Pervasive Computing-Implications, Opportunities and Challenges for the Society

Pervasive Computing, also referred to sometimes as Ubiquitous Computing deals with the idea of making “computing power” available anyplace, anytime in a uniform way so that it may be exploited for meeting the challenges faced by society. The obvious analogy to this is the electric power infrastructures, which made the society’s work and play more effective and enjoyable. Can Pervasive Computing also have a similar or greater impact on society? The answer is undoubtedly a resounding Yes. However, we have a long way to go and overcome many a challenge. In this talk, I will discuss these issues: the implications, opportunities and challenges Pervasive Computing. There have been steady advances in the area of computing hardware contributing to the dramatic affordability of computers. The revolution brought about by the Internet and the liberalization of the communications industry has brought the world closer. Now, it is no longer possible to even define what device may be termed a computer as “computing” becomes embedded in everyday appliances large and small ranging from cars to washing machines. The merger of computing and communications together with miniaturization is leading the way. However, for the promise of Pervasive Computing to fully materialize, technology and support structures need to advance along four directions: Computing, Communication, Cognition, and Collaboration the 4Cs of Pervasive Computing. Among the 4Cs the first two: Computing and Communications are rapidly advancing especially with the introduction of GPS as an embedded service. For a user to truly benefit from Pervasive Computing, the first two Cs are not enough. The supporting systems need to exhibit cognition an understanding of the situation or “context awareness “ as it is often called. For over fifty years the field of Artificial Intelligence has contributed many ideas (expert systems, planning, and natural language understanding to name a few). The ideas of agent based computing and service based architectures are making contributions in this regard. The field of CSCW (Computer Supported Collaborative Work) and related research are contributing to the fourth C as it tries to make the World small by enabling people worldwide to work together albeit with the great inconvenience of dealing with myriad disparate tools, technologies and standards.

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