The Internet of Things: Are You Scared?

If we believe what we read and observe, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be everywhere soon, and there are warnings from technology experts that it will not be as much of a good thing as we think.

There has been, over the last number of years, unremitting excitement at the prospect of the online world spreading beyond the boundaries of the computer interface to everyday technologies such as wearable devices, fridges, TV’s, etc. However, now there is a growing concern from experts about the potential implications for important areas such as privacy and security, human rights and a growth in social inequality.

Most of the reliable opinion is coming from the Pew Research Center based in Washington, who is responsible for surveying experts in the area of new technology in relation to the direction of the future of the Internet. While most previous surveys have been optimistic in their outlook, the most recent results portray slightly more pessimistic projections.

Almost everyone surveyed claim to believe that IoT has many potential benefits, for example, voice and gesture based interactions will make computers more amenable to the majority of people. Medical applications, devices and health monitors will enhance the capability to recognize, treat and prevent diseases. The environment can be monitored for pollution using sensors, and waste can be reduced by improvements in industrial planning and logistics.

However, a large number also added that there may be downsides to the adoption of IoT technology, and one of the most pressing is security, as the majority of devices that are exposed to the Internet will offer another avenue for exploitation. Besides this, experts claim that there may be some unintended consequences, which no one can anticipate exactly, but will almost certainly be undesirable.

Already there are security camera DVR’s being hacked in order to mine bitcoins and a worm algorithm which accesses networked devices including home routers. As more and more devices become connected, it is inevitable that we will see increased reports of such attacks.

There is also a danger that we could be building a world that will become too complex for our own comprehension. If you consider the scale problem of IT errors and crashes as it is currently, imagine how this might grow with the explosion of web enabled new devices. We could be heading towards a situation where we will have a lot of devices that don’t work, and there won’t be many people who know how to fix or maintain them.

What do you think? Are these concerns silly and easily solvable over time, or do they grant real merit? Share your thoughts by commenting on this post, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.