The Internet of Things – It’ll make us really fat

The thought of being able to make each and every inanimate object become living things or more exactly ‘digitally alive’ is on the one hand very exciting, but also very concerning. This is what’s often referred to as the internet of things and it is quickly being made into a reality.

The internet of things put simply is the ability for non-living objects to be able to communicate and become ‘digitally alive’; be able to transmit information and in effect communicate to humans and also other inanimate objects. In the near future our households could interact with us and also gather information from us. We may be able to remotely tell the washing machine to wash clothes. I dearly wait for the day when you can wash dishes and vacuum carpet just by executing a single command. There are endless possibilities that are able to be pursued with this technology. A current example of this is what is called the smart fork. Its aim is to help its users to lose weight by measuring the speed at which they consume food. Consuming food at a higher speed will lead to greater weight gain. So if they are consuming food too fast then the fork will notify its user to slow down.

However, we need to question the safety issues that may be associated with the constant data gathering done by these objects. The hub of the system will hold information about all the activities that these things have conducted. All these objects movements will be recorded and all commands that we humans give will also be on record. All this data will be stored on a storage device that is most likely connected to the internet. No matter how much security there is on the system, there is still the risk of being hacked and infiltrated by outside entities. This could pose a privacy risk for the people living in the house. The information of all their movements e.g. the times which they enter and exit the house, the times they go to sleep will be made available. All this information can be aggregated to provide a picture of the movements of the individuals living there. This information could then be exploited and used inappropriately. Take this smart toilet for example. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability to allow users to remotely operate the toilet such as flushing and opening and closing the lid. However, hackers have been able to hack into some of these toilets and ‘hijack’ them so that they would flush or close at the command of their hackers. I believe that you would only be surprised and annoyed if your toilet lid was to close on you while you were sitting on it. However, these risks still need to be considered because this situation can be applied to other larger scenarios that could lead to greater consequences.

There are two different options to this situation. We can either embrace the internet of things which could lead to a more convenient lifestyle, but be faced by the security risks which it poses or we can live without those conveniences and avoid the continuous recording of our private lives. I personally would choose the latter because there is too much risk that the information gathered by these objects could be used inappropriately. I also think that if we do end up with a world of the internet of things then we might just end up like all the obese people in the Wall-E movie who move around in hovering seats without needing to do anything.  All they do is just sit and eat. Could this be the future?

Cover Image: http://bit.ly/1cSja0o

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11 thoughts on “The Internet of Things – It’ll make us really fat

  1. The amount of information gathered through connectedness is mind boggling. I agree we need to beware – who sees it, who uses it and when will all that data come back to haunt us. Dependance on objects, loss of privacy and being never forgotten will be prices paid for the total connectivity of our society. The scary thing is it will get worse before we realise and the next generations will have to pay to fix up the mess. The hacked toilet is a great laugh but is it a metaphor for the future?

  2. Very concise simplified explanation of the Internet of Things well put in common terms such as the automated toilet. Perhaps the need to satisfy our laziness (comfort) justifies the purpose behind technologies such as this toilet. Humans, who were more active participants and independent thinkers, are now facilitated with technologies that, in exchange for comfort, are beginning occupy the physical activities and independent learning progress of humans. Your prediction that humans in the future would become obese like in Walle (all I could think of while watching your toilet video) makes a perfect connotation to what I believe is the overdue fallacy that we are progressing in a safe, advancing and recreational society. Not zombies, but robots are coming.

  3. As much as I love this idea of making everyday tasks faster and easier, it just scares me how much information we are willing to share online. Yes our creditcard purchases keep a track of what we buy but it interests me that this RFDI technology will track every single item we buy. Not only are we happy to upload personal photos, memories, ideas, passwords, bank details and our global location but now we are even happy to upload the kind of underwear we buy or the brand of condoms that suits us best. Having a complete log of our entire shopping list thanks to RFDI technology is madness; and where is the human interaction in all of this?

  4. The idea of things becoming easier and more convenient is such an appealing notion. But in saying that, I like that you’ve addressed the potential physical impact this could have on humans. Privacy is also a major issue to consider when discussing this topic. Companies are already storing heaps of our personal information, for example our supermarket purchases through the use of a rewards card. And with more things being connected to the internet, this issue will only become worse.

