Running parallel to the extraordinary advances in the field of AI is the even bigger development of what is loosely called, the internet of things (IoT). This can be broadly described as the emergence of countless objects, animals and even people with uniquely identifiable, embedded devices that are wirelessly connected to the internet. These ‘nodes’ can send or receive information without the need for human intervention. There are estimates that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Current examples of these smart devices include Nest thermostats, wifi-enabled washing machines and the increasingly connected cars with their built-in sensors that can avoid accidents and even park for you.

The US Federal Trade Commission is sufficiently concerned about the security and privacy implications of the Internet of Things, and has conducted a public workshop and released a report urging companies to adopt best practices and “bake in” procedures to minimise data collection and to ensure consumer trust in the new networked environment.

Tim O’Reilly, coiner of the phrase “Web 2.0” sees the internet of things as the most important online development yet. He thinks the name is misleading – that IoT is “really about human augmentation”. O’Reilly believes that we should “expect our devices to anticipate us in all sorts of ways”. He uses the “intelligent personal assistant”, Google Now, to make his point.

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A quote saved on Feb. 25, 2015.


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