An Internet Thing

Somebody has at last explained to me what The Internet of Things is:  “the online business of machines talking to each other”, as she put it, was instantly understandable. It depressed me somewhat, but at least it made linguistic sense.
The low feeling stemmed from a number of factors. The idea of machines being programmed by people (who can’t think of a better group noun than The Internet of Things) strikes me as a little like Einstein getting his primary education from an amoeba: had that pertained, it would have needed a lifespan of 270 years for Albrecht to get to the theory of relativity.
The ability of all human beings to be hopelessly contradictory helps explain why every computer program in existence is a complete crock. I have a Greek friend – far from technophobic – who simply says “Avoid any idea requiring a program”….because it was designed by a species that sucks. For example, this afternoon whiie passing a Presse here, I saw a headline announcing, ‘PM CALLS FOR SOLIDARITY AGAINST LE PEN, SLAMS SARKOZY’.  The conclusion we’re asked to reach here is that solidarity begins by establishing a 24/7 punch-up. Even momentary use of the left cortex would suggest that’s an outstandingly daft concept, but it is far from atypical. Right across the Western world at the moment, for instance, political ‘leaders’ from Donald Trump via Hillary Clinton and Theresa May to Francois Hollande are explaining how the way to preserve our liberties in the face of fascist fundamentalism is to pass laws that take those liberties away. Jean Jacques Rousseau, eat your heart out.
All that said, the worst aspect of The Internet of Things (or TIOT which, if you say it quickly, appropriately sounds like ‘twat’) is the idea that machines should be in charge of decisions affecting live species, however indirectly. There are a great many people in my country of birth who marvel at Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith’s inability, as a fully paid-up example of Homo sapiens, to behave in a way befitting such species membership. But the moment you start imagining a computer programmed to reflect and develop IDS’s policies, life begins to feel like The Outer Limits, minus only the gags.
Just as terrifying is the idea of The Trumpmatron….a machine designed to carry on the work of Donald Trump after his reassuringly inevitable demise. Just as Donald says there are some good bits in Mein Kampf, so too I find glimmers, here and there in his belief system, of common sense – most notably his desire to end the pc multicultural phobia with giving offence – a cancer that has created perhaps the greatest human multivariate oxymoron, the laid-back Californian liberal Nazi hippy ecologist.
But 92% of DT is, lets be honest here and employ the American technical term, Like Todally Ferkin Weeyerd. For starters, the bloke is orange. And above that orange visage, he sports a hirsute arrangement that looks as if he’s wearing a rug. I mean, why would anyone that rich adopt a hairstyle that makes him look follically challenged? Does he do it, we wonder, to try and hoover up the votes of every Democrat factory-wired to root for the sad guy, however unsympathetic that attic-dwelling oddball might be?
On the other hand, take a look at what Trump and his most likely opponent next year Hillary Clinton have been saying about internet freedoms. Actually, it doesn’t matter which one’s views on this you read, because they are identical:

“We have to close down the virtual networking capacity that enables [Islamic fundamentalists] to operate…of course, people will call this an attack on liberty, but they need to wake up to the threat involved”.

“I say that we are giving the initiative to terrorists by allowing too many internet freedoms…and guess what, the usual people will say that this is a restriction of our freedoms, but they are silly people”.

The latter of these is Trump, and the former Clinton. It partially explains why – although I favoured Hillary over Odrama eight years ago – I now think her election to the Presidency would be a disaster for domestic rights, and an endangerment of peace abroad. As Secretary of State, it seems to me she went irreversibly native in the same way that The Black Dude did on the regulation of Wall Street.

In the end, even The Internet of Things generates the kind of black humour that appeals to me. It would be wonderful, would it not, to watch a fully-briefed machine interrogating Jeremy Hunt about Hotcourses, Gordon Brown about his Iraq War budgets, Tony Blair about secret codicils with his chum Dubya, Leon Brittan about his sexual predelictions, Wolfgang Schauble about his ambitions, Angela Merkel about her past, and perhaps even Nigel Farage about his future.
But reality intervenes here to suggest that we already have human naifs interrogating human machines. The future (unless people recognise the need for our strength in numbers to finally count for something) is likely to be heaviy censored saps asking lifeless machines frightfully polite questions.
As always, how this spans out is entirely up to each and every one of us. That is, if we manage to dodge the drones. The global market for drones is now worth £2 billions.
And on that happy note, welcome to Wednesday.

