Some of us remember the brave new day of computers. Spending a half hour watching an oblong shape turning through ninety degrees and going, ‘Wow!’. Then, with a fanfare, the electric internet arrived. The ultimate computer tool; facts at our fingertips. The world will be a better place.
The trouble is, inventions don’t always work out as planned or desired. When Victor Frankenstein observed the body parts in a bin at the back of his shed and had an idea for the benefit of mankind, who would have thought it would work out as it did. The world is littered with the white bones of good intentions.
As we now know, thanks to human intervention, the internet has become a bloated, attention-whoring minstrel show of wrong facts, porn and the tragic consequences of online abuse. Google can censoriously blur the face of a cow on Street View to protect its privacy but it can’t stop a fat kid being hunted by trolls.
So the answer is to rein in the excesses of the internet and going back to being communities, no? No. Not in this world. The answer is to come up with the final frontier – the Internet of Things. Why think for yourself when a machine can do it for you?
The Internet of Things is one of those trendy, meaningless names thought up by tech monkeys that we are so fond of using these days. If you have the internet and it has Things on it, adding more Things does not make it something different or new, it just makes it bigger, even more unwieldy and more susceptible to Bad Things. The IoT is, we are told, going to change our lives. It will not only help us do Things, it will also tell us what to feel and how to behave. See where this is going?
So instead of rejecting this Grand Idea as a frontier too far, what do we do? That’s right, we stick it in our motors. Autonomy relates not only to vehicle guidance but also to life guidance. It will become the regimental park-keeper of the future. It will be the electronic equivalent of the bossy bloke who thinks a high-viz jacket implies authority.
The IoT And Your Car
Soon, we are told, but probably not as soon as is being suggested because there is still a lot to go wrong, we will have smart highways. The next Thing will be smart parking. The IoT will link your car to the nearest suitable parking spot. Don’t they understand that we are British? Part of the fun of visiting busy places is to take a sight-seeing tour whilst endlessly searching for somewhere to leave the motor.
The IoT will, they say, be able to re-route a car around incoming bad weather. Your car will control other Things remotely in your home too. It can check for faults, watch for thieves and turn up the heating. Cars can theoretically already supply power to your home so why not take this giant step further? Why think at all? We can all be Mr Greenlight.
Okay, this is called progress. It was ever thus. The advances in medicine have been hugely aided by technology and that’s a Good Thing. We are able to communicate around the world in seconds which, if you stop to think about it, really boggles the mind.
What is more invidious however is when your car can give you routine health checks and pass on the details to your insurance company. That it can monitor your activities at all is worrying. We are heading into the true age of Big Brother. It wasn’t meant to be like this. It wasn’t planned, but the one Thing that the inventors didn’t think of was that humans will use it and abuse it. Just ask Robert Oppenheimer or the young girl down the road who killed herself for being ‘different’. It’s up to you. Call the shots. Do you want to remain a sentient being or do you want to be the next Thing on the Internet of Things? Geoff Maxted