Predicting the future on the Web’s 25th anniversary*, a Pew Internet study published in March this year, reveals the depth of naivete bordering on gross ignorance on the part of so-called experts surveyed for this report.
The subhead alone should concern you:
Experts say the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ over the next decade–less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives, with many good and potentially bad results
Emphasis mine — because really, how much more deeply embedded does the internet need to become in our lives before we begin to rethink its widening application?
At the risk of sounding Ted Kaczynski-ish, we have allowed the development, implementation and integration of technology to run amok. We’ve only paid attention to the narrowest benefits we might receive from explicit application of any new technology, failing to look at the systemic repercussions of all our technology on all our society and on the planet we share.
It’s not your remote controlled light switch in itself that is a problem. Go ahead, turn on your lights at home while you’re on your summer vacation across country.
It’s the lack of thought about the entirety of the internet itself and its embedment that is a major problem. We’ve already become utterly dependent upon it. The additional little tools and toys we inanely call the “internet of things” will only make the situation more complex.
Ask yourself this: If the internet suddenly crashed this week, completely collapsed for an unspecified length of time, what would happen to the global economy?
What would happen to the health of patients in hospitals and care facilities — are there monitoring and medication-dispensing applications that are both life saving and internet mediated?
How would we conduct and record any kind of transaction, between individuals, between businesses, between governments?
Would our power grid continue to run smoothly without the use of the internet?
At a minimum we should be asking ourselves at what point our government will limit its tracking and compilation of meta data, let alone whether it can use data from one’s wireless slowcooker as a criteria to dispatch a deadly drone. Imagine the mind-boggling size of the data farm required to house all the meta data alone from the internet of things.
We should be asking what happens if foreign governments conduct cyber war through this internet of things what our response should be — conduct cyber-retaliation with equal and measured response, taking out wireless ricecookers and teapots on the other side of the globe?
What happens if our cyberweapons are deployed against us, like a customized Stuxnet invisibly tweaking all the settings on all our internet of things? Would we know we’d been targeted until far too late?
Anyhow, just some food for thought, something to mull over as you flip your remotely monitored ribs on the smoker while sipping on your icy cold brew produced from your wirelessly controlled refrigerator — which may tell you soon you’re low on beer.
Happy Father’s Day!
* h/t @sarahkendzior
Here’s an assortment of goodies that crossed my tablet over the last 24 hours or so. Which of these tidbits fires you up?
• The Verge reported Friday that a new bi-partisan privacy bill sponsored by representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) targets the use of drones in the US.
“As written, it would ban police from operating unmanned aerial vehicles armed with weapons of any kind, and any drone surveillance operation would require a warrant notifying the target within 10 days, except when the notice would “jeopardize” an investigation. It also requires they make efforts to “minimize” the amount of data collected or shared, to avoid violating privacy unnecessarily. …
…Fears over the use of drones have increased lately as both President Obama and his counterterrorism chief John Brennan refused to answer whether lethal strikes could be used against American citizens on US soil. …”
When drones can be remotely operated by iPhone or Android cellphones and cost less than $300, we’re way past time for this bill. It might not hurt citizens to act locally as Charlottesville, Virginia has, enacting a ban on their use in their municipality. Think a drone couldn’t possibly slip by you to monitor you without permission? This one pictured here is only 22 inches long, comes equipped with a 720p high-def camera on board–imagine it hovering and peering in your bedroom window, or your kid’s room, its video output watched from an iPhone miles away.
• Friday’s meteorite-asteroid-meteorite triple whammy certainly shook up the globe. What? You didn’t hear about the third one? Apparently when the smaller meteorite passed over California about 7:42 pm PST, the media had already used up its allotment of cosmic-related coverage for the week. Or year. Anyhow, objects hit our planet all the time that we don’t notice or publicize widely; it was the rare confluence of a near-miss asteroid and a larger-than-average meteorite within a 24-hour window that only made us think earth’s pummeling by space debris is unusual. Given that meteorites and asteroids are not all that rare, it seems like we’d do more to be prepared for impacts–especially since we’ve had pretty decent guesstimates about the damage space objects could inflict.
• Speaking of science, science writer Philip Ball looks at the discovery of the microscope and its dramatic impact on science and religion. Technology that allowed us to look at our world at meta-scale has also had an impact on our perspective; the famous “blue marble” photo* from an Apollo mission is credited with increasing public interest in ecological studies, environmental protection, and space exploration. What technology will encourage us to get our tails in gear on climate change?
• Finally, this photo-dense piece gives me pause. I was two years old when these were taken; what an incredible year that was. I wish I’d been old enough to remember any of these events, and yet, I’m glad some of them were well behind us by the time I was school-aged. Some of these photos remind me how little things have changed. Just Google “church arson” or “race hate crime” and you’ll see what I mean.
By the way, I’m open to suggestions as to naming these collections of newsy bits and pieces. Leave me your thoughts in comments. Thanks!
* When I first drafted this post, I didn’t know today marked the anniversary of the similarly important “pale blue dot” photo. How time flies.
One weaselly senator–with long-identified agendas and a pathetically thin understanding of technology–takes to the microphone. Suddenly, by virtue of wrapping his senatorial lips around a few scary words on topics about which he knows little, we citizens are supposed to quake in fear and plead for salvation.
Screw that noise. This is textbook “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” — more commonly referred to as FUD in the information technology industry.
Since the 1970s, FUD tactics have used to suppress competition in the computer marketplace, targeting both hardware and software. Roger Irwin explained,
…It is a marketing technique used when a competitor launches a product that is both better than yours and costs less, i.e. your product is no longer competitive. Unable to respond with hard facts, scare-mongering is used via ‘gossip channels’ to cast a shadow of doubt over the competitors offerings and make people think twice before using it.In general it is used by companies with a large market share, and the overall message is ‘Hey, it could be risky going down that road, stick with us and you are with the crowd. Our next soon-to-be-released version will be better than that anyway’. …
FUD has non-technology applications as well; one need only look at product and service brands that encourage doubts about using any product other than their own, in lieu of actually promoting the advantages their product or service might have.
So what’s the FUD about? Senator Joe Lieberman spouted off about cyber attacks in September last year, claiming Iran was behind disruptive efforts targeting U.S. banks.
Right. Uh-huh. Predictable, yes?
But FUD is used in situations where there is competition, one might point out. Yes, exactly; in September 2012, the case for support of unilateral attacks against Iran was up against the news cycle crush, powered by the post-Benghazi fallout and the drive toward the November general election, followed by the terror that was the “fiscal cliff.” That’s a lot of powerful, compelling competition for both attention, votes, and tax dollars, when members of a reliable but lame duck Congress could be mounting up a pre-emptive cyber war without the headwind of public awareness and resistance, or the too-inquisitive pushback from newbies in the next seated Congress. Continue reading