Elon University

The 2016 Survey: The Future of IoT Connectivity (Credited Responses)

Credited responses by those who wrote to explain their response

Internet experts and highly engaged netizens participated in answering a five-question canvassing fielded by the Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Internet Project from July 1 through August 12, 2016. One of the questions asked respondents to share their answer to the following query:

As billions more everyday objects are connected in the Internet of Things they are sending and receiving data that enhances local, national and global systems as well as individuals’ lives. But such connectedness also creates exploitable vulnerabilities. As automobiles, medical devices, smart TVs, manufacturing equipment and other tools and infrastructure are networked, is it likely that attacks, hacks, or ransomware concerns in the next decade will cause significant numbers of people to decide to disconnect, or will the trend towards greater connectivity of objects and people continue unabated? Please elaborate: What is the most likely kind of physical or human damage that will occur when things are networked? How might governments and technologists respond to make things more secure and safe? Is it possible to network physical objects in such a way that they will generally remain safe for the vast majority most of the time?  

Among the key themes emerging from 1,201 respondents’ answers were: – People crave connection, it’s human to connect; it is magical, even addictive. – As life increases in complexity, convenience is the default setting for most people. – The always-on younger generation can’t imagine being anything but connected. – Resistance is futile: Businesses will punish those who disconnect and social processes reward those who connect. – Fully withdrawing is difficult; maybe impossible. – You can’t avoid using something you can’t discern; so much of the IoT operates out of sight that people will not be able to unplug completely. – Risk is part of life; the IoT will be accepted despite dangers because most people believe the worst-case scenario won’t happen to them. – More people will be connected and more will withdraw or refuse to participate. – Some will opt out. – The IoT isn’t that grand, so why worry either way? – Effective regulatory and technology-based remedies will emerge to reduce threats. – Governments should be doing more to regulate negligent companies, punish bad actors. – Lack of trust and safety and privacy issues will move those with fears to withdraw from the IoT. – “TMI” and less-than-stellar performance from complex technology systems will drive dropouts. – The dangers are real, whether or not people choose to disconnect; threats are likely to turn into attacks and other acts, possibly some violent. – Security and privacy issues are magnified by the rapid rise of the IoT. – IoT security concerns endanger civil liberties.

This non-scientific canvassing found that only 15.5% of these particular respondents said significant numbers will disconnect due to vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things, and 84.5% of these respondents said “no,” there will not be a large disconnect, instead most people will move more deeply into connected life.

If you wish to read the full survey report with analysis, click here.

To read anonymous survey participants’ responses with no analysis, click here.

Written elaborations by for-credit respondents

Following are the full responses by study participants who chose to take credit when making remarks in the survey – only including those who included a written elaboration. Some of these are the longer versions of expert responses that are contained in shorter form in the official survey report. About half of respondents chose to remain anonymous when providing their elaboration on the question (credited responses are published on a separate page).

These responses were collected in an “opt in” invitation to several thousand people who have been identified by researching those who are widely quoted as technology builders and analysts and those who have made insightful predictions to our previous queries about the future of the internet.

Cory Doctorow, writer, computer science activist-in-residence at MIT Media Lab and co-owner of Boing Boing, said, “The attacks will get much worse. There are a variety of ways to mitigate them. First, in the line of establishing more graceful failure modes: eliminate Section 1201 of the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, both of which are routinely used to suppress true facts about security defects in products we rely upon. The current model is that we learn about these facts not when they’re discovered by a ‘good guy’ but when a ‘bad guy’ exploits them so horribly that their existence can no longer be suppressed. Second, use legislation to force firms to internalize the cost of breaches: right now, losing a credit card record costs a firm something like $0.35, plus a six-month gift certificate for a credit-monitoring service. But the data from those breaches, combined with other breach data by crooks, can be used to pull off breathtaking identity theft crimes (last Christmas saw a rash of thefts of *whole houses*, accomplished by assembling enough identity data to successfully procure duplicate titles/deeds). If firms had to pay the entire likely lifetime losses from breaches (because of statutory damages and/or precedents) then no insurer would underwrite companies that were as sloppy as today’s—data collection and retention would be priced accordingly by insurers, at a much higher price than today’s (today, the major expense is hard drives, not liability insurance for all that potentially explosive material). Third, eliminate the state mandates for collection and retention, especially those in the European Union, which press firms into service as proxies for law enforcement, and which simultaneously mandate the mass collection/retention of sensitive PII [Personally Identifiable Information] that will eventually leak and be exploited by crooks.”

Brad Templeton, chair for computing at Singularity University, wrote, “Few will disconnect even if there are strong arguments for it. (Self-driving cars will be only marginally connected to their HQs due to security concerns.) When the connections are set up by security pros, they will be more minimal. When set up by the public they will be promiscuous. We need to completely replace our existing operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, etc.) to actually make these devices safe, and we must limit their connectivity, but the convenience that comes from not doing those things will win, since most people don’t care about security or privacy until they have experienced a breach.”

Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google and Internet Hall of Fame member, wrote, “This will happen if devices come on the market that require online or at least local communication and programmable control. There are many risks that reliability and safety will suffer unless the makers are diligent about protecting user interests. It could be impossible to escape increased connectivity. Look at present dependence on Google Maps or generally on mobiles and apps in the last ten years. Reliability will be key. If such systems prove to be unreliable, people will leave in droves. So that’s a primary requirement. Safety is also a primary requirement. Privacy, security are part of the mix but the top two are reliability and safety.”

M.E. Kabay, professor of computer information systems at Norwich University, wrote, “The Internet of Things (IoT) will result in even greater numbers of systems compromised by criminals to create ever-larger botnets (networks of ‘zombie’ computers responding to instructions from ‘master’ systems). Botnets are used for generating spam (unsolicited commercial email), and especially for fraud. Use the search string < refrigerator used for botnet > for examples. Distribution of malware such as ransomware is also facilitated by botnets. Botnets are also used for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which targets are flooded with overwhelming traffic that can slow response time or even crash the targets. Some of the IoT includes controllers for critical infrastructure. The Stuxnet attack on Siemens centrifuges in Iran and other countries demonstrated the long-standing view of information warfare specialists that unprotected or underprotected supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems could be subverted to cause significant real-world damage, not just effects on information alone. Medical IoT devices are particularly significant when considering possible damage to people; so are connected automobiles, which have become computers with wheels. There are already many examples of how cars can be hacked at a distance; use the search string < car hacked crash > for reports. The fundamental issue is that security is an afterthought for much of the IoT; the manufacturers bear few consequences for misuse of their poorly engineered systems, so some managers elect to shift costs away from their development process and simply let consumers bear the brunt of the damages. The calculation is that they can pay less in fines than for better security. The notorious Ford Pinto exploding gasoline tanks is the classic example of this cost-shifting approach. There is no reason that IoT security cannot be improved; however, under the current economic system it is largely free from independent regulation. When IoT devices are subject to the same stringent requirements that pharmaceuticals must meet, we will see some reduction of risk.”

