Professionals, particularly engineers, are enthusiastic about the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT). Everybody talked about it when it wasn’t quite here. Now that it’s here, it’s growing exponentially.
Gartner predicted last 2014 that there would be 25 billion devices integrated into the IoT. Cisco says figures would be near 50 billion. Morgan Stanley believes it will reach around 75 billion.
This growth will get closer to reality as devices become smaller and sleeker and computing grows more powerful and becomes more streamlined.
The IoT is simply the interconnectivity of devices through the Internet. Great innovation at first sight, but it is not without consequences.
The connectivity that drives IoT is the same that could also cause dire consequences. For example, there have been reports of hacking of baby monitors and Wired ran a feature on the simulation of hackers taking over control of a jeep on the highway. Even power interruptions can cause serious problems.
As of now, there’s still no international standard for compatibility in IoT, particularly for tagging and monitoring devices. Of all challenges, this is the one that can be most easily solved. Companies just have to agree on a standard, which already happens in different products and services. The IoT won’t be any different.
Though standardisation is an easy matter to solve, technical issues will still exist. Even today, Bluetooth, a relatively old way of connecting, still has compatibility problems. Issues about compatibility can lead to customers buying from one company only, developing monopolies that can hurt the industry.
Complex systems offer more chances of failure. The Internet of Things can offer massive amounts of these chances.
An example of this failure is double purchasing. Let’s say a couple receives the same note from their refrigerator saying that they need to buy a loaf of bread. There’s a chance that they both buy one, leading to the purchase of two loaves instead of just one.
Software bugs can also send notes to an owner telling him to buy a new light bulb even when he just bought a new one.
The complexity of the IoT also gives way to more intensive management and maintenance. How will IoT companies make sure that billions of these devices are online and running? Can takeovers and interruptions be easily handled through billions of connections? Will the IoT require every device to be registered or will it only require a certain identified ‘residence’ to represent all devices within?
IoT will also handle massively growing amounts of data. How will companies make sure that they deliver the expected results and withstand a growing workload at the same time? How will consumers know if their devices are able to handle intense data flow?
Privacy and security
Since the IoT is founded on transmitted data, the risk of privacy breaches gets bigger. We are still not sure of how good data encryption will be. Sensitive information like medical prescriptions and financial status are exposed to bigger risk.
Extra security may demand higher prices, which will either attract only a few customers or none at all.
Looking at the bigger picture, we also do not know who will be controlling the IoT. One company controlling it can lead to a monopoly that will do consumers and other competitors no good. Multiple companies handling the system can expose private customer information to many groups, which will compromise the close relationship of the customer to a specific company he adheres to.
The fact that personal data will be exposed to the Internet once IoT gets implemented will render any consumer vulnerable to hacking, fraud, identity theft, and other crimes involving sensitive information.
The government itself, which is supposed to be the most secure entity in any state, can easily be hacked by hacker groups. The group Anonymous has already done this to the US government.
What if a hacker changes your preferences for medicine, food, and other products? Once your data is breached, this can happen. In the IoT, consumer safety depends on how good the system can verify real information that passes through automated processes.
The IoT is constantly growing, and even at its early stage, the whole system, as well as the dangers it faces, are already overwhelming. Data breach can affect huge sectors of the system like a disease.
At the very least, we need to easily spot where problems originate in the system. Monitoring must be optimum so Big Data tools must be able to alert authorities when security incidents happen. Threats must be taken care of in real time with little to no delays. As of now, we need to know what these systems would look like and how companies can make these systems real.
Mass unemployment of unskilled labour
The demand for unskilled workers will plummet to the point of irrelevance as automation will prove itself to be more efficient. This always happens whenever technology takes a leap and will require humans to level up its education.
This phenomenon can cause social chaos and maybe a change in how people see technology, as technology is supposed to make life easier for people, not harder. Unemployment will also decrease consumption, which will be bad for a growing IoT industry because any new industry will need a growing market.
Since human involvement in the delivery of products and services will be minimised, the consumer expectations will increase too. Failure to meet expectations may add fuel to an already spreading fire caused by unemployment.
Over reliance on technology
It is almost certain that IoT will make humans a lot more dependent on technology to the point that it will take control of our own lives. As of now, young generations are already attached and addicted to technology for every aspect of their lives. Do-it-yourself is now do-it-with-gadgets.
Today, information is easily searchable through Google. People who can help you can easily be reached through social networking sites. False news can easily be spread and disproved using search engines. Writing turned into typing and typing turned into taking pictures of texts.
Society must determine how much technology must run human life.