Last night at The Slog: When MPs forget they’re being watched


  1. I await the first mass public sex orgy as a protest against intrusive surveillance destroying the concept of privacy and a ‘private life’ – I mean, if you can’t do it in private, why not go the whole hog and make everyone else watch you all do it in the full glare of the public eye?!

    There will also emerge a subset of humans who say: ‘the internet is currently against our interests, so we will organise our lives without it’. They might organise VPNs instead, with properly vetted site hosts only being allowed to trade, market etc on the VPN after appropriate checks to their veracity. You know, a bit like pub owners having to go up before the local council to get a license to sell alcohol.

    Currently, the only check placed on you is your ability to buy a domain name and an internet access from an ISP.


  2. It may already be too late. As more systems in modern cars are placed entirely under the control of chips, our lives become increasingly vulnerable to the foibles of electronics. Soon only the dealer will be able to maintain your car as only they will have access to the software required. Given the history of computing, (exhibit A – Windows 8), the fact that we are being forced to trust in the equivalent of Microsoft Windows to stay alive is unsettling, especially given the number of times I faced the ‘blue screen of death’ in its early days. I have a colleague who drives a relatively new BMW. She recently had to return her car to the dealer for ‘reprogramming’ as it was unexpectedly jerking forwards. She was quite unflustered by this potentially lethal bug and told me that it was quite common.


  3. The internet of things is bound to change our internet for the worse in days to come. There are simply too many free spirits that blog on subjects with a veracity that our rulers cannot tolerate. The machines will change all this to our collective detriment. Search results will be restricted and censored and those that outline a reality that the MSM cannot tolerate will gradually be sidelined to total obscurity. To an extent this is already happening with those that peddle extremist views but as Bush said you are either with us or against us and more recently camoron “If you are against us you are a terrorist supporter”(Outrageous statements by both and yet the mainstream news accepts such statements as normal instead of holding the issuers of such asinine comments to account) The blogosphere is the only place where a rational discussion of our leaders’ various Shortcomings-peccadilloes-arrogance etc. can occur. If this is allowed to continue the sham that masquerades as our democracy known to all. Put corporations in the context of Matthew 7:16 and think on what Eisenhower said about the military industrial complex.


  4. Mein Liebling Zucker Wand

    a) A Trumpatron may be a true word uttered in jest . It may replace the current Magnetron in microwaves enabling the speedy preparation of outlandish hairstyles at low cost.

    b) The abbreviation TIOT if uttered speedily or whilst what you British lovingly call ” bladdered” soundsnearer to TWOT which is a more incisive putdown

    c) Blutenblatt — you know better than to libel me. Prior to Dec 1989 I admit to NO personal history…..


  5. Human species evolves, the thing is if you put an obstacle in the way humanity strives to overcome it. Blocking communication is pointless and detrimental because at the moment they can see and her everything, that is what all the backdoors are for and spawned the hackers.

    Block the communication, you just transmit the information in other ways and if it works electronicallys just as fast.

    In the above they go on about blocking communications, the far bigger threat is encryption where even if you can see it you can’t read it. PGP4WIN, rather good for encrypted e-mails … ooooops, good for keeping data safe too because I use it.

    That last point if they don’t they really should fear more now than current monitoring of the internet because in practice it renders them blind, listening or not makes no difference!


