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Big Data, Manufacturing, and an Invisible Future for Software

There’s an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about Big Data in Manufacturing.  Manufacturers are now leveraging sensors and scanners throughout the factory floor to collect data about everything from screw turns to temperature and humidity in an effort to improve quality.  My favorite part is actually this line:

In the past, some of that data had to be typed in, creating the risk of errors.

This is the future of software: invisibility.  The days of us sitting in front of a computer typing in data are numbered.  With the cost of data collection, storage, and analysis all plummeting, the software of the future will gather data seamlessly from your activities.  You will no longer have to tell your software what to do — it knows.  You will no longer have to put in strict relationships between data (this email is for this order) — it can figure it out.

One day, a six-year-old will ask you “Grandpa, did you really have to sit at a computer to order things online?”  What can you say?  Maybe “Yeah, but my grandpa had to shovel coal in the snow, so it wasn’t so bad.”