Published December 2017
Will this be the last Christmas?
Will IT or AI soon take away our freedom of choice, movement, religion, breakdown currency and declare countries null and void?
Sensational article title? I don’t know … the potential is certainly there.
The control is still currently ours, but I’m not sure who I trust more, people or a thing that was designed to do more than us and its logic is unquestionable.
Let’s get to the bottom of this - The Internet of Things.
What is it?
It is a network of physical things; namely devices such as watches, phones, smart TVs, vehicles, smart fridges, the office printer and lots and lots of other things.
All these things have something in common. They are all imbedded with electronics designed to allow inter-device (things) communication; most of which come with special software that makes use of on-board sensors or actuators. An actuator is a component of a machine that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or changing real/physical things in an environment, while exchanging data in near to or real time to perform a desired outcome or work towards a result more efficiently executed than we could manage. This network piggybacks off the Internet and is the Internet of Things. Its abbreviation is I.o.T. In any regard, I think it is badly named.
I.o.T is not really about the Internet at all. It should rather be called the Betterment of Supply and Demand for People’s needs…thing. Of course, that’s too long winded.
So, that’s what it is, but why is it such a ‘big thing’?
I think anyone who has seen The Matrix movies will understand when I say that the biggest decision mankind will make over the next decade, maybe less, is whether to take the red or blue pill.
I think we will be at a point of digital dilemma very soon, with everyone having to decide to either plug into the system or not.
When a baby is born, maybe even before, a mother has to decide whether or not to connect her baby to this thing, so that this thing might help the child’s chances of survival by monitoring the baby’s organs or work out a cure for a hereditary disease.
Or perhaps have this thing track the child with an implant when he/she is older, just in case the child gets lost or abducted?
Choice must be allowed…and protected.
I think there will be two variations of the Internet of Things.
I.o.T for The Person: More specifically, I.o.T for personal use, like at home for house automation mostly. It might be known as domestic and would use main hub or controller devices to provide us with a central control for all devices, like lighting, watering our plants, heating, air-conditioning, vacuum cleaning, and media and security systems. You name it, it could probably be done.
The benefits could include a less costly way to run a home or simply having your coffee ready when you wake up. Yaaas!
Of course, there are also personal fitness devices, or finding your car in the parking lot with your cell phone.
There are endless applications. Imagine being alerted when your dog needs to go for a walk. Even better yet, imagine your mother-in-law approaching your house in her car and your home is alerted to her proximity and responds by turning off the lights, closing the blinds, switching on the electric fence and locking all the doors…and disconnecting the phone.
I.o.T for Business: Business is no longer about who has access to clients but rather who understands and truly knows who their clients are. It is not good enough anymore just to know your product. I.o.T is part of a huge shift of practices in partnership with automation. Some industries, which are already on the go with I.o.T, are manufacturing, agriculture, energy management, medical and healthcare, intelligence and, of course, transportation.
Countries that can link industries to supports each other will rule the market very soon and will be able to reduce their costs and access global client markets.
The Grey Area: The grey area is, of course, sitting between the above two categories on a moral divide. For example, when I.o.T for business starts treating your staff as devices, trackers might monitor those taking too many smoke-breaks or report to stock control about who uses more coffee or even toilet paper. Reporting the data back to the company, that poor staff member will get an email about it.
I predict, like companies with social media policies, soon companies will need to have I.o.T policies with their staff. An entire new area of labour law is about to surface.
Either way, we have to decide very, VERY soon what to connect to and what to share…
Because it is already here with little to no human involvement, and the concept has already been here for some time…slowly sneaking up on us. In fact, it has been making advances since the early 1970s when the first ATMs came online.
Connected devices officially outnumbered humans back in 2008.
I get both excited and scared.
There are great possibilities but also great power, risk and responsibilities.
There is no organized international entity managing these benefits and risks.
Security and freedom of information will be the biggest lessons, and I hope not a casualty of I.o.T.
We are going to toggle from extreme to another, chopping and changing until one day legislation will help us enforce an equilibrium that will hopefully leave control still firmly in the hands of some good people.
For sure, we are without any doubt at the induction of the next big human advance in technology. A.I. is, of course, this leap.
From fire we progressed to writing, the wheel and engines to the Internet.
Every major advance in tech has enabled humans to increase productivity at such an exponential rate of growth that it ultimately shapes several other society practises on a global scale.
However, unlike fire or the car, I.o.T is the first advancement that might threaten our personal rights.
