The idea of devices that exchange data and interact with the Internet was discussed back in the 70s and 80s. Visionary Hollywood filmmaker, James Cameron, first explored this in his legendary blockbuster The Terminator (1984), where the Skynet network became self-aware and took over all the machines in the world, leading to war.
The very phrase “Internet of Things” was first used in the 90s by a British technology guru, Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1999, Neil Gershenfield published When Things Start Thinking. In it, he explored the concepts of the Internet of Things.
Journalist Neil Gross predicted in his 1999 Businessweek article:
In the next century, planet Earth will put on an electron shell. She will use the Internet as a support to support and convey her feelings. This skin is already sewn together. It consists of millions of built-in electronic measuring instruments: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, ECG, electroencephalographs. They will explore and control cities and endangered species of animals and plants, the atmosphere, ships, highways and trucks, conversations, human bodies and even … dreams.
The desire to connect the physical world with the Internet, improving the quality of life for consumers, is a key strategy of technology, marketing and strategic teams of global companies.
For example, Dropcam and RemoteLock, have products and applications that allow people to lock doors and monitor homes from their smartphones, and alert relevant services of fires, floods and robberies. This happens in real time.
For example, if you forgot to turn off the TV, then using the application from Comcast and Google, you can do it from your smartphone. If you lost your keys, then just attach the bluetooth tracker from Tile to your keys and you can find them in no time.
LG, Samsung, Whirpool, and Sony are making smart home technologies. Amazon Echo has a voice recognition function. It is compatible with other connected devices, web music services (Pandora and Spotify), and can perform other tasks with a voice command, including calling an Uber taxi, controlling the lights and temperatures in your home, sharing news, weather forecasts, and phone calls.
How does IoT work?
Each IoT device / machine contains sensors associated with the cloud-based IoT platform. The latter, in turn, collects, processes, and distributes data from each connected device / sensor, allowing devices to interact with each other and on the Internet (this process of machine-to-machine communication through IoT platforms is called M2M).
In a sense, the IoT has the same problems as the blockchain. This is primarily due to the unpredictable and constantly evolving nature of the Internet:
• Safety… The massive amounts of data generated by connected devices and processed on IoT cloud platforms are a tidbit for seasoned hackers who can infiltrate unsecured devices and platforms and cause harm. There have already been precedents when hackers broke into connected cars, weapons and even … toys! The situation will get worse if new computer viruses in the IoT. Equipment has already been disrupted in major industries (e.g. virus Stuxnet in Iran). Botnet attacks should also be mentioned Mirai in 2016, which affected Netflix, Reddit, and Airbnb. More than half a million devices around the world are “held hostage.”
• Control… Like blockchain in its early days, the world of IoT is like the “Wild West” – new service providers and technology companies are popping up everywhere, aiming to take the lead in the market in a short time. They are now releasing products with IoT support. But most of them are created without observing the quality, compatibility and security standards typical in the IT field. This is due to the fact that now in this area there is simply no governing body. Companies and national governments develop their own individual criteria. But there is no single standard.
How can IoT take over us?
And although we do not yet have superintelligent machines – legal, political, social, financial and other regulatory issues are so complex and widespread that it is necessary to look at them now from an IoT perspective. Then it will be possible to work with them safely in the next 10-20 years. Artificial intelligence is already a threat in its current form. And here are some of the possible risks of a super-smart IoT:
Autonomous weapon… AI can be programmed to kill. It can be assumed that the nuclear arms race will be replaced by a global autonomous arms race. The victorious country will rule the entire world.
In addition to the risk of the weapon gaining sentience upon activation, it will likely be difficult to disable or stop fighting.
Social manipulation… Offline algorithms are very effective in targeted social media marketing. They know who we are, what we like, and they know what we think.
Now the US continues to investigate the case Cambridge Analytica and other companies that used data from 50 million Facebook users to try to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and the UK Brexit referendum. If the accusations are correct, then this is a clear illustration of the use of AI for social manipulation. By spreading propaganda to people identified by algorithms and personal data, AI can target them and spread any information, in any format, that is most compelling to humans.
Violation of privacy… Now you can track and analyze every movement of a person on the Internet, as well as see when he is going about his daily activities. Cameras and face recognition algorithms are everywhere. Everyone already knows who you are. This type of information analysis is used in China: each citizen is given a personal score depending on their behavior – how they move around the streets, whether they smoke in the wrong places, how long they play video games, etc. When “Big Brother is watching you,” and then making decisions based on his data, is no longer just an invasion of privacy. This is social oppression.
Inconsistency between human and machine goals… Humans appreciate efficiency and effectiveness in AI machines. But it can be dangerous if the goals of the machine are different from those of humans. For example, the command “get me to the airport as soon as possible” can have dire consequences for other road users. Yes, the car will efficiently fulfill its task – it will take you to the airport on time. But it can leave behind a train of accidents, fines and even … deaths!
Discrimination… Since machines can collect, track and analyze data, it is possible that they will start using information against you. It’s not hard to imagine annoying calls from an insurance company who found out that you recently had an accident. Or the employer who fired you based on your “social credit rating”.
The IoT industry appeared only in 2005. She needs time to “mature”. But at the same time, the period of its ripening is the “black earth” for hacker attacks. Therefore, companies are investing millions of dollars in hackathons studying IoT vulnerabilities.
Simply put, the top of the mountain will be companies that will provide security on IoT platforms and associated equipment, as well as those who will solve relevant business and consumer problems using IoT goods and services.
But any powerful technology, as we know, can be misused. Artificial intelligence works today for many good purposes. This includes making better medical diagnoses, finding new cancer treatments, and making cars safer. However, as the capabilities of artificial intelligence expand, we will also see it being used for dangerous or malicious purposes.