Which side are you on?
Internet of Things is now definitely the winning term for a cybernetic operation that has been evolving for over fifty years and is- as Ted Hughes writes like a grin trying out faces, as pervasive computing, calm computing, ubicomp, ambient intelligence, Disappearing Computer, Things That Think, as a grin trying out its grasp on the world. The material conditions of the 21th century are decisive; especially database storage. Until early 2000’s it was too expensive. The Cloud truly enables IoT. The second major enabler is the mobile phone. Its adoption rate far surpasses that of owning radio and televise sets. Cheap hardware, open source software and open innovation; the sharing paradigm that has taken over the paradigm of competition as preferred provider of business models clinches it, yet it is the triple combination of tcp/ip, world wide web (Mosaic 1993), REST and API’s that facilitates the birth of this new ontology; a world where every interaction with an object is no longer in conditions to an object-subject relation, but always has a third component; a link to a database; a relational component that is hidden from immediate view. In itself this is nothing new. Animism is a strong living force in the world, even today. Some people stil think objects have an aura, a relational quality that can be personal or affordances that are tied to specific locations. But this specific kind of animism is bringing this third quality down to the level of a simple hit in a database. A database that is owned by only a specific subset of the population, large multinational corporations that have stakeholders. A relation that is described in the lowest possible of ‚data’ ‚language’. In time, it will be only this logic of Heideggerian ‚standing reserve’ – all objects and subjects asre simply waiting to be put to use – that will be this ‚in between space’, no longer filled by human imagination, no longer the world of poetry or the potentiality, no longer that objects – or people – can be anything, can have a thousand connotations, no all becomes one, or rather in the logic of GS.1, an ONS, object name server. This logic constitutes the final triumph of the engineer; extending efficiency, predictability, security as preserving life to all cost of bare existence and predictive maintenance from closed environments into the real everyday world of living human beings. This specific intelligence – only one among many – has become to dominate as it has outsourced meaning – still using Shannon’s paradigm of communication – to the rest of the world, saying:” You deal with the consequences of our work”, we are just interested in following though our own internal logic, much in the spirit of hermetic abstract painters not giving a damn about figurative meaning or literal interpretations of their work. In IoT modeling this translates as the fact that we now have something like ‚semantic interoperability’ that is some new interpretation of the ‚RW’ (Real World; eh is there another?) which is somehow needed to bring back the RW in a model that is function creeped from the start. What I find most worrying is that even now, after having forced an ontology on us, that is indeed inevitable now, still engineers are not taking responsibility for their own work or the implications this has for real world decision making from the home, health environment, to politics. They will keep hiding, once they are out of their sheltered academic and corporate luxurious positions, having played out to the full their fantasies of being finally safe in a controlled and secure environment.
So let us speak with Ortega Y Gasset and say: Look here, here is the ugly truth, the facts are this: One particular kind of intelligence in the tribe, traditionally harnessed by the brute force of warrior-kings and outwitted always by the manic-creatives, has managed to take over the entire spectrum of predictive capacity. This is the reality of the situation. We can lament it , but we can not go back. We can oppose it, but we cannot halt the convergence of a push logic of logistics able to individuate all objects (ecology of barcodes, qr codes, rfid, nfc…) and software as a service in everything that has capacity to hold software (ipv6) combined with a pull logic of people that are currently in all probability looking at or checking their mobile phones.
But we need a time-out. Currently the entire world is run on a startupupupup Silicon Valley logic of companies that consist like Google of 90% engineers. This has to stop. This intelligence is unable to provide meaning for living a life in dignity, in style, in love, in friendship, in peace. So far, it has build war logic and fueled paradigms of force and competition.
We need to know what kind of trajectories the engineers are supporting. Will they continue to execute briefings from whomever supplies them unquestioningly, like they have done, or are they on the side of the transparency, collaboration and sharing that is inherent in IoT? If the latter then we can work together towards a world of better decision making, less crime and no more corruption, less waste of food and resources, much better personal and group feedback and much more balanced local decision making aligned with global needs of people, animals and plants.
If not, then I foresee and predict huge ands maybe even decisive necessary luddite like protest and counter movements as people rightly feel that only one specific part of what it means to be human is taking over to the expense of all others.
This outcome is fully on the heads of the engineers. They are personally responsible. No other intelligence fully understands what is going on, they do.
So what will it be? Will you be handsomely paid and live in the gated smart city? Raise your children there to a state of total unresilience?
Will you keep refusing to accept that you build a Matrix for just a few?
Or will you join the side of open and build the flow that is inherent in IoT? Leave your sheltered position, speak out your heart and mind?
Make up that mind. You have a world to win. You also have a lot of friends that you did not know about. Want to get to know them?