Atoms are the new bits, according to Chris Anderson editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. Physical data can have a seismic affect on our world and our lives. Framing the notion of “living by numbers,” Anderson explains that by learning from our own personal data, we can do more, achieve more, and do more good in the world.
In robotics today the focus is on closed-loop systems where feedback helps machines get a sense of the world around them, adjust, and adapt - Moore’s Law has made this very efficient and very cheap. We too can live like robots as we have the ability to measure the world around us with the sensors in our phones and other portable technologies. We can constantly test and learn to improve how we live.
But it’s not all about numbers.
Sharing data has a tremendous affect on our livelihood and lifestyle. Talking to others -exchanging lifestyle best practices à la Weight Watchers - has a huge impact on our behaviors and choices. Additionally, community-based efforts to improve quality of life are greatly enhanced by technology. Eventually we will be able benchmark our choices against our neighbors and friends and affinity groups - the ultimate virtuous cycle for improving behaviors.
The gist: Feedback loops can be both quantitative and qualitative, and our ability to integrate data in a motivating way into our daily lives helps us live better through improved decision making (e.g., what we consume, how often we exercise). Technology that connects us to our own life data enables us to make significant improvements in our lives.