The Technology Trade-off

Pandora's Box

Pandora’s Box

The internet of things continues to grow exponentially, with a predicted 50 billion connected devices in just the next few years. With this interconnectivity and machine-to-machine interaction, complex processes are executed without human interaction, data powers automatic adjustments and “machine learning”, and we reap huge dividends through increased operating efficiencies.

But that technological leap also requires a leap of faith. It’s the faith that such ubiquitous data sharing can be done securely. It’s the faith that the technology will work correctly 100% of the time. It’s the faith that we can share information with our friends, without fear of compromise by thieves and scoundrels. And it’s the faith that our government has taken all possible measures to protect us from those who seek to exploit system vulnerabilities and do us harm.

From this Pandora’s Box emerges an endless array of challenges, from securing our financial information to trusting that our self-driving car will never cause an accident. Granted, if our smart thermostat errs by a few degrees, it’s not the end of the world. But if the convenience of online payment becomes a hacker’s target, if our social media interaction reveals too much to too many, and if mission critical systems are not programmed with sufficient redundancies, the internet of things can bring unintended consequences.

Of course, we’re not quite to the Minority Report age of pre-crime intervention, and so-called “big data” has provided significant advances for virtually every industry. As long as we are vigilante and demand vigilance and security from all of our smart devices, service providers and financial institutions, the internet of things will continue to provide tremendous benefits, as well as unique challenges.

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