Part of the intro to an extensive “smart world” special report in The Economist
This was the vision that David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale University, put forward in his book “Mirror Worlds” in the early 1990s. “You will look into a computer screen and see reality,” he predicted. “Some part of your world—the town you live in, the company you work for, your school system, the city hospital—will hang there in a sharp colour image, abstract but recognisable, moving subtly in a thousand places.”
Even two decades later that sounds like science fiction. But this special report will argue that Mr Gelernter was surprisingly prescient: mankind is indeed building more and more “mirror worlds”, or “smart systems”, as they are often called. The real and the digital worlds are converging, thanks to a proliferation of connected sensors and cameras, ubiquitous wireless networks, communications standards and the activities of humans themselves.