Ever get the feeling all those smart devices you own are talking about you behind your back? There was a time when you'd be considered paranoid if not wholly delusional. Now you're just part of the so-called Internet of things.
Like it or not, the IoT is already here. You can either get on the IoT bus, or you can have the bus update its Facebook status talking about what a Luddite you are after it runs you over.
[ For a humorous take on tech industry shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. | Check out InfoWorld TechBrief, your source for quick, smart views on the news you'll be talking about. ]
Tomorrow, the FTC is holding a workshop to discuss the Internet of things featuring Google's Vint Cerf as the keynote speaker. There's a lot to discuss.
For example: What kinds of data are these things collecting and what happens to it? How can you control what it "knows" about you and who else gets to know it too? What can you do to prevent someone else's smart thing from recording information about you? What happens if these things get hacked? What are our legal rights regarding this data, and how is the NSA planning to violate them? And so on.
Smart devices, stupid people
Frankly, this discussion is already at least two years too late.
In my humble abode more than 30 devices connect to the Internet, many of them doing it without any intervention from me. Aside from computers, laptops, and smartphones, there're my home entertainment gizmos: Roku, TiVo, and Sonos. I don't own a smart TV, though I had one for a while. All of them ping the Net routinely.
There's my Vivant home security system, including the IP-based surveillance cameras I use to keep an eye on my cat (who, it turns out, sleeps 23.5 hours a day). There's a Nest thermostat, a WeMote motion sensor-trigger for a night light, and a Roomba vacuum. And probably some other stuff I can't even remember.
I don't yet have a smart fridge or a smart toilet, but I might, if were a little smarter.
That's not all. I also wear smart things upon my person, like that sky-blue Jawbone Up on my wrist, which is there to record the number of steps I take each day but serves mostly as a conversation piece. I burn more calories explaining what it is to total strangers than actually exercising. But in a year or two I probably won't have to explain. In a few years, maybe it will do my exercising for me.
Then, of course, there are the uber smart things, like Google Glass and the Google self-driving car. I don't have either one of those yet, but I can see a day where I might. On that note, the current issue of the New Yorker magazine has a highly entertaining history of the G-car. If you're procrastinating on something unimportant (like, say, filing a blog post) it's definitely worth a read.