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As the appetite for big data increases, are citizens becoming little more than information-gathering sensors? Researcher Dr Rachel O’Dwyer explores the ethics and privacy concerns burdening the internet of things.
You Will Go to the Moon was published by children’s authors Ira and Mae Freeman in 1959, several years before the first moon landing. The illustrated children’s book tried to imagine a future of space exploration that has yet to come to pass. Space exploration eventually did happen, just not in the imaginary of a 1950s futurism with moon cars, dome-shaped houses and aluminium miniskirts.
The internet of things (IoT) is caught in a similar moment of suspension between wild imaginaries of connected futures (‘Your house will know when granny has had a stroke’) and an already pervasive reality that we don’t always recognise – maybe because it doesn’t quite look like Minority Report. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t already a reality and, even now, shaping key areas of our lives.