Despite wide concern about cyberattacks, outages and privacy violations, most experts believe the Internet of Things will continue to expand successfully the next few years, tying machines to machines and linking people to valuable resources, services and opportunities.
Connection begets connection. In 1999, 18 years ago, when just 4% of the world’s population was online, Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things, Neil Gershenfeld of MIT Media Lab wrote the book “When Things Start to Think,” and Neil Gross wrote in BusinessWeek: “In the next century, planet Earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKGs, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies – even our dreams.”
He was right. Today, 49% of the world’s population is connected online and an estimated 8.4 billion connected things are in use worldwide.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is in full flower. The expanding collection of connected things goes mostly unnoticed by the public – sensors, actuators and other items completing tasks behind the scenes in day-to-day operations of businesses and government, most of them abetted by machine-to-machine “computiction” – that is, artificial-intelligence-enhanced communication.