IoT brings us the future (and a whole lot of problems)

IoT brings us the future (and a whole lot of problems)

A lot’s changed in the past decade.

We’ve seen the rise of smartphones. Self-driving cars are on their way. The internet, and connectivity in general, are faster and more extensive than ever before.

As you’re probably aware, this has all come to be known as the Internet of Things.

A wave of technological advancements that are combining to connect more and more aspects of our lives to the internet.

Now we have smart washing machines. We have LED lighting installations that improve office productivity and set the mood at home. Hell, our TVs are even collecting and sharing personal data (and sometimes spying on us?).

Unsurprisingly, these recent technological wonders surrounding the IoT revolution come with their fair share of complications.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most prescient issues.

How big will it get?

Everyone’s favorite question to forget asking at the reptile store. Looking at you, regret-filled iguana owners.

How many devices are we expecting will come online? In short, a metric fuck-ton. Some 25 billion devices are expected to connect in the next few years.

The IoT industry on the whole is expected to surpass threefold growth before 2025. For a more detailed breakdown, Forbes has you covered.

Of course, in order to accommodate growth on this scale, infrastructure will necessarily need some consideration. Current fiber-optic cabling are suitable for our present needs. But in the near future we will need technology that allows higher speeds and larger data transfer capacities.

You know what that means? Jobs. Expect to see this positively impact job growth in

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Tech Support

All of these changes will be necessary to ensure you can continue to check your home thermostat from the breakroom at work. Did you leave the AC on? Eh, better to be safe than sorry!

Who Needs Privacy?

Here’s another story you’ve probably heard a bit about lately. Internet privacy, or our relative lack thereof.

Our beloved Congress recently voted on something that it’s safe to assume no voter asked for, as Stephen Colbert summed up perfectly.

No one in America stood up in a town hall and said, ‘Sir, I demand you let somebody else make money off my shameful desires. Maybe blackmail me someday!’ – Stephen Colbert

Yes I’m referring to the decision to allow cable companies to sell any and all of our information without requesting or needing our consent.

Jokes aside, this does raise real questions about the safety of our information, our behavior, etc.

As one dissenting congressman hilariously pointed out, he doesn’t love the idea of the size and color of his underwear becoming data his ISP would sell to advertisers.

Now let’s extrapolate a bit for argument’s sake…

If Google bought or otherwise obtained that data, it would behoove them to incorporate it into organic search results shown to Rep. Capuano. Personalization is already a very real thing in the search results, and this could lead to it only getting more and more granular.

In fact, the more personalization gets dialed in with regards to search results, the more search engine optimization companies will be in for an interesting and potentially nasty turn.

Right now, SEO-minded businesses are able to pick long-tail keywords to narrowly target their content at specifically relevant searchers. But the more personalized results become, the more they will have a disruptive impact on the SEO landscape.

This would render many current approaches useless and open up a whole new range of possibilities.

Cyber Security Concerns

One other potential hiccup that has become increasingly apparent over the past few years, is cybersecurity.

It’s simple in concept. If you’re surrounded by a ton of interconnected devices, all it would take is one of them having a vulnerability to grant access to the entire network.

A skilled hacker could easily exploit a weakness in one of the devices to compromise your entire home or office. Consider the rise of autonomous cars.

There’s no doubt that it’s a change for the better. So far they seem to be a promising path to reduce accident rates, save lives, and streamline our traffic systems.

But just imagine the vulnerabilities on the cybersecurity front however. The jury is definitely still out on where all of this will head, but it’s worth noting that security is the single biggest concern of all parties involved (regulators, manufacturers and consumers) when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

We can all relate to the very real fear that someone could hack into our car and disable the breaks. This happened already by the way. Two cyber security experts proved it in a hands-on demonstration for WIRED.

What Happens Next?

All of this leads us to wonder what will happen next. Your guess is as good as mine unfortunately! We’re going to have to wait and see what changes technological advances bring in the coming months and years.

At the end of the day, we’re all invested in having safer roads and living more environmentally sustainable lives. The death of the personal vehicle and growth of the internet of things could constitute great leaps towards accomplishing those goals.

But as ever, we need to carefully evaluate the risks and costs that come with rapid technological growth. Stay tuned for more.

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