Living in a digital world brings many benefits, but with these benefits come implications. The Internet of Things is an emerging theme is today’s society that has pretty much reached every industry, bringing major benefits in the form of improved efficiency of activities, anticipating and predicting optimal actions and responses, along with many more. With this value and benefits that are created, there are challenges and implications associated. The cost of connectivity, a lack of functional value, and security are all implications associated with the rise of the internet of things. In terms of connectivity, this article says by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices, with others estimating close to 100 billion. This brings up the question, over whose network will all these devices be run? The cost of the infrastructure to support the back-end processing of all these connections will be enormous.
I am curious as to whether the connectivity of billions of devices will actually outweigh the costs of connectivity. Like I mentioned before, the cost of infrastructure to support these connections will be very large, so will the functional value of the internet of things be able to overcome this? Sure there is value for businesses like Amazon’s warehouse robots, but do I really care if my toaster is connected to the internet? Just being connected to the internet is not enough. There needs to be real value created in every connection in order to balance out the cost of connecting billions of devices. If we try to connect every little household device it will be extremely costly to run.
What I believe to be the biggest implication for the internet of things is security. Anything that is connected to the internet can be hacked and manipulated, which poses a major threat if billions of devices are to be connected all at once. Several different devices have already proven to be hack-able, including automobiles. In 2015, Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million vehicles that may be affected by a hack-able software vulnerability in the cars’ Uconnect dashboard computers. The recall came after two security researchers were able to wirelessly hack into a Jeep while it was driving and remotely take control of the steering, dashboard functions, transmission, and brakes. Since the recall Chrysler has taken steps to fix and prevent this bug in their system, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t happen again, perhaps to a different automobile company. Luckily Chrysler was hacked by security researchers, so just imagine if they were hacked by people with bad intentions. They could potentially hack thousands of cars at once and cause absolute mayhem on the roads, which would no doubt lead to devastation. There have also been hacks of connected baby monitors, automated lighting that leaked wifi passwords, and smart fridges that ironically became full of spam and a phishing scam. It is critical that a secure network be established before utilizing the internet of things.
There are also legal implications and challenges regarding the internet of things and smart devices for companies. For example, in late 2016 police issued a warrant ordering Amazon to hand over data from an Echo smart speaker that the police wanted as part of a murder investigation. Amazon was reluctant to hand over data because privacy is a main-selling point of theirs, but the court records show that police took the Echo device and extracted data from it. This has not been the first time a tech company has been asked to hand over data, but it certainly sets a dangerous precedent. With the internet of things becoming more popular and billions of devices all being connected there could be a warrant for device data in almost every controversial investigation or court hearing. Who needs witnesses or physical evidence when the government can just extract data from wireless devices?
Smart cities are an emerging trend that correlates to the internet of things. Using technology, we can make our cities more efficient, sustainable, and productive in the long-run. This can be done in a variety of ways including automatic lights, smart bins, driverless trains and buses, and much more. Like this guardian article points out, I believe the a major implication of living in such a digital world and developing smart cities is that they will take away jobs from so many workers. Driverless technology will take jobs from bus and train drivers, along with other jobs like street sweepers and cleaners. The reason I believe this is such a major implication is because technology has already established itself in the manufacturing industry where it has taken a large amount of jobs away from people. Where will people without jobs turn in cities also became largely automated? I fear the unemployment rate could skyrocket if this were to happen.
Another implication that I believe we need to be mindful of is failures and technology screw-ups. No smart city will ever be perfect, and there is bound to be mishaps in development. When working well, smart cities have a lot to offer society; but, when they fail people will be panicked and it may be very costly to fix. In the case of driverless technology, it could cost people their life if there were to be a technology failure. This is something cities have to be extremely mindful of. Like my fellow classmate Melissa Woodley said in one of her medium posts, I think it’s important that we must not become dependent on the development of smart cities, and that we be prepared to run services such as driving cars and emptying trash bins manually.
Looking back on this course, there some challenging things but I definitely was able to develop my understanding of a digital society through the themes and gained a lot of knowledge that will be helpful in the future. I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the internet and all things digital. Something that was really valuable to me was being able to experiment with the virtual reality headset during one of the digilabs. I have never had the opportunity to do that before, and virtual reality is really trending right now and has so many applications so it was really cool to experience that. Also, after taking this course I feel like I am more prepared for technological advances such as driverless cars and smart cities. Being exposed to those things now is good instead of having to learn about them as they happen.
What challenged me in the course was thinking critically about the topics and themes. It was hard not be descriptive at times, so I really had to expand my thinking from the readings and question the material. Another thing I found challenging was the pecha kucha presentation. Fitting all that material into a timed slideshow took lots of time and effort. Also, presenting it took practice because I had to time out how long to talk for on each slide and what to say. On top of the pecha kucha presentation, I initially found the referencing to be challenging. In the past I hadn’t had to reference that much, and it affected my score on the first assessment. Since then, I feel much more comfortable with referencing and will be able to do it much better going forward.
As I progress through my last year of college and on to the next chapter of my life, I feel like a lot of the themes and topics covered in this class will help me. I have a much better idea of how powerful the internet and technology is. Most of all, I have gained a better understanding of the implications and risks that come along with living in such a digital age. I think this is important for everyone to understand as their lives become more and more dependent on technology and digitalization. These implications can take the form of many different things and depend upon what technology is being used; however, I think the most important thing to understand going forward is that anything published online can be read by anyone and everyone. People need to be mindful about how they use the internet and technology because it could come back to hurt them. Employers can search through your social media before hiring people and that could affect whether you receive a job. Also, security is very important. Digitalization is also an opportunity for hackers and people who can benefit off more information being online. The internet of things is an example of this, where hackers have already become a concern. Overall, technology has so much to offer society in terms of the benefits and value that it brings, but we still need to be mindful of how it is used and the side effects that are associated with it.