Everyone’s talking about the “Internet of Things,” but what exactly does that mean for our future? In this thoughtful talk, economist Marco Annunziata looks at how technology is transforming the industrial sector, creating machines that can see, feel, sense and react — so they can be operated far more efficiently. Think: airplane parts that send an alert when they need to be serviced, or wind turbines that communicate with one another to generate more electricity. It’s a future with exciting implications for us all.


  • prodigious – remarkably or impressively great in extent, size, or degree
  • sift through something – examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important
  • seamless – smooth and continuous, with no apparent gaps or spaces between one part and the next
  • deploy – use
  • decouple – separate, disengage, or dissociate (something) from something else
  • a foregone conclusion – a result that can be predicted with certainty


Think about it

Watch the talk and answer the questions below.

  • What two waves of innovation does Marco mention? What did they bring to humanity?
  • What is the third major change that he mentions? What does it give us?
  • What according to Marco is highly unusual for an economist? (1:30)
  • What is the industrial Internet? (2:00)
  • What does he mean by saying that the information is intelligent? (3:07)
  • What is condition-based maintenance and how can it be beneficial? (4:09)
  • How does aviation benefit from the industrial Internet? (5:22)
  • How can healthcare benefit from the industrial Internet? (6:59)
  • How can energy benefit from the industrial Internet? (7:30)
  • Summarise the example of the field engineer servicing wind turbines. (8:33)
  • Why does Marco say that the future worker will be more like Iron Man rather than the Charlie Chaplin of “Modern Times?” (9:57)
  • Try to retell the example of cavemen sitting around the fire. (10:45)
  • What is Marco’s attitude towards the future changes? (listen to the end)


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the correct forms of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

So we are moving to a world where the machines we work with are not just intelligent; they are brilliant. They are self-aware, they are ________ PREDICT, ________ REACT and ________ SOCIETY. It’s jet engines, locomotives, gas turbines, medical devices, communicating ________ SEAM with each other and with us. It’s a world where information itself becomes ________ INTELLIGENCE and comes to us automatically when we need it without having to look for it. We are beginning to deploy throughout the industrial system embedded virtualization, multi-core processor technology, advanced cloud-based ________ COMMUNICATE, a new software-defined machine infrastructure which allows machine functionality to become virtualized in software, decoupling machine software from hardware, and allowing us to remotely and automatically monitor, manage and upgrade ________ INDUSTRY assets.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words.

But this is not just about data, so let me ________ gears and tell you how this is impacting already the jobs we ________ every day, because this new wave of innovation is bringing ________ new tools and applications that will allow us to collaborate ________ a smarter and faster way, making our jobs not just more efficient but more rewarding. Imagine ________ field engineer arriving at the wind farm with a handheld device telling her which turbines need servicing. She already has all the spare parts, because the problems were diagnosed ________ advance. And if she faces an unexpected issue, the same handheld device will ________ her to communicate with colleagues at the service center, let them see what she sees, transmit data that they can run ________ diagnostics, and they can stream videos that will guide her, step ________ step, through whatever complex procedure is needed to get the machines back ________ and running. And their interaction gets documented and stored in a searchable database.


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