Today is January 23th, 2020. It is my 52nd birthday. We have recently lived an explosion of disruptive things and now everyone is connected to artificial intelligence. My hacker neighbors have access to 50 billion domestic appliances connected to the Internet of Things (IoT)… and to my life, my unsafe ultraconnected life.
Back in 2017, in the Ist Meeting on Digital Economy promoted by FIFED, Virginia Greiman provided an overview on global security challenges that made the audience think. Nevertheless, at the time we thought that those challenges only had to do with governments and big corporations. Normal citizens never felt threatened in 2017 because at that point we were not as connected as today, with the Internet of Things (IoT) in our lives. Now we realize that Virginia Greiman was also talking about us, normal citizens with average lives. When she meant a global challenge, she really meant that challenges included every one of us.
Now in 2020 all my domestic appliances are digitally connected to the IoT and I feel that I can enjoy an enormous amount of time that in the past I had to devote to analogical machinery. The washing machine was a great invention that saved a lot of time at the beginning of 20th century. Now, in 2020 my washing machine is more intelligent than me and definitely more efficient taking the best cleaning decisions and orders. Today I just delegate in proactive artificial technology and I enjoy more time for me and my family. In fact, in 2020 technology proactively suggests almost everything I do and it actually takes a lot of my decisions, according to my data. Like my driverless car, which is pure artificial intelligence. My data is gold. I still hold a clean criminal record and I am a 5 star citizen with a great digital reputation so my data is worth a fortune. Life is cool and I feel that technology is completely on my side.
We are a little freaked out with some recent news coming from Russia and China. Apparently now neighbors have fun hacking their own neighbors, turning lives upside down for fun. They started in the 2010s hacking the wifi from their neighbors and now they can literally control every one of their appliances with a remote system. Since nobody ever cared all these years to read the terms of agreement, every one happily accepted everything from artificial intelligence because it was cool. Nobody realized that we started to be in the hands of something that was more efficient and intelligent than humans.
The new viral entertainment coming from Russia and China makes everybody laugh but I don’t think it is that funny…What about that poor Chinese guy who had to get up from bed 24 times in a row because the toaster started the fire alarm 24 times? Is it really that funny that 5 billion people now laugh at poor innocent fellows?
What about that poor Russian woman who almost became nuts after her fridge convinced her for a week that it was a superior intelligence which controlled her life through her wearable technologies? She claimed that whenever she was alone at home lights were switched on and off all the time, her home cinema changed channels every second and freaky voices could be heard all the time. It was only a remote viral joke. Hahaha, the whole world laughed but excuse me, it is really not funny at all.
Now everything is connected with everyone and security has become a major concern into our lives. Technology has always been on my side. However, I will start to feel vulnerable if this hacking joke ever becomes the mainstream global joke and somebody gets into my domestic life, just for fun. At least it is for fun, because it could be much worse.
I do not want to imagine the possibility of my real enemies controlling my everyday life through hacked artificial intelligence at home. In that case, life is not that cool and I will feel that technology is completely against me, or at least, me in the hands of my enemy. How am I going to take wise decisions if my data has been remotely manipulated and I am not even aware of that? How can I trust artificial intelligence if someone can easily manipulate it against me and make my life hell, or at least different? What if my data is manipulated with a false criminal record and I am not allowed to enjoy the society created for 5 star citizens? If my data is manipulated I shall maybe be forced to live with citizens with a horrible digital reputation and my data will be worth nothing. From “free and worth it” to “enslaved and worthless” in a record time.
Virginia Greiman made us visualize the big picture three years ago, back in 2017. She described an enormous challenge in the shape of a deep forest of data that we could not fully understand then. We did not realize that each one of us is just one leaf in a branch of a tree in the middle of that deep forest. What she predicted in 2017 at national levels is becoming true at domestic levels in 2020. I have the feeling that she pointed at the sky and we just looked at her finger. Maybe we should have paid more attention to her words. I wonder if she was already thinking in 2017 about the implications of global security challenges on us, those billions of simple leaves that have created that gigantic deep forest of data.
Dedicated with admiration to Virginia Greiman.