A survey of technology experts by the Pew Research Center and Elon University predicts that the Internet of Things will take off in the next decade despite serious concerns about the security of IoT devices and the data they hold.
The IoT will gain wide adoption in the next decade, with the result that many aspects of day-to-day life will be transformed by a combination of inexpensive sensors, cloud based computing and data analytics. The report cites a number of likely innovations that will become commonplace by 2025 – from “smart” food products that can report when they are exhausted or spoiled, to smart roads and infrastructure to “subcutaneous sensors or chips that provide patients’ real-time vital signs to self-trackers and medical providers.”
The Pew Center canvassed more than 1600 technology leaders and analysts about the Internet of Things and published the findings of the survey on Wednesday. The survey population included leading executives from firms like Google and Salesforce.com.
While most of those surveyed were bullish about the potential of the IoT, security and privacy were a frequent cautionary note among those surveyed.
Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, acknowledged that the ability to coordinate the operation of time and labor-saving devices will “improve our daily lives.” However, he cautioned that “the risk is that inimical forces may gain control and create serious problems.”
For example, wearable technology will monitor the health of its owner, but also draw computers into the wearer’s daily lives, conversations, and activities, Cerf warned. A lack of security and standardization could be barriers to the Internet of Things, while “privacy will be hard to come by.”
While the report highlights many of the benefits to be had from IoT, others are quite pessimistic. One of the main themes to emerge was of concerns about privacy and the loss of individuals’ autonomy. “If everyday activities are monitored and people are generating informational outputs, the level of profiling and targeting will grow and amplify social, economic, and political struggles,” Pew said.