Organizing Your Lightbulbs

Earlier this summer I came across the video below.  It is a recording of the Shannon Luminary lecture by Vint Cerf at Nokia Bell Labs in March of this year. Cerf is often referred to as the “Father of the Internet” for his work co-inventing the TCP/IP protocol which is the foundation of the internet and enabled it to scale to the ubiquitous utility it is today.

The reality is this may be fairly complicated.  Figuring out how do we do this in a smooth way that will be intuitive is going to be a challenge?   – Vint Cerf

In this presentation, Cerf turns his attention to the Internet of Things and particularly the properties that need to be addressed to enable the Internet of Things to prosper in the same way the Internet did.

It’s a lengthy video, but he’s pretty entertaining.

Cerf walks through a long list of scenarios that he believes the developers of IoT devises and systems must collectively and collaboratively consider to ultimately lead to successful implementation of this emerging technology.

He lists 16 categories that he feels need to be addressed to assure a smooth running, intuitive IoT that may meet the expectations for a new world filled with tools that make our lives easier and more comfortable.  They are:

  • Reliability – They work all the time
  • Safety – Won’t use if not safe
  • Security – Won’t use if it appears that it can be easily hacked
  • Privacy – Will by privacy be secure or will
  • Interoperability – All the devices need to be able to work together
  • Autonomy – If the internet goes down, the IoT house continues to function
  • Scaleability – Installation and configuration must work for a dozen devices to thousands
  • Permissions – How will systems know who has the right to access which devices
    • Parents, kids, guests, emergency responders
    • what authorities are given to who?  To which devices?  How are they rescinded?
    • Would emergency responders have situational access? overrides?
    • Parental controls/User controls
    • How do you add a new user?  Drop one?
  • Ownership – What happens when devices are transferred to a new owner or a new owner takes possession of a house/office?
  • Updates – how do the devices know that updates are legitimate
  • Instrumentation – must easily know that each device is working properly
  • Data Control – Does data need to be shared? With whom? Under what circumstances?
  • Firewalls/Hubs – How do the lesser devices (like lightbulbs) protect themselves?  or how are they protected?
  • Effortless Configuration – How do you set up a system?
  • Paranoid Devices – Devices need to be smart enough to know where they belong and don’t.  Systems need to know what devices belong to them.
  • Standards – A devices following industry-wide standards to ensure interoperability of various devices with each other.

How do I refer to the lights I want to turn off and on? Do I have to give them names like George and Eddie and Frank?  – Vint Cerf

My reaction to this lecture was one of a bit of relief.  With all the soaring predictions of robots and chatbots and artificial intelligence transforming our world, Cerf’s concerns sound like brakes being applied to the headlong rush into the future.

Meeting the optimal end of all 16 of these principles is going to be challenging and will simply take time to reach the nirvana some predict IoT will bring.  Although between now and then or if we stray from pushing for these properties, we may experience “Nightmare on Elm Street”, as Cerf calls it.

Cerf finishes with a number of “Bottom Line” comments:

  • We’re going to put billions of these devices to work
  • some of them will get inadequate or no support after installation
  • Some of them will not meat reliability, privacy, and safety expectations
  • Roles for regulation, industry standards/norms, consumer training
  • New jobs: IoT Installers, Maintainers, Remote Diagnosticians
  • IoT could herald a utopian future or usher in a new Nightmare on Elm Street
  • It is a shared responsibility to try for the former and avoid the latter

YOUR TURN:  Where do you sit with IoT and the impact it will have on the future?  Do you have any IoT devices currently?  Do any of Cerf’s properties ring true to you given your experiences?  Please leave your ideas in the comment section below.

 

 

Photo by Diz Play on Unsplash  (lightbulbs)

Photo by Gian D. on Unsplash (billions)

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