Automated Intelligence Gets a General Electric Boost

General Electric has played the part of industrial monolith for so many of its 126 years that its Intelligent Platforms division is enough to make at least one corner of the company feel like an honest startup, especially in regard to its efforts in automated intelligence. The division has acquired more than a dozen smaller companies during recent years, an "inorganic acquisition spree," to use the words of chief of strategy Rich Carpenter. Among the highlights: Intellution, an industrial software company, and Mountain Systems, which allowed for an increased reach in manufacturing.

"We see innovation almost running rampant right now, and you can't always tell what's going to succeed and what's not," Carpenter said. "We're looking across the board at promising technology, backing some startup ventures and making use of some of those products in our own initiatives."

Automated intelligence is among those initiatives. It's a focus for Carpenter, an Industrial Internet champion who wants to make factories smarter. Why not provide machines with the same ability we have to turn to the Internet to make better decisions, and to draw on a broader set of variables in order to make more profitable decisions?