In a prescient comedy bit from over 50 years ago, Woody Allen noted that mechanical objects could communicate with each other. Worse, his household appliances hated him and were conspiring to do him harm. Here is the link to his performance. It is worth five minutes. I’ll wait for you to get back.
Funny, right? Scary too. I was shopping for a bed last weekend. I got twelve years from a Sleep Number bed. It is time for a new one. The salesman excitedly described all of the new bed’s features. He told me that it would be able to make adjustments WHILE I’m sleeping. I stopped him mid-pitch. “Are you telling me that the bed is connected to the Wi-Fi and that my sleep habits would be monitored?” Not catching my alarm, he happily confirmed this incredible invasion of what little privacy we might still have. I backed him down to an old fashioned model, one that I could adjust, if needed, before retiring for the night.
We appear to be tethered to our technology, not just cellphones, but Alexa, Google Home, and all of the Smart Devices that populate our lives. All of these devices talk to each other as their actions, and by extension ours, are stored in some huge computer server farm (the Cloud). Privacy? I often tell my clients that we are changing our clothes in front of the window with the drapes wide open. We have few secrets and little, if any, privacy.
I was introduced to Beam Dental at a seminar earlier this week. This is an innovative dental insurance plan that includes their own special Wi-Fi connected toothbrush. Your company can get a discount on your dental insurance premium if you and your employees brush enough. Their young sales rep was enthusiastic. I was aghast. I can’t imagine my brushing habits being one more data point in some huge file. But another agent, a young man in his thirties, was thrilled with the possibility of monitoring his 5 year old’s brushing habits and the convenience of having new brush heads delivered directly to his home.
So your toothbrush may soon be communicating with the rest of your home appliances or dating your next door neighbor’s television. Or, there is still the issue of Woody’s toaster…
Picture – David L Cunix – Best Man