engineering aspects

The human aspects of digital thinking generate new challenges for digital technology. Happily, digital thinking offers ways to address these, in part plain old cybernetics, in part more radical.

Commoditising complexity

For example Firefly ( puts a computer behind every LED in display lighting turning light into digital media.

  • e.g. Firefly

Control vs. measurement

To some extent this dates back to the universal governor, but cheap and/or accurate sensing allows tight feedback control,

  • e.g. universal governor, Euro fighter, Segway, autonomous cars

Accuracy vs. computation

For example Firefly lights do not need to be accurately positioned, instead computer vision techniques work out where they are and alter rendering to suit the actual positions.

  • e.g. FireFly, submarine tracking

Best vs. good enough

For example many noSQL databases used for web applications relax the strict ACID consistency conditions of traditional databases in order to achieve responsiveness.

  • ACID vs. noSQL, satisficing

Defuse sensing and opportunistic data

Instead of designing precise and optimal sensors or tests for specific purposes, we may make use of commonly available sensors, such as on mobile phones, and combine large volumes of imperfect data in order, for example, to detect rare or slow progressing diseases.

  • e.g. medical data, engine monitoring