Technology does not always get better.

Daniel Miessler is upset with Gizmodo for pooh-poohing the idea of smart homes. Tech journalists, Miessler says, do not understand the Internet Of Things:

This type of journalism seriously annoys me. It’s the equivalent of looking at an R&D lab at CalTech in 1973 and saying, “Wow, computers are stupid.”

It’s quite sad to see a tech magazine throwing red meat to luddites.

In human-time, the Internet of Things started roughly 37 seconds ago. This isn’t the beginning; it’s the start of the launch of the beginning. Everything we’re seeing is basically pre-alpha, and thus has all the problems associated with being first.

For one thing, it is 2018 and computers are still stupid.

More importantly, the current state of the IoT and the so-called “smart home” is pretty wretched, and Gizmodo is not wrong to wave its readers off from it. Multiple platforms, competing standards, rampant security vulnerabilities, and the broader question of whether anyone really needs an internet-accessible, programmable interface for the lights in the upstairs hallway—all of these issues pose serious questions as to whether we ought to be welcoming this stuff into our homes.

Miessler’s argument is that of course all of these problems will get better. They are the problems that face any new technology and they will get worked out.

My question in response is on what grounds can we make that claim. Individual pieces of technology will get smaller and faster, and they will become capable of doing more. However, none of those changes necessarily equate to “better.”

Moreover, if the Internet Of Thing follows the pattern of the last thirty years, the path to “better” is that one or two major platforms comes to dominate, and instead of separate companies supplying your thermostat, your lightbulbs and powerstrips, your voice assistant/speaker, your router, and your baby monitor, they’re all controlled by one monolithic entity. Given what we have learned over the course of the last few years about companies like Facebooks, Google, Amazon, and Apple and their general disregard for the public good, people warning about the foolishness opening our homes even further are hardly Luddites.

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