Friday, November 28, 2014

The Creepy IoT (Internet Of Things)

Sue Halpern at The New York Review of Books dives from her review of four books (by Jeremy Rifkin, David Rose, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, and Jim Dwyer) into the deep and murky waters of the IoT (Internet of Things), the world of daily living enabled by the use of the Internet to interconnect various kinds of new devices with each other and occasionally with mere humans to accomplish results that are indeed nearly miraculous, as well as utterly destructive of anything that can reasonably be called privacy.

Everything from the much-debated and sophisticated Google Glass to simple pills you swallow that keep your doctor informed of your basic physical state and whether and/or when you take your meds, Internet-enabled light bulbs that turn on when your car signals by Internet that you are almost home, Internet-enabled sensors that locate every member of your household within the city in which you all live, truly automated purchases and other transactions, Internet-monitored status of your car's engine/brakes/etc., and other scary data collections about your person and your world... it's all there.

What happens to privacy? (Obsolete, say some sages; humans never had it in the genuinely old days anyway.)

What happens to the livelihoods of people who make their living providing some of these goods and services now, and hence what happens to capitalism? (Gone, say the sages.)

What happens when a person or group succeeds in hacking these systems? (Power outages that make Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 look like minor blips, say the wizards.)

The general message is that such changes are inevitable in our future, and I tend to believe that is true. But I admit it makes me glad I don't have all that much longer to live... I doubt it will be a world I can adapt to. Leave it to the kids who don't care about the things I care about!

(H/T neighbors George and Barbara [NOT Bush!], who loaned me the dead-tree edition of NY Review.)


  1. Kids will grow up in an unrecognizable world and will cope better than us. We remember how it was to be unencumbered by electronics and the Big Brother government/ corporate powers. They won't. I just pray they will find privacy, peace, and comfort.

    1. ellroon, different generations, not surprisingly, exhibit different reactions to new technologies. When the internet came into being, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread (indeed, long before it existed, I had a genuine sleeping dream about a machine that would answer questions, and the 'net is effectively that machine).

      I demo'ed the 'net for my father in its early days; he was awed, but lived outside a small Texas town which did not offer connections in the boondocks. OTOH, a friend's mother was convinced the internet was some sort of fishnet poised to drop down on people, and advised her daughter repeatedly to have nothing to do with it. Between the two of them, they probably understood the essence of the 'net, but neither ever actually used it, and I soon made my living developing web sites for various companies.

      By now I expect the NSA's predatory attacks on people's privacy rights, but I probably will never resign myself to them. If our kids' generation does, how long before we have 1984?



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