It is also the first advancement that will almost completely mute governments’ say over trade and allow company influence to be greater than any one nation. Unless, of course, government takes away freedom of communication, choice and Google and imposes very drastic and hindering trade legislations. Yes, it is possible. Think about the way we pay for items, across borders, and how unimportant and limiting leading world currencies are in terms of and compared to crypto-currencies.
The Internet will create a global population, a new kind of citizenship with a greater population than any one country. Major change is coming. Patriotism of the digital world, I predict it.
Big businesses know and agree with this, and that’s why some are already spending billions of dollars on development. Big businesses are the new political parties. Some studies suggest that I.o.T will contribute 15 trillion dollars to the global GDP. Think about that. South Africa’s gross national income in 2016 was 718.9 billion dollars.
The Internet of Things has a predicted value several times more than all of South Africa’s income yearly!
In fact, the income is only 3 billion dollars shy of the USA’s national income in 2016.
So where are we today, on the date this article was written? How is South Africa doing?
‘JPMK puts head in palms’
I recently attended a conference in London based on this subject. The World Forum for The Internet of Things, it is called. I wrote to them before the event, offering to be a representative for Africa, but my emails were ignored. Or I assume ignored, because that’s what happens, right? When you read something but don’t reply?
I did meet someone from Vodacom SA at the event, which was nice, but I don’t think there were more than 20 people from Africa.
This poor show of representatives, and it echoed my sentiments shared in my email to the organizers of the event. My concern that we are the second biggest continent and a wonderful growth prospect for the I.o.T and we need to be more involved.
There is another submit in Johannesburg in March/April at Gallagher Estate, which I am going to attend and then write an article on our continent’s specific status on the subject.
Major changes to our economy and industry are anticipated with the upcoming ANC conference in December.
I can, however, say it is my opinion that South Africa is more than a little bit behind the trend of I.o.T. Globally the phase of I.o.T is very much at MS-DOS. This means that we are still at the beginning phases of things. The race has just started so we still stand a chance.
Come on, South Africa and Africa.
Let’s do this!
Technology brands are starting to fight over who will have the leading user programs, and I know there are some heated meetings happening behind closed doors. Well, I’m certain there are. Once the big names take their next move and position for market domination we will move into Windows 1.0 – 2.0 phases.
Domination I say?
Is that not a bit of a strong word?
No it is not.
The I.o.T offers endless possibilities and is currently without any governing authority! Remember the income potential.
So, you want to get on board with the I.o.T now?
Still can’t work out what it is actually about?
Let me break down some components of this thing. For now, we are really just working with two elements:
Yes, I can divide all of the I.o.T into two categories.
This ‘data’ is nearing around 5000 Exabyte.
An Exabyte is when your computer is possessed by an evil entity, and you have to get the monks from Apple Inc. to do a digi-dance around the CPU to clear its data clusters.
Sorry, talking tech can be boring. That was my attempt at humour.
You do, however, need to try grasp the size of this data…so try to stay focused…an Exabyte is approximately 1,000 Petabytes.
1 Petabytes = 1000 terabytes.
My entire company uses four terabytes a month.
Another way to look at five Exabyte is that it equates to an equivalence of all the words ever spoken by humans since the origin of the spoken word.
There are 5000 different languages in the world today.
Human language probably started to develop around 100,000 years ago.
The Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have ever lived.
To work out a total using a scenario in which people only spoke five words a day and only lived for fifteen years, you would have to multiply 107 billion by 27375 words to get an idea of how many words would be an equivalent amount of data. Of course, people don’t only live fifteen years and say much more than five words a day.
Anyway… it’s a lot of apples.
Data is the new oil, and there appears to be an ever growing supply.
Who is going to be mining this oil? Who will be selling it? Who will be processing it? Who will be packaging it? This is what some of the big companies are talking about.
Whichever way you look at it, it is a lot of data and growing. Unlike oil, data will never run out, unless you’re on a South African cell phone network with prepaid bundles. Gosh, some of these SA cell phone companies make me laugh. I mean, what type of marketing strategy includes social media on how to reduce the use of their data? ‘Please don’t use our data, turn off background applications now’.
Let’s now look at devices. Here is a nice image I found with research:
My summary of the above is as follows. There will be at least eight devices helping one person do something or other during the course of the day before 2023, which brings me to something I would like you to consider. All these talkative and communicative devices using all this data will require a lot of communication power and that is going to present another hurdle.
