During the next decade, IoT devices, partnered with AI, will become ubiquitous. Every possession that you have, everything you own, that can be connected will be connected, both to one another, and to cloud vendors that will run them.
What is a cloud vendor? Think of it in the same terms as what is happening with your computer operating system. Instead of you purchasing and owning it, it will very soon become a service to which you will be asked to subscribe. Eventually it won’t even be installed on your computer any more; it will be running at some remote location, and your computer will be allowed to access it. The remote server will update your computer firmware from their own server. And without the connection and firmware updates, your computer won’t work.
Now imagine that same business model applied to physical things like your thermostat or your toaster, and this is what the IoT is going to look like.
All of your appliances, instead of being “full” working models capable of standing on their own, will be dumb terminals whose guts are in some other physical location, under somebody else’s control. If the company goes out of business, you’re out of luck. If it decides to introduce a new version of the software that runs it, you will have to pay for it again, and again, and again, in perpetuity, exactly as has been the case with computer operating systems. And if you don’t want it spying on your every private moment, even in your own bedroom, you have no choice, you empowered it, and soon it will be too late, and you won’t be able to get an appliance anymore that doesn’t do that.
The IoT appears to be following the trend in computing software, developing the software as a service model, where someone else controls it, in place of the software as a product model, where you buy it and then it’s yours. Your own possessions will be sold to you as a service, instead of something you could buy once, that was equipped to run by itself, and which you could keep until it breaks or wears out. Now, with IoT, it’s not going to be one and done anymore. You’re going to have to keep up with the planned obsolescence of your refrigerator the way you already have to do with your smartphone, or the operating system on your computer. And all your little intimate details will be uploaded to people who will use it in ways that will soon enough catch up with you.
What does all this mean? More power for the technology companies, and less power for you. It means that you will have less control over your own possessions. You will have to spend even more of your time, money, and energy on the Sisyphean treadmill figuring out how to keep up with the demands of the technology companies you have now allowed to take over your home, instead of using that time, energy, and money to enrich your own life on your own terms.
The demands will be greater than just spending money to keep the things in your home working. Just like the totalitarian intelligence services of old, they want information on you – they want all of it. They aren’t going to make money on the items themselves, although they will make some money the service agreements. But in the grander scheme of things, you’re not paying them in money. You’re paying them in terms of giving them information for their growing dossiers on the citizenry – namely, every intimate detail about your daily habits and preferences.
Why would anyone want to grant that kind of power to anyone? Apparently it’s because people care about the feelings that marketing campaigns arouse in them more than they care about their own freedom, at least that’s the only logical conclusion it’s possible to come to at this point. It’s the same reason people vote for candidates who ply their hearts with fake ethical or policy claims, and despite being betrayed over and over again, the sheep keep coming back and asking for more of the same.
According to a recent survey conducted by Pew Internet, several respondents likened those adopting IoT products and services to livestock. An anonymous respondent observed, “‘Moo,’ say the cattle.” An anonymous professor at a state university told them: “Those who want to fleece the sheep will get the sheep to come on in.” And an anonymous chief scientist emeritus for one of the top technology innovation companies in the U.S., another respondent in their survey said, “Think sheep.” Exactly right.
And we wonder why our politicians have become unresponsive? It’s simple – citizens have already given up most of their power to Big Tech. As a result, Big Government responds to Big Tech the same way it has always responded to Big Finance. Together, they form a troika that serves now as our effective government; three branches, instead of the ones that were specified in the Constitution. As a reward for the people’s devotion, Big Tech has responded by taking away the meaning of what it means to be a citizen, and is in the process of making it stick by demoting the citizenry writ large to a separated collection of mere consumers with zero power. The politicians are responding by allowing Big Tech to take control of the passive horde directly, so they themselves can go to Tahiti and enjoy their latest shebang with some lobbying group without having to worry any more about an active empowered citizenry.
The IoT business model as it applies to data is nothing less than the same social media model we all know and love now intruding into the real world, to include all physical things. This means your appliances, your clothing and footwear, your clothing and flooring, even your toilet will be spying on you and phoning home every minute and every day. Yes, you read it correctly. They want everything. They want all of you. That’s what “smart” devices are for, exactly the same as your smartphone. The smartphone itself was not really a thing; it was merely the first of its kind.
It isn’t only to sell you stuff. It’s to make you more dependent on them, so that they can claim you. They want you to become so dependent on them that you can’t leave them, so that you can’t do without them. They want to make you think about them, a lot, like all the time. It’s the same reason they bombard you with notifications about product updates and everything else. They want to have a tether on you after you purchase the bait product; a tether is another name for a short leash that allows these companies to keep extracting money and intimate details out of you to concentrate even more power in their hands. They want to make it so that you could live without your own spouse before you could imagine living without them.
These businesses are set up so that whichever company can claim the most people in this way will win. It is totalizing in its scope, as the competition amongst them is for power. Power over everything and everyone, an absolute ruler, almost a god. Search and social media were only the introductory chapter.
With IoT, you are the product, squared. As with search and social media, you are actually the source of their power, headed toward absolutism. They not only want even deeper access to your most intimate domains, they want to run your life and live it for you. Once you have given your life up to them, you are powerless at that point, and once you become useless as well, you will be replaced by an artificial robot or an AI. That is the true meaning of the frictionlessness they want to create in your life. They are creating the new governance system of the people, and freedom is the farthest thing from their minds. People’s mindless submission to the fake world of social media and the continuous stream of slot-machine apps has already ensured that freedom is now the farthest thing from citizens’ minds as well, and the change in the real-world power balance that has actually taken place during this period only proves it. The next level, the IoT, with companies running your largest and smallest possessions from remote locations, will serve as the final slam-dunk on what is left of anyone’s real-world freedoms in the face of that kind of power.
Even George Orwell couldn’t have foreseen this type of power grab, because the technology of his time was almost a century behind ours. But back then, the people were stronger. People still understood what freedom was, and valued it. They were willing to protect it. So, no, you aren’t protected, because it is our responsibility to protect ourselves, no one else’s. We prove that by our actions, not by our wishful thinking, or our acceptance of the myriad fantasies placed before us by marketers. People today have already given Big Tech control of their personal relationships and work lives, which is an incredibly stupid thing for a free people to do, not to mention totally unnecessary. Very soon, because of the sheep amongst us, there will be no space on Earth – not even inside one’s own home, nor in the remotest spot of desert on earth – where a person can be free of it. It will be that way not because it was inevitable. Nothing is inevitable. If it is that way, it will be because most of the people wanted it. It is doubtful if even Big Tech, or Big Brother, would disagree with that.