Smart Machines by Anthony Willard

           With the constant changes that occur in the realm of technology, it is not always easy to see what the next changes will be and how people will be affected by such changes. The existence and increased usage of smart machines is one such technological change that is beginning to have a significant impact on us and the society in which we live.

So What Are Smart Machines?

  • Smart MachinesSmart machines are “intelligent device[s] that uses machine-to-machine (M2M) technology” (Rouse, 2014).
  • Some examples of smart machines are self-driving cars, cognitive computing systems, and some types of robots (Rouse, 2014).
  • True smart machines are able to operate mentally and physically on their own, thus making them autonomous.

           Although robotics have become more common in places such as manufacturing factories, they are beginning to expand into other sectors due to the increase in the cognitive abilities of the machines. Traditionally, many machines have been programmed by humans; however, smart machines are able to program themselves through their interactions with data and humans (Kelly, Hamm, 2013, p. 8). In a sense, machines and computers will adapt to humans rather than humans adapting to machines and computers (Kelly, Hamm, 2013, p. 8). The cognitive adaptability of smart machines allows machines to be able to carry out tasks that makeup the roles of a variety of jobs, such as those in the service sector. Smart machines are already being used for financial analysis and medical diagnostics (Barajas, 2014).

           Some smart machines are currently being tested and used in libraries in order to increase library services to patrons. For example, due to children’s limited “spatial skills and knowledge of the rules of library-information organization, a robot was created at a library (Eaton, 1991; Harris & McKenzie, 2004). The robot, called Book Smile, was tested for the purpose of helping children find books on the shelves of the library. Here is what Book Smile did:

A photo including a physical description of
A photo including a physical description of “Book Smile”
  1. Book Smile, which was equipped with sensors and lasers, was able to ask the child what he/she was looking for and then guide the child to the location of the book in the library.
  2. Book Smile then identified where the book was at on the shelf while showing an image of the book on the robot’s screen.
  3. Once the book was identified and placed on the Book Smile’s ‘mouth’, it took the patron back to the circulation desk to check out the book.
  4. Along the way to the circulation desk, Book Smile read an abstract of the book.

For more information on Book Smile, read the full article.

           Although we are in the early stages of smart machine usage, these machines are beginning to have a real impact on the way the world works Smart machines are beginning to be used in multiple workforce sectors and even private life. How will smart machines impact the information and library fields in the long run?

Additional information on smart machines and their impact on the world:


Group 5 References Here: Reference Page Link


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