  5. The issue of information acquisition and privacy will always be an issue for new technologies. . The concerns about privacy are indeed well justified. In fact, the ways in which data collection, mining, and provisioning will be accomplished in the IoT are completely different from those that we now know and there will be an amazing number of occasions for personal data to be collected. Therefore, for human individuals it will be impossible to personally control the disclosure of their personal information. As mentioned in my blog, society is faced with another social and ethical dilemma on its hands. Do the advantages of IoT far out way the negative aspects such as the demand of data and privacy issue? This blog I found gives a great overview of the IoT and how it is helping society create a better future for generations to come. http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-examples/

  6. The amount of private data and information that could be collected through these new advances in technology is insane. I really think that the word ‘privacy’ may need to be redefined in the future otherwise it may no longer exist. In saying that though ‘the internet of things’ does come with a lot of convenient advantages, for example the Smart Fridge- http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/hometech/lg-smart-fridge-tells-you-what-to-buy-cook-and-eat-20120110-1ps9z.html this fridge is connected to your smartphone and allows the user to check what food they have in their fridge at that point in time and what date it expires, the fridge also offers you healthy information and recipes that can be made from the food that is inside the refrigerator. If you really think about what is happening with technology you realise that we a slowly loosing control over our lives and machines and gadgets are taking over. So in saying that I would probably choose the less convenient option and have the life without all of these fancy gadgets collecting data and information about me, but do we even have a choice anymore?

  7. I like your argument that we can either “embrace the Internet of things which could lead to a more convenient lifestyle, or we can live without those conveniences” and I am inclined to agree that the security factors involved far out way the convenient lifestyle. But, I also feel that I have heard this argument before, when social media was introduced this argument was raging and is still going on, and when the smartphone was introduced the same thing. So perhaps it is a matter of embracing the technology for its conveniences and hope that it does not tell a potential robber that you’re out of the house and ready to have your jewellery collection taken.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/03/17/social-media-life-what-privacy/
    http://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/policy/time-for-debate-about-the-societal-impact-of-the-internet-of-things/

  8. I feel that generations that are born now, into this emerging world, will have no problems embracing the lifestyle of the IoT. The concerns (of security and privacy) remain the same for them still, but the larger concern for us is that we have already settled into our lives and while we are continuously adapting to new technologies (phones, gadgets, computers media etc) the IoT isn’t just another piece of technology, it’s a whole new way of life. Very confronting for our generation and even more so for older ones, as we are constantly living through these transitions of technology. The IoT will be a colossal mess or success – at this point neither can determined. For some peace of mind, here’s an article about the positive ways the IoT has the potential to change our lives. (http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4858-internet-of-things-will-change-work.html)

  9. I really can’t decide whether I love the concept of the Internet of Things, or whether I hate it.
    The idea that all inanimate objects could be connected to the internet and therefore be sociable and interactable is mind boggling, however it seems to come with a lot of negative press. First there is the basic debate that the Internet of Things will bring about a lack of social interaction, secondly there is the debate that the Internet of Things poses a threat to our personal security and privacy, and now thirdly you have pointed out that even our weight and health is in danger from the Internet of Things. As put quite nicely here (http://ovum.com/2013/09/04/using-the-internet-of-things-does-not-come-risk-free-insurance-liability-hides-in-plain-sight/) the Internet of things does not come risk free.
    This Internet of Things is starting to sound like a tease. It sure is a love-hate relationship with technological innovation.

  10. Yes, the idea of internet of things is getting more and more famous, meanwhile, we need to consider the concerns of security and privacy. As you raise the example of “hijack toilet” which I found very interesting, I also want to show you the example of Sony AIBO which is mentioned in Julian Bleecker’s article “Why Things Matter.” As you know, AIBO was developed as an entertaining dog robot and it helps people doing odd jobs (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-news/best-geek-toy-ever-remembering-the-sony-aibo-robot-dog/8182). But, what if AIBO was hacked by someone else and even fitted up with a mini camera to watch what you are doing? I don’t know if it can happen or not, just my imagination but, it could not be an entertainment anymore if it happened.

  11. When I first heard about the internet of things I did not consider the possible risks associated with them. Drawing attention to the lack of definite security and the constant watching, monitoring and recording of our movements reminds me of something straight out of 1984. It is very good to consider whether or not this is for our ultimate good or for the good of the corporation. Imagine targeted advertising (like that on Facebook) but in your own home. Creepy.

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