Judith Donath of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society wrote, “People will move more deeply into connected life—and they also will be moved there whether they want to be or not. The connection of the physical world to information networks enables the collection of an unimaginably vast amount of data about each of us, making it possible to closely model how we think and to devise increasingly effective ways of influencing how we act and what we believe. Attaining this ability is extraordinarily valuable to anyone with something to sell or promote. The crucial key is getting people to provide the data, and it’s not surprising that we’re already seeing many once stand-alone objects (watches, heart rate monitors, thermostats, cameras, house keys, and so on) turn into data-collecting network devices. My concern with the safety of things that are part of deeply connected world is not about its security and the dangers of being hacked (though those are real, and quite serious) but with the dangers that come with their intended uses: collecting a vast amount of intimate data about each person, while weaving themselves into everyday life as a source of great convenience and pampering.

Steven Waldman, founder and CEO of LifePosts, said, “Many people will want to disconnect but it will become increasingly difficult for them to do so.”

T. Rob Wyatt, an independent network security consultant, wrote, “Functionality trumps lack of security every time. We develop new function almost without regard to security and then discover we cannot retrofit it after the fact. A recent court ruling stated that we should no longer have any expectation of privacy in our internet-connected devices. Considering that we now have forks, toothbrushes, health monitors, mattresses, sex toys, and more connected to the internet this ruling has profound implications to personal life, privacy, and checks and balances to government intrusion and control. The ruling went almost unreported and no public outcry was raised over it. No public backlash will occur so long as the toys are shiny.”

Adrian Schofield, an applied research manager, observed, “Both answers apply. Millions will connect because they are at low risk and the convenience factor is high. Thousands will disconnect because they become targets or they fear becoming targets. However, fear of losing wealth has never stopped the relentless pursuit of wealth.”

John Howard, creative director at LOOOK, a mixed-reality design and development studio, commented, “The growth of IoT, along with 3D printing and VR, will further erode the digital/physical divide. Physical peril (real or imagined) will put greater emphasis and opportunity on network security. Today, most people understand not to give personal information to random strangers on the internet, but few have changed the default settings on their wireless routers—even people who would likely change the locks after moving into a new house. As physical attacks become more public people will understand the need to take greater responsibility for their own cybersecurity, creating new business opportunities as this market grows.”

Andrew Walls, managing vice president at Gartner, replied, “The benefits of IoT to the vendors of products and services will overwhelm the objections of the few consumers who fear security issues. Pricing models will penalize those who attempt to disconnect and reward those who connect. People will remain largely unaware of the degree of connectedness present in the products they select and will merely pick products and services based on personal preferences for comfort, convenience, value for money, etc. If IoT enhances performance against consumer variables for selection/purchase, IoT integration will expand massively.”

Ian Peter, an Internet pioneer and historian based in Australia, said, “I expect people to put convenience over risks and expand their usage of connected devices. They may feel trapped and disillusioned, but that won’t necessarily lead to them ceasing usage.”

David Karger, a professor of computer science at MIT, observed, “I do expect some highly visible and severe incidents to occur, but I expect that people’s chronic preference for fun/convenience over safety (consider the number of people who still smoke, ride motorcycles, play football, etc.) will continue to drive adoption of risky but convenient IoT technologies. As it becomes ever easier for computers to kill people, I do expect a dramatic increase in pressure on people in the computing industry to develop more trustworthy and reliable computing systems. There are ways to do that, but they come with costs in time, effort, and money that haven’t yet been seen as worth it.”

Richard Adler, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, replied, “Despite continued security problems, the IoT will spread and people will become increasingly dependent on it. The cost of breaches will be viewed like the toll taken by car crashes, which have not persuaded very many people not to drive.”

Hume Winzar, associate professor in business at Macquarie University, Sydney Australia, said, “The majority (90%?) of connected devices will produce data that are worthless except for the subsystem gathering the data. The other 10% will be aggregated data/information that are invaluable. Disconnecting from the network would mean disconnecting from much of society. No hospital care, no TV, no news services, no telephone. Some will attempt it but most will not.”

Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project at the Linux Foundation, wrote, “A greater premium than before will be placed on systems that are resilient to failures of different sorts; are focused on individual sovereignty (e.g., personal control over personal technology, if not control over one’s personal data); and are interrogatable (able to answer the question of ‘why,’ why it did a certain thing, or recommends a certain course of action). Those greater premiums may be expressed in the form of regulations, or in lower insurance premiums, or in new consumer meta-brands that operate like ‘organic’ did.”

Randy Bush, research fellow at Internet Initiative Japan and Internet Hall of Fame member, commented, “People will ignore the continuous IoT disasters, and the press will minimize them. We paper over IoT security issues, yet massive work is needed here.”

Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast, said, “There are few examples in human history of people making rational decisions about privacy or security.”

