Internet of Humans or Things?

The Internet is moving from being made up of humans to being made up of things. This is not yet a daily reality but is moving towards that possibility. With the introduction of mobile devices, improvements in data storage and processing, and the decreasing cost of biometric sensors, the ability to gather data and track our own movements is becoming more accessible (Wolf 2010). The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of physical objects to the Internet (Mattern & Florkemeier 2010) and can be used for “self-tracking” or “the quanitifed self” (Lutpon 2013, p. 25), as explained in the video below:

BI Intelligence recently released ‘The Connected-Home Report’ (though to access the full report you must be a paid subscriber) which highlighted that the cost of biometric sensors has dropped by 50% since 2004 (Greenough 2014). Companies are investing more money in the area and there is a larger base of consumers keen to purchase these devices (Greenough 2014). Personally, I already track my sleep patterns, eating habits and exercise activity using such devices. I also engage in social networks which facilitate discussion in these areas and compare myself to others to reflect and evaluate my own goals. One such network is Strava which tracks my running progress through a GPS, uploads it to the Internet and creates metrics to evaluate performance. This data is publicly available to others using the same platform and it is possible to discuss, compare and compete with users.

As mentioned earlier, improvements in data storage have enabled the Internet of Things to exist. But the IoT raises a host of ethical questions as the reach is farther than the self (Lupton 2013). Companies and governments have the potential to use this biometric data for public health research but also for more sinister uses such as health insurance and marketing (Wolf 2010). It is pertinent to ask how this personal data will be stored and interpreted and more importantly, by who.

 

References

Greenough, J 2014, Here are the four key elements that will make ‘The Internet Of Things’ an absolutely massive market, Business Insider Australia, 15 October, viewed 23 October, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/four-elements-driving-iot-2014-10>.

Lupton, D 2013, ‘Understanding the human machine’, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 25-30.

Mattern, F & Florkemeier, C 2010, ‘From the Internet of Computers to the Internet of Things’, Informatik-Spektrum, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 107-121.

Wolf, G 2010, The quantified self, online video, 3 June, TED, viewed 23 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_wolf_the_quantified_self?utm_medium=on.ted.com-none&language=en&awesm=on.ted.com_s0C6c&utm_content=roadrunner-rrshorturl&utm_campaign=&share=142449430e&utm_source=t.co>.

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4 thoughts on “Internet of Humans or Things?

  1. I feel as though many of us are embracing the “quantified self” and the Internet of things as a positive thing. There are new technologies being created every day and like the example you gave, seem to be aiming at improving everyday life. While there will always be risks and anxieties about change, the world is moving forward so it seems we can either join in or be left behind. This was a great look at the topic. You have explored the Internet of things well, and have included some really interesting and relevant sources, good job!

  2. Great use of sources for this week’s content on the IoT. I really enjoyed the TED video. Ethics plays a vital role in the construction and growth of smartification. Security and privacy measures will be breached allowing the hacking community to thrive. Invasiveness will undoutably follow in the wake…I found an article on the ethical challenges the IoT will have on society which I found quite interesting.
    http://www.scmagazine.com/ethical-challenges-of-the-internet-of-things/article/331460/

  3. That TED video was really good. The ethical issues with data privacy are the main problems I have with the Internet of things.

    It’s nice to read a post from someone who already uses biometric measurements to try and improve their quality of life. Great post

  4. I really enjoyed this blog post as it seems as though you embrace the IoT, yet still question the privacy of our personal data. While I believe that the IoT may change society and encourage us to be less inclined to do a number of things, as you have already proved through your personal anecdote, there is no denying that our lives will effectively become more efficient, better organised, and influence decision making and choices positively. I believe that for the IoT to better our lives there needs to be a balance between the two elements: the internet of things and basic human connectivity. There is no harm in utilising this new evolutionary paradigm, however it is vital that we remember our basic origins and know that success can be accomplished without any form of technology. Overall your blog is well written and you have used effective academic sources, links and videos.

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