It’s 5 pm, and I’m ready to leave the office and head home. As I walk towards my car, I glance at my phone to check what time it is, and to my surprise, my phone automatically tells me the shortest route home. I stand there a little puzzled since I’ve never told my phone where I live, or at what time I leave work. It has just assumed these things from my daily comings and goings. Although I can see the convenience of this service, I can’t help but shudder. My personal information is not only being gathered but analyzed and used.
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The internet of things, sometimes fashioned as IoT, is here to stay. It has crept into our life slowly but surely. You may not have noticed how small features were added to your phone, to your computer, and even to your TV and your car. For the most part, I enjoy it as part of the future we were always promised. In this brave new world, our ingenuity has bore fruit, and human endeavors are ever easier with the help of our digital assistants.
IoT is a vague term, and confusion may arise when referring to it. In this ever-changing technological climate, even the best of us need some clarification on the newest terms from time to time. When we say ‘the Internet of Things,’ we mean how different objects of our everyday life are now connected to the internet. It wasn’t too long ago when there were no smart TV’s, smartphones, or smart anything. The only things connected to the internet were our computers, and even then, not all of them. As the technology to connect gadgets became cheaper and easier to manufacture, more and more everyday objects became Internet-capable.
As with every leap in technology, we cannot ignore the impact on the workforce. Some jobs are certain to disappear. Automated driving may have cabbies looking for another job. Sophisticated voice recognition and scheduling software may render receptionists obsolete. It might not be long into the future when service positions will be overtaken by machines and we end up dealing with a ‘robot’ during a hotel check-in. Don’t believe me? Ask Siri or Cortana.
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It’s not all doom and gloom. While some jobs might disappear, but when you look at which ones, those were never the ones you wanted in the first place. Those were repetitive jobs, with long hours and low pay. Their automation would lead us to more creative positions, to activities than even the most advanced software cannot yet hope to achieve. Can you imagine going to the doctor’s office and being evaluated by a machine? Perhaps it could check for some symptoms, check your blood pressure, but it jube machined be the same without the warmth of another human examining you. With the exclusion of those doctors that appear to be machines themselves, of course.
You might also be hard-pressed to find a good automated lawyer. Machines are great at learning rules, it’s true, but the law isn’t always black and white. There’s always interpretation involved, and different perspectives can be applied to the same case. What’s more, a machine might gather data about your case, but it will never listen. Not like a person would. So you should just stick to flesh-and-bone legal assistance.
One thing is certain: once these changes begin to take over, there’ll be no turning back. For better or worse, once humanity has made a leap forward, it has never reverted to the old ways (save for the Amish, but you know, they’re the exception, not the rule.) Whatever the future brings, we must be educated enough to understand how it will impact our lives, and how we may protect ourselves from any downsides. It’s similar to when the automobile was introduced. It was exciting, and it was scary, and convenient as it was, it also was fraught with peril. Cars crashed, and people got run over. Others drove off cliffs. But we learned to deal with these complications, and now we wouldn’t give up our cars for any reason.
I recommend you embrace change. Cliché as it is, change is the only constant thing in our lives. In order to survive, we must be able to adapt, and we’re stronger for it. The Internet of Things is maybe the biggest change in our lives since the industrial revolution, and just as I would’ve loved to be there when the first train ever left the station, or when the Wright brothers first took flight, I wouldn’t want to miss it.