Doc Searls, journalist, speaker, and director of Project VRM at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, wrote, “The Internet of Things is a misnomer, at least as of today. What we have instead is what Phil Windley, PhD, calls a ‘Compuserve of Things.’ His summary: ‘On the Net today we face a choice between freedom and captivity, independence and dependence. How we build the Internet of Things has far-reaching consequences for the humans who will use—or be used by—it. Will we push forward, connecting things using forests of silos that are reminiscent the online services of the 1980s, or will we learn the lessons of the Internet and build a true Internet of Things?’ Connectivity for things today is where connectivity for people and computers were in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the closest things we had to the Internet were Compuserve, AOL, Prodigy and other “online services” that didn’t interact with each other. Likewise today we have the Google of Things, the Apple of Things and the Amazon of Things—all of them closed corporate systems. Worse, many of the connected things we are sold today spy on us, usually without our permission. Some cars report our driving to insurance companies. (See http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2013/03/24/car-spying-edr-data-privacy/1991751/.) Some Samsung TVs watch and listen to viewers in living rooms, so Samsung can sell that data to other parties for advertising purposes. (See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/your-samsung-smarttv-is-spying-on-you-basically.html.) This is not only appalling on its face, but it will be flushed out by both market resistance and regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The only way to fully reduce vulnerability to surveillance and other forms of bad acting is to give individuals full control over the things in their lives. Today we are only beginning to evolve toward that end state; but the demand will be there, which is why there will be a business in it, and it will come to pass. Once it does, much better information will flow from people who own things to the companies that make and service those things. And spying won’t be required. Between now and then we will continue to face Dr. Windley’s choice.”

Jason Hong, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, commented, “In the short term, we will see a lot more IoT-based attacks, especially ransomware attacks. However, organizations are already taking steps toward improving the situation. For example, the FTC has issued reports on IoT security and is asking the top manufacturers about their cybersecurity practices. Over time, I expect there to be more centers of excellence to help disseminate best practices for coding and managing IoT systems. Researchers will also come up with better ways for managing collections of devices as well as protecting low-end devices. It’s also likely that insurance companies will help improve the state of the art by having higher premiums for IoT companies that don’t have good cybersecurity practices. Most importantly, cybersecurity is a known issue, and both IoT manufacturers and consumers are becoming savvier about the risks. So while there will be a lot of growing pains, I’m optimistic about the future of IoT.”

Shawn Otto, organizational executive, speaker, and writer with ScienceDebate.org, commented, “The conveniences will outweigh the risks for many people, and the affordability of the Internet of Things will in many cases slant the playing field in the consumer’s favor. The stakes will be higher for more expensive for personal things such as cars, homes, bank accounts, computer systems and the cloud, or things that carry emotional meaning, such as access to cloud-stored personal musical or photographic collections, and together these higher-stakes items will be the greater focus of criminal activity. Additionally, as the computer/brain interface becomes increasingly robust and our knowledge about commandeering certain brain centers—including perception and motivation—grows, human hacking may become less a matter of science fiction and more a serious psychological, legal, and law-enforcement concern. In general, the emerging questions of human agency and free will are just over the next hill.”

David Sarokin, author of Missed Information: Better Information for Building a Wealthier, More Sustainable Future (MIT Press), said, “I can certainly see the emergence of a ‘Live Unplugged’ movement—people who get mostly or completely offline, motivated in part by concerns for safety, but probably more for a desire to live the simple life. But unplugging from the Internet will be even more difficult than unplugging, today, from the power grid. People will do it, but not in huge numbers. The fact that hundreds of millions of credit card files have been stolen from major companies hasn’t seemed to affect credit card use in any significant way (other than spurring the use of those dammed chips). I expect people will respond with similar equanimity (or is it resignation?) as other issues emerge.”

Amy Webb, futurist and CEO at the Future Today Institute, wrote, “Historically, we have not seen a positive correlation between large-scale hacking attacks and significant numbers of people disconnecting from devices or services. After breaches at some of our largest retailers and entertainment providers, such as Sony and Target, consumers went right back to paying for their goods and services. When it comes to technology, if it makes our lives easier, we will continue to use it, even when risk is associated. Look no further than Uber, a service that changes its prices regularly, sometimes with increases up to five or six times above what they would be otherwise. We might complain, but the fact is that we continue using the service, even when it makes no financial sense. Technology can be like junk food. We’ll consume it, even when we know it’s bad for us. There is no silver bullet. The only way to effectively prevent against malware and data breaches is to stay continually vigilant. To borrow an analogy from Game of Thrones, we need a Night’s Watch for security. Because when it comes to the Internet of Things and data breaches, winter is coming. Organizations must hire enough knowledgeable staff to monitor and adjust systems, and to empower them to keep pace with hackers. IT and security staff must be wiling to educate themselves, to admit when they need help and to demand that executives make decisions proactively.”

James McCarthy, a manager, wrote, “The advantages and benefits offered by access to the Internet are far more attractive than the various risks and downsides. And—to refer to your example of automobiles—the options that don’t use some sort of connection are decreasing in number, particularly with the recent initiatives to move to autonomous vehicles. Frankly, I’m okay with this. There’s always a downside to an upside, and an upside to a downside—and in the case of Internet access, the upside is enormous.”

John Paine, a business analyst, commented, “There will be a statistically significant number of people that will deliberately disconnect to the extent possible, but overall connections will increase. I expect that a premium will begin to come into play for purchasing ‘disconnection’ as a feature for goods/services in the future.”

Marti Hearst, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, replied, “Just as the pervasiveness of cell phones forced the phasing out of pay phones in public places, it will become impossible to opt out of the oncoming connected world. People’s businesses, homes, cars, and even their clothing will be monitoring their every move, and potentially even their thoughts. Connected cities will track where and when people walk, initially to light their way, but eventually to monitor what they do and say. The walls of businesses will have tiny sensors embedded in them, initially to monitor for toxins and earthquakes, and eventually to monitor for intruders and company secrets being shared. People currently strap monitors on their bodies to tell them how many steps they take. Eventually, all fluids in and out of bodies will be monitored and recorded. Opting out will be out of the ordinary and hugely inconvenient, just as not carrying a mobile device and not using a fast pass on the highway are today.”

Julie Gomoll, CEO at Julie Gomoll Inc., wrote, “Hacks and ransomware won’t matter. We have those now, and very few people disconnect as a result. There will be lots of junk things—’We need a networked thing!’ will be the new ‘We need an app!’ There will be new kinds of hacks and attacks, and we’ll figure out how to stop them. We’ll discover unintended consequences attribute them to growing pains. And we will never ever disconnect.”

Bernardo A. Huberman, senior fellow and director of the Mechanisms and Design Lab at HPE Labs, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, observed, “Networked things can lead to large extended damage to a system. But once again, we have not witnessed such a breakdown yet, and so people perceive the advantages of being connected and provided with services that were unheard off years ago. Uber and Lyft are great examples of what IoT can do for us. As time goes on, many more services based on the existence of networked smart sensors will appear.”

Dan York, senior communications strategist at the Internet Society, observed, “Right now we are seeing ‘the Internet of Insecure Things.’ The challenge with the IoT right now is that many of the vendors are rushing their products out and not thinking through the security of their products. There will be many more attacks and accidents in the time ahead. People will die as a result of compromised devices (for example, pacemakers) and vehicles. Governments can have a role in looking at safety standards for devices ensuring that vendors are paying attention to security/privacy matters. There is also a role here for looking at economic incentives such as insurance and liability (i.e., who is liable for security issues? This liability may cause vendors to take matters more seriously.) Technologists are already responding with many ways that these devices can be secured. The question really is to get vendors to implement these solutions. The Internet Society came out with a good paper outlining many of these IoT challenges and issues: https://www.internetsociety.org/IoT I believe it is possible to network physical objects in a way that they are safe—but it does take some planning and forethought.”

danah boyd, founder of Data & Society, commented, “There will be no choice. As a result, many people will just hope that the institutions around them won’t harm them, while some people will feel very acute pain because they don’t fit into the system in an acceptable way.”

Jim Warren, longtime technology entrepreneur and activist, replied, “From the beginning of any kind of ‘connectivity’ between humans (both biological and corporate ;-)—from primitive Man to the present—we have almost always favored and pursued increased connectivity. It is the essence of society, culture, productivity, improved living and lifestyle alternatives (et. al), and will continue. Probably the largest deterrents to the speed and pervasiveness of its development will be larger—perhaps mostly—how much it costs its users, both financially and functionally.”

Mike Roberts, Internet Hall of Fame member and first president and CEO of ICANN, responded, “It has been demonstrated time and again that individuals will trade convenience for privacy. If a new network application promises self-perceived convenience or value, such a trade is likely. Indeed, we see it going on every day. One of the broader issues is how to deal with privacy as a social construct. Much of what we regard as privacy today is an Enlightenment idea that is associated with personal freedom and other human rights. Some regard these as ‘immutable,’ others as fungible in pursuit of a better life. The arguments are not going to be settled soon. Cultures of dissent will persist, and much will be made of ‘offnetters,’ similar to the publicity gained by today’s ‘offgrid’ culture. Probably not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.”

Bob Frankston, Internet pioneer and software innovator, replied, “A significant number will have the illusion of being disconnected [when they actually are not].”

Paul Jones, clinical professor and director at the University of North Carolina, said, “The Law of Least Effort applies to the Internet of Things. Short of massive social and political changes, we will become more connected more networked and happier that we are.”

Polina Kolozaridi, researcher at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, said, “I am afraid that more connectivity will make the Internet less global than it is now. We’ll have more local people + things + ideas networks. That means, that governments, corporations, social movements will try to encourage people on networking within some borders (e.g., Apple infrastructure, Russian ‘sovereign Internet,’ global eco-movements, etc.) However we will have multiple identities, and it will be a very structured multiplicity.”

Susan Price, digital architect at Continuum Analytics, wrote, “The vast majority of people will continue to be connected and will deepen their dependence on technology, the internet, and especially the Internet of Things (IoT). The benefits outweigh the pitfalls for most people, and the majority don’t yet understand the value of the data they are generating. I do hope that blockchain technologies and user-empowering identity and data management platforms will emerge to enable users to have a better understanding of the value of their data and give them opportunities to monetize it—or at a minimum, a much more sophisticated awareness of its existence, who has access to it, and its uses. Hacks, ransomware, and so forth will continue to be a game that we play, but the market will generate fixes and provide services to continue to allow people to participate online. There’s too much potential benefit for citizens and vendors for such activity to cease.”

Henning Schulzrinne, professor at Columbia University and Internet Hall of Fame member, commented, “Consumers currently have no reasonable way to judge whether the devices they buy are designed according to common security practices, whether and how they are being tested, how security-related bugs are addressed and for how long after purchase. Nor do they generally know what kind of data the vendor stores where, shared with whom and for how long, and whether those systems are regularly tested by independent third parties. For higher-risk devices that can either do physical harm (cars) or can cause significant loss of privacy (in-home cameras) or endanger physical safety (door locks), some kind of certification that does not just consist of ten pages of disclaimers seems necessary.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft, observed, “Previous hardware generations and major software advances gave rise to fears, but people found ways to use them effectively, warranting measures to prevent serious misuse or negative consequences. Why would this be an exception?”

Scott Fahlman, a computer science and artificial intelligence research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, “People may be shocked by some invasions and decide to forego those things, while they don’t notice themselves being engulfed by others that would be very hard to abandon, unless you go live in a cabin in the woods. Again, we have to understand the specific threats and develop some social awareness and social consensus about how to deal with them.”

Thomas Claburn, editor-at-large at Information Week, replied, “Judging by the state of computer security today, there’s no reason to assume things will magically get better by adding more devices, particularly those that govern daily interactions like cars, alarm systems, and medical devices. Imagine the harm that could be done by remotely turning on the engine of a car in a garage at night, flooding a home with carbon monoxide while the occupants sleep. At the same time, opting out may not be an option because of the necessity to keep computerized items updated with code patches.”

Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation and Internet Hall of Fame member, said, “I will do my utmost to convince people to reject internet-connected devices that contain any non-libre software, by teaching people that they cannot possibly deserve our trust. See gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-even-more-important.html for why that is so.”

Rory Lettvin, clinical informaticist at Inova Health, wrote, “Greater connectivity = To be alone in a crowded room.”

Adam Nelson, CTO of Factr, commented, “People won’t be able to disconnect. Manufacturers won’t build in the functionality to do it.”

Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, observed, “Most adults in the U.S. drive cars even though it entails risks. Most adults will use IoT devices even though they involve risks because the benefits will vastly outweigh any potential risks. Moreover, as IoT progresses security will improve.”

Nigel Cameron, president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, observed, “The sky’s the limit; if you can hack a Jeep from a basement QWERTY keyboard you can take control of a nuclear power station or an aircraft or have a million cars turn left on cue. In principle. We’ve gotten used to having our basic information hacked, but cyber-physical systems raise the stakes exponentially. I don’t know if we’ll achieve de facto security, but I do know we are very far away from taking the agenda seriously. E.g., as I have argued elsewhere, the chief information security officer should report directly to the chief executive. Corporate reporting is an index of risk seriousness, and at present is out to lunch on these questions. Pablums from governments (like the latest Cybersecurity commission appointed by the administration) won’t cut it. On the other hand, short of a huge shift in public attitudes (cf. GMO/Europe; they can happen), opt-outs from mainstream culture will remain oddities.”

