From 27 sep to 5 oct, Rome hosted the Innovation Week, a place where leaders in innovation, technology experts, makers and many more met to share views on how the near future will be. Promoted by the Chamber of Commerce of Rome, and organized by the Asset Camera, in collaboration with Arduino and Make magazine, the Innovation Week took place in Auditorium Parco della Musica.
The Innovation Week featured many events, ranging from the huge Maker Faire European Edition to the Open Hardware Summit (here, our review of this event), as well as many other events covering an array of topics like social innovation, smart cities, Internet of Things, data society, wearables, creative start-ups, smart money, and so on.
For those who are not familiar with the Internet of Things concept yet, briefly we can summarize it as the development of a wide network of interconnected everyday objects via the Internet. From traffic lights to fridges, lamps, and even your own body, everything could be linked to the web, sharing data and being commanded online. Considered as the “big next thing” by amateurs and specialists, Internet of Things (abridged, IoT) brings as many expectations as doubts about its impact on people’s lives.
Meet IoT was the event focusing on Internet of Things at the Innovation Week, showing how IoT developments can make our lives better, but also bearing in mind the challenges and even dangers this would mean. Following, our highlights.
Intel presents Edison
Edward Ross and Jim Chase from Intel Corporation presented Edison, an Arduino-compatible development board, being marketed to pro makers and companies working on Internet of Things and wearables projects. Along with its lower-end brother Galileo, it reflects the strong move of the company to approach the burgeoning DIY movement. Moreover, Intel Corporation was a main sponsor of Maker Faire Rome, having also signed last year a collaboration agreement with Arduino.
Protocols to protect us
Later, Rufo Guerreschi from Rome-based company Open Media Cluster remarked the security and privacy issues of IoT, emphasizing the urgent need of thinking protocols to avoid IoT be an excessive intrusion on our lives. Besides, he stated, the autonomy of certain everyday objects, for instance cars, means a huge responsibility whereas a security failure may have critical consequences and can’t be considered simply a technical failure.
Human or machine?
Gérald Santucci, Head of the Knowledge Sharing Unit at European Commission, took us on an exciting tour from Sci-Fi literature first forecasts of IoT to its real beginnings now. Referencing to Bruce Sterling, Santucci said that nowadays we are in a gizmo (gadgets) era, we will go through a spime era (instantiated, on demand IoT objects) and the future will be the biot era (entities that are both object and person). Considering that the moment will come when, in terms of intelligence, it will be difficult to distinguish between humans and machines, Santucci wondered about the ethical issues that the “enhanced humans” will bring. In a future where we will be connected by default, we’ll have to face dilemmas as how to preserve our freedom to choose being off-line.
Reinventing the wheel
With academic rigor and showing a deep knowledge of the subject, Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli from UC Berkeley made a critical review of the Internet of Things; something, he wittily pointed out, invented decades ago and reinvented now because “in technology, we are always reinventing the wheel, it is the way to get money”. He also warned on the negative effects that IoT can have. “The more complex you are designing your systems, the more they will have side effects”. To conclude, he made a call to the responsibility by saying that this is an opportunity to be a Renaissance but also it could be an opportunity to be in hell.
Meet IoT gave us a wide and deep view of what Internet of Things is, and how is already changing our lives. Insightful speakers showed us how to harness the opportunities that arise, but also the underlying issues that we should be concerned about.
More Innovation Week recaps coming shortly on this blog. Stay tuned.