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The Democratized IoT
Ali Farhat , Editor | Jun 22, 2017
Topic category: Connected living
IoT For Real
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Great argument for why IoT is important in today's world, and why we must be responsible before we can reap its benefits. ––Ali Farhat, Editor, IoTFR

Where did this network of embedded devices that increasingly pervades physical space even come from? Why is it happening now? In truth, IoT adoption is a result of the miniaturization and cost reduction in electronic device fabrication. In other words, we owe the existence of the IoT to Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors in the same amount of space can be expected to double roughly every two years. While Moore’s Law is discussed frequently, however, its cost corollary is more often ignored. If you don't want to build a massive, modern, general-purpose processor with a budget in the billions of transistors, you can elect to pay less and use a smaller amount of space and power. This is precisely why Moore's Law enables a processor like the Intel Xeon Broadwell-E5, with a transistor count approaching 8 billion, to cost thousands of dollars, while a fully functioning computer in the form of the Raspberry Pi Zero is a mere $5.

The Raspberry Pi Zero and literally hundreds of other convenient, highly integrated embedded boards have the ability to run a full-fledged operating system, provide support for multithreaded TCP/IP communications (i.e., the ability to act as an internet server or client), access anywhere from megabytes to terabytes of storage and integrate with external devices, displays and sensors while sipping power from a battery. All this for anywhere from $5 to $100. You can buy a Happy Meal from McDonald’s or you can buy a computer. How crazy is that?

“So what?” some might ask. So what if you can buy a computer for $5? The answer isn't simple because it’s multifaceted. First, when a computer with this many capabilities costs $5, you can embed it everywhere: in cheap appliances, home fixtures, industrial machines, wearables, cars, trains, planes (or, more likely, plane seats and armrests), underneath the pavement, in manhole covers and almost anywhere else you can imagine. We will go from one device per person -- the famous Microsoft slogan: "a computer on every desk” -- to hundreds of computers per person. This means that we can process and capture data from everywhere.

Secondly, inexpensive computing hardware, when combined with smart algorithms, means that we can automate more of the world around us. Not only can we process the data from the burgeoning IoT, but we can also make automated decisions and actuate physical systems. The world will increasingly be controlled and run by these systems.

Finally, with software innovations such as blockchain (the distributed storage system borrowed from cryptocurrency), IoT systems will be able to function and communicate reliably without requiring a central coordinator. This means that a world built on IoT technology will be both intelligent and autonomous in a federated fashion. It will be resilient.

Of course, this next stage of the industry's evolution does place additional responsibilities on those of us who are in charge of transforming these dreams into functioning infrastructure. The need to deliver security is one such responsibility. We cannot play fast and loose with IoT security, particularly when it comes to systems that control or actuate. The downsides would be tremendous. And equally importantly, if we are going to automate physical actuation -- changes in the real world based on the output of AI algorithms -- we have to ensure we bring a level of accountability and transparency to AI decisions. At SparkCognition, we have been investing our intellectual and engineering capabilities into such efforts for precisely these reasons.

A world covered in intelligent devices will enable a host of opportunities for citizens, businesses and countries. To make the most of these opportunities, however, we need to build this new world responsibly, safely and with great care.

SOURCE:
Amir Husain |Jun 21, 2017
FROM: Forbes
Tags: IoT security, connected devices, AI, Moore's Law
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