I work at Redox, a startup in Madison, WI that provides the modern API for healthcare. I try to look at where we are currently with technology and tell the world where we’re going. I write my Quick Theories here, send out a popular weekly newsletter, and think nerdy on Twitter.
We’re in the middle of a war on security and we are sabotaging ourselves for a little bit of convenience. As we bring more connected devices into our homes, we essentially create more windows for “Peeping Toms” to look into our lives – metaphorically speaking.
The connected home is undoubtedly a great concept. But there are many security risks that should be resolved before you dive into it.
Don’t Touch the Thermostat!
Earlier this year, Amazon added Ring’s wifi-enabled Video Doorbells to their lineup of smart home devices. With a Ring doorbell, you can see who’s at your door from anywhere in the world (with internet).
But, there’s a major security flaw. Any time a password is changed, the Ring system doesn’t boot all the connected devices off the system for over an hour. Basically, it’s like changing your school lock combo, yet the old combo (which other people know) still works.
You’d think that once you changed your password, everyone else would have to log in with the new password, right. It’s a pretty big flaw, especially if someone you don’t want gains access to your Ring system.
Actually, this reminds me of a hysterical Amazon review of the Honeywell wifi thermostat, where a divorced husband takes revenge on his ex-wife, who took the house, the dog, and the 401k. But forgot to change the password on the connected thermostat.
On frigid winter nights, from his home far away from hers, he drops the house temperature to 40 degrees. In the middle of June, when sweaty backs have a problem of sticking to bed sheets, he cranks her heat up to 80 degrees. And when she takes long vacations, he hikes up her electric bill by fluctuating the temperature all week.
Talk about a sophisticated kind of evil.
This goes to show a problem of unwanted people accessing connected devices. Both of these seemingly harmless, aforementioned flaws is what leaves a door open for criminals to take advantage of connected devices.
Inviting Unwanted Visitors
Just like any other computer, connected IoT (Internet of Things) devices can be inflicted with malware which cybercriminals can then take advantage of and control.
Back in October 2016, over 100,000 IoT devices – ranging from baby monitors to home security cameras – were infected with Mirai malware and used in a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Essentially, all the infected IoT devices began simultaneously flooding the internet servers at Dyn, a company that services websites such as GitHub, Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Airbnb, and many others. As a result, those websites were temporarily out of service for millions of people – potentially causing millions of dollars in lost revenue to those companies.
Although this particular security flaw didn’t directly harm any owners of the IoT devices, this isn’t always the case.
Just months ago, dozens of people came to find out that their wifi-enabled home security cameras were giving one hacker a view into their most private household activities.
Steven Hankers gained access to household cameras, recording unsuspecting homeowners. Authorities found in his possession over 4,000 clips of couples having sex and young kids undressing. Think about the trauma for the families involved in this incident. To find out the device you bought to bring safety into your household had actually backfired.
We all want our homes to be sturdy and safe as a castle. Yet, bringing these devices into our homes is like leaving the drawbridge down.
Every time that you bring another connected device into your home, introducing it to your lifestyle in the name of more convenience, you’re risking your own personal security.
Unconnecting the Connected Home
One of the common first steps in “smartifying” one’s home is buying an Amazon Echo or Google Home smart speaker. Given their abilities to act as a hub or control center for many other smart home devices, these smart speakers are effectively the brains of the operation. And they are also fun to use – asking them to search the internet for you, play music, create shopping lists, etc… They are a total convenience tool.
To date, CIRP estimates that nearly 45 million smart speakers (Amazon Echo and Google Home) have been purchased and installed in US homes. That’s a lot of devices and a lot of security vulnerability.
What worries me about them, though, is that they are designed to always be on – ready for your command – since there’s nothing less convenient about a device you have to turn on in order to use, right.
Well, this is where I think we’re wrong.
There’s just too much security vulnerability presently involved in these devices for you to keep them always on. If they truly are the brains of a connected home, then my message is to shut off this brain occasionally. Give it a break. And give yourself a break from the possible security risk you’ve already brought into your home.
It’s not like the Amazon Echo or Google Home are solving world hunger. Powering them down won’t force insanity upon you.
Besides, is it really alleviating an inconvenience in your life?
We’ve become increasingly attached to adopting technology for convenience-sake, when in fact there may not be any inconvenience present at all.
Silicon Valley and tech companies live by the mantra that “customers don’t know what they want, so we have to tell them”. As a result, we get many solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had.
Uber and Lyft on the surface may have solved a problem of easy transportation. But studies are showing that they, in fact, create more citywide congestion by taking people off buses, bicycles, and their feet – placing them in cars.
We’ve exchanged one problem for another, which is a common thread in everyday life.
When we find that our schedule is complex, we add a service that’ll make it simpler. Only to eventually find out that managing this service has created more complexity than before. It’s an endless cycle of exchanging one problem for the next.
