I've already spent too much time today blogging, and need to get back to work, but I did want to pass along an idea that struck me as I read the following in a press release on a new academic research venture at the University of Southampton in the UK:
Embryonic and relatively unsophisticated examples of current human interactions with autonomous software entities include the crowd-sourcing that provides a growing element of our traffic information, user-generated content for weather reports, and our interactions with software that can find us hotels according to our preferences.
Professor Jennings says: “We are fast approaching an ‘era of ubiquity’ where each of us will become increasingly dependent on multiple smart and proactive computers that we carry with us, access at home and at work, and that are embedded into the world around us.
“This will profoundly change the ways in which we work with computers. Rather than issuing instructions to passive machines, we will increasingly work in partnership with highly inter‐connected computational components (agents) that are able to act autonomously and intelligently.”
Professor Jennings, of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, believes that human-agent collectives – people and computational agents operating at a global scale – offer tremendous potential and, if realised correctly, will help meet key societal challenges.
However, these benefits are mirrored by the threat of equally concerning pitfalls as we shift to become increasingly reliant on systems that interweave human and computational endeavour.
The question this raised in my mind is this: Is it possible that ubiquitous computing and crowd-sourcing could be the key to informing the informal community-based support networks of chronically ill patients on how best to provide the care and support such patients urgently need?
I'm going to try to find time to explore this thought in more depth, but can't make promises: my personal and professional lives are a bit too full at the moment to commit to this!