If you watch cartoons you’ll have seen Regular Show. It’s quite surreal but there’s an episode where the ‘Warden of the Internet’ warns that viral videos are wrong and the Internet is meant for ‘serious research and keeping in touch with relatives once in a while‘. Always raises a smile.
Even better, have you seen the ending of the Bruce Willis flick, Surrogates, where humans emerge to embrace a forgotten real life ?
Read about the Japanese father in news this week who hired virtual hitmen to kill off his son’s avatar because he spent too much time online ? Or the book Loups Garou, (translated from a Japanese text) where children only socialise at a meeting group for an hour a week, no one leaves their home, everyone connects online and all social etiquette is gone ?
But I digress. The Internet has grown into something that is now woven into the fabric of humanity, like a digital comfort blanket it’s always within reach and for some, it’s never out of their hands. It’s remarkable how dependent a species has become on a commodity in such a short space of time.
And now the boundaries are being pushed even further as business, tech and software companies begin to connect humans, appliances and devices to the web, connecting people to machine to process in a way unheard of a decade ago. Take Thingworx, a software company with an application platform to do just that. Or Bosch SI (Inubit) who made a surprise entry into the Gartner Magic Quadrant for iBPMS much to everyone’s chagrin with the same idea. Connect your device, whether it be a smart home appliance, mobile or industrial printing machine to a business process and suddenly you’re in far more control than ever, machines that are being monitored and advising you via process when they’re about to reach failure tolerance so you can schedule in repairs or replacements automatically.
Internet of Things represents a massive opportunity to significantly improve processes, minimise risk, create new trends and products and increase revenue. It will hit the enterprise, the supply chain and the customer and whether you’re in healthcare, energy, software, manufacturing, retail, financial, wireless carrier, it doesn’t matter, it’s the single biggest paradigm that beats mobile, social and big data into the ground because it binds them all together. It’s a new ecosystem for actionable data that can take a business to a higher level.
And what of the consumer ?
Well if devices can be connected via their IP address or RFID then why can’t humans have their own protocol ? A Human Network Protocol for the Internet of Things…..Think about it, people are assigned a HNP address and this then becomes their mark for life. Everything will connect to this single address and you as a person and individual will become merely a node, in digital terms of course. Buy a camera, register it to your HNP and there’ll be no need to manually upload photos to Facebook (or whatever the global hub will be) because your HNP will already be associated to it. Your ‘social graph’ will become more valuable to the Government than your Social Security or NIS number and it’ll supercede these eventually. You’ll carry a single portal to your social graph in the form of a mobile device, and you’ll always be connected and accessible from that device. No more multiple email addresses, no more phone numbers, your HNP will be your single and unique identifier.
We have the Fitbit, wearable devices that track our movement and calorific value, there’s even the HAPIfork, smart cutlery that now that tells you if you’ve eaten too much. It’s all being tracked and uploaded. LG launched yet another smart(er) fridge at CES, perhaps your HAPIfork cutlery will tell the LG fridge you eat too much cheese so the fridge alters your weekly shopping order to save you from yourself and the Fitbit harasses you to walk a bit further today.
Your car has multiple chips that can interface with both you and the IoT. Toyota and Audi are showcasing self driving cars. Now if you decide to break the speed limit but the car is feeding the local garage data that your brakes need replacing they can happily kill your speed before you kill yourself and stop you getting a speeding ticket from the Automated Police Response Unit that’s been logging your data remotely.
You go to work, automagically check in, and work is processed and routed according to your HNP, social graph, role profile, wearable devices. Even your digital interactions with colleagues at work is extrapolated so hidden talents can be exposed, nurtured and utilised by a variety of processes in the organisation. The supervisor pings you an instant message because he can see you’ve been on the toilet for 10 minutes longer than normal tweeting to friends because of the mobile device given to you to process work is in your pocket. Hi-ho, hi-ho…..
And with all that actionable and constantly shifting and evolving data the Earth will be one big, massive digital consiousness, ambiently aware as the human-ape species goes about it’s business. A machine planet. You may laugh but by connecting everything with a chip and CPU over time someone will figure out that they’re sitting on one huge parallel processor….
The Internet of Things
People will become just another thing over time, hyperconnectivity doesn’t discriminate or segregate. And where once Second Life was fantasy, the reality is that will all the personal data IoT collects and brings with it you could easily build and automate a digital shadow of yourself. It could very well be the next reality TV show concept, a Trueman Show for the 21st century but without the need for real people just the digital footprints you leave behind unaware.
But where does all this integration and connectivity end ? Does it end ? Should it end ?
Could future society conceivably be that connected and should we let it be ? We’ve seen what happens when there’s a Facebook outage and half the internet collapses without the famous ‘Like’ button….imagine losing that connectivity and having to use common sense again. Frightening indeed.
Who knows. But where we are now and how we let companies shape our future is important. In a hyper-networked world we are actually being silently dictated to by the companies and devices we seem to rely on so much for our humanity….the ending of Surrogates isn’t that far away…