The Internet of Things is something similar to some others modern concepts such as the Web 3.0, the semantic Web, the symbiotic web, etc. Actually, it all could be merged into a single approach and could be considered as a “threshold” between:

In such a scenario, analytical approaches are no longer useful in themselves (essentially top-down). Additional ones such as systemic (sciences of complexity), cybernetics and decisional (both top-down and bottom-up but mainly recursive) become also highly relevant.

An illustration of this: In the Internet of Things, the “cyberobjects” – i.e. the physical objects associated with their individual virtual intelligence (can be a “software avatar” which can be hosted in the cloud, embedded with the object, centrally managed, etc.) - are gradually becoming full actors in our complex organizations, just as the human beings already are in the current Web 2.0.

Those “object-actors” become then able to react - as processing management operators - to contextual events at very subsidiary levels, whatever is the considered process. Nevertheless, the Internet of Things clearly raises the question of our ability to develop ever more powerful tools in complex environments such as computer systems.

Either objects, with their associated software intelligence, become tangible "actors / partners" acting under our control: that is to say not only assistants but especially counsellors, policy makers, organizers or economic agents... Or we must prepare for the digital chaos. The recent financial crisis is a perfect example of those “crazy IT systems”: they just amplify small and insignificant decisions at the lowest level to make them catastrophes at the overall stage (butterfly effect).

Actually, this revolution in progress, deeply calls into question our “old” social, economic or technical models (mainly functional): we must be ready for a change of the same nature as that which took place between the vision of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein (relativity) or Max Planck (Quantum), but also the consequences of this change (moving from the gun to the atomic bomb).

To tackle those challenges and avoid chaos, we must change the way we both conceive and realize our information systems: cybernetics, sciences of complexity and artificial intelligence are matters that will be critical to make the IOT a success.

Philippe GAUTIER (Business2Any).