Evils of the Connected World_

1. The internet is not good or evil, dark or light. It’s humans, that determine what the technology does (at least for now). And no matter how reliant we are on these technologies, there has to be appropriate filters on how we use the tools we’ve created — or we’ll begin to abuse them.

2. The ‘internet of things’ is creating a more connected world but there is a dark side to giving up our domestic lives to machines.

3. A woman falls asleep on the floor. She wakes, terrified and in excruciating pain to find a robot vacuum cleaner chewing up her hair. The cuddly toy you bought your toddler daughter turns out to be secretly recording your private conversations, the bedtime stories you read together and her sleeping and then broadcasting them on the internet.

4. The CCTV you installed to keep your house safe from burglars is hacked and your life ends up as a 24-hour reality show without you knowing. It is a big hit in Japan.

5. Your smart home is compromised, the lock code is changed shutting you out, the sound system is cranked up to 11, blaring out while you’re stuck in the drive. The lights are flashing on and off like a disco. You realise there is a party going on inside and you weren’t invited. Perhaps it is just the machines having a good time.

6. Some of these have happened. For others, it’s only a matter of time. Our houses are being possessed. And the 21st century’s evil spirits are the ghosts controlling our machine. This is the “internet of things”, the much-vaunted next iteration of a connected landscape of domestic and urban objects.

7. The dream is of a connected world in which products talk to each other and everything becomes more efficient, seamless. It is a world which is already populated by domestic devices such as Nest’s home-control systems, the hair-eating robot vacuum cleaner (yep, that one’s true), smart fridges, lighting systems and ovens. And the dream of all these manufacturers is that they will be able to harvest your most intimate data.

8. The user survey and the focus group will be replaced by real-time information. Unknowingly, we will be conducting market research for the manufacturers and online retailers as we carry out our domestic chores, eat, chat and just move around in our homes.

9. In order to be any use a system such as Amazon’s Alexa (“an intelligent personal assistant”) needs to be listening all the time, waiting f[or key words or phrases to trigger it into action. In other words, it is a surveillance device. If you liked Samsung’s spy-telly by the way, you can now buy its Family Hub fridge-freezer, which will send a picture of its contents to your smartphone in lieu of a shopping list and upon which you can order your next delivery online. But while you pour a drink, who else is poring over the contents of your fridge?

10. Sci-fi author Bruce Sterling agrees with Greenfield. “It’s the cheap Chinese cameras which are ideal for Distributed Denial of Service attacks, the loads of data which can be hacked by the ankle biters — the 15- or 16-year-old kids who can take down a bank from their bedrooms,” he says. “The idea that a teenager could create chaos on a global scale is so big it is actually hurting morale in the [tech] industry. It’s embarrassing.”

11. The internet of things is inviting an infinite digital openness into our homes without any of the protections we automatically apply to our physical architecture. In fact, it is even able to override this — would you like your locks and security systems controlled by an app? Perhaps you already do.

12. More than 90 percent of IT security professionals predict that connected devices will be a major security issue this year as security programmes fail to keep pace with the ‘significant’ risks posed by the Internet of Things (IoT).

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