The latest trend regarding the internet is the Internet of Things (IoT). The definition of IoT can get very complex, but in a nutshell, IoT means that everything that can be connected to Wi-Fi, the internet, and a smartphone will eventually be interconnected (Morgan, internet). Wi-Fi is the signal that is sent out by a device so that one’s cellphone can communicate with other devices via the signal, while the internet is the communications infrastructure that keeps us all interconnected.
Now, if one imagines attaching sensors to everything — in one’s household, for example — one can use their smartphone to gather data from the coffeepot, and send a signal to the coffee pot to brew at a certain time, while one is in the shower, or before one has even awakened. However, attaching sensors to everything, including ourselves, has ethical implications. In other words, there are good and bad utilizations of this technology. As a result of IoT, there is already a huge change in how a lot of scientific data and research are both collected and conducted (bcs, internet). For example, heart patients, wearing pacemakers, currently can send a signal via sensors to the cellphones (internet) of their doctors, thus not only gathering significant health data, but alerting the doctor of a possible emergency. However, as things become more interconnected, there is a great potential for loss of privacy (whose thing belongs to whom?), as well as breaches of security by hackers, or total systemic failure (bcs, internet).
The future of IoT is becoming a popular subject. By 2020, there is expected to be 24 billion connected devices (Gubbi et al., internet). In addition, in only five years (2020), the actualized potential of IoT will include ” energy harvesting and recycling, large-scale wireless sensor networks, highly enhanced security”, as well as a host of other features. Further into the future (around 2025), smart traffic might be the norm (Gubbi et al., internet). In short, anything that can have a sensor and send out a signal — especially a radio frequency identification signal (RFID) — will be considered data that can be integrated into the overall systems (Gubbi et al., internet). The IoT will have a profound impact on our society, but many of its utilizations will either be open to highly-negative, undesirable implications as well.
One of the most ubiquitous concerns about the IoT is the loss of privacy by individuals (Anderson & Rainie, internet). The chief concern among information technology experts is that, by collecting data on everyone (including their buying, selling, utility usage, transportation habits, etc.), people are basically giving up their rights to privacy. (Anderson & Rainie, internet). Some experts have expressed concern about individual compromise of intuition as well as the potential loss of curiosity, as a future of smaller, possibly-implantable devices inform us what to do, and when to do it — under the rubric of constant social networking via technology (Anderson & Rainie, internet). Furthermore, concerns have been expressed about the loss of aloneness, a positive condition — as opposed to loneliness (Anderson & Rainie, internet). Moreover, others have expressed serious reservations about the pollyannish, almost-utopian predictions of IoT supporters, stating that that those who do not wish to be a part of IoT will become disenfranchised, a phenomenon which will create a great divide between technophiles and those that one may call luddite, or anti-technology advocates (Anderson & Rainie, internet).
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Anderson, Janna & Rainie, Lee. ” The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025.” Pew Research Center. 14 May 2014. Web. 17 Jul 2015.
Gubbi, Jayavardhana, Buyya, Rajkumar, Marusic, Slaven & Palaniswami, Marimuthu. ” Internet of Things (IoT): A vision, architectural elements, and future directions.” Future Generation Computer Systems, 29: 7; Sep 2013, pp. 1645-1660. Web. 17 Jul 2015.
Morgan, Jacob. ” A Simple Explanation Of The ‘Internet of Things’.” Forbes. 13 May 2014. Web. 17 Jul 2015.
The Societal Impact of The Internet of Things. (n. p.). BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT. 14 Feb 2013. Web. 17 Jul 2015.