In reality, we create many of these inconveniences by looking for the easy solution.
If your schedule is busy, then maybe you should assess your daily routine and better optimize it… instead of looking for a service that’ll do it for you.
You are probably already aware of how easy it is to present a fake self on social media. MTV made an entire show out of “catfishing” someone.
I’ll admit that at times the routine of everyday life can seem bizarre, even a little pointless. Fortunately, we have work, religion, and companionship to give us meaning – something to explain why we wake up every day.
Would you elect a machine into office? It’s probably a question you’d never think to ask yourself. But, it may be near.
No matter how you choose to spend your time on Earth, you will inherently leave behind a legacy. This includes what you’ve created that you will pass along (wealth, assets, knowledge) and what you stood for or represented while you were alive (strong work ethic, humility, etc…).
I’ve talked previously about brain-computer interfaces and how we could use them to replace the current way of accessing the Internet – discovering new information with a simple thought.
The one place you have complete control and safety from the outside world may be under siege. From mind-readers to detectives to your everyday conversation, people have tried to gain access to other people’s thoughts and get in other people’s heads for a long time.
At face value, you might see Facebook as a social media tool turned advertising platform. Which is why the world was shocked to find out Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the data of over 50 million of their users.
Often times we take the status quo to be the standard of our actions. Fearing the consequences, we stick to this belief.
If I were to ask you right now to recall a memory, you might scramble for a minute or two and finally land on a recent trip or party.
An ugly issue exists in workplaces worldwide that is undermining people’s ability to be positive and productive at work. I’m referring to workplace harassment.
Growing up, you probably had a set of chores your parent(s) expected you to finish every day or week. Some chores paid an allowance while others didn’t.
We all have varying mixes of IQ and EQ – academic intelligence and emotional intelligence. For many years, scholars and “people-persons” have debated which is a better indicator of success in life.
We flock to concert venues and sports arenas to watch something magical happen on stage or on the field. But, the real magic is in the stands.
For the past 10-20 years, we’ve uploaded our identities to the internet without a second thought. Every day, we upload over 1.2 billion photos to Google Photos, tweet over 500 million thoughts on Twitter, send over 3 billion snaps on Snapchat, and watch over 5 billion YouTube videos.
If you haven’t heard anything about Bitcoin the past couple months then it’s possible you are living under a rock. Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm making a run at a becoming a widely used currency for exchanging goods and services.
Perhaps the most frustrating part about owning technology is needing to upgrade that technology every four or five years. Many of us dread the process of transitioning old files to a new device.
The world around us is heavily impacted by technology from the cars we drive to the infrastructure of society. Yet, most of us rarely think about advancing one fundamental area of life: our garments.
Planes, trains, and automobiles. The three modes of transportation we’ve all used for the past hundred years. But, there’s a new form of travel being added to that roster, the Air Taxi.
It’s not hard to imagine the Earth before humans, but we struggle to imagine what the Earth looks like after humans.
We’d all like to think we know what a “lying face” looks like. Realistically, most of us can’t remember a face, let alone understand all the secrets a face hides.
The iPhone (and the smartphone in general) is on track to becoming the most versatile tool at your doctor’s disposal. The iPhone Doctor is a movement that brings diagnosis and treatment apps to smartphones, making the job of a Digital Doctor much more seamless.
The largest organ of our body, our skin, might become the newest technology interface. Digital tattoos fused with circuitry can be applied to the skin to replace your TV remote and other devices.
There are a plethora of problems we encounter that require audible communication. And when there isn’t someone around we trust to confide in, digital therapy and the computer therapist may soon be there to help.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a misleading term. It sounds like it parallels human intelligence, except faster, all-knowing, and non-forgetting. But, this just isn’t what it means when people attach the term to their innovation.
Some people are born with “the eye”, “the taste”, or “the ear”. Their bodies are more accustomed to a certain sense.
Video storytelling is getting repetitive. Many of the movies today are clearly spinoffs of the movies from our youth. Which is why the future of cinema may hold a new form of interactive video experience where viewers have the control to switch between different perspectives, thus altering the narrative.
There comes a time when every elderly person needs someone to help with chores and errands. While it’s nice to have family there, this isn’t always sustainable for their loved ones.
The planet must produce more food in the next four decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years.
We can all agree that the legal system is out-of-date and at times very crooked. It’s a system that benefits the wealthy and powerful, while leaving little hope for those with minimal resources.
There really aren’t any professions completely safe from automation or Artificial Intelligence. Most visionaries will advise you to become resilient, moldable, and creative to ensure a job in the future of work.
Whether you like it or not, there’s a digital shadow that follows you everywhere. This digital shadow knows your behaviors, your intentions, your identity.
