As a person living in the 21st century, being part of the whole technological world and interacting in it as well, I can claim that the advantages of the Internet of Things are really contributing to a far more effortless lifestyle. The average number of connected devices per person has more than doubled in the last year hitting 4.3 and it is even predicted that by 2050 the number will reach 25. Personally, I believe that the predicted number is highly realistic, taking into account all the smart gadgets and technologies that are being brought into our lives on a daily basis. However, besides facilitating our lives, the Internet of Things can also influence our independence as with the higher number of devices per person it is likely to become more dependent on technology.
Without any doubt our lifestyle is changing at a very high rate as technology evolves. The Internet of Things is the ‘culprit’ as it contributes to easier and more convenient ways of communication and for a simpler lifestyle in general. For example, only fifteen years ago no one was capable of regulating their thermostat with just a click from his phone, smartphones were only seen in futuristic movies and there was no such thing as a smartwatch. The Internet of Things is not only influencing our lifestyle but is changing us all. Thanks to artificial intelligence it is now possible to cut the amount of food that is being wasted annually, meaning that the whole supply chain can become more efficient, contributing for a ‘greener” ecosystem. Furthermore, air polluted cities are now installing gadgets that can measure the levels of air pollution. Their goal is to make people aware when those levels become dangerous. The IoT has also influenced cities to become more efficient. This is possible with the development of light bulbs, the smarter batteries of laptops, smartphones and tablets and finally with the greater choice of public transport. This is an extremely valuable advantage as with more efficient cities, the rate of global warming and climate change can be decreased or even be stopped. Another advantage is that by using the IoT, businesses are being able to increase their supply while cutting their total cost. This is possible with innovative machines that are capable of replacing human labor, making the production process numerous times faster and more efficient. In addition, smart safety devices are being deployed in dangerous working environments in order to increase the safety for workers.
The goal behind the Internet of Things is to make our life easier by connecting extra devices that can interact with each other. However, is it really possible to simplify our lifestyle by adding more and more devices? And with what cost? For instance, let’s take a modern household. The installation and set-up of all the gadgets takes a lot of time as the system is extremely complex. On the other hand, the more the gadgets are present, the more we rely on them, meaning that if there is some kind of problem with the Internet of Things and the system is not operating, we may be trapped in our house, thus making us dependent. Privacy is also a matter of concern as you can never be sure if those millions of devices are not interacting with each other in order to collect data for your personal life. Another threat that has emerged is human jobs: with the advent of smarter and more innovative devices and machines, it is possible that in 50 years 90% of jobs could now be gone. For instance, artificial intelligence has already ‘stepped into’ taking truck driving jobs. The research also shows that by 2030, 40% of the current jobs will be taken by AI.
On balance, I believe that the connected devices per person must remain low in number. The advantages of the IoT are already very satisfying with no need of forcing people to bring into their lives additional devices without any essential purpose. However, it is in our interest to minimalize the drawbacks of the IoT so that the system may operate in the most effective way.