China's 'Internet Of Things' To Become Semantic Web Superpower?

Web 3.0 and Semantic Technology is fast approaching and will soon overtake Social Media as a communications medium, within the next decade (see previous post, "New Industrial Revolution Sabotages Social Media!"). The development of the 'Internet of Things' is the first step in attaching sensors, barcodes and IP addresses to every 'thing' that occupies space in our material world - and it appears that China could very well be its supreme leader.

The Internet of Things is where wireless networks of objects are created using RFID, Bluetooth, GPS, and other technologies, working in tandem with cloud computing environments, Web portals, and back-end systems that will allow our 'things' to talk to each.

Some analysts predict that the industrial value of the Internet of Things over the next decade will surpass that of the Internet 30 times over, and say it will become a market that is worth more than $100 billion.

At the recent China IoT Conference held in Shanghai, Xi Guohua, China's vice-minister of industry and Xi GuohuaXi Guohuainformation technology announced that China is placing a priority on developing a national IoT plan. Florian Michahelles, associate direct or the Auto-ID Labs and an RFID technology expert noted that "the entire hype for Internet of Things has actually been jump started by the current premier Wen Jiabao mentioning Internet of Things as one of the key industry areas for China.

Internet + Internet of Things + Wisdom of the Earth

Wen JiabaoWen JiabaoAccording to a ReadWriteWeb report, "it started on Aug. 7, 2009 when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a speech in the city of Wuxi calling for the rapid development of Internet of Things technologies. It included this equation: Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth. Wen Jiabo followed up with a speech on Nov. 3 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in which he encouraged breakthroughs in key technologies for sensor networks and the Internet of Things.

What about Europe's Parliament of Things?

In a recent post titled, "Europe Beats U.S. In Race For Social Networking The 'Internet Of Things," I talked about the European Union taking the lead in this technology. However, if China is to step up its 'semantic' game, as hinted by this recent announcement, coupled with its suppression of freedom of speech, chances are a government mandate in China will move the IoT along a lot quicker in that country than the bureaucratic hurdles that will confront the European Union.

W. David StephensonW. David Stephenson An example of the benefits of IoT technology in China surfaced as the result of sensor project that helped clean up a lake in the city of Wuxi, which is now proclaimed China's 'Internet of Things' capital city.  In the U.S. had the  government given heed to W. David Stephenson's "Regulation 3.0" plan, we might have been able to prevent the BP offshore oil tragedy - as his plan called for sensors to be attached to oil rigs. This, in turn would have provided early alerts and an opportunity to prevent the malfunction in advance. (See " The Semantic Web As Big Brother Could Have Prevented The BP Oil Disaster").

Big Brother Might Be The Answer?

In that same article, I also talked about the fine line governments have to tread in order to institute these types of programs. While the 'Big Brother' mentality is abhorred in the States, it certainly is an accepted form of human interaction in China. According to Curt Hopkins in his ReadWriteWeb report, he notes that perhaps we place to much emphasis on privacy concerns, and that China's approach "is one situation in which the omission of pesky human rights will speed the plough."

Robert Kong HaiRobert Kong HaiRobert Kong Hai (@weirdchina), an American writer and author living in China feels that "with a one party system … it generally moves as one machine to get it done and without much dissent."

In interviewing Kong Hai today, I asked why the U.S. was not as aggressive as China or Europe regarding the Internet of Things. He noted the following:

I think the bottom line is, IoT is just not mainstream enough. In a Western type democracy like the USA, to get the big money needed to fund research and development you need public support and political will. I don’t really hear a unified message about Internet of Things technologies for people to get excited about. You can’t rely on the US government to push this technology. It’s the private sector that has to step up. Remember, in China it’s the total opposite. The government jumps in and the private sector take cues from the government.

A couple other issues standing in the way; (1) China with its economy in decent shape apparently has extra cash sitting around to invest in IoT technologies - and I just don’t think the USA does. (2) China, with its political system, can push through projects with limited public objection (this could mean limited privacy protections), so projects get started immediately. Try to get away with that in a western country such as the USA or someplace in the EU. We all know that the USA is a democracy with much different rules and procedures to follow. These could include years of public objection, courts getting involved, changing administrations. This just means delay, delay, delay.   

So it appears in the race for "Superpower" authority, China once again takes the lead- and if the U.S. doesn't take action soon and embrace this new technology, we could be left behind.

It's a quandary to think that our 'race into space' did not allow Russia nor China to take the lead, and yet, today, some forty years later, we have somehow lost that drive to be leaders in this new field of technology. With setbacks like these, we could end up as Martin Jacques has predicted his book, "When China Rules The World" - a country ruled  by another Superpower! If that doesn't give someone in authority enough impetus to act, I don't know what will.

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