Have you ever heard something so absurdly crazy that you get that clenching knot in your stomach, fearing it’s actually true?
Soon, there will be more surveillance cameras on the street than there are pairs of eyes! Algorithms are being put in place that turns these into smart cameras – making high-level analyses of your life.
Undoubtedly, we all want to get the most out of our lives. Whether we are working out or just plain working, we have trainers, managers, and leaders to help us achieve our highest potential.
We are about to experience the most unequal societies in human history. Economic inequality has run terror on this world for millennia, leaving the poor with little option to overcome their circumstances.
You have too many options when it comes to choosing TV shows, Movies, YouTube videos, and other video content. Video content and the future of video has reached massive production levels and yet, the time in your day hasn’t increased alongside it.
Even though your brain is the oldest piece of technology, it’s also the next frontier in computing. For decades we’ve interacted with devices through our actions.
Every time you message a friend online, you are forced to choose between dozens of different messaging apps that all serve the same purpose.
We’ve all had that unfortunate moment when you send a playful text message that someone takes too seriously. Other times, you just can’t seem to find the words to convey what you are feeling.
Undoubtedly, we all want to see different parts of the world and connect with new people. Unfortunately, overcoming the language barrier is often too difficult.
Stressed, coffee-addicted journalists are evolving into major media brands themselves, leaving behind companies like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to cover the news in their own way – free from the political agendas of major media.
We are just a few years away from seeing and interacting with companies that run themselves. In other words, autonomous companies (also known as RoboCorp) operated by algorithms will generate revenue all day long.
Crime investigation is an industry ripe for disruption. Shows like “The First 48” give us a glimpse into how ineffective lie detector tests and interviews can be when trying to place someone at the scene of a crime.
What would our computers tell us if we gave them a voice? We’ll soon find out thanks to Natural Language Generation which gives computers a written opinion on virtually anything.
Intelligence equals power. We are smarter than dogs, therefore we keep them as house pets. Computers will soon be smarter than humans, so they may keep us as house pets (at least that’s what Elon Musk believes).
The war on drugs is becoming digital and I’m not talking about online head shops, like Billowby. Literally, our relationship with the future of drugs is shifting toward digital drugs as a means for medication and recreation.
The same companies that brought you the internet (ISPs) now want to sell your information and squander any remaining digital privacy you have.
Google Home and Amazon Echo describe a future where virtual assistants powered by your voice take care of all your online interaction.
Big Data badly needs a sous chef. Someone to come in and prepare all the vegetables and meats so that the head chef can cook with ease.
Nobody wants to live in a glass house. We enjoy our privacy too much. Unfortunately, everything you do online may as well exist in a metaphorical glass house because it is monitored by Palantir Technologies.
Elon Musk is defining the future of transportation with Tesla, SpaceX…and now The Boring Company?! No, not boring as in twiddling your thumbs all day.
At times, it feels like technology is leading us toward a future in which our identities start and stop with a designated number.
Amazon Dash is starting a wave in technology that is tearing apart your phone and making the way we interact with devices easier than ever before.
When you hear the word digital health, there’s a chance that you either conjure up dark memories of visiting the hospital, quickly reach for your wallet to protect it from unnecessary costs, or just think of the word “boring”.
There’s always a trial period that occurs when you make a change to your lifestyle. Imagine jumping behind the wheel of one of Tesla’s autonomous vehicles right now.
In 2016, I left Facebook to put more emphasis on my personal relationships and figure out a better productivity formula. This decision couldn’t have come at a better time because one of my closest friendships was tested this year.
Learn from my mistake, that limiting your creative environment severely stagnates your ability to tap into creative inspiration. This is how I learned: My first piece of writing (by choice, not assignment) was a closure email I wrote to potential investors.
We seek creative communities (and other communities) for identity validation and protection. As far back as childhood, kids try getting noticed by the popular crowd.
You never have to decide between devoting your life to working for yourself or “giving back”. The difference between social entrepreneurship ideas, social entrepreneurship companies, and just entrepreneurs is action.
Life is a choose your own adventure book with too many choices. When deciding your path and investing in your 20s, we have too many options to spend our time.
The common view of sleep is we merely need it to restore our energy after a long day. But, what about its role in the creative process.
While it’s often hard to admit, we all get the shiny object syndrome when developing creativity. Constantly looking for the tool that will make our lives so much easier and our jobs feel like a breeze.
Samsung TVs haven’t changed in 5 years. Cameras look the same as they did in the times of Ansel Adams. Hardware hasn’t progressed at all in comparison to the exponential growth of software, except for the hardware of robotic arms – which a competition called the Cybathlon is fueling.
Organizing your ideas should be like making an abstract expressionist painting…messy. Unfortunately, organizing your ideas in a digital notebook is only hurting your creative process.