One Ring to bind all rings:
The only path to an inclusive Smart Society for all is to direct all R&D resources towards a single EU IoT platform (based on the IoT-A ARM). This can only be achieved by harvesting all agency on the last man standing in the field of Identity Management; the passport, currently a piece of paper with a chip. The next iteration, a chip plus a screen can be an IoT device (NFC, mesh-networked p2p + Cloud...) preferably foldable that acts as the sole gateway to the service store that is hosted on the platform where a citizen manages taxes (participatory budgeting), energy, education, health…Security can be hardcoded into the device (biometrics, quantum-computing, and directly linked to realistic business models (as the Mifare card is open yet widely used: a trade-off). Privacy is split into privacies; levels of exposure that citizens chose to set to different functions (shopping, leasing, socializing…), while accepting explicitly the Digital Identity of the 500 million EU zone as part of a trade-off of a socially stable environment that has forged a new middle ground, a new median of equality and balancing of resources between its citizens. As the trend everywhere in the world is towards gated communities and withdrawal of upper and upper middle class – fuelled by the potential of IoT to live in closed ‘smart cities’ – of supporting generic infrastructure of sewage, mobility, communication and energy, there is a strong case to be made for this plan that will bring stability as well as convenience and innovation potential.
Neignbourhoods will have a neighbourhood server that stores all data coming from people, machines, sensors locally and anonymously. It then plays back the datamined scenarios to the devices, the home interfaces and the public displays on the bustops following the mid nineties i3 project Living Memory that tried to augment real life experiences in a meaningful and intuitive way. If five people have slept badly and you are one of them you can come forward and get advice. If you don’t want to expose yourself, you don’t. Citizens own their data, but agree that these are channelled through the device. The device acts as a controller and citizens can assign objects to their tribe of objects and choose to share this.
IoT is the seamless link between the gateways BAN (Body), LAN (Home), WAN (Car) and VWAN (City). Google tries to secure this line with the Glass and Lense, the Powermeter and Nest, the Car and Google.org sponsoring open data in cities. Endusers, citizens, will only pay whoever owns that open line, the new power (and exit democracy). Hence Google is in pole position to become the new governance model itself. . In a recent email discussion I had with Vint Cerf on IoT he referred me to an article on Knowbots that he had written with Bob Kahn in 1988: “Research will also be undertaken to develop a Knowbot which understands organizational structure and documents associated with it.” That is a definition of Google itself and it shows that these type of companies will be the new form of organization of society. Democracy as we know it everywhere is irrelevant and explaining these shifts to politicians and most civil servants is a waste of time. The last Chinese government had out of 11 top politicians 9 engineers. That is the same ratio as Google, 90% engineers.
A public IoT needs to secure that line with its own gateways (read favoured products to BAN, LAN, WAN,VWAN).
That can only happen if:
- agency is grasped on the last inclusive level that the states and supra states have power on: the passport (legal-illegal)
- a full communication turn is made towards seeing IoT as a positive leveller and enabler of human potential:
the best possible feedback on physical and mental health
the best possible deals based on real time monitoring for resource allocation
the best possible decision making based on real time data and information from open sources and the best possible alignments of my local providers with the global potential of wider communities
- there is an open communication channel with the EU military and intelligence services to explain them that the nature of a ‘threat’ has changed and that they can no longer secure at item level, nor at the level that gives them meaning: the state
Given the current lethargy and lack of urgency at EU policy level it is highly unlikely that a plan like this can be executed in Europe. It will most likely happen in China, Russia, Taiwan, as the level of centralization, the realization that politics is no longer made by politicians but engineers, and the sense of urgency is with them. Most likely we will simply break into a new Middle Ages.
Robert E. Kahn and Vinton G. Cerf Corporation for National Research Initiatives March 1988 ©Corp. for National Research Initiatives, 1988