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The Body Electric

The smart grid and its biomorphic destiny.

Fortnightly Magazine - June 2010

and trades off against things like precision, optimization, scarcity, predictability, and efficiency—the focus of traditional systems-engineering approaches. The interactions of highly networked systems aren’t governed by mechanisms that traditional approaches necessarily can discern nor manage. The messy redundancy of networks has a recursive nature that oftentimes leads to counter-intuitive outcomes. By connecting large numbers of nodes, facilitating widespread horizontal interactions and dependencies, and infusing it all with intelligence and autonomy, we may step into a world where non-linear effects and wild-card factors become the norm.

This brave new world requires a new synthesis to accommodate the novel unpredictability that likely will spring forth from the smart grid as it eventually ascends to its ultimate role as the central nervous system in the transformation of energy and electric power in the 21st century. Let it be smart-grid biology.