In the U.S., we are more concerned about disconnecting the Internet than expanding its connectivity to inanimate objects. If Senator Lieberman has his way, the government will have access to a 'kill switch' that will virtually shut down the Internet at will. Europe on the other hand is taking a much more progressive approach.
The 'Internet of Things' is fast approaching when 'all' things will have just as much right to the Internet as humans do (metaphorically speaking, that is). The European Parliament announced last week it is backing the development of 'Internet of Things,' the new information technology that combines electronic chips and Internet addresses.
The European Union's report last year leading up to Parliament's decision offered scientific support pertaining to the enormous potential for Radio Frequency Identification or RFIDs, which uses tiny chips containing detailed data that can be embedded in any object, even human beings!
How it works. Objects will have their own Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and using the RFID sensors they will be able to obtain information from its environment without the assistance of humans. For example, food products will be able to record temperatures, air conditioning units will regulate according to the body heat in a room and household appliances will be able to talk to each other.
In consideration of today's privacy challenges with social networks such as Facebook, the Internet of Things will need to address issues such as "silencing chips" when necessary and who has access to chips implanted into a human body, say when a person is incapacitated or lacking consciousness.
Andrew Lyons, an American Web developer warns that given people's confusion about something as "simple" as Facebook privacy settings, the Internet of Things privacy needs to be simplified. He believes that "opting into data-chip products have the ability to view exactly what is being shared about them from outside sources and to choose how much of it actually goes out."
So the question remains - if Europe is going bravely into this new world, why is the U.S. lagging behind? If the U.S. would be more concerned about advancing technology then keeping it at bay, we might have been able to prevent the BP Gulf Oil spill. In my previous post, "The Semantic Web As Big Brother Could Have Prevented The BP Oil Disaster," I discuss how "Big Brother" doesn't have to viewed negatively when it provides a greater good. In the case of the tragedy in the Gulf, W. David Stephenson's Web-based "Regulation 3.0" shows how semantic technology will be able to avoid future oil rig deficiencies.
If you're as curious as I as to why the American government has not placed a greater priority on this technology, you won't find it on the Internet. In Googling the "U.S." and "Internet of Things," you will find limited results. While Google and IBM are working on individual projects for the benefit of their company's involvement with the "Internet of Things," its a mystery why we as a country would fall behind Europe in this important area of research - when we have so much ingenuity right in our own backyard? Your thoughts?
For other post pertaining to the "Internet of Things," check out the following: