What is it?
According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, “The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.”
What that means to most of us:
At some point every man-made device will be wirelessly connected to the internet, and therefore connected to each other. All of them will be inter-communicating in order to increase efficiencies throughout our daily life. They will learn from our habits and from the habits of the other devices they are connected to and ultimately allow humans to be even lazier, if that is possible.
The most readily available example of this (so far) is the Nest Learning Thermostat.
This thermostat will learn your heating and cooling habits over time, and begin to adapt to your schedule to save you money. It will heat and cool on its own, depending on whether you are home or not.
Nest can also be controlled from your mobile device for you to make adjustments while you are away. This, in my mind, is only the beginning.
How Does it Work?
The possibilities are quite literally endless. Consider this:
You start a load of laundry in your all-in-one washer/dryer before heading to the store in your self-driving car. The dryer can continue running after the cycle ends to keep the clothes fresh until you get back home. Your dryer knows when you’re coming home because your car told it you were on your way. The car also went ahead and let the thermostat know you were headed home so it started cooling the house. All while the garage door waited until your car was within 15 feet to automatically open. This scenario is likely only a few years away, and is probably only scratching the surface.
What does this mean?
There is a fine line here between devices having the capability to learn on their own and humans programming these technologies to work and react under strict guidelines. What we know now as inanimate objects, will soon shift as more and more smart and learning devices are created.
There have been plenty of warnings from scientists and other tech leaders to avoid creating devices that are self-aware and capable of artificial intelligence. I suppose with the ultimate fear of these technologies learning too much and over taking the human race in epic, sci-fi movie fashion.
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