Beware of the Computer: the Invasion of Embedded Systems
by Gérard Berry
Embedded systems are becoming ubiquitous. Most existing computers do not have a screen, a keyboard or a mouse. Instead, they are hidden in innumerable kinds of objects: automobiles, trains, aeroplanes, tractors and cranes, domestic appliances, medical devices, robots, telephones, cameras, TVs, music players, smartcards etc. Because of the flexibility and efficiency of information processing, computerized systems are progressively replacing manual, mechanical and hydraulic systems. For instance, railways and subways the world over are being gradually transformed: electronic signalling, switching and dynamic scheduling are becoming the rule. In the near future, computerized objects will communicate with each other without human intervention and will be networked. For instance, cars will talk to each other and to the road, which will itself communicate with the city in order to organize traffic. Autonomous sensors will detect forest fires or river floods. One can safely predict that there will be many more autonomous objects than human beings connected to our networks, including to the Internet.