October 27, 2014
Disclaimer: I attended University with the individual quoted in this article.
Sci-fi movies have put some interesting notions about robots and the way they work with humans in our minds, to say the least. The Terminator, I-Robot, and even The Matrix all depict pseudo-apocalyptic worlds where robots and humans started out great, but somewhere along the line the relationship soured and robots took over.
You have to remember when you see this stuff, as awesome as it is, that it’s simply Hollywood inflating a fictional reality. But at the same time it’s interesting to consider that science fiction has indeed affected technological development in real life.
It’s been said that the hardest part about adopting new technologies, and I mean paradigm-shifting technologies like autonomous vehicles, is trust. These ideas might be so foreign, so difficult to wrap our brains around sometimes that we can’t help but be wary.
I recently spoke with a colleague of mine, Connor Witt, who directed me to a startup company, JIBO, that claimed the title as one of the top 5 most-funded campaigns on Indiegogo to date. What did they design that was so promising? JIBO: a little robot that sees, hears, speaks, learns, helps, and relates to you. It feels like something ripped directly out of a sci-fi movie.
Witt spends his day to day as a Project Controls Analyst at Sempra Energy in San Diego examining and testing security risks and settings within the myriad projects Sempra is working on. Surely, he finds JIBO fascinating, but at the same time he raises some interesting points about the security of the data storage in the cloud.
“I think JIBO is just a little bit creepy, not because it interacts with you, but rather because it’s a fully connected device. It taps your personal calendar, Facebook, phone, and it has a camera that’s always on unless JIBO is in sleep mode,” explains Witt. “It’s cool, but you can’t ignore the fact that there is a large potential for identity theft and privacy issues here.”
Undoubtedly the team at JIBO was aware of these risks when they began development of the robot; their FAQ on the site explicitly outlines security features implemented for both the company policy and technology sides of JIBO. All of the user data is uploaded to a secure cloud, and each JIBO has a unique serial number authorization needed to connect with any outside device.
“Somebody recently hacked iCloud, and that was a secured cloud storage system as well,” says Witt. “You could almost think of this as iCloud, but with videos and photos of peoples’ homes, lives, and families.”
Now, Witt is playing the devil’s advocate here, after all that is his job. And it’s good to see that the JIBO team has prioritized security above all else, even going so far as to hire security officers who review the secured data at all phases of use.
Like I said earlier, what this boils down to at the end of the day is trust. Not just a mutual trust between human and technology, but also between humans and other humans. If we want to continue to innovate, iterate, and succeed as entrepreneurs we have to take a leap of faith sometimes and trust one another. JIBO does look pretty damn cool.
Let us know what you think about JIBO below!
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