The Internet of Things to Consider

The “Internet Of Things (IoT)” is a new phenomenon, which was conceptualised in 1999 as a way to describe the relationship between ‘objects’ and the internet (Mitew, 2014). When I say objects, I literally mean passive objects – from fridges to toothbrushes – which, once connected to the internet, become active (Bleecker, 2006).  The clip below provides a basic break down of how IoT works:

Key aspects of the IoT is that each ‘object’ is assigned a network address, which allows it to connect and be identified on the internet. Once connected, objects are able to communicate with each other and communicate with humans (Hobsbawm, 2014; Mitew, 2014). They also hold sensory capacities, allowing them to register changes in their environment. This can range from sensing changes in weather to changes in your mood and dream patterns (Lupton, 2013; Mitew, 2014)  

The ‘Mobile Mood Helper’ App. Image sourced from Sue, Desang, 2012.

The ‘Dream:On’ App. Image sourced from Paul Sawers, The Next Web, 2012

What makes these sensory capabilities able to work is, of course, through the ‘objects’ relentlessly accumulating and storing our data that they have obtained through surveillance. After all, humans are the input for the data stream collected by these objects. In order for there to be a stream, humans have to engage (Mitew, 2014) – but at what cost?

The surveillance and privacy of our data streams is one area of concern, while the security of these networks is also another. At this point in time, the major developers involved in the IoT are companies that work within the Walled Garden paradigm. This means the more objects connected to the internet, the more data collected from the user, the less privacy we will have (Singh & Powles, 2014). Likewise, the BBC conducted an experiment on a household of ‘objects’ (dubbed a “smart home”) that highlighted how vulnerable they are to hackers. The objects were all connected through the same network, so once the hackers found a way in, they had access to everything – they were even able to unlock the house owner’s smart car and drive away with it! (Ward, 2014)

Another more long-term element to contemplate is what the rapidly developing IoT could mean for our existence. Considering there are “now more connected devices than people on the planet“, it is uncertain what the future relationship between human and machine could hold and at this point in time we can only speculate (Hobsbawm, 2014). I found the idea of ‘objects’ becoming humanlike a fascinating possibility for what the future could hold (this clip is from the fictional Swedish show ‘Real Humans’ – which I highly recommend checking out!):

IoT is only going to expand as connectivity between objects and the internet grows. Considering the concerns around privacy and surveillance, I know I’ll be cautious before I input my life into an object. That said, I wouldn’t mind a reality where my doors are programmed to have a ‘sunny and cheerful disposition’ (developers, take note):

References:

Bleecker, J. (2006) Why Things Matter: A Manifesto for networked objects. Available at: https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/245686/mod_resource/content/1/Bleecker%2C%20J.%20-%20Why%20Things%20Matter.pdf [Accessed 19/10/14]

Lupton, D. (2013) Understanding the human machine, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Vol. 32, (4), pp. 25 – 30. Available at: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6679313 [Accessed 19/10/14]

Hobsbawm, A. (2014) The internet of things: what role will humans play?, The Guardian: Media Network. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/feb/06/internet-of-things-humans-smart [Accessed 22/10/14]

Mitew, T. (2014) The Internet of Things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces (parts 1-3), Youtube. Oct 21. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tFTNJwlpOg [Accessed 21/10/14]

Singh, J. & Powles, J. (2014) The internet of things – the next big challenge to our privacy, The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/28/internet-of-things-privacy [Accessed 22/10/14]

Ward, M. (2014) How to hack and crack the connected home, BBC News Technology. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27373328 [Accessed 22/10/14]

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About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
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6 Responses to The Internet of Things to Consider

  1. willamatchett says:

    You are absolutely right. The idea of IoT is bringing in a lot of relevant questions for both the present and our future as technology continues to develop. My biggest concern is the idea of data recording and the way in which these objects can relay information about our actions. I guess this kind of leads into the example you mentioned on surveillance. I really enjoyed your argument about what IoT could mean for our existence as it is my major concern as well. You mentioned really good examples. Really good post!

  2. April says:

    Wow! The real human is really amazing. I really can’t imagine how it will be like if I got one real human like the one on the video. It’s so true that IoT changes our lifestyle, the way of communication and how we have to connect with Internet of things. However, here is what I found, according to IBM’s Paul Brody, he says that this is actually a stupid idea that no one wants to rewire their entire home to make all their devices talk to each other. He also said that “it’s a waste of time for companies to start storing every piece of data they can get their hands on, and that some firms say they want to do this just because they hear that’s what everyone else is doing.” Check this out to see how Paul Brody said about more of IoT. https://gigaom.com/2014/10/22/the-internet-of-things-is-in-a-bubble-phase-says-ibm-internet-of-things-exec/

  3. I thought your explanation for the key aspects of the IoT was very clear and concise. I liked your discussion of the future of IoT and the link concerning the ‘objects’ becoming human-like was very interesting.
    I too speculate of how this advanced will change our interaction with the whole and how it will affect us.

  4. Great post. I really enjoyed all the associated videos as well. I know that a huge concern associated with the IoT is security- which I have to agree is a huge risk. I liked the tie-in of the walled-garden idea, which I agree is a type of security measure when using such devices. After reading the articles and listening to the lectures on hacktivism, I worry this is another outlet for similar activity…. What I most enjoyed about this post is the ethical questioning of a human/technological balance in life. I would have liked to hear more of your opinion on this, as its a concern of mine as well!! Here is a link to a posted article from the Quantified Self blog- talking a bit about the philosophical side of IoT
    http://quantifiedself.com/2014/05/qseu1-breakout-session-qs-philosophy/

  5. Lauren says:

    This post is incredibly source rich, and actually really assisted my understanding of these concepts. Well done!

    I was really impressed by the number of relevant and interesting videos that you’ve aggregated in this post.

    Although it’s fantastic that you’ve drawn on so many ideas, maybe consider going more in-depth on just a few?

    Great post.

  6. vivs55 says:

    This whole source is really well done, so much information and sources to look into, so little time. Maybe a few less focuses would have been good but the blog still helps to provide a better understanding on what the IoT is as well as how it can change our lives

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