The Internet of Things Is Coming, Whether You Like It or Not

June 8, 2017

9:20 am

Convenience is at the heart of product development. Simply put, if it can make life easier, it’s a good idea. This common approach to consumerism is what thrust the Internet of Things (IoT) into the mainstream, placing products like virtual voice assistants, WiFi-connected speakers, and smart light bulbs in homes across the world. And according to experts, no security risk, cyber attack, or privacy violation is going to slow its meteoric rise.

The PEW Research Center recently canvassed 1,200 tech experts to understand the trajectory of the Internet of Things, and they did not disappoint. They believe that, despite recent worldwide security breaches, like the WannaCry ransomeware attack, the connectivity between humans and machines is only going to get more prevalent as the years go by.

“The experts we questioned in this canvassing clearly expect the IoT will continue to spread even as risks proliferate because the promise of the IoT is that lives will be healthier, safer and more convenient,” said Janna Anderson, director of Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and co-author of this report.

It’s understandable why IoT devices have taken off in recent years. After being inundated with Hollywood versions of smart homes and virtual personal assistants, technology has finally caught up and made this sci-fi dream a reality. The convenience of starting your oven, brewing a cup of coffee, and monitoring your egg supply with a single app is unmatched in the tech world today.

Behmor Connected Coffee Brew System

Yes, there are security risks. In fact, based on the increased number of cyber attacks in recent years, paired with the speed of adaption when it comes to the Internet of Things, it’s safe to say that dealing with hackers is going to become a part of everyday life in the near future. And with an estimated 8.4 billion connected devices in use worldwide and widespread adoption still waiting in the wings, things aren’t going to get better any time soon.

“[The experts] argue that humans crave connection; that the IoT will bring advantages that are useful; that people’s desire for convenience will usually prevail over their concerns about risk and these factors will make it difficult – if not impossible – for people to opt out of a highly connected life,” said Lee Rainie, co-author and director of Pew Research Center’s internet, technology and science research.

It is worth noting that, while connectivity will be a near-necessity by 2026, there will be some that find the security risks, cyber attacks, and privacy violations too much to bear. And with more and more reasons to distrust the system popping up on a daily basis, these outliers have more than enough reason to be skeptical of government and corporate intentions, even if they’re the ones developing the tech.

“Most of their concerns are tied to worries over harm from bad actors and over the motivations of the corporate and government bodies that create, operate and regulate rapidly emerging complex networks,” said Anderson. “Many respondents lack faith in their capacity to perfectly plan, build, update, regulate and maintain these systems in a way that serves the public good as well as their own interests.”

However, these numbers will be relatively small, because as the experts put it, risk is a part of life. The question becomes whether or not the convenience outweighs the risk. And when it comes to the Internet of Things, the convenience outweighs pretty much everything else.

“Most adults in the U.S. drive cars even though it entails risks,” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “Most adults will use IoT devices even though they involve risks because the benefits will vastly outweigh any potential risks.”

If you want to read the entire report to understand the seven most evident themes of the survey, check it out here.

Read more about the Internet of Things on Tech.Co

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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