Machines – will they take over or aid the world?

Last updated: 11 April 2014

We’ve all watched (or at least heard of) futuristic movies where robots rule the world. From I, Robot and The Matrix to the aptly named Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, scenarios are painted where machines become autonomous and decide to rule humanity. While these movies primarily aim to entertain and scare, they do call into question just how much we rely on machines nowadays.

The tragic consequences of Hurricane Sandy, which caused major damage across the East Coast of North America just over a month ago, showed just how reliant we are on technology. Power failures meant that people were unable to charge their cell phones and communicate, residents were stuck in high rise buildings as elevators didn’t function, and hospitals even had to evacuate as back-up generators failed.

It would be easy to say we are too reliant on technology and machines and to scare-monger on the topic of future technology evolution and the development of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, but I think to do so would miss the point.

If anything, Sandy proved that M2M solutions can play a major role in creating the best possible response to such disasters. From creating an instant map based on M2M sensors, to conveying real-time informative updates to citizens, M2M technology is at the heart of many systems that can actually offer aid during times of upheaval.

By 2020, the number of all connected devices will reach 24 billion, representing a huge revenue opportunity for mobile operators. The most promising verticals are currently transport and logistics, utilities and automotive.  Here are just a few examples:

– eCall – an in-vehicle automatic accident notification system which PSA Peugeot Citröen has been providing since  2010 with P&T Luxemburg

– Smart Meters– an electrical meter that records electricity, gas and water consumption

– Fleet management – connecting trucks and containers in logistics and transportation, which Scania offers via Telenor Connexion.

What M2M creates is traffic – communication between smart devices. Not only can mobile operators benefit from this increase in M2M roaming, but they can play a vital role in ensuring that M2M communications help improve our lives and help us during times of need.

So, will machines ever take over the world? Not if we let them. In either case, we’d be foolish to ignore their potential.