Ina Fried

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Rise of the Machines: GE and AT&T Partner to Make Engines, Trains and Turbines Cellular-Capable

General Electric is announcing a partnership with AT&T on Wednesday to add wireless capabilities to a wide range of the company’s industrial machines.

rise of the machines

The deal — an expansion of the existing partnership between the two companies — is designed to equip millions of jet engines, locomotives, turbines and medical devices with wireless capabilities.

“Imagine a world where an airline, for example, can remotely monitor, diagnose and resolve issues with its fleet engines virtually anywhere in the world,” AT&T Business Solutions unit chief Andy Geisse said in a statement.

With nearly everyone in the world having a cellphone these days, equipping cars, appliances and other machines with cellular connections is seen as a key growth area for wireless carriers in the coming years. AT&T said it has seen a 38 percent increase in the number of machine-to-machine customers in the last year, with more than 15.2 million such devices already on its network.

While many such connections involve business settings, others involve the growing connections being used within consumer devices, including appliances, safety equipment and cars. AT&T, for example, announced a deal with General Motors at the beginning of the year, in which it will replace Verizon at the heart of future versions of OnStar.

GE said the AT&T partnership will allow workers to better keep tabs on its gear, which it said will improve productivity.

“By connecting machines to the network and the cloud, we are taking an important step to enable workers all around the world to track, monitor, and operate our machinery wirelessly and remotely through highly secure and machine-to-machine communications,” GE vice president Bill Ruh said in a statement.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work