Here’s another dumb story about the smart grid.
As the creation of an ‘Internet of Things‘ continues right on track to bring us a world where everyday objects — everything from pacemakers to roads — are connected via sensors and can talk to each other online, will people be able to look past the trendiness to realize the inherent dangers to not only their privacy but to life as we all know it?
Reports are emerging from the Russian state media that ordinary looking clothing irons imported from China were found to be bugged with microphones and devices that would attempt to connect to any WI-FI source within 650 feet in order to upload a virus that would effect any computer connected to the same network.
Popular Science questioned the allegation, claiming that the whole idea seemed implausible because there are far more efficient ways to spy and stopping these big brother surveillance state clothing irons would be as easy as password-protecting one’s network. “There’s a chance that such an iron could end up in an executive’s office, but it’s probably just easier to bribe someone and have them physically place the bug than it is to hope the targeted person buys a compromised iron,” PopSci writer Kelsey Atherton argued.
However, as tech continues to get more savvy and metadata preferable to track trends like a school of fish to ultimately control society at a macro level, it’s looking like the days of bugging a single targeted person are already passé.
Metadata is all the rage these days. Just ask the NSA who recently built a $2 billion spy hub in the Utah desert capable of analyzing xetabytes of information.
In fact, aside from the nasty computer virus, the new smart cities currently being beta tested already have this interconnected capability, right down to people’s garbage cans transmitting data to a central hub to keep track of what people are throwing away and their recycling habits. In a smart grid, data on everything including hot water and electricity usage will be collected and analyzed in real time on everyone, continuously. Some suggest this could be used to give people tax incentives to use less resources during peak times, but the hand that giveth is the same hand that can fine people for that usage under artificial scarcity claims (after all, the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change has recently declared that humans are responsible for global warming).
Consider the new Xbox coming out which requires the Kinect webcam device and will required to be always on, always connected. A patent Microsoft filed late last year suggests that the Kinect could be used to charge for live-streaming a movie based on the device’s ability to recognize how many people are in the room to watch it.
In fact, there are lots of household appliances that have the capability to spy on us already. There’s a reason former CIA Director David Petraeus said the ability for clandestine tradecraft would be “transformational”:
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.” (source)
Why send someone in person to bug someone else’s office when you can just toss a bunch of cheap sensors into a batch of goods, sell them and spy on everybody?
This whole smart grid and its coming ‘Internet of Things’ has just been swell so far, hasn’t it?
To paraphrase the late 1984 author George Orwell, “Remember kids, any technological advance that seems super trendy today can also be used to enslave you tomorrow!”