The Internet of Things Creating a Hyperconnected World
Posted by Chris Tithof
The Internet of Things brings connectivity to devices previously isolated from each other. The market is in its infancy currently, but by 2020, Intel predicts up to 200 billion IoT devices in use. The widespread digitization of everyday life sets the stage for a societal change created by the hyperconnected IoT world. Intelligent machines and massive amounts of data give never-before-seen insights and automate many tasks, but these benefits are offset by five areas of tension.
The data generated by an entirely connected world grants significant advantages to the people capable of accessing this information. Big businesses manufacture IoT products and control the data flow from around the world. Many people express frustration at the apparent influence of corporations in politics, and future hyperconnectivity conveys additional power to enterprises.
A hyperconnected society may also experience problems due to technical literacy, or the lack thereof. Less tech-savvy demographics lose out on the benefits conveyed by complex networks and complicated IoT configurations. They resort to less efficient processes or experience a lack of access to everyday conveniences.
The World Economic Forum predicts automation and robotization will eliminate five million jobs by 2020. The impact goes beyond blue-collar workers, affecting a significant portion of the employed population. The healthcare industry faces the largest losses. Approximately two million jobs supporting hyperconnected technology compensate for some of these losses, but these positions require highly skilled workers. Some countries experiment with basic income and other programs designed to ensure the quality of life for all residents, which helps minimize inequality created by an end-of-work society. Other strategies focus on improving skills training to create a workforce capable of adapting to new technology.
The earth has limited resources and an ever-growing human population. The BBC predicts growth of up to 9.7 billion people by 2050, which strains the planet due to unsustainable resource usage. Happy and healthy human well-being depends on changing resource consumption through renewable energy sources, better food production methods and a reduction in emissions.
The substantial increase in computing power also revolutionizes ownership. Digitalization already impacts many areas of life today, from the way people consume music to server resource allocations in a business network. IoT continues this trend by changing the boundaries separating industries. Money becomes a less valuable asset than data, which may lead to markets converging rather than operating in fragmented structures. A few leading technology companies would gain nearly complete control over the business world, making it difficult for smaller businesses to gain any foothold.
Globalization continues to bring people closer together through the internet, with social media and online communities fostering communication across cultural boundaries. The societal emphasis on being defined by a job would slowly fall to the side due to entire industries adopting widespread automation. The additional free time gives people the liberty to change the way they see themselves, but they may trade their long-held beliefs for it.
Both businesses and individuals need to prepare for the hyperconnected future to make the most of these technological advances. No one can predict the full societal impact coming with these impending changes, but understanding the possibilities now helps to ease the transition later.
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