sticky notes and disposable cameras at first--of your entire business ecology early and often.

7. Design is not a paint-job or product styling or user-interface "look and feel." Properly understood, design is the whole shooting match. If your organization isn't design literate you risk becoming a dinosaur lumbering among agile predators running around at your feet.

8. Make your products and services human literate. Human beings are vastly more complex, subtle, and important than machines. We've spent a half-century believing that people should become "computer literate." That's precisely backwards. Computing should become "human literate."

9. Computing needs to fade into the woodwork so that humans living their lives can come to the foreground. Think of ways you can use connectivity and computing to hide and tame complexity for your customers. They don't really want to think about computers, they want to think about doing their jobs and living their lives.

10. Explore ways that you can simulate and foster strange bedfellow relationships now. Consider what could happen if you harvested and shared all the information your current products could capture or "know." The value is inestimable.

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Praise for Trillions

"MAYA Design's Trillions dangles a tantalizing and provocative notion: we can reach a promised land of prosperity by immersing ourselves in 'pervasive computing,' but we'll have to backpedal down the path of personal computing to get there. With sharp logic and vivid examples, Trillions builds the case for a truly networked future through an enjoyable series of forehead-slapping realizations. This is more than a book--it's a 200-page TED talk."
--Daniel Altman, Chief Economist of Big Think and author of Outrageous Fortunes: The Twelve Surprising Trends That Will Reshape the Global Economy

"Depending on your readiness to adapt to a hyper-connected world, there's tremendous opportunity-and tremendous threat--on the horizon. And therein lies the danger: companies that miss this paradigm shift may find themselves the road kill of their industries. Trillions explains this complex transformation, and its implications, in an engaging and intelligible style that even non-geeks can appreciate. The book does what we can only hope our devices of the future will do as well: it remembers that a human is reading its pages, not a processor, and tames the complexity of the thesis so that the message never falls victim to the underpinnings of the argument. My remote should take a lesson from these authors."
--Linda Tischler, Senior Editor, Fast Company

"Trillions is bold, unabashed, ingenious, and absolutely fizzing with insights about the new-modern process of blending design, high-tech, and commerce. Always entertaining and mostly right on target."
--David Brin, author of Earth, The Postman, and The Transparent Society

"While it isn't written specifically with healthcare examples, Trillions is a wake-up call for our industry. It outlines a path that could lead to a rich and fertile future. It hints at the limitless potential of a world where computers become human-literate and are woven into a rich and healthy tapestry that could democratize and enrich medicine."
--Eric Topol, Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute, and author of The Creative Destruction of Medicine

"The authors of Trillions have laid out a framework for how to think about the future of big data and networked information systems, as well as the symbiotic relationship between the digital world, business, and humanity. This book will affect how we engage consumers, create experiences, and interact with products and services--it is a must read for any organization looking to be digitally fit for the future."
--B. Bonin Bough, Vice President, Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Kraft Foods

"If you're enchanted by Siri, have already placed an order for Google Glass, and think we've plucked only the low-hanging fruit from the tree of digital delights, this book is for you. With Trillions, authors Lucas, Ballay, and McManus belly up to the bar alongside futurists Alvin Toffler, Kevin Kelly, and Arthur C. Clark, offering a vision so compellingly argued you'll only be surprised if it doesn't happen."
--John C. Abell, journalist at Reuters, former New York Bureau Chief at Wired, Founding Editor of Reuters.com

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