The Internet of Things Is a Secular Transformation

While the IoT is already in the "here and now," it has yet to deploy its wings.
By Alain Louchez

The sheer massive number of the new denizens in the communications space certainly hints at a revolution, but there is more. The Internet of Things will transform the dimensions of the economy and society on a scale not experienced before. Nothing will be forever fixed. Inert will become active; delayed, instantaneous; offline, online; and static, dynamic. The IoT will give rise to a pulsating environment.

How will the world evolve if everything manufactured contains a reachable Internet Protocol (IP) address and intelligence capabilities? What if devices of any shape or form can be universally and remotely measured, monitored, tracked and controlled? What then will happen to traffic congestion, pollution, health, safety, infrastructure integrity and overall operational efficiency? How will production and consumption cycles be impacted?

As enthusiasm grows, so do concerns.

Utopia or Dystopia?
The European Union and the United States have projects and initiatives to comprehend and harness the rising security and privacy issues. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in March the creation of an Office of Technology Research and Investigation, that will probe IoT technologies related to all facets of the FTC's consumer protection mission. Also this year, Congress launched an Internet of Things Caucus; the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee held a hearing on the IoT; and the Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling for "the Internet of Things to promote economic growth and greater consumer empowerment."

How the IoT will play out in the labor market is also very much a matter of debate. Are the skills and education necessary for the implementation of the Internet of Things readily available? Will the IoT induce a net gain of jobs, or will it reduce employment in the long run and generate technological unemployment? In 2013, research conducted by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne at the University of Oxford provided a dismal view of the impact of computerization on 702 occupations in the United States, estimating that 47 percent of total U.S. employment is at risk.

In his 2014 article, Gordon cites "a contradiction between the actual macro data on productivity growth and the techno-optimists' predictions of accelerating growth." At the very least, he says, the uprising of a new industrial wave is not self-evident, and we must be cautious in trying to chronicle the stages of a revolution foretold.

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