In the last few years we’ve witnessed a progressing migration of “intelligence” towards the edges of the networks, i.e. towards the Users. Advance in processing and communication technologies (e.g.: higher and higher performance, miniaturization and cost reductions) is already bringing a proliferation of devices, embedding communications and computing, which , in the near future, will be more and more deployed in the environment we live. In less than a decade, the edge of current infrastructures will become a distributed processing, storage and communication environment made of virtual resources (operated by a multitude of Players, not just Network Operators or OTTs). This transformation will create an ICT fabric capable of interconnecting people, machines and things, where services will be created and accessed through “everything”.
We are going beyond the Internet of Things or Machine to Machine as basically we are transforming “everything” in the ambient we live in a network node, by embedding not processing, storage and communications capabilities, but also a nervous behavior. These networks of networks of edge nodes will be connected to the traditional infrastructures so to expand traditional Telco-ICT networks towards the edge. A web of heterogeneous connections will capillary cover the ambient in which we live.
We know from biology that spatially continuous networks with heterogeneous connections are ubiquitous in biological living systems, which naturally exhibit self-adaptation and self-control features, empowered by a capillary nervous system. Actually, in living organisms, body and nervous system are adapted to natural environments on many time scales, from evolution to development and learning: any individual organism brings is particular history of behavior and stimulation to any situation in which cognition is acted out. Considering the nervous system, each nervous cell is a very simple autonomous entity but, through the interactions of hundreds of billions of them, body is controlled and intelligence emerge.
The same will be for the future ICT networks: in this metaphor the body will be a dynamical set of physical networks and the nervous system will be a distributed overlay of cognitive software; both will adapt to the service environments, from evolution to development and learning: any dynamic network will bring is particular history of behavior and stimulation to any situation in which its artificial cognition is acted out. This network nervous system will be created by an overlay network of “nervous components” embedded into “everything”, from objects, edge nodes up to core nodes: you may see it as a very capillary management system of a highly pervasive network.
Imagine the impact of transforming each object into an entity that can communicate, that can allow you accessing every services and that is aware of the environment: it will create a huge number of new biz opportunities to be exploited. A Manufacturer or a Consumer electronics Provider would have the chance of transforming their products into means to provide services, and even to remain in contact with the User of the product.
If you think that I’m dreaming, have a look at this link, there is a nice example. The idea they have is creating mathematical models of the way the nervous system and the brain work, so to build products that behave more like animals.
We are not that far from having a technology capable of developing an artificial nervous system for future ICT networks and services.
We too are active in this field, thanks to the EIT Activity “Smart Networks at the Edge”!