The smart grid and its biomorphic destiny.
Clement Chen is a senior vice president of strategic development at SAIC. His work links technology development, business models and strategy in such markets as energy, homeland security and defense.
Smart grid is commonly viewed as the digitization of the electric power infrastructure that will help enable a sustainable energy future. By applying modern advances in instrumentation, communications, and information technology (IT), conventional wisdom holds that the electrical grid will be made more efficient, reliable, cost effective, and eco-friendly. However, lost in this sea of technological promise is an appreciation for the underlying impact of what fundamentally might happen.
Distilled to its very essence, smart grid is about connecting nodes, altering their interactions, and infusing it all with intelligence and autonomy. Connecting, altering, and infusing—sounds harmless enough. However, the fullness of what smart grid is attempting is so astounding as to be almost prosaic. It is written in letters too large to be seen and too familiar to be understood. Hyperbolically speaking, smart grid is attempting to bring inanimate objects to life—creating its own version of Galatea from the Pygmalion tale of old.