Guest Post by: P. Sullivan Zander
Humanity has undergone massive transformations in a short amount of time. The release of the contents of human ingenuity and its anthropological development into the internet caused an explosion of information. For those that knew where and how to seek out the true information, the more they realized that truth was hidden from them, as gatekeepers of this information exchanged utility for convenience and unfettered surveillance. The thirst for knowledge and spiritual connectivity was exchanged for convenience.
The thing about convenience is that it’s relative, and most effective when tastes and opinions most nearly reflect those of the viewer. To understand the tastes, opinions, and identity of an individual, one must have access to their personal data to build a psychological profile of this person. The internet tailors reality for those that won’t tailor their own, by understanding those that don’t take the time to understand themselves. As with most things in a dualistic existence, the internet exists as a phenomenon that could lead humanity to a perfect utopia or perfect dystopia.
At the dawn of the internet, I was part of the generation of those that took the time to learn basic code. HTML was standard practice during MySpace days. Identities existed anonymously on forums, and anonymity was utilized to some fantastic ends through the days of Lulzsec, Anonymous, GamerGate, and Wikileaks. It was less about using the internet for its own personal best use, but the best use of a collective group with collective ideals. Once gatekeepers such as AWS, Facebook/Meta, and Google, came in, unbridled curiosity was met with a filter. Energy became spent on gaining attention through clout or argument instead of understanding the world deeper with like-minded individuals, as I still like to use it.
Now that we are giving more of our time and data to the internet, more of our direct environments are becoming absorbed into the internet as well. Whether it’s smartwatches, fridges, vehicles, digital assistants, or Smart TVs, all are creating a complex connection to the digital realm known as the Internet of Things.
All of these inventions, a range “limited only by the human imagination” according to futurists, are amalgamating into what is called the Smart City. There are major implications for digital technology in urban environments including precision agriculture, easy transportation, and enhanced medical treatments. As AI governance evolves, more and more decisions will be left to the algorithm based on the data it has collected on demographics and individuals that make up these demographics.
Decisions relating to administrative functions like investors, hiring, internships, university applications, all the way to social functions such as marriage and family, who would cooperate best and reproduce best together, work together, if one should not be around the other, etc. This requires complete surrender of any privacy in hopes of a more advanced governance system.
These topics are not even close to being touched by those in positions of authority, either through bribes or brutality. We are entering an age where Big Tech has more power than Big Government, which will put on a charade of democracy and populism while slowly ushering in more and more digital authority. This recent pandemic has shown just how much algorithmic leverage there now exists among the social engineers of society. Technology filled the hole society itself created through fear, lockdowns, and mandates, and most are still all too willing to comply with a system that claims to have humanity’s best interests in mind without any accountability for how it has failed humanity to this point.
“Those who say they don’t need privacy because they have nothing to hide may as well say they don’t need speech because they have nothing to say”
– Edward Snowden
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the perfect environment for increased IoT adoption. The World Economic Forum released a report outlaying why. To quote pages 5 & 6 outlining these reasons:
“Our research makes clear that we are at a pivotal moment when the development, use, and governance of these technologies are rapidly changing and evolving. The main findings include, but are not limited to, the following.
1. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the face of IoT, introducing new use cases and applications, bolstering demand in select areas such as health technology and the smart home while temporarily slowing adoption in areas such as traditional enterprise IoT. 2. The ways in which IoT is being used to help manage and respond to COVID-19 hold the potential to spur and accelerate new opportunities to boost organizational and individual resilience and flexibility and to respond more effectively to future challenges, instability, and emergencies. However, it also brings with it risks for privacy and other human rights that need to be thoroughly assessed and addressed through proper governance structures.
3. The IoT market and ecosystem are expected to grow even faster in a new post-COVID-19 business environment, thanks to the release of pent-up demand and the determination to minimize the impacts from future disruptions, especially in the enterprise and public spaces domains.
4. The maturity of IoT governance – the laws, industry standards, and self-governance approaches required to mitigate potential harm – continues to lag behind the pace of technological change. The largest perceived gap in governance relates to ensuring Executive summary 5 State of the Connected World 2020 IoT technologies become a force for shared societal benefit, as opposed to exacerbating the digital divide and existing inequalities.
5. Over the next few years, the implementation of a variety of new technologies will likely increase the range, capabilities, and analytical sophistication of IoT. These innovations have the potential to improve the governance of IoT technologies by incorporating key factors into the design of devices and systems – including privacy and security, but also human-centric considerations such as economic, civil, political, and other human rights issues that could otherwise be overlooked.
6. Despite double-digit annual growth rates in the consumer IoT market, the value chain for IoT data remains opaque, undermining public trust. Privacy concerns are growing rapidly and it is becoming increasingly difficult to safeguard privacy as devices become more pervasive and embedded in people’s lives, capturing personal data with greater frequency and granularity.
7. Cybersecurity threats remain a vital area of concern in the IoT ecosystem. Governments at the regional, country, and state levels are beginning to address the need for better IoT security governance, but efforts so far have been globally fragmented, making compliance often confusing and costly for companies.
8. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the move towards automation, a trend that some believe could affect hundreds of millions of people in the coming decade. It is important to better understand the impact that increased automation and IoT usage will likely have on regional communities and society at large now and in the future.
9. The pandemic has also shed light on how bias, implicit or explicit, and unequal access to connected devices, and inequitable sharing of the benefits of IoT can have a massive societal and economic impact.
10. The interoperability of systems and advancement of global technology standards remain important priorities for the continued development and expansion of IoT.
In response to the findings of this report, the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Global IoT Council, has developed a Global Action Plan that aims to encourage collective action on the most pressing challenges the connected world faces now. The goal of the plan is to increase public education on connected devices, encourage the adoption of cybersecurity methodologies, accelerate the adoption of connected systems in underserved areas and strengthen data sharing across the IoT ecosystem. Progress on these initiatives will be reported in 2021. IoT is already an indispensable part of our daily lives and fundamental infrastructure. As it grows in extent and capability, we must act to ensure a connected world that is trustworthy, safe, collaborative, efficient, human-centered, and generates new opportunities and benefits for all of society.
These actions address systemic challenges and therefore require the collective commitment of all stakeholders in the international community. As such, we invite you to consider how your organization might contribute to the progress of one or more of these actions. Together, we can chart a path to a future connected world that is more sustainable, resilient, and prosperous for all.”
Many warned that the COVID passport system is a way of tying an individual’s medical history into this Internet of Things. One thing is for sure, most of us seem more than willing to surrender whatever power we once possessed, that we have now learned to dismiss. It is therefore not lost on those aware that the founder of GAVI, an international COVID passport system in partnership with Apple Pay and Visa, a lead donor to the World Health Organization, created a company (Microsoft) that says smart cities will be used primarily for remote monitoring and predictive maintenance, released a patent using blockchain to monitor human biorhythms. Everything down to your white blood cell count and pulse could be monitored down this road.
The CEO went further in a BBC interview to say that George Orwell’s 1984 could happen as soon as 2024, and it is in humanity’s best interest to take him seriously.
About the writer: Zander is a Canadian citizen that majored in Journalism, he currently runs a blog called Zanders Paradigm. Some of his interests and writing topics involve; AI, liberty, freedom of speech, and coding.