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IBM AI Government The Internet Technology

Will IBM Watson Be Your Next Mayor? 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the mister-machine dept.
MrSeb writes "When we think of computer networks, we think of routers and servers and fiber optic cables and laptops and smartphones — we think of the internet. In actuality, though, the visible internet is just the tip of the iceberg. There are secret military networks, and ad hoc wireless networks, and utility companies have sprawling, cellular networks that track everything from the health of oil pipelines and uranium enrichment machines through to the remaining capacity of septic tanks — and much, much more. What if we connected all of these networks to the internet, to form an internet of things? What if we then put a massive computer at the middle of this internet of things and used this wealth of data to power smart cars, smart homes, smart supermarkets, and smart cities? Unsurprisingly, IBM and Cisco are already working on such smart cities. For nearly two years, Rio de Janeiro's utilities, traffic systems, and emergency services has been managed by a single 'Ops Center,' a huge hub of technologies provided by both IBM and Cisco. With 300 LCD screens spread across 100 rooms, connected via 30,000 meters of fiber optic cable, Ops Center staff monitor live video from 450 cameras and three helicopters, and track the location of 10,000 buses and ambulances via GPS. Other screens output the current weather, and simulations of tomorrow's weather up to 150 miles from the city — and yet more screens display heatmaps of disease outbreaks, and the probability of natural disasters like landslides. There's even a Crisis Room, which links the Ops Center to Rio's mayor and Civil Defense departments via a Cisco telepresence suite. This sounds awesome — but is it really a good idea to give a computer company (IBM is not an urban planner!) so much control over one of the world's biggest cities?"
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Will IBM Watson Be Your Next Mayor?

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  • by Prune (557140) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @10:45PM (#39816375)
    Funny to see this posted barely a month after http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/03/20/1410215/the-risk-of-a-meltdown-in-the-cloud [slashdot.org] given that a similar reasoning as in the former article can be applied here, and catastrophic failures in both sorts of systems are likely inevitable. The difference is that a failure in the cloud won't have the disastrous consequences of a failure of a fully automated and integrated, largely autonomous City Management System. Having humans in the mix adds human error, but it likely decreases the likelihood of some types of massive system-wide failures that common sense would otherwise avert; more importantly, the high level of integration implied by such a system is the biggest problem, just as much as it's the biggest contributor to the expected increased efficiency.

    I'd rather live in a poorly run city than in one where large-scale non-natural disaster strikes and potentially causes significant death and destruction, or worse (imagination is the limit).
  • Short Answer: No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @10:52PM (#39816437)
    As someone linked yesterday http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines [wikipedia.org]

    Betteridge's Law of Headlines is an adage that states, "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'".
  • Well (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Friday April 27, 2012 @12:19AM (#39816967)

    have you seen the documentary on developing watson? it seems very smart in a very specific focus, but in the end it could not tell you its ass from a hole in the ground. its a very high speed database search on common phrases, not intelligence

    and as far as the ops center? ohh increase number of LCD screen = better right? I invite you to look into LA's command center, or maybe NYC or any other grade A state of the art traffic center in the last 20 years, fuck my city of just over a million has more than three god damned helicopters, whats the news?

  • Re:Out of control (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:58AM (#39817653) Homepage Journal

    somehow the headline and summary imply that it's ibm employees working at the ops centre making decisions about where to send ambulances and where to (try to) route traffic, while actually ibm is just the contractor who built the thing.

    the fact that there's a telepresence connection to the mayor kinda suggests otherwise, that the control is with the mayor and whoever he put to work in the central ops. the summary is essentially claiming that the us military is controlled by whoever built the presidents phone too.

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