Allegedly, the internet of things means “the internet” plus “things”, but it’s been stretched to cover home automation, wearables, health gadgets, urban transport, banking, water, sewerage, grocery logistics, traffic lights, electric power, manufacturing, military operations, big-data analytics and even smart planet environmental monitoring.
“Internet of things” is a kindly, upbeat term. It could have had a much more sinister name. “The cybernetic consortia for control of property”, anyone?
The internet of things is not a revolution in the way the internet once was. It’s a power grab. It’s a clampdown, a seizure of the formerly unseizable. It’s not for rebels. Everything about the internet of things would meet the firm approval of the offshored billionaire landlord of an empty London skyscraper.
The internet of things is the contemporary system that put that landlord in remote control of London already – only much, much more so.
The strategy’s already clear: the internet of things is about billionaire-oligarch geek power. The tactics are clear, too: grab cybernetic control of all old-fashioned, leaky machinery, devices and services; disrupt and disintermediate the previous value chain; eliminate the labour unions and fire the industrial workforce.
Eliminate the middle class, route around national regulators and move all profits to the top of the heap. That’s already been happening at a pretty brisk clip, as Britons know better than anybody. Democracy won’t stop it.
But something unclear probably will stop it, and that obscurity is what interests me most. The grand internet-of-things scheme will fail for the same ornery human reasons that soured manned spaceflight, nuclear power, Marxism-Leninism and the New World Order. The comic spectacle there will cheer me for many a day.