Actual electricity is required!
The ability for the I.o.T to operate and not require a lot of electricity will be essential to roll-out and boosting usage.
Now, in South Africa we have both high data costs and a lack of electricity. We need to sort ourselves out here. There is an opportunity locally then for manufacturing companies. I think devices and the companies that offer low power solutions will make some money. I think those who make devices that use less power will have the advantage.
Did you know that there is already something called Power of Wi-Fi (PO WI-FI) which allows for devices to charge using the actual signal from Wi-Fi? Basically, our Internet routers are being turned into mini wireless power stations, and the devices convert the signal into DC current.
Unfortunately, the side effect is that it also heats up anything nearby with carbon in it. Carbon is the most abundant element in the world…and what we are in part made of.
Okay, I’m just joking, again, about the cooking of our bodies by Wi-Fi.
…. But seriously, the tech does already exist. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with low power lightning bolts flying around my head looking for my cell phone to keep it fully charged.
Okay, lets expand our understanding now of the concept.
I.o.T is a cyber-physical system.
What this means is that this thing is much, much bigger and more complex than the huge amount of data and devices, with endless possibilities.
I.o.T, it has a heart, lungs, many other organs and even appendages.
The I.o.T has entire smart grids, virtual power plants and small suburbs, which include people’s homes. It also includes entire safety and intelligent transportation systems, currency, health systems and slowly more and more smarts cities are joining. Oh, and, of course, satellites recording our every move and activity.
So who controls all this? Let’s talk about leading I.o.T companies as advertised on http://www.ioti.com
This list might also represent the percentage of seats in the World Parliament in the near future.
Keep a look out for Philips, Haier and Belkin; they are working a lot with Smart Homes, which is a major if not the biggest I.o.T sector.
So those are the big name companies.
I wonder if a corporate entity has the ability to influence or have a level of control that exceeds an entire country’s government.
Now what about software? We need a language for this I.o.T.
What program do we use to access, instruct, or work on I.o.T?
What is doing well for the I.o.T business?
What is available for free?
What can work on all devices?
What can work in different countries or cell phone networks?
There is no monopoly language or program available yet. One day we will see a Microsoft Windows of sorts for I.o.T. But for now, it’s still very much a race.
Here are some big names and very much worth a look:
From Microsoft: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/suites/iot-suite/
Also see: https://www.teleena.com/iot
The software market is going to be hotly contested. Those companies who are able to produce software and hardware have the ability to monopolize, but the truth is no one company is going to be able to make software, hardware and deal with the data and communications thereof…over international borders. Therefore, I predict several good size companies in each category with strong relationships of exclusivity between a few, and those who work with one another will do better.
Cell phone companies have a big advantage, because they have communication and data sharing done and dusted. So I foresee several cell phone companies building relationships with big corporates across the world.
What about the top devices?
There is many already and countless more in development.
See a list of the top 50: Top I.o.T Devices
How about buying some of these devices? Well, have a look at websites of the leading companies in the fields as per the list above. Most offer direct sales, otherwise visit one of the many specialist websites in the field like: http://iotlist.co/
If you have read this far, well done!
And for those of you who read the article and the information on the links, a double well done to you!
Either way, by now you should have a general idea of what I.o.T is about, albeit the tip of the iceberg. Now we can explore the sensationalist article title in context, which gives focus to and questions the Internet of Things for us as humans, not for business.
For those of you wanting to know how to get your business onto the Internet of Things, you will need a consult and an assessment. Please send me a direct email for assistance.
For people, consider this. Imagine we take the I.o.T and give it A.I, allowing it to learn, adopt and produce its own software and hardware and then instruct it to improve the world. Is it hard to believe that this new digital creation might lock us up in padded rooms for our own good and the good of the world? Digital sentient life, if there were such a thing. A sentient being is an entity that can suffer and feel pain and has the power to perceive reason and think. What difference is there between an electric pulse in the nerve network of our organic bodies and a signal across the Internet, really? When the signal is received our brains interpret.
Would this A.I thing be separate from I.o.T or would it become part of it?
Would we, the people, be assimilated like the borg if, at some point, it were deemed that we would become useful sensory devices to the network?
For those of you who don’t know, humans have five main senses; vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste. All of which use a single nerve system in our bodies to relay information by way of electrical pulses. So, it is easy enough to plug in and use our bodies as input devices. We even have other sensors like temperature, body position, balance sensors and even blood acidity sensors. Useful stuff to some industries, I’m sure.
