We started our L&Team chat out this week with a question that goes along with what we’ve been thinking and writing about this week: “What is current IoT development are you excited about?” While we had planned to go around the room and get everyone’s answers to this question in some structured way, the conversation quickly derailed into much more interesting territory, in typical L&T fashion. One thing that we’ve learned since day one at L&T: don’t fight the tangential content – let conversation flow, and you’ll almost always end up in a much better place than originally anticipated.

Our CEO Cooper began by immediately dismissing our query (thanks Coop) by saying that he “can’t think of a way, yet, that IoT is really useful” to him. He then went on, unprompted, to describe the iWatch as a “shitty internet Apple ankle bracelet.” Tim Cook would probably take issue with that, but our staff writer, Brett, agreed with Cooper on the iWatch to some extent. As the owner of a LG Urbane watch himself, Brett sees smartwatches as  “step one” towards the true Internet of Things, describing his wrist candy as “kinda cool, but not [making] the biggest difference in my life.”

Cooper then discussed the fact that a “true difference” in the IoT solution is extremely costly in the current technological and economical climate. The “connected home” or “smarthome” is the most applicable function of IoT, but not accessible at all to the general American public. Certainly, you could, in Cooper’s words, “pimp out your Palo Alto crib if you had lots of money,” but who realistically has the resources to remodel and optimize their home with IoT in mind? Perhaps Kimye’s new home, once unveiled on KUWTK, will be awash with integrated IoT technology, but for now, the smarthome is still a thing of most people’s not so distant future.

On a similar thread, our president, Jonathan, went on to bemoan the fact that there has yet to be technology invented that will put the age-old paranoia of “did I turn my gas off?” to rest. Cooper pointed out that this paranoia seems to a particularly British concern, but when I pointed out that such technology does exist (one example being nest), Jonathan realized that he was still out of luck. He actually had a free nest already, as a reward for converting to green energy at home, but couldn’t set it up since his home systems were too out of date to be compatible.

Cooper wished out loud that IoT could progress to the stage where things that he’s “bad at doing,” like watering the plants and turning off the gas, could become fully automated, and Brett was quick to point out at many current devices act more as a notification platform. While they’re capable of reminding you to run your errands, or helping you to organize your to do list, it’s still “just the internet knocking on your wrist” and that the true shift in IoT will be the switch from “passive to proactive.”

This shift is already underway in some industries, especially with recent developments on self-driving automobiles. Cooper believes that self-driving automobiles are the “end game for Uber,” envisioning a future in Manhattan where all cars are auto-driven and summoned with the click of a button, drastically minimizing traffic congestion, human inefficiency, and road rage. Jonathan also brought up a recent article he’d read on self-driving trucks, calling attention to a fact that “when trucks drive in platoons, they are can drive much closer together, improving aerodynamics, which allows them to to do something human drivers simply can’t in this regard: save money and fuel.”

While self-driving automobiles and other IoT developments definitely increase efficiency and save us the cost of human labor, what happens to the human workers displaced by new technology? No one seemed to have a definitive answer on the difficult subject of technological unemployment, but our staff writer Ciorstaidh left us with food for thought with the following observation:

“It will take a huge cognitive leap to get to the point in society where we decide that we don’t have to work to be entitled to survival. Currently, we motivate people to work with the fear of hunger as their incentive; perhaps IoT could change that.”
 
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