Never mind 20 million Google+ users. Since 2008 there have been more ‘things’ connected to the internet than there are people on the earth: by 2050 there will be 50 billion connected devices — from cattle with wireless sensors that report when a cow is sick or pregnant, to implanted defibrillators that upload diagnostic information and heart rate patterns, to bridges that record every time a boat sails underneath them.
There are ambitious ideas about monitoring the weather, detecting when buildings have been affected by earthquakes, predicting traffic jams and avoiding accidents by having cars tell each other where they are (something Ford and Toyota are working on together), spotting epidemics before they start — all by building up massive, real-time data sets to analyse and act on.
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