Welcome to the Singularity!

Your New Life

It’s weird waking up without an alarm anymore. No more jolting annoyance to yank you from your dreaming state and into the waking world. Since you bought that new coffee pot, bed, and watch, you ease into your day with increasing vibrations on your wrist as your bed incrementally raises you into a seated position and the scent of a fresh, dark brew wafts through your home. As you roll out of bed and into your robe and slippers the television turns on to bring your preference of the morning news or entertainment. You pour your first cup of coffee and head back to your office to find that your calendar for the day is readily displayed for you, and as always you’ve got a clear hour to get prepared before your first scheduled event of the day.

Putting down your coffee cup you head to the bathroom. Upon crossing the threshold your shower turns on and begins to warm up. As you relieve yourself you get the daily nutritional report and find that you’re still getting a little too much salt and are low in Vitamin C and B3 so you swear to eat better and then reach for the multivitamins – the ones you swore to yourself that you’d take more frequently. The shower’s at that perfect temperature now and you settle under the spray and lather up quickly since you know your allotment only allows for 7 minutes of ideally temperate water.

After drying off and getting dressed you head back to your kitchen, open the refrigerator for the milk, grab the cereal and a bowl. You give yourself one more cup of coffee before you return to the office to settle in at the computer and log in to greet your co-workers online and start the workday’s first team meeting.

Since waking, you’ve interacted with, at minimum, seven smart devices. That’s seven devices connected to a network and managing your life for you in the hope of making it easier. You don’t have to think about what time you want to wake up in the morning because your calendar tells your smart watch, bed, and coffeemaker what time your first appointment is in the morning. It then triggers your wake up routine to have you out of bed one hour prior to that time on days when you’re working from home, or calculates your walk to the train station based on your stride as well as any delays in the system so you are certain to get on the train without being late for your first appointment.

You don’t have to think about what your diet has or doesn’t have in it anymore because your toilet lets you know your nutritional deficiencies. You don’t have to worry about being environmentally sound with water waste because your shower will quickly force you out with limited hot water access. In this environment there are no longer light switches or any other on/off device controls because you don’t need it. Your home knows what room you’re in and turns things on and off as you use them, will likely be using them, or stop using them.

It’s All Connected

There was a prediction made that by 2020 there would be 50 billion devices connected to the network. According to a recent statistic from Cisco, in 2015 alone 50 billion network enabled sensors were shipped. These sensors are capable of providing endless information about where people are, what they’re doing, what they’re interacting with, how they are interacting with it, and even reaching the point where they are taking two disparate pieces of information about us and predicting a likely third based on that data.

Our lives in the modern age of the technology adoption has never been easier and more free from having to make decisions, or even interact with other people if we didn’t want to. We don’t have to think about whether it’s time to do something because our devices will tell us when it’s time to do things. This could be purchasing a new pair of pants due to an increased frequency in trips to the dry cleaner and the fact that our last pants purchase was 18 months prior, or it could be letting us know that we need to make time to see the doctor because the tread in our shoes is wearing in an odd pattern causing concern that we are moving at an angle to compensate for a sore knee or ankle.

We are only a few short years away from the reality where an individual can step into a self-driving car, state their destination, and be driven there. That’s not to say they will say the destination address, though it’s likely that would have been required when scheduling the ride, but based on the individual that requested the trip, preferences would automatically be shared for favorite restaurants by cuisine, errand locations like grocery store or bank, and even frequent destinations like friends or family homes. That’s a lot of information to be openly sharing about ourselves.

What happens when the devices that we rely on for our daily lives suddenly start to become smarter than we are? What happens to society when that decrease in basic, everyday problem solving skills are diminished and cognitive function is altered permanently for future generations of humans?

We hear a lot about security issues that are involved with a connected world, and those most certainly exist – what do you think the likelihood is that all seven devices you were using before starting work were all made by the same manufacturer? If that’s the case, then how many companies have access to your usage of their product? What did their privacy agreement say? Did it allow them to sell your information to other interested parties? By clicking “I agree” did you voluntarily opt in to de-privatizing your data? All that volunteering and we haven’t even discussed the real possibilities involved with companies being hacked for access to your data.

You Agreed to Lack of Privacy

There have been scores of articles written about the security deficiencies, but what about the alterations to human behavior that’s certain to come along when all these devices allow the targeting of specific information to make it so that the machines begin to think for you? The devices will potentially know what you’re after before you even had an initial consideration of what came next in your life.

Looking at the way different generations interact with each other over the last 20 years as cell phones have become prevalent, everyday devices that we all have in our pockets, we find that the younger generations have gotten farther and farther away from voice communication and more dependent on text based communication. Over time the adults that still used the phone to do silly things, like call one another, adapted and caught up to the text based communication, in some cases just so they could talk to their children.

As this singularity arrives we are going to become less and less reliant on each other to survive and more reliant on the machines to serve as our intermediaries between one another. Social interaction could reach the point of purely being online through messenger services, video conferencing software, or ultimately virtual reality interfaces. With each step towards this more efficient society where our devices take over, it also means we’re relinquishing that control to some person or company to manage that aspect of our lives for us.

The convenience introduced by technology is something that we have proven we have no interest in giving up. We are certainly happy to give up just a little bit of privacy each time we buy a new device with a sensor in it because of the extra little bit of simplicity it can add to our lives. That will not change. What should change, however, is people’s willingness to give it away so freely without reading or even considering the potential repercussions. Those two simple words, “I Agree,” are going to carry exceedingly more weight with them as you give away more and more of what little privacy you have left for the sake of an easier life. It might finally be time to pay heed and not offer up your information so willingly if you absolutely aren’t required to do so.

These two conversations – security and privacy – are just two examples of what’s going on with the Internet of Things (IoT) today. InfoComm International will be launching an event called IoT Insights to discuss pro AV and IoT with the first day being May 9th in Santa Clara, CA and the second on June 7th in Las Vegas at the InfoComm show. Sign up to see the day’s discussions on IoT and the ways that it will pair with, influence, and change the audiovisual industry.

 

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Singularity!”

  1. As with all of IOT, some standards would go a long way. Is a universal privacy policy that could actually be enforced possible? Hmm…

    • Your question went too far Pat. Is a universal privacy policy…possible? No. US export law for encryption, based on Executive Order 13026, currently require a review from Commerce Committees. I find it highly unlikely that they’ll want to enable anything universal in the state of the current US government. Though, it could be developed elsewhere and then adopted in the US but I find that just as unrealistic given the paranoia about adopting someone else’s encryption.

Comments are closed.

Sign up for the AVNation newsletter
%d bloggers like this: