May 23, 2017

Advances in technology are not without social implications. While many of these implications can be beneficial, others can have a negative effect on society. The Internet of Things is a prime example of a technology that promises to improve our lives, but not without underlying concerns about security of data and privacy and opaque algorithms

The ethical and legal implications of using algorithms in IoT is complex. Collecting data and then using algorithms to pull insights could be good for society in the case of helping a government agency solve crimes, for example. But on the other hand, the data could be used for a malicious attack if it gets into the wrong hands. Even if the algorithms are used for good, there could be biases introduced into the programs by the creators.

These problems can be avoided if there is review, oversight and laws surrounding big data and analytics. Technical societies like the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (IEEE SSIT) exist to help policymakers understand the pros and cons of different technologies. They focus on humanitarian/technology development, ethics, sustainability, smart cities and access to technology. Before the world of IoT gets even bigger, it is important to explore ways to manage its social implications.

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