The Internet of Things—internet connections in everyday objects that allow them to send and receive data—is growing and growing quickly.
You might recognize it currently in cars, voice-activated assistants and health trackers.
In 1999, just 4% of the world’s population was online. Today, 49% of the world’s population is connected online and an estimated 8.4 billion connected things are in use worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.
Pew Research along with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center in Elon, North Carolina, asked technologists, scholars, strategic thinkers and other leaders to consider the future of IoT in a survey during the summer of 2016. They asked: “As automobiles, medical devices, smart TVs, manufacturing equipment, and other tools and infrastructure are networked, is it likely that attacks, hacks and ransomware concerns in the next decade will cause significant numbers of people to decide to disconnect or will the trend toward greater connectivity of objects and people continue unabated?”
More than 1,200 responded, with 15% predicting a disconnect and 85% estimating people would move even more deeply into connectivity.
Several themes emerged from the responses, a report created by Elon University noted:
- People crave connection and convenience.
- Unplugging isn’t easy now, and by 2026 it will be even tougher.
- The IoT will be accepted despite dangers because most people don’t think the worst-case scenario will happen to them.
- Human ingenuity and risk-mitigation strategies will make the IoT safer.
- Notable numbers of people will disconnect.
- Whether or not people disconnect, the dangers are real. Security and privacy issues will be magnified to a great degree by the rapid rise of the IoT.
The conclusion? “Despite wide concerns about cyberattacks, outages and privacy violations, most experts believe the Internet of Things will continue to expand in the next several years, tying machines to machines and linking people to valuable resources, services and opportunities,” Pew reports.
The report, which can be read here or here, is part four of a five-part series on the future of the internet, is based on a nonscientific open-ended questionnaire with 1,201 respondents conducted from July 1 to Aug. 12, 2016.