By MAGGIE M, Editor, the wedge.LIVE
An unprecedented shift to “life as we know it” is already in play. It’s not coming. It’s here. And it is being installed incrementally under our noses. The dominoes are falling one after the other.
A MICROCOSM IN THE MACROCOSM
Imagine your refrigerator is on the cloud (that’s internet 2.0) accessible to global food processors, marketers, ad agencies, grocery chains, analysts, researchers… The list is long. On a screen, your fridge announces your milk is past due; so, into a shopping cart its replacement goes. Samsung is already rolling these off the conveyor belt. Below is a 2018 video from SAP at the CES show, the software enabler behind the Samsung appliance. Do you want a connected kitchen? Do you want a central hub monitoring your food consumption?
Now, imagine your pantry, cupboards are also on the cloud thanks to the “internet of things” (IOT). By the by, IOT is also tongue and groove with A.I. (artificial intelligence.) The wifi in your home, on the global cloud, picks up the data on your cans and boxes. In similar fashion, the cart grows.
Now let’s travel to the bathroom. The medicine cabinet is a veritable treasure trove to pharmaceutical corporations. Out of toothpaste or analgesics? The cart grows. Count on that being on the cloud too.
Is you toilet out of reach? Absolutely not. Urine analysis on the cloud? It’s nice that you don’t have to pee in a cup. That was such a horror, right? It’s much better to send the contents of your urine on the cloud and receive a remote analysis in real time of your glucose and protein count as the toilet flushes itself. Right? Your screen adds meds to your cart to fix that high protein count. Of course the whole event is permanently captured in the central server. I invented this paragraph leveraging the foundational precepts of IOT. Frankly, it is probably in development already.
I know your imagination is running wild now. So, it should. I’ll leave the rest of your home, your vehicle and your neighborhood out of the story for now. Let’s however have a look at how fast this is moving in our own backyard.
BEHOLD ‘SIDEWALK LABS’ TORONTO : UTOPIA OR PLANTATION?
All of this technology is at hand. Google AKA Alphabet (the corporation which now owns Google) has parsed out a portion of Toronto for itself transforming it into a “smart city.” It has named this utopian ideal, “Sidewalk Labs.” CBC broke the story on-line.
The wedge looks for public engagement in this digital endeavor. On-line comments are a good indication of public sentiment. Torontonians weighed in 346 times on the CBC story with angst and vitriol toward Google. (I commend CBC for giving the public a voice without censorship.) All were concerned with privacy, security and access. Clearly, neither Google or the City of Toronto have public engagement.
How did this come to be?
I quote a technocrat, after hours of friendly banter (his livelihood is completely invested in IOT), “It’s inevitable.” And he quickly scampered off before I could reply. This is code for, “We don’t care what you think or want. We’re bulldozing forward.” I have heard the same hubris for over a decade.
HERE IN OUR BACKYARD AND THE REST OF THE WORLD
Sidewalk Labs communities by Google-Alphabet are also scheduled for Dubai and South Korea. Once this template is in place, they will consolidate and roll out everywhere.
What’s in store for smaller cities like Ottawa, Kingston and Brockville? Towns like Kemptville or Almonte? Villages like Westport?
Let me cut to the chase here. Everything is up for grabs for digitization on this planet. Everything. And Google AKA Alphabet is the first mover.