Of course, this will never happen. We are humans. We have souls. We are sentient.
Before you agree with me that this would never happen, remember one thing. I.o.T is driven by corporates…for now, anyway. Hitting home and supporting a counter opinion, as I left London on completion of this article, the Tories, a British political party, voted that animals can’t feel pain. This is part of the EU bill now.
So, if we can vote that animals don’t have feelings, I don’t see that what I’m proposing is not possible.
Money matters. So, instead of having to build devices, let’s just plug-in the 7 billion new devices already available all over the globe. Oh, and these devices can heal and maintain themselves. Why stop there, why only resort to the living. Why not put the dead to work as well. A.I will be the new U.I.
Perhaps one day we will be able to transfer our minds into this network and never die…but perhaps never liver either?
Perhaps it is just me, but I know a few people who might very well accept a payment or two for lending a few of their sensory organs to a computer once a month to help with their income.
So, is this the last Christmas?
Why would you create something that might one day be better than you or perceive you as a threat? Will we become obsolete? Will we become a problem? If we are kept around, just plugged in, will we even be needed or can we sit in a habitat and be looked after?
Will we need to travel? Have sex? Eat? Will we have jobs? Surely this can all be automated?
I.o.T is about efficiency…correct?
What could be more efficient than not having a ‘need’ to have to create a solution?
It sounds like this is the start of a God complex brewing.
So, let me try and balance out this pessimistic fear, and believe, for a moment, we will have control.
I do believe that the Internet of Things will have a profound influence on our wellbeing, with specific reference to medical access and advances. We will most definitely live healthier lives. We’ll have more time for friends and family. We’d likely spend less money. We’d use less natural resources. Life will likely be improved by the I.o.T. Let’s keep a moral eye on its development and progress. Make sure there is no abuse or use of our data and information we offer third-parties, which might be used against us for pay-outs. Gosh, imagine if our insurance companies started tracking our driving habits with I.o.T and shared the information with the traffic department, which ends with our licences being taken away. Imagine if Facebook or Google used data to sell adverts. What about booking into hospital because of a terminal illness and our hospital beds share the information with I.o.T and suddenly we receive emails about funeral cover.
One thing that was repeated by just about every keynote speaker at the conference was security. It is a real risk. So, let’s really keep an eye on our digital information and those storing it.
Another regular sentiment that was shared was how the Internet of Things has helped companies make money by becoming more sufficient. One good example was how General Motors moved their production times from eighteen months to two months. Wait, that’s wrong, it was moved from eighteen months to two WEEKS, saving 200 million dollars.
The I.o.T is not, however, just for large corporates. Something I picked up on as an opportunity for SMMEs is that where a client might normally use one large supplier, they now have the option to use many smaller suppliers to reduce costs further, and this is possible because of integration. Everyone is able to talk to one another.
I.o.T is moving humans and corporates into real time data, and, in some cases, it is even predicting the future. We can almost fix something before it is broken…
The rate at which we gather information is increasing. 5G is coming! The way we store information is changing, but so what? Processing data on the I.o.T is going to be big business in the future. It is great having information, but how it is interpreted and used is going to be where the big money comes.
Look out for E-sim ….
Note how I.o.T is also influencing entire business mythologies on a global scale. Did you know that light bulbs used to be leased not bought? The same thing is going to happen to many of the things we buy to own. We have come full circle now; business appears to be moving from a liner business model back to circular. Why buy when you can borrow and not have to repair and replace?
You can see this practice evolving with car manufacturers. I predict that work horse cars in the future will never be owned but, instead, leased.
I.o.T makes it easier to identify needs and place solutions.
Do you think that in 2017 we don’t know how to make a washing machine last? Of course we do. Do they last more than five years? No, they break. Why? So you can be sold another one.
This is going to change, because companies will now want a relationship with you so that they can make more money off you over a longer period of time.
Changes are being brought on by the consumer demanding efficiency, ease and reduced costs.
In the future your washing machine will trade itself in for the newer version and will be delivered with a free box of fabric softener…without any effort from you.
I don’t think this will be our last Christmas but what we understand any religious holiday to be, or what we believe to be personal and important to us as individuals. Nor do I believe that our private information is at risk of manipulation and abuse by the Internet of Things, which is essentially, in my opinion, immoral. Let’s hold on to our humanity and keep all our quirks safeguarded against this new and efficient Internet of Things. Let it be perfect and a tool for us.
Published December 2017