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The hidden dark side of today's hottest tech trends

Peter Wayner | June 14, 2013
New technologies and new IT strategies are here to solve all your problems — except the ones they create

The hidden dark side of Internet of things
In the future, we're going to be able to log into our cars, our coffeemakers, and even our sneakers. Everything will be collecting data and swapping it with someone else who will use it to feed us even more ads so that we can buy more things with even bigger or better data feeds.

Do we really want the Internet, that breeding ground for computer viruses, to be hooked up to our things? Do we want our car's brakes to have their own IP address in case any junior high student wants to experiment with a distributed denial-of-service attack? The same goes for our gas stove, furnace, or anything else filled with hydrocarbons.

Some things aren't so dangerous. There's not much the junior high kid could do to our La-Z-Boy recliner, but then again, there's not much anyone can do with an Internet connection to the thing. Sure, your mom could ping it to see its position and scold you for loafing inside when it's such a nice day outside, but not many others could do much with the information. It may only cost a few dollars to add the Internet to the chairs in your house, but these dollars add up.

The hidden dark side of massive online open courses
They're dramatically cheaper and often free. They often provide a better view of the chalkboard than sitting in the back half of most college classrooms. You can speed up or slow down the video.

What's not to like? This one is a bit harder, especially if you like online forums better than seminar rooms. Yet there are still many signals that get lost when you're not in the room. Sure, you can blip over the comments from the pompous and the clueless, but there's something valuable in hearing them talk and gesture.

College fanatics will also say that massive online open courses, aka MOOCs, leave out the best part of college: Late-night study dates at the malt shop, pinning a "kick me" sign on the back of the professor's tweed blazer, smelling the old books in the library, or loafing around the campus on a spring or fall day. Of course you can do all of those things with a MOOC, too —you just don't need to run them through the MOOCs interface. Hmmm. Maybe there's no reason to be too negative and cynical about everything.


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