“The great thing with technology, is that if you don’t like it now, wait, it’ll change.” (WSJ Blog, 2014)
Of everything online news has brought us, one of my favorite features is the comments section at the end of the article. I never skip it. Yes, it can be a depressing look at the writing skills (or lack thereof) of my fellow readers, but many of the comments are often quite insightful. For example, the article, quoted above hosted an interesting conversation about smart homes and all the internet-connected things (cleverly referred to as the “Internet of Things” or IoT) that will make it possible: words of wonder, magic and absolute alarm. It’s the thing everyone fears to love but loves to fear. Our technology Godzilla.
Everyone wants a smart home and while the extent of home “smartness” varies, the main idea is convenience through automation. A few automations could cut down the steps between awakening and hitting the gas pedal each morning. In the WSJ’s article’s video, the coffee machine speaks the weather as it brews coffee. One step saved.
Today, being somewhere without actually being there is popular – really, really popular. We love to be everywhere by knowing what’s going on in places we aren’t and it looks like Godzilla is going to be right there with us.
Godzilla Protects Us (The Good)
If nothing else, IoT works for security. You can be home, when you’re not actually home. With the right gadgets, you can monitor what’s going on in your house and your family and get things like alerts when an outside door opens.
GE’s recently released Aros (thanks to Quirky ideas) has roped location and geofencing into it. Imagine it’s a hot summer day and Aros recognizes that your getting closer to home (say 3 miles away). Immediately the AC kicks back to 68 degrees instead of 75. Godzilla is the thoughtful monster making your home comfortable without blasting AC while you’re away.
Godzilla Accidently Destroys What’s in His Path (The Bad)
With technology knowing your habits well enough to accurately predict what you want, monsters aren’t just living under your bed – they’re in every lightbulb, power outlet, etc. If this data about you exists somewhere, it can be anywhere. Hacks are frighteningly common and Snowden isn’t the only one that can take data from one “secure” area and push it out to the world.
If Godzilla’s careful monitoring of your habits is hacked, your information could be sold to the highest bidder across the pond. With the right security precautions, this can be minimalized and even prevented. Train yourself, train Godzilla.
Godzilla is Scary Because We Don’t “Get” Him (The Ugly)
I’ve already mentioned my dislike for the concept behind Her. We don’t want machines to replace the relationships between people but they don’t necessarily have to. If we understand the risks, we can be prepared and avoid them altogether.
Godzilla doesn’t want to be a person, he just wants to look out for our best interests. However, humans have been known to get carried away with excitement and some may prefer Godzilla appliances to human companionship.
Who Doesn’t Like Monsters? At least a little bit?
I have a Nest thermostat and I think it’s both fascinating and looks pretty cool. A home alarm system that integrates video feed of my front door with instant alerts would be handy. Sure, I have a dog but he can’t text me when the neighborhood kid feeding him decides to host a party at my house. I’m not worried if my temperature preferences are accidently made public but soon Nest will be a hub for all things in the home IoT world and the data will become complex. Godzilla will be smarter.
Smart homes and smart devices are rapidly changing and sure we can resist the growth for as long as we want, but do we want to? The IoT will continue to grow no matter how good, bad or ugly some devices may be. We develop tech to make our lives better, more convenient, easier and as individuals, we’re going to adopt the right tech at home, at the office and everywhere else until we’re satisfied.
History has been known to repeat itself and the sooner we understand and train Godzilla, the sooner we can make the monster work for us. The monster is making his way to your home now – will you welcome him in with a curfew or chain him to a tree skyscraper outside?