Commentators have been backing the Internet of Things for a number of years. But what does the IoT really mean for the average user and what impact could it have on your life?
“Imagine a world where you don’t have to remember when your car is due its annual MOT. With a car that is not only connected to the internet but also with other devices in your life, your car could automatically contact a mechanic to book itself in to be serviced, cross-referencing when you’re free with your calendar and sending you a reminder text to drop the car off to the garage. And as autonomous cars are developed and approved for public use, the car could even take itself off to the mechanic without you having to do anything. The potential change that Internet of Things devices could bring is endless.
“However, no matter how great the Internet of Things sounds and how significantly it could impact and improve lives, security and protection of data is a major concern. According to research from HP, 80 per cent of Internet of Things devices are vulnerable to data theft.
“While it might not seem a big issue for hackers to be able to access the data that a sprinkler system holds about when your garden needs watering, the bigger issue is the personal data that these kinds of devices also hold, with 90 per cent of Internet of Things devices recording at least one piece of personal data such as email address.”
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However, credible privacy concerns have arisen regarding the hyperconnected nature of IoT devices – could they leave users open to cyber attack?
Techno-optimists believe the new world will be better than our current one because it will be “smarter”. They’re fond of saying that if things work according to plan, resources will be allocated more efficiently. Smart grids, for example, will reduce sizeable waste and needless consumption. And, of course, on an individual level, service providers will deliver us the goods and services that we supposedly want more readily and cheaply by capitalising on big data and automation.
While this may seem like a desirable field of dreams, concern has been raised about privacy, security, centralised control, excessive paternalism, and lock-in business models. Fundamentally, though, there’s a more important issue to consider. In order for seamlessly integrated devices to minimise transaction costs, the leash connecting us to the internet needs to tighten. Sure, the dystopian vision of The Matrix won’t be created. But even though we won’t become human batteries that literally power machines, we’ll still be fueling them as perpetual sources of data that they’re programmed to extract, analyse, share, and act upon. What this means for us is hardly ever examined. We’d better start thinking long and hard about what it means for human beings to lose the ability – practically speaking – to go offline.”
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TechCrunch’s Craig Spiezle is apprehensive when it comes to ploughing data into IoT devices, but appreciates that they need to be effectively tested before making a firm conclusion
“They’re coming, and we won’t be able to stop them. But will they be friends or foes? What are we talking about? Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
“Smart” devices are all the buzz, whether in the connected home (thermostats, lightbulbs, garage door openers, locks and various appliances) or new wearable devices. They promise convenience along with improved control and efficiency in our lives. But, as highlighted by the recent hacking of automobiles, connectivity can come at a significant cost.
“Consumers cringe as the barrage of data breaches continues — from major retailers to health insurers to government agencies, hundreds of millions of records are now exposed and there seems to be no end in sight. Will we face a similar future with some of our most personal and sensitive information (where we are, the status of our home, our latest health vitals), or even with our physical security?”
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The Verge’s Thomas Ricker fears an Internot of Things (IøT) will emerge from the ongoing IoT privacy debate
“Consumer tech is currently bound by two extremes. On one side you have the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) characterized by too much technology. On the other side we have an equal and opposite force that tries to squelch technology and the bad habits we’ve developed around its usage. Let’s call it the Internot of Things (IøT). Both prey upon gullibility.
“IoT devices are easy to spot because they’re often prefixed with the word “smart”: the smart fork, smart chopsticks, smart cup, smart bottle, smart jar, smart bikini, smart bra, smart chair, smart kettle… you get the idea. Add a rechargeable battery and cheap Wi-Fi chip to any dumb object, develop an app, and voila: Indiegogo riches. Problem is, the result is always more expensive and bulkier than its contemporary and usually more finicky to use
“IøT is a backlash to the onslaught of beeps, buzzes, and messages emitted by our ever-smarter world. Internot solutions are easy to spot because of their absurd approaches to tech avoidance.”
To read the full article, visit The Verge.