The Future of Autonomics

NewImageabstract: Digitization coupled to autonomic and cognitive services will have a profound impact. It is through this lens that there is a new way of looking at the interplay of smart humans and smart – cognitive – machines as the future of work unfolds. Autonomy, Adaptiveness, and Awareness are three of the emerging changes seen in the third wave of autonomics. While they are aspirational in nature, as an industry, we are seeing the emergence of eight new smart characteristics that will define the third wave autonomics. 

narrative: Human beings are being priced out of the competitive market and it is only a matter of time before we become the robot. The demand for skilled IT resources have already out stripped supply and the gap will only widen over the next few years. Conservatively, the use of computing devices will grown at over 40% per year, while the complexity of these highly interconnected systems are exponentially increasing. With IT resources being principally resourcing for servicing these ever-present ecosystems, it has been estimated that labor will continue to exceed technology costs by as much as 18 times. Given these intense economic and technological pressures, it is only a matter of time before the human cog in the business machine is permanently replaced by the robot.
While such doom and gloom might seem like the fertile ground that tomorrow’s science fiction movies are planted in, the future of autonomics is only a short time hop away from delivering on these evolutionary changes. Autonomics has successfully moved away from standard autonomics and systems that do (first two autonomic waves), toward the advanced learning autonomic systems – the third wave. This new wave of autonomics focuses on  three primary characteristics that will enable it to cross from the stuff of science fiction to that of science fact: autonomy of action, adaptiveness in behavior, and awareness of self and surroundings. 
Autonomic Autonomy of Action (AoA) will mean systems will have complete self-control of their operations, not just their internal functions. Autonomics exhibiting advanced AoA will be not only be capable of optimization their activities, but will also have the capacity to determine if and when it should perform its duties. For example, think of the Google Car, which is capable of unmanned transportation of human cargo between two locations connected by normal traffic patterns. While studies have shown that only 56% of the population would trust a Google Car for moving them, less than 1% would entrust it to transporting their infant. Why? 


As advanced as the Google Car is today, it still lack the one fundamental human capability – self determination. People have the capacity to say, “I can’t do that or I won’t do that!” If you command Google Car to drive you infant between locations during a snow storm in blizzard conditions, it will try. As parents (humans), we just don’t trust systems that can not determine right from wrong, then take action. The third wave of autonomic will incorporate autonomy of action, giving system a level of self determination.
Another key future characteristic emerging in the next wave of autonomics is adaptiveness in behavior, otherwise know as behavioral dynamics. Being able to adapt behavior is similar to what is seen in machine learning. That is, behavioral adaptation allows for the emergence of new characteristics,  without the need to reprogramming the system, in the presence of temporal and spatial changes to it operating context. These are learned characteristics and not programmed ones. In the Google Car example, there are times when one needs to drive in bad weather, but autonomic systems with advanced behavioral dynamics will be learn from driving in bad weather vs being programmed to do so.
Lastly, probably the most important change impacting autonomics, is in awareness.  Autonomic systems that have an advance state of awareness will be able to monitor both internal and external states in order to assess and contextualize its ability to perform its required services. This awareness is a necessary capability for achieving both autonomy and adaptiveness. Most believe that the Google Car exhibits a level of aware since it “knows” where it is. While true, future autonomic systems with advance awareness will also know “why” it is as well.
Autonomy, Adaptiveness, and Awareness are three of the emerging changing seen in the third was of autonomics. While they are aspirational in nature, as an industry, we seeing the emergence of eight new smart characteristics that will define present of third wave autonomics:
Eight Characters of Smart Autonomic Systems (IBM):

1. The system must know itself in terms of what resources it has access to, what its capabilities and limitations are and how and why it is connected to other systems.
2. The system must be able to automatically configure and reconfigure itself depending on the changing computing environment.
3. The system must be able to optimize its performance to ensure the most efficient computing process.
4. The system must be able to work around encountered problems by either repairing itself or routing functions away from the trouble.
5. The system must detect, identify and protect itself against various types of attacks to maintain overall system security and integrity.
6. The system must be able to adapt to its environment as it changes, interacting with neighboring systems and establishing communication protocols.
7. The system must rely on open standards and cannot exist in a proprietary environment.
8. The system must anticipate the demand on its resources while keeping transparent to users.

NewImageThe future of autonomics has more in common with biological sciences than with computer sciences.  Its evolution is moving it away from the singular behaviors defined through programmatic constructs and toward the emergent behaviors seen in complex learning systems. We will see code programmers replace with robot teachers and system debuggers augmented with computational therapists. The Robot is I.

Categories: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Autonomics, Emergent Systems

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