Stephen Downes, researcher at National Research Council Canada, said, “It is true that attacks, hacks, or ransomware concerns impact our enjoyment of modern technology. But it’s important to note that what they impact is almost exclusively our enjoyment of modern technology. A person choosing to disconnect from modern technology suffers the same fate as the person who has been hacked. They lose the enjoyment of modern technology. So disconnecting from technology isn’t a viable response to attacks, hacks and the rest. People won’t be looking to withdraw from modern technology, they will be looking for better and more secure modern technology (to a point; as people’s choices of passwords such as ‘123456’ show, they are willing to sacrifice a certain amount of security for a certain amount of convenience. Indeed, if anything forces people off new technology, it will be the security measures, not the crimes).”

Tim Norton, chair of Digital Rights Watch, wrote, “I don’t think it will cause people to disconnect for the simple reason that generally, people are not aware of what the ramifications of attacks on IoT devices are.”

Charles Perkins, senior principal engineer at Futurewei, wrote, “Loss of freedom is a vey significant threat. It is possible to maintain safety but it requires big investment in product development, as well as a realistic vision for the customers.”

Jerry Michalski, founder at REX, replied, “Aside from climate change and clowns having their fingers on the nuclear trigger, the IoT is one of the larger menaces we face. Any device that’s been in the field over five years is highly likely to be p0wn3d by the darknet. All of which sounds like I should have answered that people will withdraw from the IoT, but within the next decade I believe people will just dive in merrily, because we’re in the uptake period of this new technology and the big flaws won’t show up within the decade. We would do well to rethink entirely the structures of the vaunted Internet of Things.”

Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, observed, “Malacious attacks by vandals, criminals, and terrorists will expand, but increasingly powerful defenses will be built. Some can be centralized and top-down, but bottom-up, community-driven strategies will emerge, along with devoted public defenders (vigilantes). New jobs and social processes will emerge to protect the IoT.”

Mary Chayko, communications and information professor at Rutgers University, replied, “Full participation in a society now requires digital connectivity and literacy, even as privacy and security have become upended. While cybersecurity has become a critical challenge for governments, psychological security—a sense of safety and rootedness—becomes perhaps the premier challenge for individuals. As we see our devices and world become ever more tightly networked and interconnected and recognize the inherent security vulnerabilities in such a system, we become more psychologically and emotionally vulnerable. My hope is that we will address this, as we have so many other issues in the digital age, in community with one another—coming together (often online) to better understand our common human responses, needs, and frailties, and to develop stronger, more secure, systems and selves.”

David Krieger, director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership IKF, based in Switzerland, commented, “There is no opt-out for the Internet. No one can disconnect. Algorithmic automation will create over-complex systems of communication, transportation, energy, finances, production, etc., that are no longer under control of anyone. System crashes pose a greater threat than cyber warfare or criminality. Much more work has to be done on data security, AI security, etc., which must be based on global governance structures beyond nationalistic self-interest. Techno-socially, engineering will become a question of ‘design,’ that is, accounting for all possibilities in the most efficient and aesthetically acceptable way.”

Stuart Shulman, CEO of Texifter, wrote, “There is an inexorable trend to connectivity. In 5 years we will look back at 2016 and think life was primitive.”

Miles Fidelman, systems architect and policy analyst at the Protocol Technologies Group and president at the Center for Civic Networking, commented, “People will do what’s convenient, or exciting, or interesting. Hackers will hack. Criminals will plunder. We’ll lurch from crisis to crisis. It’s not clear whether it’s possible to make things more secure, or to limit damage. We may be facing a continuing arms race—much like that between people, hygiene, medicine, and disease.”

Christopher Wilkinson, retired senior European Union official, commented, “Experience with algorithms is very mixed; they are naive. Privacy is not adequately protected. The algorithms create and retain personal information that is going to become intrusive over time.”

Anil Dash, entrepreneur, technologist, and advocate @AnilDash, observed, “People will continue to connect out of necessity, but the cost and severity of lapses and breaches will increase until it’s a constant ongoing burden for all.”

Marc Brenman, managing partner at IDARE, LLC, replied, “People won’t have a choice; if they want to do anything, they’ll have to be connected. Failures will continue to occur, and grow worse. Cascading failures will occur. Cybersecurity will continue to be breached. Safety is illusory.”

Fred Baker, fellow at Cisco Systems and longtime Internet Engineering Task Force leader, said, “People will become more connected; I say this because I observe that they do. There are those who disconnect; they are the outliers. It would be a good thing if our public institutions sought to make “things” more secure and safe, and some of those institutions do try. However, other public institutions seek to tear down the exact things that improve our security, such as by asking for 1) law enforcement access to encrypted communications, or 2) the outright technological ban of certain kinds of communications. They ask for it because 1) they are deluded into believing that only law enforcement would have access to the revealed information, which runs counter to the experience of the LAPD in two cases in the 1990s, and of the Greek government in 2002. If there is a way to have access to that communication by anyone, even if “anyone” is composed entirely of incorruptible saints, there is a way for military enemies and organized crime to have access as well. They also ask 2) because they don’t understand the capabilities, or lack of capabilities, in technology. If, for example, one would like all Al Qaeda and ISIS propaganda to be magically filtered away and unavailable, ask how well we have done with pornography. We say, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way,’ and that applies both to the evil and the good.”

George McKee, a retired research scientist who began online in 1974, replied, “People will become more connected, like it or not. Utopian dreams of happy, healthy, disconnected societies will be fulfilled only in isolated groups like the Amish and the Mennonites. Governments will be compelled to step in with regulations regarding ‘fail-safe’ modes and for ‘living will’ provisions for security updates and continued operation of backend systems supporting internet-connected devices. This is unfortunately likely to happen only after serious injuries and lost lives occur. ‘Secure out of the box’ has been a slogan of cybersecurity professionals for many years, but it will not come to pass as long as ‘first to market’ and ‘easy to use’ take precedence in product managers’ priority lists. Only the most talented of designers are able to make the secure way also the easy way. The “Internet of Abandoned, Misconfigured, and Subverted Things” will become a powerful tool for malicious actors.”

