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Should We Be Scared of an Intelligent Internet of Things?

Last week was IoT week on SitePoint which saw us publish a plethora of articles focused on the intersection of the internet and the physical world. We covered some seriously great stuff! Among my favorites was this article by Christopher Pitt on combining an Arduino, Minecraft and PHP (yup, PHP) and this article by SitePoint’s Alex Walker and Jude Aakjaer on creating a motion-sensing, meeting-room-reserving Arduino platform.

Now, I don’t mind admitting that I’m a bit of an IoT skeptic. As I’ve written in the past, it worries me that in the rush to get the latest, greatest IoT products out of the door, security is often an afterthought. I also have zero confidence in those large data-thirsty corporations who, given half a chance, would use my IoT devices to gather as much personal data as they possibly can. Oh wait, they’re doing that already, you say? Well, dang!

Anyway, that’s why a third IoT week post struck a particular chord with me. This is a post in which Elio Qoshi cautions against the potentially dangerous combination of the IoT and artificial intelligence (AI). Now we’ve all heard the warnings about AI, right? World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking believes that thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence, and technology entrepreneur Elon Musk considers AI to be “potentially more dangerous than nukes“. But surely that’s just hyperbole. We’re already using AI in our day-to-day lives (for example whenever we interact with a virtual assistant such as Siri or Cortana) and the world hasn’t ended quite yet. In fact, for most people it just got more convenient.

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