Envision the Too Smart Home


The idea of a smart home and the bigger picture concept of the Internet of Things certainly can generate conversation. You can be for or against both concepts, or be sitting somewhere in between.

For "somewhere in between" plenty of people see no use for -- and I've ranted in the past about -- a smart refrigerator that tells you what's available in the freezer or when it's time to buy milk. Yet, those same people like the idea of integrated energy management systems that keep heating and cooling costs down and even identify which electrical outlets are wasting energy.

Then there are the security concerns surrounding the possible hacks of baby monitors and intelligent thermostats.

However, our A2 cartoonist, Jon Carter of Cartertoons, found a smart home angle that nobody else seems to have hit on. What happens when the smart home gets too smart and doesn't need us any more? Or, what if those smart home systems feel they know what's best for us?

Check out the cartoon and share some thoughts on how a smart home could take a bit too much control over our lives, or goes rogue.

For example, suppose you pay the premium for that smart refrigerator. Then the fridge learns from your Fitbit and the bathroom scale that it's time for you to cut back on the frozen pizza. It then locks you out of the freezer.

Or, maybe you crank up the air conditioning on hot July days, and then the smart home decides to achieve its energy usage goal by making you suffer in the August heat.

What can you imagine the smart home doing to seek revenge on your very human behavior? I hope you will have some fun and share a comment.

James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/23/2016 5:31:34 PM
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I think it's long past time for device security best practices PSAs. We could easily be a target for an invasive security breech in the future. Some have speculated the DDoS attack was just another test of systems.

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/23/2016 5:27:27 PM
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Agreed. Last week's massive attack may finally get IoT device makers to listen to security experts with regard to securing equipment before it ships. I hope this means these companies and the general population can finally realize the importance of securing devices.

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/22/2016 10:41:21 PM
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..

In his blog article, Jim points out that "there are the security concerns surrounding the possible hacks of baby monitors and intelligent thermostats."

Then Kq4ym writes


And now this week we see the Ddos coming up strong around the country as lots of major websites were not available as the attack spreat from the East coast to the West, and attributed to coming from lots if IoT devices connected to the internet, not just infected computers as in the past. The smart home is going to take some more security precautions and approaches if we're to avoid problems in the future.


 

Yesterday's massive DDoS attack was seen as a global crisis (particularly disrupting U.S. services). As news media have reported, the attack involved multitudes of IoT-connected devices including such routine appliances as home security cams, baby cams, and DVRs. It's what many of us have been warning about the increasing proliferation of a basically poorly secured IoT. I kind of feel my own warnings have been corroborated ... Certainly a cautionary tale for us all.

 

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/22/2016 12:16:13 PM
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And now this week we see the Ddos coming up strong around the country as lots of major websites were not available as the attack spreat from the East coast to the West, and attributed to coming from lots if IoT devices connected to the internet, not just infected computers as in the past. The smart home is going to take some more security precautions and approaches if we're to avoid problems in the future.

Re: Connecting to snoops
  • 10/9/2016 5:31:40 PM
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..

TinyM writes


I saw the reports -- scary stuff. I think we're ready to use only memories and in-person meetings to transfer data.


 

I doubt the in-person meetings will be all that secure either. Nowadays your TV or smartphone can listen in on your private conversations. Check out this article:

It's Not Just Your TV Listening In To Your Conversation

And if that doesn't make you paranoid enough, consider that your nextdoor neighbor might be enjoying the conversations you have in your own home living room with this nifty DIY Parabolic "Spy" Microphone ...

Nice headphones.

So if plain ol' ordinary people can do this, just imagine the capabilities of the FBI, CIA, NSA, and DARPA ...

Didn't somebody say "Privacy is toast"?

Now, about those memories ...

 

Re: Connecting to snoops
  • 10/8/2016 3:53:57 PM
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@Lyndon I saw the reports -- scary stuff. I think we're ready to use only memories and in-person meetings to transfer data. 

Connecting to snoops
  • 10/5/2016 10:28:33 PM
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..

TinyM writes


I'm not optimistic about our future with connected devices. I am always concerned about my information stored on government servers. 


 

Or on private servers. Witness the latest revelations about Yahoo snooping on users' Emails on behalf of the U.S. government. "The company complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events."

 

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/4/2016 8:36:33 AM
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"Sometimes the technology meant that they didn't have to sit around for eight hours in the data center when they could be home and able to log in remotely to fix a problem without a long drive, but it also meant always waiting for something to go wrong."

Being an IT guy I somewhat agree here.  I don't think it ever took away the need to babysit the datacenter at times but it did free me up to not be near a land line when my team was working on something critical after hours.  The downside probably out weighs that though since the old way was usually scheduled and not incredibly frequent.  Up until just a few years ago I carried a laptop with me everywhere even on weekends because if the phone rang someone was expecting an immediate answer not "I'll be home in 4 hours and I'll take a look then".   The connection works on both ends, on the non IT side everyone is checking email, etc. 24/7/365.  Since they are on all the time that means support staff are on all the time as well.  People don't think "it's 5am on a Sunday maybe I should wait to let someone know that I forgot my password."  It's been a conditioning much like I mapped out with the smart home IoT, everyone has changed how they work slowly over time so we don't expect much else.  I imagine that we're going to have an HR revival when more millennials enter the work place and that balance may start to shift back to the worker. 

 

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/3/2016 11:40:58 AM
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@Jim

It takes some effort to avoid being pulled-in by an "always on" cell phone.

One way we make it easier is by having a person assigned to the 24-hour tech support line. If you're on-duty, you are responsible for answering the call. And you're getting paid.

This makes is much easier to ignore any out-of-hours calls or emails. You know someone else is really on the hook for those calls.

Re: Compelling smart home products
  • 10/3/2016 10:27:27 AM
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@SaneIT. I know I have seen references to studies about the impact of cell phones and remote access to work systems on our work lives and home lives, but I'm not sure how scientific they were.

I can imagine that there would be multiple factors at play. The initial thought of course is that phone and remote access (always available) increases stress during so-called off hours. However, as I think back to pre-cell days they weren't exactly stress free. I recall having to check in more than once by payphones or home phone in the hours after filing an article and heading home, just to see if there were any questions. (And then grumbling about the stupid editor with his stupid questions). I recall IT folks both praising and cursing pagers, cell phones and remote access. Sometimes the technology meant that they didn't have to sit around for eight hours in the data center when they could be home and able to log in remotely to fix a problem without a long drive, but it also meant always waiting for something to go wrong.

For other workers, there have been experts who say you should just put down the work phone and ignore it after a certain time, that constant access and email checking actually make you less productive during the regular workday. Yet, the benefit could be that problems get fixed faster.

Bottom line: Do cell phones and, I'll add remote access, make us and our companies more productive or do they just extend the workday? I'd say they certainly extend the workday with a minimal increase in productivity.

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