IoT – Cool or Scary…?

The Internet of Things.

When I first heard that phrase, I had no idea what it meant. In the context of the conversation, I assumed that it meant the expansion of the Internet to “things”, but I wasn’t sure what “things” really meant. Isn’t the Internet expansive enough, I thought? With my entrepreneurial mindset, I couldn’t see any room to make the Internet more applicable. That’s because:

  1. I didn’t understand the Internet at its core.
  2. Narrow-thinking–you gotta think big.
  3. I didn’t believe I could make an impact the magnitude of the IoT

After being introduced to the IoT and its wonders, I’ve really been thinking about the ethical implications and potential consequences of the IoT. Let’s begin with some examples and analyze them from there.

One of the coolest examples regards the future of your home. Imagine a home that has its own connected network of gadgets, or better yet, its own internet. Your home knows when you aren’t home, so it turns off the lights for you to conserve energy and help you save money on your electricity bill. Occasionally, especially when out for longer durations, your home will turn on and off the lights randomly to apply the facade that you are home to scare away potential thieves and ensure the safety of your home. Assuming your home is connected to your phone, the possibilities become endless. The data that your phone and home can collect can be super helpful in improving your quality of life. Your home will know now your typical work hours, and on your drive home, not only will your phone tell you alternative routes to avoid traffic, but your phone will tell your home that you are on your way back so your house should turn on the air condition to make the house nice and cool by the time you get there. Once you get out of your car and approach the door, the smart lock on your door will know its you because of your phone, and will unlock the door for you. Upon walking in, the camera that you have set up facing your door will turn off, the lights will turn on, the shades will go up, the air condition will turn off, the TV will turn on with your favorite news network playing and the list goes on. Time is limited, and the idea of your home running by itself in your favor is attractive for good reason (or reasons?).

While this all sounds good and super helpful for all homeowners, it has some fatal flaws. Big data is scary–do you know who’s behind the screen looking at the data that’s being collected? Is it being collected anonymously or is your home associated with the data that is being collected? How about modes of interception–what if it gets in the wrong hands? The data can be extremely valuable to anyone with a malicious intent, so how secure is this data? There’s definitely a tradeoff made between convenience and risk, but by how much? With industry standards for encryption, I’d say that the chances are slim for this information to be intercepted. However, if this information is ever put in the wrong hands, the damage that can be done is enormous. So while there is a low risk, the potential damage is extremely high. However, this risk and potential consequence, when weighed against the convenience of a smart home, may not matter as much as some people might think.

Let’s talk about our smart phones. The data that my smartphone collects is crazy; it tells me the traffic on my way home when I didn’t even tell it that I was going home–and somehow manages to get it right all the time–and knows where I am at all times. The risk of this type of data getting stolen is minimal because isn’t easy to do, but I would argue that it would be easier to intercept than intercepting a smart home’s data, just because smart homes are not as common so it’d be difficult to pinpoint which home uses specific technology and which homes do not. The data that these phones collect can also be used for detrimental effects just as bad as the smart home’s data, but we still use our smartphones without even thinking twice of the risk. I don’t think we should live in a nation of fear, albeit current national security tensions raised by the one and only individual that I am not going to mention in this post. We are a nation of progress–a nation built off of technology and intelligence. We are heading in the right direction with smart homes and other IoT gadgets. Let’s embrace the progress that we see and rather than believing the notion that the data being collected can be used against us, let’s think more about how it can be used for us.

~ ammer s.

 

 

2 Comments »

  1. Mike Smith

    October 11, 2016 @ 10:07 pm

    1

    Excellent attitude. That said, you might look at some of your fellow students’ posts this week. I’m not sure that everyone has put the risk in perspective the same as you. How might you convince them, or are you swayed by their arguments?

  2. school of applied science

    November 11, 2016 @ 4:37 am

    2

    this website could definitely be one of the greatest in its field. Terrific blog!
    important discussion

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