The Internet of Things and its unintended consequences: why we should proceed with caution
Please note: this is a 'storyfied' version of a quite popular blog post I wrote on the Internet of Things (IoT) a few months ago. I will publish new thoughts on this on a monthly basis in order to get a better idea of what WattPad could do for me as an author.
The Internet of Things (IoT) / Internet of Everything / Industrial Internet is HOT. Everywhere I go people ask me about it. Almost every single event I speak at, some of the biggest tech & IT companies in the world are talking about their plans for the IoT, and their billion dollar investments.
Sure, the IoT's potential boggles the mind. Clearly, the benefits of ubiquitous connectivity, of very-big-and- very- real-time-data, of truly intelligent digital assistants, of cognitive computing, deep learning and robotics are obvious to anyone with even basic powers of imagination – it would indeed be foolish to not try and harness this enormous potential. And with all that power comes huge responsibility, imho, and this is where things are failing, at this point.
The IoT's basic concept is simple: when everything gets connected, once data is being collected in real-time, everywhere, all the time, we can measure, analyse, anticipate or even predict events and 'truths' that were previously hidden under the surface. We can have super-knowledge for a fraction of what it used to costs us (well, mostly, it wasn't really available to most of us).
With the IoT, we can and will make things and processes so much more efficient, and may save (or earn?) trillions of dollars in the process; and possibly end global warming, as well as some experts have argued. Clearly, a quickly-evolving Cloud-OS / neural-network-in-the-cloud of inter-connected devices, sensors, hardware and processes might well kick-off a new era of optimization and hyper-efficiency in the energy, food, shipping and logistics, media, traffic, building and construction sectors. This could be huge. Tantalising.
Meta-intelligence and abundance?
The IoT promises enormous cost savings by means of hyper-efficiency based on hyper-connectivity in the energy, utility and transportation sectors. Uber's initiatives with autonomous vehicles and Tesla's expansion into adjacent business segments (i.e. batteries and energy) are just 2 of the most interesting examples. A global roll-out of IoT applications could lead to a dramatic leapfrogging in terms of achieving sustainability and realising 'circular economics' in the near future. A global abundance of energy, food and of course content and knowledge may come within reach (as XPrize founder and author of the book 'Abundance' Peter Diamandis keeps pointing out).
By connecting everyone and 'everything' and by deploying machine aka artificial intelligence and predictive analytics many of the huge, global IoT purveyors hope to achieve some kind of meta-intelligence through an exponentially better ability to read, understand and apply data. This new meta-intelligence may allow us to save an estimated 30-50% of global logistics and shipping / transport costs, 30-70% of the costs of personal mobility and transportation, 40-50% of energy, heating and air- conditioning expenses, and so on.
Hyper-connectivity clearly is a boon to efficiency, and the economic benefits are extremely promising. Without a doubt, IoT is a gigantic mission and will dwarf the the previous 'human + computers' internet. Trillions are at stake – and obviously those of us leaning towards technology-optimism will find new delights here. Super-intelligence seems within reach; abundance is near, the world a better place because of technology.
"Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse" said my good friend Sophocles a few years ago;)