We all know our world has to grow, but are we also paying attention on how?
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Today I’ve chosen to write to you about technology, as it has been around us for some time already and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to fade away, even the contrary: continuous development is taking place.
I would like to talk to you about the Internet of Things (IoT). It sounds like a network, most like the internet but with some extra features. Well, IoT is here and it is gaining its place in our lives, or in the lives of some of us. IoT is, indeed, more complex than the internet. If we have been used to the communication from man-to-man and to communication from man-to-device, the IoT makes the communication device-to-device possible. It seems incredible, right? Things who will actually exchange data. That’s actually one of the biggest purposes of the IoT and one of its most useful advantages.
However, there is a lot to say about this concept: one idea that should be kept in mind is that a “thing” in the IoT can be a human with some little computer inside him, an animal from a farm with a biochip or a switch with invisible sensors to detect movement and other changes in the room. In other words, IoT means connecting everything, and I mean everything, in this world. My car with my fridge, the bed of each patient with his doctor. This connection is realized by placing small hardware into each part of this “relationship”, which allows the two things connected to share data.
One question that may appear is why is IoT developed and to answer this question I will just quote Kevin Ashton, co-founder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, who said, while speaking about the future possibilities of IoT :
““Today computers -- and, therefore, the Internet -- are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code.
The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy -- all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things -- using data they gathered without any help from us -- we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.”
So the principal reason behind the construction of IoT is the efficiency of computers which clearly surpasses the one of humans.
After this presentation, not even close to the one that IoT deserves, I would like to bring up some points of view that I find relevant to this concept.
- On one hand, IoT is considered to be a positive change because of its ability to provide communication between machines. This communication, as stated previously, is far more efficient that our human to human interaction and it is also more complete. Data wouldn’t be lost, so the human mistake might disappear.
- On the other hand, one major advantage is the speed of this communication: it is going to be a real-time one. For example, this can be extremely great for the healthcare system: everyone could wear a little device which will be able to check the vital signs and to tell is someone has had a heart attack or has fainted, in order to make the intervention of doctors faster.
-Another advantage is related to the automation of our systems, this means that time, money and human resources are going to be saved. For example, a small computer attached to the dumpsters in big cities could send a message to the companies responsible with the cleaning only when they are empty, by this system of signal, they wouldn’t have to check the streets every morning.
Like every new concept, IoT is also regarded with distrust and people may get worried when speaking about this new huge impact of technology on our lives. One possible threat envisaged is the problem of unemployment, which tends to become more and more alarming, as devices communicating will be able to do hundreds of jobs which are now done by humans. For example, in the spring of this year, a car which could drive itself was released. One advantage was that this car is practically the remedy to all the traffic congestion existing right now. But this car also is the end of drivers. We won’t need taxis or drivers to deliver goods. We will literally call a cab. Only the cab. And this situation is not unique.
Another big disadvantage could be the security and privacy of a IoT's user. New questions will arise and finding the answers won't be easy. When all the things around us will be connected, recording continuously data about us, like how we eat, what we eat, how often we eat, where we go: how are we going to keep track of this data? Are we going to be capable of doing so? How will we keep this information to ourselves, or if not will we know who has access to it? Speaking about security and privacy, another argument is growing: are we sure we will be in control of our lives when so many things do so many jobs for us? Will we have willpower and morality? And if we will, what will these concepts mean? And another aspect becomes noticeable: cyber attacks won’t be only harming your internet identity, but they could also harm your physical one.
And the lists could continue, both on the good side and the bad side. But, in the end, I would like to tell my humble opinion: I think these changes may be logical, may be the way in which mankind has to develop after the internet, but we do have to pay attention to how we grow. We have to take care of our human character, of mistaking, loving and caring. Another aspect which concerns me, but I have to say it is not confirmed by online reading, like the other pieces of information in this article, is that there are several countries which grow extremely fast and other which still deal with poverty, war, illiteracy and many fundamental issues and that this gap between the two categories is going to increase while this huge change is happening.
So, we have to grow, that’s for sure. But let’s not lose ourselves in the process!
And thank you (so much) for reading (so much)!
References and further reading:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things - a more complex article on IoT
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/business/at-newark-airport-the-lights-are-on-and-theyre-watching-you.html?_r=2 - an article on smart lights in Newark Airport
3. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things - a great explanation and a definition of IoT
4. http://www.wired.com/2014/01/theres-no-good-way-to-patch-the-internet-of-things-and-thats-a-huge-problem/ - a more advanced explanation of why IoT is hard to be kept secure
5. http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/The-internet-of-things-is-set-to-change-security-priorities - also on the security of IoT
6. http://searchmanufacturingerp.techtarget.com/feature/The-realities-of-todays-IoT-market -- just another discussion
7. http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/overview/article/iot_video.html - a video to watch
8. https://www.worldit.info/articole/the-internet-of-things-in-perspectiva-the-good-the-bad-the-ugly/ - a large perspective on IoT written in Romanian, by a Romanian
9. http://ittrends.ro/2014/07/de-la-m2m-la-iot-un-scenariu-in-care-sunt-implicati-oameni-obiecte-si-animale/ --another Romanian article, with great opinions exposed
10. An youtube playlist, just to enjoy what the change is said to bring: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFT-9JpKjRTBO06vEUTM7I91AZ7_-I8XI