The Promise and Perils of the Internet of Things

The engineering wizards of Silicon Valley and their hard-charging marketing cohorts are offering us the promise of a better life with the Internet of Things (IOT). Google, Facebook and countless startups are hoping to cash in on this latest technology “gold rush” by delivering us a futuristic world of highly automated homes, connected automobiles, wearable computers and even clothing made from “smart” fabrics. According to the IoT mavens, the treasure trove of data collected 24/7 into vast, cloud-based data stores from this pervasive personal computing environment will be benignly used to to make us healthier, happier and better citizens.

Maybe, but in the midst of the Internet of Things hype a few voices are being raised to talk about the perils of this corporate “big brother” state. The same data collected from the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Internet-connected devices in a typical household that might enhance the operating efficiency of homes, improve security or monitor personal health risks can also be used maliciously. In its least obnoxious yet still irritating usage, consumers will receive eerily targeted ads based on behavior deduced from thousands of seemingly insignificant events collected from IoT devices. More frighteningly, this same data and access can be used to remotely control systems in homes and cars as well as wearable or implanted healthcare devices.

So, buyer beware. There a lot of cool aspects to the Internet of Things but it comes at a cost not always disclosed to consumers. Make an intelligence choice and be aware of the potential risks.

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