According to Steve Wood of IBM, the planet is becoming instrumented, intelligent and interconnected.
“As global warming and the economic challenge so powerfully demonstrate, we are all connected, environmentally, financially, socially and technologically as never before,” he told the audience.
“And something more is happening – the world is getting smarter.
“Not metaphorically, but literally, we are infusing intelligence in the way the world works.”
He pointed out that just 20 years ago, there were very few connected computers.
Now, nearly a trillion devices are connected, which generate “big data”, much of which is in motion.
The son of a sewing machinist and a seamstress, Mr Wood grew up in Leeds.
Both of his parents worked at the Burtons factory in the city.