page image

CHAPTER V - Conclusion

There are outsized expectations for the Internet of Things—in both utopian and dystopian directions. Longtime theorist of technology Jeremy Rifkin predicts that the IoT and related systems will give individuals unprecedented control over the production of goods and services, and thereby the conduct of their lives.i

In a more humorous vein, Matt Honen writes for Wired a scenario in which the hapless homeowner is marooned in a dysfunctional connected home, with appliances rendered inoperable by obsolete operating systems, closed standards and security flaws.ii

Each perspective is rooted in very different visions of where power lies in the IoT world, and each finds support as networked devices are rolled out. Sometimes the very same scenario can be used to support both visions. For example, there is the case of vehicles leased to subprime borrowers on the condition that the lender can remotely disable the ignition in the event of a late payment or default.iii On the one hand, the system expands access to car loans. On the other hand, it raises questions about a “self-help” solution for lenders that allows for erroneous decisions and may leave borrowers literally stranded.

The Conference reflected a range of views about the promise and perils of the IoT and how policy can contribute to netting the most benefit from networked matter. There was greatest consensus among participants on some basic principles:

  • Treat IoT data itself as infrastructure –an essential building block for all kinds of economic, social and civic activity.
  • Design-in security controls that reduce threats to connected devices and systems, and ensure that these security controls can be kept current.
  • Design-in privacy controls that minimize collection of personally identifiable information and effectuate Fair Information Practice Principles.
  • Promote broad accessibility of data and data analytics, which will require interoperable standards in many parts of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Government should promote adoption and diffusion of technology, including building out IoT capabilities when it invests in infrastructure (known as a “dig once” proposal).
  • IoT systems should ensure accessibility for the disabled and underserved through inclusion by design.
  • The IoT should act as a vehicle for citizen participation and empowerment.
  • Government should promote common standards for smart cities and other applications.
  • Government should use procurement powers and regulatory powers to promote privacy and security.

In testimony to Congress delivered months after the Conference, Intel advocated that the United States develop a national IoT strategy over the next three to five years.iv Hopefully, the findings and recommendations of the Conference will be useful to any such strategic policy process.

i Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, New York: Palgrave Macillan, 2014.
ii Mat Honen, “The Nightmare on Connected Home Street,” Wired, June 13, 2014. Available online:
iii Michael Corkery and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, “Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car,” New York Times, September 24, 2014. Available online:
iv Statement of Intel Corporation for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation on The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things, Feb. 11, 2015. Available online:
Title Goes Here
Close [X]