Internet of Things! A Social Digital Development or a Repressive Straitjacket about to Control Every “Thing”?

Internet provides 24/7 access to just about “everything”! Virtual Reality “ain’t virtual no more” and the Internet of Things is expected to connect cars, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, fridges, televisions, bicycles, our children’s toys, shopping carts and even cows!

“In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” James Robert Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, told the US senate a while ago. An Orwellian vision of a world unfolding right in front of our very eyes. Freedom of being connected everywhere or slavery and control of our every move?

Our television sets will monitor our conversations. Any “suspect” word will trigger instant recording or even a “red flag” as a potential “threat”, whatever the Establishment decides it to be! Do we want our automobile insurance carrier to know exactly at what speed we were driving, where we drove and how fast it took us to get there? I do not think so! Smart cities, smart homes, industrial Internet, manufacturing, health care, wearables, connected cars, smart buildings, energy and utilities efficiency: everything is going to be touched by the “Internet of Things” may we like or not. Do we want our television sets to monitor our conversations? I do not think so!  Hello? How about a bit of privacy?

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Remember 1998 Will Smith and Gene Hackman thriller Enemy of the State “… portraying a rogue agency attempting to kills Smith’s character, a lawyer who owned the proof of a high caliber murder case? Gene Hackman, a retired NSA officer tells Smith: ‘They have infected everything. They can get into your bank statements, computer files, emails; listen to your phone calls.’”

 

Clipboard_Image 012_FAmazing technological advancement has been possible thanks to the electronic miniaturization making MAV (Micro Air Vehicles) a reality. How about DARPA’s Autonomous Micro-drones designed to patrol inside homes? DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation for the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. “FLA focuses on creating a new class of minimalistic algorithms for high-speed navigation to enable small, unmanned aerial vehicles to fly autonomously, quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors.” DARPA “aims to give small unmanned aerial vehicles advanced perception and autonomy to rapidly search buildings or other cluttered environments without teleoperation! Furthermore, small, fast, autonomous UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] could enable missions that are not otherwise possible, such as reconnaissance in denied areas (for example, in a protected or structurally damaged building).”

So what is so social about the potential invasion of our privacy? Will we be forced to meet in a park publically in order to carry a private conversations still under the threat of having a MAV flying over our head and recording everything?

Clipboard_Image 013_FIn Pax Technica, author Philip N. Noward asks: “Should we fear or welcome the internet’s evolution? The ‘internet of things’ is the rapidly growing network of everyday objects—eyeglasses, cars, thermostats—made smart with sensors and internet addresses. Soon we will live in a pervasive yet invisible network of every day objects that communicate with one another. Philip N. Howard envisions a new world order emerging from this great transformation in the technologies around us.”

Philip N. Howard calls this new era a Pax Technica. He looks to a future of global stability built upon device networks with immense potential for empowering citizens, making government transparent, and broadening information access. Howard cautions, however, that privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for social control and political manipulation. Drawing on evidence from around the world, he illustrates how the internet of things can be used to repress and control people. Yet he also demonstrates that if we actively engage with the governments and businesses building the internet of things, we have a chance to build a new kind of internet—and a more open society.”

As God’s word stated from the beginning, everything human creates or transforms has both the potential of frightening evil but also outstanding good.

 

Bruno P. Gebarski

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