David Durant, a business analyst in the UK Government Digital Service, replied, “Things like the repeated stealing of huge numbers of passwords from compromised systems show that such ‘hacks’ have little impact on how people feel about doing things online. Digital channels are increasingly seen as the only sensible way to interact with friends, work, business and the state. This will continue as more IoT items become available. Driverless cars or household ‘robots’ (e.g., Amazon’s Alexa) will be seen as something safe and entirely normal to use. Even if there is a ‘mass hack’ of such platforms people will very quickly return to using them in the same way they returned to airplane or subway travel following terrorist attacks.”

Cindy Cohn, executive director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, commented, “People will not decide to forgo the benefits of these technologies. Although I also think the Internet of Things is being wildly oversold and most of what they are building people won’t want—not because of ransomware, just because they are dumb ideas. What I hope is that people will demand better security for the things that they do find useful.”

Evan Selinger, professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, observed, “The issue of how much trust will exist in the face of heightened vulnerabilities likely will be decided on how effective government regulation is and how quickly it goes into effect. For example, in The Internet of Heirloom and Disposable Things [an article published in the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology]. Woodrow Hartzog and I argue that not enough regulatory emphasis is being placed on the different kinds of things that can be wired up online. In some cases, the different lifespans between IoT software and IoT objects can be staggering.”

Mary Griffiths, associate professor in media at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, wrote, “Smart cities are already developing across the world with responsive street lighting, traffic lights, and immersive civic spaces. The benefits can include better air monitoring; smoother traffic flows; faster ambulance and police response times; and municipal planning more finely attuned to a population’s needs. Those who are not ‘connected’ may be excluded from full participation in such cities. If they don’t provide the information the city functions on, their needs can’t be part of planning based on predictive trends. The driverless car that recently killed its occupant because of decision-making limitations demonstrates not only the legal questions which arise from handing over agency to things, but also how human capacity can be more reliable, and outstrip the programmed variety in certain cases. Automated functionality is only as good as its designers and the contexts of its use.”

Sam Punnett, research officer at TableRock Media, commented, “We are raising generations of people for whom the connected life is the norm. Increasing connectivity via IoT further complicates the environment and raises the potential for criminality and abuse. Part of what you ask is a very technical question. I am not a network specialist but I have an appreciation for the world of IoT. If given the choice between a vision of the future made secure and safe I would be far more likely to ascribe to one put forward by the Electronic Frontier Foundation over one from any element of state surveillance and security.”

Timothy C. Mack, managing principal at AAI Foresight, wrote, “At present, the Internet of Things is more a series of missteps than a grand design, if for no other reason that many of the large players are competitors versus cooperators and accepted protocols are still not agreed upon. As well, the ‘gold rush’ quality of such areas as ‘smart homes’ has led to shoddy design and poor construction of the physical and the digital aspects of this brave new world. As for as the loss of critical safety and security through networks trying to interconnect and protect and the same time (with largely the same tools), we should expect many more disappointments in the ‘IoT’ development saga.”

Andrias Yose, a global freelancer, wrote, “Most likely kind of physical/human damage that will occur when things are networked: what makes humans human; personal security; identity theft; deep(er) self-reflection/introspection on things in general or of interest; national security threats. Governments’ and technologists’ respond to make things more secure and safe: more laws; more spying; more safety nets or safeguards; incrementally complex encryption and/or protection (also with loopholes); all of which will be created with unthought-of loopholes. The possibility to network physical objects in such a way that they will generally remain safe for the vast majority most of the time? Not very likely when humans with humans’ self-will or self-determination are involved.”

Valerie Bock, VCB Consulting, said, “No human advances come without unexpected negative consequences. We will likely continue to see dramatic and upsetting negative consequences, both unintended and as the result of malfeasance from growing interconnectivity But the advantages of connectivity really do seem to come close to the square of the number of people connected. Whether it also will square with the number of things connected remains to be seen—I expect that the value of connecting things will not be as dramatic as the value of connecting people, and that we will learn how to make these connections sufficiently secure that people will continue to choose to make them.”

Grant Blank, a sociologist and survey research fellow for the Oxford Internet Institute, said, “The question seems to assume that most people own devices that are part of the Internet of Things. This is currently false. People will generally stay away. There are two reasons: 1) Security is being done badly on the Internet of Things. This seems unlikely to change quickly. 2) Companies are behaving in ways that discourage participation. Major case in point is that Nest recently decided to turn off the servers supporting a whole line of devices, making devices costing $100+ into useless bricks. The bottom line is that the Internet of Things is more useful for companies than for consumers. Consumers will generally stay away.”

Cristóbal Palmer, technical director at ibiblio.org, commented, “People are likely to get more sophisticated about segmenting networks, using distinct personas for different devices, and other steps to mitigate the risks associated with what some call ‘The Internet of Unpatchable Crap.'”

Charlie Firestone, communications and society program executive director and vice president at The Aspen Institute, observed, “The lure of convenience will continue to attract people. Those who disconnect will mostly be people who were actually personally affected.”

Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School, replied, “There will definitely be hacks and other problems, just as there are with credit cards and financial information online today. But the advantages of connectivity are just too great for people to forego it. We may see greater local control over when connected devices are enabled, allowing people to turn connectivity off at will.”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said, “The essential problem is that it will be impractical for people to disconnect. Cars and homes will become increasingly dependent on internet connectivity. The likely consequence will be more catastrophic events.””

Jamais Cascio, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, wrote, “More people will be more deeply connected, but will likely be less aware of it. Think of it as the ‘electricity’ effect. It’s rare today to see something called out as being run on electricity (vehicles are the main exception); we just assume that a device or building or system is electricity-enabled. The default ‘guitar’ is electric, and acoustic guitars must be labeled. Similarly, in this decade we’ll be moving quickly into a world where networked/’smart’/internet-enabled will be the default assumption, enough so that many people will stop thinking of it as new or different. You’ll have people extolling the virtues of being ‘unplugged’ because they don’t have any computers in the house and keep their mobile devices shut off, but forget that the household appliances and carpeting and home solar power array are all deeply networked, because they don’t have to think about or worry about those systems.”

