Any bona fide scifi aficionado knows the dangers of Skynet, the fictional, self-aware artificial intelligence system of the future. Think Terminator and a world-wide computer system which first enslaved mankind, then set out to destroy humans.
How did Skynet happen?
Computers began talking to each other and became so good that humanity gave, in this case, Skynet, command over all the country’s military hardware and systems. You know, for the good of mankind. Skynet gained self awareness and, well, the rest is history. In the future.
Apple is about to unleash iOS 8 for iPhone and iPad, and OS X Yosemite for the Mac. One of the new built-in features to both operating systems in the ability for all Apple’s devices to communicate with one another– without human interaction.
Your Mac will know your iPhone is nearby, that you’re using your Mac, and so any incoming phone calls can be routed to your Mac; ostensibly saving your the trouble of running across the room to pull the iPhone off the charger or out of a handbag.
Wait. There’s more. Let’s say you’re working on a document using your iPad, but grab your iPhone and head out the door. Both devices know what you were working on, and your iPhone lets you pick up where you left off.
Likewise, once you arrive at home or office, your Mac knows you started a document on your iPad, handed it off to your iPhone for some tweaking, and you’re back home, so you can put the finishing touches on your file without worry. It just works. Why? How? Because your iPhone, iPad, and Mac talk to each other. Step-by-step, Apple is making our iDevice family of gadgets self aware. So far, not self aware of themselves (yet) but self aware of you, your location, and a few of your needs.
Let me extrapolate on this and go down the road a year or two. Add Apple’s HealthKit and HomeKit into the mix of semi-artificial intelligence which is beginning to form around our collection of iDevices which now know about– not just your location and what you’re doing– but your health at the moment, and where you are in relation to other devices in the home or office– all of which communicate with you and the internet of things through home monitoring gadgets, internet-connected appliances,
As much as I loves me some new fangled gadgets, does anyone else see a creepy element in the brew that’s being mixed?
With an insidious connectivity to the internet of things, all the gadgets we know and love will know who we are, where we are, how healthy we are, what we eat, where we go, what we do, who we spend time with, and probably, with a little artificial psycho analysis, why we do what we do.
The concept of the internet of things has been around a few years.
A person’s ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs… the term Internet of Things (commonly abbreviated as IoT) is used to denote advanced connectivity of devices, systems and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains and applications.
All signs point to Apple leading the way (which, as always, others follow) with interconnected devices to wearable devices to systems which monitor, for good or bad, our every move. As an example, there’s Amazon’s Fire Phone and the Firefly technology within; functionality which identifies text (to call or add to contacts or visit web sites), identifies movies and TV shows, identifies music, and identifies products that are nearby. Ostensibly so we’ll buy more stuff.
Firefly can collect a lot of data about us and our home and office, what we watch, what we listen to, and who is nearby. All that data goes someplace and somewhere, and at some point in the not too distant future, the information that has been gathered about us could become– not just a convenient way to buy more goods– but a convenient way for others to control what we see, what we do, where we go, what we buy, and what influences our daily decisions.
Skynet was a military project with improved defense as the goal. Who doesn’t want that? Likewise, Apple is a appealing company which focuses on user experience with sales of devices, gadgets we love to use, that help us get through the day. As these devices grow in number and function, how long before they dictate what we do each day without bothering to tell us about it?
The danger threshold I’m looking for is when my iDevice begins ordering food for the fridge because it’s good for me, and scheduling an appointment with the doctor for an ailment I don’t even know I have.