  6. IDS is already “immortalised” in the Internet of Cthulu, aka DWP systems, by his Universal Credit. It is the attempt to code the mind of a mad man, with a consuming psychotic hatred of poor people, aka the others, creating a system that monitors the every member of the UK who uses the welfare state, from cradle to grave, monetising every life event, monetising every minute that is be spent in forced-labour. It is a cruel system of total control of peoples lives, which has and will use imposed starvation and destitution as the primary controlling force. It is the modern workhouse without walls – and like the actual workhouse (where my dear old great-grand dad died a pauper) if you leave it’s “walls” you will be left to die on the roadside. Unlike the old workhouse, it will control the lives of tens of millions, if the madness is not stopped. The most likely reason it will not work is that the coders and programmers of the DWP (or their agents) just can’t make a system where there are no rules, but are only beliefs, and intended affects. It will be embedded in a people system (aka wet ware in business analysis parlance) that has decided that the unemployed are not the product of capitalism, but of diseased minds, and is setting up processing stations in every Job Centre to used forced NLP/ CBT to those who are resistant to Big Brother.


  7. rtj1211

    Put me down for 69 go’s!

    (This comment was made in fond memory of the sadly not immortal Peter Price who was and still is a legend in West End Theatre Land and beyond due to his technical activities at The Royal Opera House and The National Theatre to name but a few. Pricey, as he was universally known, used to tour The Rolling Stones with his bare wrists, his bare wits, and great good humour. If he ever encountered the prospect of a good time he would say, with gleeful anticipation: ‘Put me down for 49 go’s!’)

    Perhaps, however, we should wait until the spring?


  8. A fair question, ghost. I think I can say, without fear of contraception, that the spring alone will be sufficient!


  9. if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear…… but why do people use curtains and blinds…… maybe they have something to hide.


  10. The challenge for this IOT (or IDIOT?) iis to make it properly secure with no NSA/GCHQ Backdoors. Then the issue will be who does what with all that lovely data that the IOT will inevitable slurp from every one of us. Maybe not all of us.

    Remember that they’re Our Things, and they aren’t going to secretly spy on us for the benefit of some cartel. They can have some subset of the data, but I stay in charge of what that is, thank you.

    If Facebook loses your cat pictures, well it doesn’t matter because Facebook doesn’t matter. If however my IOT thermostat (and hence every thermostat in the country) doesn’t work because it’s connected to a server in bongo-bongo land (or California – same thing really) and they shut down and my house freezes while I stand in line behind 10 million other people waiting for a replacement, then I’m going to care a lot.

    People should be able to buy critical stuff and know that it is safe to use without having to analyse the technology behind it.

    But leaving aside the obvious consumer issues, how many governments want to snoop on and control the personal lives of their citizens? As far as I know, the answer is all of them. That’s what this is really about, not consumer issues.


  11. Andy – you are making a base assumption about the data gathering of these authorities. You are actually assuming they are competent in analysing this data.


  12. @ Desmond, nothing to hide but my nakedness.. and public sex is a criminal act so… no peeking!.. I mean, I was at my friends house and she was watching ‘Big Brother’ yes, watching people make tea, fart, smoke, talk rubbish..

    @ Jeremy oh if only they knew how to collect and collate and analys data. Here is the main trick: have an answer you want, ask only questions which force participants to give the answer you want. e.g People who have no legs and use posthetics to ‘walk’ mostly with pain are being denied mobility because the ticky boxy thingy says ‘can you walk’ and answer is Yes! there is no ticky boxy thing which asks can you walk without your posthetic legs and the pain level it induces. nice one eh saves the tax payer a spend on other things like…….well interpreters and stuff. It’s a win win yes?

    The internet and our lovable little nodes are giving us power, which they can’t control, but they are trying to. Bless em. The MSM and Postoffice (now privatised) are squealing at losses as emails and skype with people on the ground reporting things and giving live picture feeds..One day- hopefully- bye bye Roopie media magnet.
    As woman who can program a pc I am not at all offended. :) We are programmed to recieve, you can check out any time you like… but you can never leave…(exceprt from Hotel California song)


  13. Put simply, the IoT is a Stasi State’s Wet Dream where your Internet-Connected Toaster and Fridge dial-up home to snitch on you in the Brave New World of Total Surveillance.

    Think Prison Planet. Think Bentham’s Panopticon or Tolkien’s Eye of Sauron.


  14. “heavily censored saps asking lifeless machines frightfully polite questions”. Isn’t that a description of the people currently using Siri/Cortana?


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