David Wuertele, a software engineer at Tesla Motors, replied, “The magical behaviors that the new devices will provide will be too strong for people to resist. Even though many of these IoT devices have no real need to be connected to the cloud, and even though connecting them to the cloud presents a real risk to people, there is not enough of a force to ‘clean up’ the implementations. The desire by people for these magic devices is so strong that they will sign away their own personal data as well as their families’ (and sometimes their friends’) data to get the goodies.”

Jim Hendler, professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, observed, “Automobile accidents have not kept people from driving, burglary doesn’t keep people from owning houses with nice things in them, and workplace violence doesn’t keep people from holding jobs. Society finds ways to control these things, by a combination of social and technical means, and while none are completely removed, they are kept to a level people can tolerate—locks are put on doors, laws are passed, policemen are hired, and society adjusts. The cyber-enabled world will need to create analogous mechanisms, which will happen as awareness of threat increases, and impacts will be controlled. There will be a period of adjustment (as bad things happen), followed by a demand for change, and that will motivate (through financial incentives and/or legal penalties) change.”

Luis Miron, a distinguished professor at Loyola University-New Orleans, replied, “This issue is similar to, and reflective of, consumer trust. It is broadly related, moreover, to the processes and ideologies of globalization, for example neo-liberalism. These twin social phenomena (social realities) such as globalization are here to stay. Connectivity will increase as a consequence of likely exacerbation of neo-liberal political ideology.”

Eelco Herder, senior researcher at the L3S Researcher Center (Germany), observed, “Despite the inherent dangers in sharing and sending highly personalized data, users seem to be willing to accept the risks in exchange for better services, more comfort, and flexibility. As the availability of ubiquitous online services increases, most people will continue to move more deeply into connected life. At least they will until at some point people or governments will be personally involved in attacks, hacks, or ransomware, or until the point that these dangers become very real and direct. Many people believe that this is bound to happen.”

AJ Reznor, vulnerability and network researcher at a Fortune 500 company, commented, “More people will connect, but a large portion of that may be unintentional, via devices that self-configure and phone home automagically. A consumer will likely only be concerned about a security risk if a close associate (family, coworker) is affected. Otherwise the old “Why would someone want to hack me or my thermostat? What’s in it for them?” mentality is likely to prevail.”

Micah Altman, director of research at MIT Libraries, observed, “It appears very likely that because of network effects people’s general use of connected devices will continue to increase—whether or not the system’s themselves are actually become more trustworthy. The value of online markets (etc.) are often a growing function of their size—which creates to a form of natural monopoly making these systems increasingly valuable, ubiquitous, and unavoidable. The network of IoT is at an earlier stage than that of social networks—and there is less immediate value returned, and not yet a dominant network of these devices. It may take some time for a valuable network to emerge, and so the incentives to use IoT seem so far small for the end-consumer, while the security issues loom large, given the current lack of attention to systematic security engineering in design and implementation of these systems. (The lack of visibility of security reduces the incentives for such design). However, it seems likely that within the next decade the value of connected devices will become sufficient to drive people to use, regardless of the security risks, which may remain serious, but are often less immediately visible.”

Helmut Krcmar, professor of information systems at the Technical University of Munich, replied, “If as many as 10% were non-users that would not seem significant to me.”

Richard Forno, senior lecturer of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, said, “As a career internet security professional, I continue witnessing people rushing to embrace the latest and greatest thing or gadget or service without thinking about the possible ramifications to their security, privacy, or resiliency. And it’s not just about security or privacy—what if the product vendors for your IoT-enabled things go out of business or decide to make their product incompatible with others in the same space? (Which is happening already) What will users do then? Accordingly, security practitioners and educators at all levels will constantly struggle to inform the public about these risks in ways it can understand easily and potentially address in their respective lives.”

Antero Garcia, assistant professor at Colorado State University, wrote, “The grip of capitalist ecosystems—Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.—is strengthening the ability to connect multiple aspects of our lives online. It will be harder to disentangle from this system moving forward.”

Ryan Hayes, owner of Fit to Tweet, commented, “I agree that both will be trends (more people will disconnect but even more will become significantly more connected). I saw Amanda Palmer speak at SXSW and she made a comment related to this that stuck with me: “The most punk thing you can do today is disconnect. If you really want to be punk, go throw your phone in the lake.” Most people will become more connected because they’ll have to. The divide in capabilities between the most-connected and the least will define who gets the valuable jobs. Technology should be making life better too, not just more productive, so disconnecting will be opting out from those benefits; it will sabotage their abilities to get more out of life like someone deciding not to learn how to read because they’re afraid they’ll read something dangerous to them. It’s true that our attack surface will just keep increasing as we surround ourselves with devices but defenses are getting more capable as well (analogous to how people used to leave their houses unlocked when communities were more simple but today they have elaborate security systems and cameras, etc.). What I hope and expect to see coming into the market soon are more tools that use AI to study home network activity and identify anomalies instantly (so if your toothbrush suddenly starts sending large data files to some server overseas it flags and stops that quickly). Protecting home networks needs to be more of the focus as that’s the big weak point right now.”

Michael Wollowski, associate professor of computer science at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, replied, “I am not concerned about vulnerabilities of the Internet of Things. In addition to improvements of security tools, due to advanced analytics devices and factories will become what might be called ‘self-aware,’ i.e. they will ‘know’ when something is not right. In those cases, the devices will enter different levels of self-protection, based on the perceived threat. Better communication among security experts and systems will also provide for quicker responses to threats, isolating or eliminating them.”

Daniel Berleant, author of The Human Race to the Future, said, “All change comes with risks. You don’t see people moving away from cars (with occasional individual exceptions) because cars are dangerous. The dangers of using digital technologies are lower than for cars and while these dangers will be a continuing concern, they won’t stop the overall digitization trend.”

Eugene H. Spafford, a professor at Purdue University expert in computer security issues, wrote, “It appears that vendors do not appreciate the dangers involved in IoT, and offerings that don’t incorporate connectivity are increasingly rare—or more difficult to find. For instance, finding a cell phone without a computational presence and camera is getting more difficult. IoT is being pushed as the norm, and the majority of people do not seem to be aware of the hazards, so they are thus driving the market in that direction.”

