The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) has become the catch-all for every device on the planet that can interact, react, or contribute to the greater network. From fitness wearables to smart refrigerators, we are gradually integrating our entire lives onto the web and the massive grid of interconnected devices.
Today’s apps are tracking our heart health, caloric intake, daily activities, sleep quality, and perhaps even shaming us into losing weight by tracking our expanding waistline (Yes, that’s what the smart belt by Emiota, a crowd-gatherer at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas, is claiming). To give you an idea of where technology is headed, a new tech start-up hopes to create a 3D “digital alter ego” of people who will talk to their family and friends after they’ve died. Evidently, technology is turning the very idea of our existence upside down, and if not today then in the very near future, we will have little part of our identity that isn’t tech-connected.
Where are we headed? Predictions point towards a future where devices will become our “digital shadows,” a reflection of everything we are, and even hope to be. The question is: is that a good or bad thing? And, does it even matter?
The Internet Knows it All
With the proliferation of smart devices, we are constantly under technology’s gaze. We are looking for benefits and solutions to improve our quality of life and in the process, perhaps giving away too much information. While technology impacts us in all areas of life – making our work easier and better, helping us manage our homes, or taking care of our health — it is also exposing us to a huge wave of interconnectedness where we are constantly relinquishing the grip on our lives and handing over the reins to technology. As the Internet becomes more and more knowledgeable about us, it will be more accurate at knowing just about everything about us from our health to our feelings.
Internet of Things is Pushing us Toward Singularity
Interestingly, the fabled concept of singularity is coming to life right before our eyes. “Singularity” or more precisely, “technological singularity,” speaks to the possibility of man merging with machines in a future where tech progress becomes so rapid that devices will become “super-intelligent,” even beyond the imagination and predictive capabilities of human beings. Ultimately, we could reach a point when artificial intelligence will take over human intelligence. Now, it may sound like some sci-fi jibber-jabber, but when experts like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk voice their fears about the rise of machines and the potential threats of artificial intelligence (AI), we’ve got to sit up and listen.
Singularity Applies to Each One of Us
Forget about techies and gadget-geeks, even for an average user, who only uses Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram, we still see a certain amount of singularity that is driving our physical and digital identities to a place where the web knows us better than we know ourselves. Even those who limit their time online are leaving a digital fingerprint behind.
The actions of artificial intelligence, which have so far been the subject of fiction and fantasy, may soon descend upon us. While we may not be close to romancing our Operating System, as was the case in the movie “Her,” we are nearing the 2001: A Space Odyssey-styled race between man and machines. Stephen Hawking says, “[T]he development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” While the end may be a long way off, it could be a very likely future awaiting mankind.