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By Alfonso Venturi, CIO, Lease Plan Australia
IntroductionThe concept of IoT basically allows us to tap into all the inanimate objects around us by connecting them to the 4000 exa bytes worth cloud of information, which is the World Wide Web that we use. This concept is already a reality with your smart phones and computers connected to this collective information storage and exchange system. But imagine if appliances such as your fridge, your chair, and even your blanket are connected to the Internet and can be upgraded as well as embedded with any kind of software that has been created and uploaded into the Internet. More over the ecosystems around you the buildings you reside in, the roads you travel on, and the hotels you stay in are all connected to the immense bouts of information that is present on the Internet as well as communicating live with the internet feeding more & more data each passing day. This would mean that every single inanimate object around is imbued with a consciousness of its own!
What would be the Larger Societal Impacts of this Revolution of Artificial Consciousness be like?
Well, early investments in IoT have paid off really well. As we connect more & more devices with IoT, we are effectively shaping up a ‘Global Mind’ or a ‘Global Nervous System’. Devices will come to life, proliferate and be connected to each other while their value & capabilities grow exponentially with what is called the ‘network effect’. If we think big enough, we can transform communities. IoT has immense power to make the world a better place by giving birth to smart businesses revamping the industries like transportation, education, finance and healthcare that have led to chronic social problems.
"IoT has immense power to make the world a better place by giving birth to smart businesses"
IoT would also make possible previously unimaginable things. Like the roads that can be equipped with sensors which can detect accidents and notify the nearest medical & police authorities.
As of 2016, we already have various IoT connected appliances like refrigerators, security cameras, baby/pet monitors, shoes, cars, drones, etc. These refrigerators alert you when there is a shortage of food and even have the ability to order food for you, completely independent of actual commands which need to be given to them like the robots of yore. These appliances form a fully sustainable ecosystem within them selves. As you fall a sleep, your smart bed will monitor your sleep and also the environment so that you have a peaceful sleep. It is also connected with your smart health monitoring app which is further connected with your family doctor’s phone; the doctor receives a notification in case there is an emergency situation.These are just basic examples. Just look around you right now and what ever you see will be transformed soon and become smart & connected. You will be able to do much more everyday with such enormous multi tasking capabilities. What is then the flip side of this technology? The Dark Side
On the other hand, IoT does raise several questions as well as doubts. As we research on the security aspects, we have also come across several loopholes. As the devices get connected, each of them would be prone to hack-attacks! Imagine the chaos that can be created if some one hacks the traffic or road network of the city. This hacker can have access to thousands of lives and property worth millions.The Final Word… Thinking about the Future with an Open Mind How about imagining the possibilities once IoT merges with innovations like AI, Big Data, Virtual Reality and 3D printing? 3D printed IoT devices could bring along the biggest disruption in the market. You could manufacture all these smart devices at your home in real-time and as per demand. Smart 3D printer would constantly collect data from the IoT devices it shares the network with. Analyzing this data, the printer will keep a track of all the components in any of our devices that need to be replaced and that component will be printed live in front of our eyes. But could we 3D print smart devices? That’s a question researchers have recently answered positively. InfraStructs project is the answer. Based on terahertz imaging technology, they have developed tags that embed machine readable information into physical objects! That’s how we will 3D print intelligent devices.
Now, we have already 3D printed models of human heart! Thinking out loud, imagine a day when we will 3D print a heart embedded with terahertz tags! 'Networked Hearts' or 'Machine-readable Hearts', what opportunities would this present to us? Will our machines some day read our hearts? Will this lead to our transition to cyborgs? Well if Big Data was to answer these questions in one line, it would say, 'these scenarios are closer to reality than you think'!