British Computer Society debates impact of Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is everywhere. Maybe not literally everywhere — yet. With 50 billion devices, objects and even such “things” as plants and animals projected to become internet enabled just in the next five years, however, our already wired world is about to experience a tsunami of connectivity. The change is bound to have unintended consequences. Some of these effects can probably be predicted, and may even be beneficial. Others may not show up on anyone’s radar until they smack us in the nose. Yet whether your first instinct is to throw away your smartphone and cower in the basement, or to run outside into frolic in the breakers of the onrushing sea of change, it’s probably worth taking some time to consider what each of us should do to prepare.
Those lines of thinking are probably similar to the deliberations that led the British Computer Society to recently host a series of debates and interviews about the impact of the Internet of Things. The BCS is preparing to draft a position paper discussing the advent of the Internet of Things, and gathered a grundle of expert witnesses to weigh in on the already moving IoT transition. Some of the proceedings have been posted online as a series of debates, interviews and impassioned testimony.
One aspect of the discussion concerned the dramatically increased monitoring and observation of people, things and events that will be possible. Panelist Alexandra Deschamps-Sansino pointed out that the shift to the Internet of Things could make it much easier to monitor the health and activity of senior citizens, for example, assisting even distantly located children with caring for elderly parents. That same technology, on the other hand, might be deemed highly invasive if put to use similarly keeping tabs on other people in other situations. Monitoring a remote oil-drilling operation = benign. Monitoring, say, a political party meeting behind closed doors = (ask Richard Nixon).
The possibilities that ought to be considered are legion, and discussion of many different points is likely to take place going forward, as other organizations and agencies take up the call to action. Selected video from the BCS discussions is available online.