Rise of The Machines

Machines don’t have to take over the world to make your life Hell. It’s far more likely that the human factor will provide most of the Hell, when someone with nefarious intent takes over your machines.

The next in a long series of Utopian dreams is the “Internet of Things” (IoT). In this world, your light bulbs, your thermostat, your door locks, your phone, your car,  your refrigerator, your washing machine, and your TV will all be able to “talk” to each other and will be connected to the internet, leading to such wondrous events as:

When you leave the office, your thermostat, knowing from your car that you’re on the way home, will set itself to the perfect temperature so you’ll be comfortable when you arrive. Your door will automatically unlock itself when you park your car in the garage, and the kitchen light will turn on so you can get yourself a beer out of the refrigerator, which will sense that it is the last beer and automatically add beer to the shopping list…

Human Error

I’m sorry, Dave, I can’t let you do that…

Or: Someone drives by and connects to your Wi-Fi, bypassing the weak security on your network, turns your thermostat all the way up, orders a pallet-load of peanut butter from Amazon with your credit card, shouts obscenities to your toddler through your baby monitor, posts naked pictures of you from your webcam on Facebook (along with your address and the fact that you live alone), flashes your lights uncontrollably, and then when you try to drive away, causes your brakes to fail…

Or: Your health insurance company notices, thanks to your refrigerator and  supermarket loyalty card, that you’re smoking and drinking more than usual, and not only raises your premiums, but schedules you for mandatory mental-health counseling, which in turn bars you from gun ownership and causes you to lose your job. The FBI investigates you because you’ve bought more swimming-pool chlorine and fertilizer than anybody needs, leading them to believe you might be building a bomb, and causing your friends to distance themselves from you, lest they be caught in the dragnet. Oh, and your car automatically calls the police whenever you (even briefly while passing) exceed the speed limit, leading to the mandated self-driving car…

Is it really worth some small increase in convenience, safety, or efficiency to give a faceless entity such intrusive control of our lives? Remember, anything that can be programmed can be hacked: Your car, phone, refrigerator, house, anything. And when it’s connected to the internet, the intruder could be 5,000 miles away. Machines achieving self-awareness and killing off humans seems less of a threat than humans using Big Data to achieve the perfect totalitarian state.

I, for one, will not be buying a “connected” thermostat, car, or light bulb. I want the freedom to turn things off and make sure they stay off.

What is the biggest threat?

The Machines want to Take Over, but the humans may be a larger threat.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2014/05/27/article-may-scare-you-away-from-internet-of-things/

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/20/rise-of-data-death-of-politics-evgeny-morozov-algorithmic-regulation

http://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-internet-of-things-bigger/

For even more empowering technology info, read my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now!

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