A Nervous System for the Planet

Today there are roughly two Internet-connected devices for every man, woman and child on the planet. Analysts say that by 2025 this ratio will rise past six, meaning we can expect to grow to nearly 50 billion Internet-connected devices (Savitz, 2012) in the next decade… umm what will these devices be doing exactly?

The Internet of things has been described as a Nervous System for the Planet. Over the next decade or so small sensors will be able to enable machine-to-machine communication and act as the digital nerve endings for global sense-and-respond systems. Your car could transmit a message to your house to let your appliances know you will be home in 15minutes. When you get home the house it warm, the ovens on, the washing is done and your favourite show is ready for you to watch. To a greater extent we would have the ability to impart a central nervous system on our planet. This technological revolution (driven by cheap sensor technology) would allow us to measure systems on a global scale and at the same time offer a never before seen resolution (Savitz, 2012). Could this be an answer to the meaning of life? If sensor networks are successful it may help to explain the world we live in, our role in it and our impact upon it. The Internet of things could help us solve some of the biggest problems facing society… however, for every utopian view there is of course a dystopian view (i.e Robots are going to take over the planet).

One of the real threats involved with the Internet of things is just how much information these ‘things’ could collect. If all of the objects in your everyday life were monitoring how you used them then wouldn’t they know everything about you? Who gets this information? All of the data recorded by objects in your life would essentially be uploaded to the Internet, and for some, information is a very valuable thing.


Eric Savitz, 2012 ‘How The Internet of Things Will Change Almost Everything’ Forbes Magazine, written December 17, accessed October 24, 2013


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