IoT: The Death of Your Privacy – Should you Care?



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It was just a few years ago that movies like Minority Report, I Robot, Avatar and the like were picturing the forthcoming immersion of humanity into Artificial Intelligence or the other way round! The audience was at best limited to the computer gigs of the time (now holding senior positions in the Technology Conglomerates that make the earth go round) trying to imagine what life would be like 10, 20 or even more years ahead in time.

History has it that that Moore’s Law of doubling Chip technology capacity every year also applies at Software – or shall we call it “applications”. I would rather use the later term, because applications better describe the coupling of hardware and software into delivering an integrated system that performs a specific / intended function (I will re-address this statement later on).

As applications broke through the corporate perimeter by means of mobility and “cloudization”, it became rather obvious that no single technological or usage barrier would remain unbroken, given the time, the means and the necessity of the underlying marginal utility. To the demise of (IT) Auditors worldwide, users found new ways to break through systems in unintended ways, so that they could work more efficiently (which was often the real case) and agile application development took almost completely over in order to serve tighter time-to-market requirements. This left minimal space for Security, Assurance and overall Governance of the application life cycle. Marketing execs found a new playground with goodies, in Big Data Mining and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Intelligence that knew more about you than perhaps you did.

Frameworks that used to be tight enough to accommodate sound policy, practice and usage, have later adapted a “business-oriented mindset”, where Everything was to focus on meeting business requirements – aka maximizing the profit – (costs to be introduced later in the equation).

Now that we are past the stage of Virtualization and slamming head-on into Cloud deployments of all kinds (we call them “hybrids” since nothing else can describe exactly what they are) we are flirting with the next big wave – the Internet of Things (IoT) – that most of us will buy as an embedded technology in just next years’ consumer product lines.

If you just thought you were catching-up with what kind of Virtualization technology you are using (as early as 7 or 8 years ago, you could run OSx on an Intel-based Mac with Windows and Linux side-by-side) and which of the applications that you run at your desktop, tablet, mobile, etc. are in the Cloud or not, wait till you find out what the Big IT Spenders have in mind for your consumer products that will be IoT-enabled.

In the not too far away future, machines will be talking to machines (M2M), exchanging data, sensing the environment (just like humans) and making decisions (yes you heard right!) that involve humans and the in-between man-machine interface.

Here one might say:

  • Wait a minute, isn’t that what Artificial Intelligence (AI) was all about on all those story-telling Hollywood tech-wizards?
  • Very much so! But unlike those films that soothed the panic (or the pleasure) of the thought that pushed somewhere far away in the future, the time is already ripe for us to harvest the seeds of AI, IoT and Cloud Virtualization today. And the harvest seems somehow unyielding as it leaves the bitter taste of almost complete loss of control over a person’s data (something called “Privacy” in the near past). This is indeed a bitter taste, the taste of loss of the ability to chose of an “on or off state”, whereby you will be able to pick a telephone hook and high-jack yourself off the “Matrix” into reality, just like the movie described as an oracle of next day’s reality.


– Image from “The Matrix” Movie (1999) – subject to copyright –

The lack of Technology that was considered to be the barrier to an AI-enabled world may very well be the back-door to a Virtual Space that the film “Matrix” so deeply prophesied back in 1999, a journey into immersion without a return ticket, not even allowing a “blue or red pill” question. It seems that since Global Companies will respect our Privacy less and less, it will become a matter of applying diligence, prudence and Choice from both sides of those that hold the “technology rope”…

For those of us who are currently holding positions that shape the future and the pathway of technology – and are still capable of discriminating what is real and what is not – we should very carefully select up to what extend we will allow Board of Directors to capitalize on their “information assets” so that Privacy will always remain part of one’s Choice.