Internet of Things

There is a lot of fear and denial floating around as industries, companies, and careers are disrupted by the accelerating growth of technology. I embrace that change and the possibilities it represents. Why not? It’s going to happen whether or not I (or you) choose to participate, and the things that are becoming possible are really quite breathtaking.

One area that holds both promise and threat is “the internet of things“. We tend to think of IoT in terms of store shelves that communicate to a retailer’s inventory system when it’s time for a new shipment, or refrigerators that remind us when it’s time to buy milk.

This sounds like the start of the PC era when the most significant use the average non-technical person could think of for PCs was organizing recipe cards. Take a look at Postscapes’ 2013 Internet of Things award winners for a small taste of where this is really going. The future belongs to those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and hack it.

One threat is that bad actors or well-intentioned but short-sighted organizations will misuse this potential in a way that hands too much power to the already powerful. Think NSA with capabilities magnified a hundred-fold. One can argue that large companies have the potential to misuse this power as well, as individual ethics are easily overwhelmed by shareholder imperatives.

But I’m not as concerned about the potential misuse of IoT by faceless organizations as I’m excited by the possibilities of creativity by brilliant individuals. The sensor technology is already cheap and accessible enough that individuals can begin to hack IoT in ways we haven’t yet imagined. I can’t imagine what that looks like but I’m looking forward to being astounded.


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