Why Tech’s Best Minds Are Very Worried About the Internet of Things

20. May 2014

Date: 20-05-2014
Source: WIRED

The Internet of Things is coming. And the tech cognoscenti aren’t sure that’s a good thing.

For years, the prospect of an online world that extends beyond computers, phones, and tablets and into wearables, thermostats, and other devices has generated plenty of excitement and activity. But now, some of the brightest tech minds are expressing some doubts about the potential impact on everything from security and privacy to human dignity and social inequality.

That’s the conclusion of a new survey from the Pew Research Center. For ten years, the Washington, D.C. think tank has surveyed thousands of technology experts–like founding father Vint Cerf and Microsoft social media scholar danah boyd–about the future of the Internet. But while previous editions have mostly expressed optimism, this year people started expressing more concern. “We had a lot of warnings, a lot of people pushing back,” says Janna Anderson, co-author of the report.

The Internet of Broken Things
The 1,606 respondents said they saw many potential benefits to the Internet of Things. New voice- and gesture-based interfaces could make computers easier to use. Medical devices and health monitoring services could help prevent and treat diseases. Environmental sensors could detect pollution. Salesforce.com chief scientist JP Rangaswami said that improved logistics and planning systems could reduce waste.

But most of the experts warned of downsides as well. Security was one of the most immediate concerns. “Most of the devices exposed on the internet will be vulnerable,” wrote Jerry Michalski, founder of the think tank REX. “They will also be prone to unintended consequences: they will do things nobody designed for beforehand, most of which will be undesirable.”

We’ve already seen security camera DVRs hacked to mine bitcoins as well as a worm that targets internet connected devices like home routers. As more devices come online, we can expect to see an increase in this kind of attack.

Beyond security concerns, there’s the threat of building a world that may be too complex for our own good. If you think error messages and applications crashes are a problem now, just wait until the web is embedded in everything from your car to your sneakers. Like the VCR that forever blinks 12:00, many of the technologies built into the devices of the future may never be used properly. “We will live in a world where many things won’t work and nobody will know how to fix them,” wrote Howard Rheingold. Read the rest of this entry »

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Americans Aren’t Ready for the Future Google and Amazon Want to Build

19. April 2014

Date: 19-04-2014
Source: WIRED

Kidney 3 DA kidney structure being printed by the 3-D printer at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Americans are hopeful about the future of technology. But don’t release the drones just yet. And forget meat grown in a petri dish.

Pushing new tech on a public that isn’t ready can have real bottom-line consequences.

That’s the takeaway from a new study released by the Pew Research Center looking at how U.S. residents felt about possible high-tech advances looming in the not-too-distant future. Overall, a decisive majority of those surveyed believed new tech would make the future better. At the same time, the public doesn’t seem quite ready for many of the advances companies like Google and Amazon are pushing hard to make real.

If the stigma surrounding Google Glass (or, perhaps more specifically, “Glassholes”) has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how revolutionary technology may be, ultimately its success or failure ride on public perception. Many promising technological developments have died because they were ahead of their times. During a cultural moment when the alleged arrogance of some tech companies is creating a serious image problem, the risk of pushing new tech on a public that isn’t ready could have real bottom-line consequences. Read the rest of this entry »


The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Tiny Startup’s Plot to Beat Google at Big Data

29. January 2014

Date: 29-01-2014
Source: WIRED

Keen IOThe staff of Keen IO, inside the communal space it shares with other startups seeking to remake the way of the world builds software.

Ryan Spraetz helps run a Silicon startup that aims to remake the future of online business, but he describes it with a metaphor that dates to the 16th century.

More than 400 years ago, Spraetz says one afternoon outside a San Francisco coffee shop, a Danish nobleman named Tycho Brahe spent most of his adult life collecting data that described the night sky. Each night for more than 30 years, Brahe would climb into his observatory and record the brightness and the position of the stars overhead. Then he died. But his young assistant, Johannes Kepler, would go on to use Brahe’s massive trove of data to formulate the three laws of planetary motion, the laws that proved the Earth revolves around the sun.

“Because Brahe dedicated his whole life to gathering all that data, Kepler is now cemented into history,” Spraetz says, and this becomes an on-ramp to his startup, a 15-person company called KeenIO. As Spraetz explains it, Keen aims to provide the world’s online businesses with ready access to the sort of detailed data so diligently gathered by Brahe, giving them the information they need to make the big leap forward — to, as Spraetz puts it, “turn them into Keplers.” Read the rest of this entry »


Next Year’s 3-D Printers Promise Big Things — Really Big Things

1. December 2012

Date: 01-12-2012
Source: WIRED

2012 has been a big year for 3-D printing, but the industry has quietly been growing for decades. And the innovations are impressive — for every new plywood-clad 3-D printer kit that makes the rounds on the internet, engineers are developing ways to print titanium parts for jet engines that will change the aerospace industry.
3D Print 1
This week at Euromold, a manufacturing trade show, the companies behind these devices are demonstrating new products and highlighting the novel technologies that will change the way we build things. The 3-D printing industry is on track to be a $3.1 billion business by 2016 and the innovations on display this week show its foundation is growing — both in revenue and in physical print size.

Objet 1000

The big news out of Euromold is really big — a 3-D printer so large that it requires a palette jack to unload. The newest 3-D printer from Objet combines their world-class accuracy (16 micron/0.0006 inch layer thickness) and the ability to create models with 14 materials in one print job with extraordinary size. The new Objet 1000 is named for its 1000 x 800 x 500 mm (39.3 x 31.4 x 19.6 inches) print area which is over three times the size of competitive printers. To put this in perspective, the Objet 1000 holds over 238 pounds of resin to print with, more than some 3-D printers weigh. Read the rest of this entry »


Finnish Government Hangs Up on Nokia

22. June 2012

Date: 21-06-2012
Source: WIRED

Finland Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen says the government will not buy shares of Nokia to prop up the ailing national institution.

In Finland, Nokia is apparently not too big to fail.

Finland’s prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, says the government won’t prop up the ailing mobile phone maker by buying its shares, Reuters reports.

Nokia, a national institution in Finland that started out as a paper pulp mill nearly 150 years ago, is in a tailspin as rival smartphone makers gobble up market share. A $270 billion global powerhouse at its height in 2000, the company is now worth about $9 billion. Moody’s last week downgraded Nokia’s credit rating to junk status.

Katainen made his comments in the town of Salo, home to a Nokia factory the company said last week it was shutting down as part of a cost-cutting plan that also slashes 10,000 jobs. Read the rest of this entry »


In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits

19. April 2010

By Chris Anderson, Wired, January 25, 2010  | 

In an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design, all you need to conquer the world is a brilliant idea.
Photo: Dan WintersThe door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories. 

In June, Local Motors will officially release the Rally Fighter, a $50,000 off-road (but street-legal) racer. The design was crowdsourced, as was the selection of mostly off-the-shelf components, and the final assembly will be done by the customers themselves in local assembly centers as part of a “build experience.” Several more designs are in the pipeline, and the company says it can take a new vehicle from sketch to market in 18 months, about the time it takes Detroit to change the specs on some door trim. Each design is released under a share-friendly Creative Commons license, and customers are encouraged to enhance the designs and produce their own components that they can sell to their peers. 

Read the rest of this entry »