When Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft 40 years ago, their goal was to put a personal computer in every desk all over the world. It sounded crazy at the time and most people didn’t believe them but before they knew it, Gates and Allen had achieved their goal. There was a personal computer on almost every desk. After that, Microsoft became a monopoly with its Windows machines and ever since, no one has really been able to challenge the company on this front.
But for people who have always followed the tech industry closely, this kind of stuff is not surprising anymore. Tech geniuses come up with these crazy ideas all the time and we all shrug them off thinking that there’s no way these ideas will ever become reality. But all the time we have been proven wrong. Think of Mark Zuckerberg, an ordinary student who thought it would be a great idea to connect everyone in the world. Today we have Facebook as a result, a platform that connects billions of users.
And the big tech giants are at it again. There have been talks of developing new devices that literally automate our lives. The value proposition is actually simple. These smart devices will add convenience to our everyday life and improve our wellbeing and overall health. It’s not easy to see how this happens but that’s the message coming from Silicon Valley. Large tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are in the process or have already developed smart devices powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The final goal in this new frontier of digital conquest is not to have a computer in every desk or one in every pocket. After all, that has already been done. The goal is to have a computer inside everything in what would be a crazy age of device interconnection across the board. The sad thing is that no one is doing anything to regulate this despite the clear privacy vulnerabilities that these technologies are bringing. Many security experts argue that the “Internet of Things”, the more colloquial phrase for putting computers in everything, simply opens everything and everyone to hacking. And when you consider that these innovations are spearheaded by large tech companies that have had massive credibility issues when it comes to privacy, there’s no guarantee that the “Internet of Things” will be any better.
It’s not clear how these tech companies will build safeguards in their smart devices. It seems that the focus at the moment is to make the tech affordable and accessible to people. There’s no doubt that connectivity has its benefits and many proponents see it as an inevitable future in the current digital age. But a counter-argument on the uncertainty of securing these systems is more compelling. Many argue that the large Silicon Valley companies have the capacity to develop smart technology with the required security buffers that protect privacy. But since there are no laws or regulations forcing them to do this, it may be very difficult for your privacy interests to come above other priorities.