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?
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