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

However, groundbreaking innovations with far-reaching repercussions can erupt unexpectedly. The introduction of the HP35 calculator in the 1972-'75 timeframe precipitated the demise of the well-entrenched slide rule industry. The destruction was so complete that the slide rule rapidly became a relic. In 1976, the final slide rule made by K&E was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

At the core of the Internet of Things is a complete transformation of society's production and consumption processes. It is a fertile new field whose crop is yet to be known, let alone harvested. The development of Industry 4.0 leans heavily on so-called cyber-physical systems or CPS—that is, the tight integration of physical, computation and communication processes into a seamlessly orchestrated production-consumption continuum. This is an ambitious project, a novel disrupting approach that might stretch out over several generations.

New ecosystems will spring up. Some jobs will disappear, while others will be created. Marketing will be reshaped by IoT technologies. Old business models will become irrelevant. Along the way, training and education adapted to the emerging IoT landscape will need to facilitate and support the move from the old to the new.

Time and effort will have to be directed toward promoting the benefits of the Internet of Things while insulating society from its misuse—for example, the implementation of acceptable and effective levels of security and privacy. New laws and regulations, including the development and use of standards, are needed to protect fundamental individual rights and, at the same time, safeguard the road to entrepreneurial creativity and innovation.

These non-trivial long-term challenges, issues, risks and uncertainties will take time to be thoroughly researched, understood and addressed. The Internet of Things is for the long haul. The secular transformation molded by the IoT will be marked by incandescent thinking, daring enterprise and rebelling invention. It is already underway.

Alain Louchez is the managing director of the Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things Technologies (CDAIT) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of Georgia Tech, the University System of Georgia or the State of Georgia.

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