Some of this week’s reflections…

Hey all! This week’s discussion was mostly based on the Internet of Things, and, once again, I’m actually surprised by many of the things I learned from the conversation.

One of most interesting part of today’s conversation, in my opinion, was comparing the advantages and drawbacks of the Internet of things. Having a personal camera in your house to watch your dog, or a camera in your father’s house to make sure he is okay, or a fridge that orders food, all have their clear advantages. Firstly, it allows us to do less work; it is convenient. Convenience is a huge word to describe the Internet of things, that make our day-to-day lives much easier. Another advantage is it is easier to set up and operate. If we take Apple as an example, it has products that sync and work together – one complements the other and makes communication much easier. Many of our regular daily actions are made automatic, meaning that we, humans, don’t require that much thinking. It is also efficient to save money. Lets say, for example, you forget to turn off your home lights when you travel – this could be done for you! Making operations in your house, work environment, or wherever you are becomes more efficient. We cannot forget, also, that all of this is interesting and “fun to play with” (we all have our child spirits inside of us!!!). Lastly, the argument of safety and security is extremely valid. If you have Onstar in your car, for example, it knows if you are in an accident or a dangerous situation.

However, we can also think about these points through another perspective. This basically comes down to one very powerful word: privacy. When we start adding more and more of the Internet to our lives, we end up losing our privacy. Although the safety argument is valid, how can one guarantee that their data will not be stolen or their equipment infringed? There is no guarantee of how people will (or can) use your information. If someone else gets hold of your nest, this is a huge threat to your safety. Someone could intercept your video footage, get access to your wireless network or even your log in credentials. With this, people could manipulate your data, and end up costing you not only your security, but money as well. Another point that was brought up was regarding human interaction. I believe this point is extremely important: as we get more and more connected to the Internet and technology, we end up giving up our human interaction, our face-to-face conversations. It seems, sometimes, that we could be losing an essential part of our human identity.

I wanted to mention as well two interesting examples of the Internet of Things. The first one, is an application to agriculture. Sensors can see how much water is in the soil and therefore calculate how much water the sprinklers have to shoot on crops. The sprinklers can adapt to the weather forecast for the next day, and GE sensors can also find the optimal mixing process for their various compounds – would you imagine this? It is astonishing to see how so many things can be figured out today to make our jobs and daily lives much more efficient. The second example is of a project called Asthmapolis, which uses a sensor that attaches to an asthma inhaler. It is able to map usage to generate insights into where attacks are likely to occur. Once again, the daily life of someone who suffers from asthma would be extremely facilitated by this, not to mention their health safety as well!

I would like to finish off this week’s remarks by stating that I had no idea that the most common cause of power accidents were squirrels – who would think these little creatures would cause any harm ?!

Well, this is a bit of this week’s reflections and I’ll be back in two weeks with more to share!!!


One thought on “Some of this week’s reflections…

  1. Privacy is something that was recognized as a big issue as we all moved our social lives online, and so consumer privacy is not an unknown issue for companies producing new consumer-based, networked products. How would you know if the IoT world has learned the lessons of the social web world? Are they paying proper attention to the privacy concerns of the public? To what would you point to back your answer? Or do these companies believe that people talk about privacy, but when a decision needs to be made, people will choose convenience over the privacy concerns? Maybe a fun dinner-time conversation with your friends!

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