At least that’s my opinion. Every step forward is not neccessarily progress.
Let’s back up a little in case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “internet of things”. More and more devices we use have microprocessors and internet connectivity built in for automation or for more efficient operation. In practicality it means many things we use are becoming “smart”. The “internet of things” refers to this grid of interconnected smart devices.
As I have stated in the past, I am skeptical of our implementation of new technologies, mostly in regard to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence. Now you can add to that the smartification and internet connectivity of every damn thing we own. Apparently I’m not alone. At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have co-authored a piece entitled “When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone” that outlines a few concerns starting with three things that happen to an object when it connects to the internet. It becomes smart, it becomes hackable and it becomes something you no longer completeley own. It goes downhill from there.
Companies are working on this technology in ways you probably would never imagine, in order to Make Your Life Easier. Pull quote:
“Smartness” implies a smartphone-like upgrade cycle…This aspirational smartness is not just coming to watches. Any product that’s worth more than a few bucks will have some intelligence and communication abilities embedded in it. Companies that exist today are trying to create smart umbrellas and smart crockpots.
Do you want a crockpot that has to be replaced at every few years—or at least that will be forever upgrading itself? Would apps change your mind?
Let’s talk about a few examples that exist today. The “smart” thermostat comes to mind. The utility company will “give” you one – free of charge! To help you save money on your bill. How nice of them. The little bastard will also rat you out to the utility company if you set it too low or too high, and the utility company can take control over it in certain situations. Not really yours, is it? What about your Smartphone? Well, you can’t do everything you want with it. Your only allowed to use it consistent with the carrier’s terms of service. And you can’t unlock it and use it on another carrier. Plus it spies on you. Is it really yours?
So do you really want to be driving around in a Smart Car that won’t go as fast as you want it to? You want to get to work today don’t you? Click here to agree to our terms of service. Don’t agree? Get out and walk. Do you want to have a Smart Toaster or other Smart Appliances collecting data about your kitchen habits and sending them up to the cloud? All just so you can control them with your smartphone without having to get up off the couch ten feet away? I don’t.
The more automation simplfies our lives, the more it complicates our lives. And the only reason to have autonomous machines is so that human decision making and judgement are not required for their operation. You see where that’s going? As our machines get smarter and smarter, we get dumber and dumber. And dumberer. Don’t believe me? Look around.
I will make an exception for the Manhattan Project BarBot. Lemme just look over these terms of service. Hmmm……two drink maximum per person?