New products, Conferences, Books, Papers, Internet of Things

Interesting article by Michiel de Lange:

Some weeks ago The Economist published an article about ‘the internet of things’, with the provocative title ‘The internet of hype‘. The journalist, (nick)named [?] Schumpeter, was invited to attend the corporate event Fundación de la Innovación in Madrid. He raises a number of critical points against the idea that the internet of things is really making objects smarter and our life better, especially in the fields of energy and health care. Some of these criticisms indeed seem justified: there still is poor network coverage in many areas, privacy issues, increasing dependency on technology and the risk of failure, and the strengthening of corporate dominance over urban services. Usually I am in favor of critical thoughts about developing technologies for their own sake. But the crux of Schumpeter’s objection raises seems to miss the point entirely:

Is it worth it? Many of the problems that the internet of things is supposed to solve actually have simple, non-technological solutions. Google likes to boast that your smartphone can tell you the ratio of men and women in any given bar. But there is actually a much simpler solution: you can look through the window! Many of the wonders of the internet of things fall into this category. Sensors can tell you when a baby’s nappy is full. There is a perfectly reasonable old-fashioned solution to this problem. Sensors can turn the stem of an umbrella to glow blue when it is about to rain. You can always listen to the weather forecast. […] In health care, above all else, technology is a poor substitute for the human touch.

These silly examples may be meant as tongue-in-cheek satire on the tendency to uncritically laude the ‘technological fix’ for all sorts of non-existing problems. Still, as this is The Economist, not The Onion, I’ll bite.

Read the complete article here.

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