The 3 major issues I see with the internet of things are described below:

Connectivity

Without connection, our smart world of internet of things becomes plastic. I built this Lego home which has elements that look as if they could operate and do something, however it is just a plastic home model built from Lego. This is how I imagine the world in the future without connectivity may look. All just useless plastic but futuristic looking objects.

This is the direction that I am going towards for the speculative unit. Below is an image of the Libelium Smart World which shows a world in which EVERYTHING is connected, some are already currently feasible. A world that is automized and controlled through apps and click of a button requires much machine learning. But what’s more interesting is that it would be a world completely reliant on connectivity and the control from large web services.

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Libelium Smart World

 

 

 

Power

Bruce Sterling writes a critique of the IOT future in his essay, The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things. He writes:

A world in which all our household gadgets can communicate with each other may sound vauguely useful, but it’s not really for us consumers. The Internet of Things serves the interest of the technology giants, in their epic wrangles with each other.

And it is they who will turn the jargon of “smart cities” and “smart homes” into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Aside from surveillance, these objects bind us to a forever contract with the companies who control connectivity. For example in the AWS crash, 1 simple typo broke the internet and therefore broke the internet of things. Earlier in 2016, an IOT glitch caused the DNS provider, Dyn to disrupt access to top sites. The article says, “Cybersecurity experts have warned that IoT is an easily exploitable area in corporations and can be used effectively in mass cyberattacks.”

With more and more devices becoming interconnected with each other such as smartwatches, smartphones, baby monitors, and home security systems, coupled with the security, physical and software limitations inherent in these devices, it becomes all too easy to launch intrusion probes and outright attacks on these inter-linked devices. Once that happens, hackers can turn these compromised devices into infection platforms by simply injecting them with malware, which in turn can be easily spread onto the Internet network that these devices are connected to, and used to launch attacks against selected targets.

In my tutorial with George, we briefly talked about the invention of the remote control. It was not intended to be shared and caused conflict over who has the control of the TV in the house. The remote control is a bit like how our internet is being controlled by large server systems.

 

Loneliness

The third critique I have about IOT is that it doesn’t carry any useful social/communal awareness or relationship ethics. Although they seem to be connecting the world, I think they tend to create more loneliness. Are we connecting devices or are we connecting people?

Bill Gaver proposes that design should consider system aesthetics and cultural implications, rather than technologies. Looking at the evocative potential of design to provoke understanding and imagination.

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IOT Manifesto

In the IOT Manifesto, many issues are addressed with concerns to IOT. Issues such as building privacy, data collection, and empowering users to be the masters of their own domain are all concerns I have about products today.

We should keep humans at the center of products, not technology.

Similarly, we should still connect with each other as human beings, not machine to machine.

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Human machine relationships

These technologies should not serve to make people feel ok about leaving their loved ones remotely without human interaction for a long period of time. Nor is parenting supposed to feel as easy as keeping a Tamagachi pet.

 

So for my project, I want to make a disobedient object that raises questions about these issues in the IOT. Should the object shut off to protect you from data collection or force you into human interaction?

George raised an interesting area during my tutorial about the space in between the on and off states of these gadgets. The glitchy parts of these objects always being powered but a bit unsure if they really are?

So I created an object through the use of a machine, the 3D printer. But the interesting bits are the bits where the machine was calibrating or glitching perhaps during reset modes and setup modes. You can see bits of imperfection and therefore the process of making.

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3D printer in progress

A few ideas I’ve had are around 2 party verification systems as a way to provoke collectivity rather than separation and a form of binary interactivity:

  • A home thermostat that intentionally cools down in order to provoke cuddling
  • A smart car that only starts when more than 1 person is in the car provoking car pooling

These objects can have the potential to embody life instead of just being dead electronic objects.