What’s Holding Back the Internet Of Things?

chris walker face shot 1800Ever since personal computers began to creep into our lives in the mid-to-late 1970s, people have been talking about home computers and home computing. Microprocessors and high-tech sensors were going to be embedded into everything, and we were going to live in smart homes, drive smart cars, and rely on robots and other devices to do all the things that we either could not do well or did not want to do. As we were told in grammar school, things would continue to get easier and we would live happily ever after.


The good things


Well, some of these fantasies have come true. We carry very powerful devices in our pockets that can do a great number of things, smart driverless cars are on the horizon, and many appliance makers are putting smart devices into their products that will tell us when we need to buy more food, order more supplies, or if and when our “things” needs to be serviced or fixed. These are all great benefits. Even so, we have learned that, along with these benefits, we are too often plagued by side effects that cause us to wonder… Do we have more time? Are we better off? Are we happier?


The side effects


In his book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler told us that for every modern convenience, there is an equal and opposite inconvenience. If you watch the news, you might think that Alvin was right. While new technologies and products come with great benefits, we have learned that these benefits often come with new problems that typically fall into at least three categories:

  1. Greater complexity. Many of us have discovered that our new cars are sometimes smarter than we are. Learning how to operate them is not a trivial exercise that can cause problems when we rent them at an airport or receive a loaner when we bring them in for service.
  2. Bad guys can take advantage of the same benefits. As products become more complex, they come with vulnerabilities that hackers and people with bad intentions can use against us. Identities are being stolen, credit cards are being hacked, and evil forces are penetrating security systems to steal or manipulate whatever they want.
  3. More can go wrong. As products get more complex, there are more things that can go wrong with them. And, when they break, they are not so easy to fix. Is the problem in the hardware? If so, where? Is it a bug in the operating system? Is in the applications software? Is it operator error?


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