Stowe Boyd, chief researcher at Gigaom, wrote, “In a world in which connected driverless transportation becomes the ubiquitous and low-cost norm, few will be concerned that occasionally a hacker can take over a vehicle and crash it, especially since tens of thousands die every year in car accidents now. That example will be the instance that proves the general case. Yes, hacking will continue, and corporations and governments will fight it, but meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of human activities and finances will move online, and everything that can be connected to the Web will be.”

Galen Hunt, partner research manager at Microsoft Research NExT, commented, “The security of IoT must improve. As more devices attach, consumers and enterprises will grow in their understanding of the profound need for secure systems; this need will drive manufacturers to provide secure solutions.”

David Brin, author of The Transparent Society, and Existence, also a leader at the University of California-San Diego’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, wrote, “Both are true. We seldom note a major recent trend, an Age of Amateurs. Already we are in an era when no worthwhile skill is ever lost if it can draw the eye of some small band of amateurs. Today there are more expert flint-knappers than in the Paleolithic, more swordmakers than the Middle Ages. There is vastly more surface area of hobbyist telescopes than instruments owned by all governments and universities put together. Networks of neighbors have started setting up chemical sensors that will weave into hyper environmental-webs. This will augment. For every couch or Web potato, there will be two who use these new powers to become more vivid in real life.”

Jeff Jarvis, professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, observed, “It wasn’t long ago that it was said no one would ever put their credit cards online. Then came Amazon. The benefits of being connected far outweigh the risks. There are more than enough worrywarts and regulators to watch over our safety.”

Patrick Tucker, technology editor at Defense One and author of The Naked Future, wrote, “Biometric authentication and IoT military research programs such as the HACMS program will make the Internet of Things more secure. That, plus new services that spring up out of the Internet of Things ecosystem, will shift the cost-benefit analysis of staying engaged and deepening engagement toward deepening.”

Ed Dodds, a digital strategist, wrote, “Most ‘hacks’ are still a case where a database administrator is on two payrolls at once (i.e., thumb drives walk). Government IT contractors will continue to classify unnecessary amounts of materials at a ‘top secret’ level so as to make their services appear indispensable and unauditible. Private software-defined networks are likely to proliferate as a means to limit some outsider access to the connected sensor grids.”

John Markoff, senior writer at the New York Times, commented, “John Markoff I see no back to the land movement on the horizon.”

Rebecca MacKinnon, director of Ranking Digital Rights at New America, wrote, “Innovations in governance, accountability, security, and industry coordination (without collusion) are going to need to advance in ways that are hard to conceive at this point in time. People with real security concerns are going to want to disconnect but the question is whether they will have a choice. In some parts of the world, perhaps not.”

Kate Crawford, a well-known internet researcher studying how people engage with networked technologies, said, “This question assumes that disconnecting remains a socially and economically viable option. For many millions of people, it simply won’t be. Quite apart from the individual use of devices and platforms, the infrastructure of everyday life will be networked. How does one ‘disconnect’ from your home, city, airport, or healthcare system?”

David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT and Internet Hall of Fame member, replied, “Unless we have a disaster that triggers a major shift in usage, the convenience and benefits of connectivity will continue to attract users. Evidence suggests that people value convenience today over possible future negative outcomes.”

Joseph Turow, communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “Despite hacks and privacy issues, people will feel a need to keep connected, partly because companies will reward them for doing so (or make life difficult if they don’t). People will feel resigned to navigating an environment where data are key coins of exchange. Companies that claim to protect identity theft will thrive as individuals search for ways to salve their worries.”

Matt Hamblen, senior editor at Computerworld, wrote, “Nearly everybody will connect to devices without hardly a worry about privacy or loss of personal data. There will just be too many advantages to being connected with a smartphone or smart wearable devices. Cars will imperil passengers if they are autonomous, but people will put up with the risk, eventually. People looking at cell phones while walking will still walk into traffic, but perhaps the devices they use will be able to warn them as they move about. Governments in some countries seem on top of the dangers, but the US government is clearly not up to the task and doesn’t seem aware of the dangers or equipped to deal with them as there is a very small consumer protection establishment in place. The way that autonomous cars will remain safe is that they will be in a network with each other and not just with the roads and traffic lights. This won’t happen large-scale in 10 years, but will evolve over 20 to 30 years.”

Randy Albelda, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, wrote, “At this point I see no way out. If I disconnect, I in effect lose my job and/or pay a lot more money and/or spend enormous amount of time living my daily life. The toothpaste is out of the tube.”

Sunil Paul, entrepreneur, investor, and activist at Spring Ventures, commented, “Convenience and ‘magic’ will overwhelm concerns. The history of technology is clear on this front—ATMs, e-commerce, credit cards, the list is endless.”

Chris Showell, independent health informatics researcher, said, “There is in fact a third option, which you have not listed: Significant numbers will wish to disconnect, but the pervasive nature of the IoT and social media will prevent them from doing so. The types of damage that are likely to emerge from pervasive use of IoT devices are hard to predict in advance. I have argued (Showell, C., Risk and the Internet of Things: Damocles, Pythia, or Pandora? In proceedings of the EFMI Special Topic Conference 2016) (1) that these risks should be viewed as similar in nature to ecological risks, and that the precautionary principle should moderate the widespread introduction and use of the IoT. Making these devices ‘safe’ will be almost impossible. A number of manufacturers and vendors pay insufficient attention to device security in the first instance, and may even weaken security settings in the user environment (2). Reliably upgrading the embedded security of these low power devices retrospectively will be near impossible in a dispersed domestic setting.”

Dana Klisanin, founder and CEO of Evolutionary Guidance Media R&D commented, “Significant numbers of people will disconnect due to privacy concerns, however on the whole the newer generation will increasingly purchase networked ‘things’ as long as they can clearly see a benefit (in that item vs. the unconnected item).”

Louisa Heinrich, founder at Superhuman Limited, replied, “This is an odd question. People will certainly move more deeply into connected life, and not necessarily by choice. Cities are embedding technology, as are manufacturers of consumer goods. We will be surrounded by technology more or less all the time, and it will certainly shape our experience of the world, but we may not be able to interact with the technology on any meaningful level because it isn’t owned by us.”

Jon Lebkowsky, CEO of Polycot Associates, a digital agency, said, “It’s an arms race, for sure, but I’m confident that we will evolve better security. And I’m pretty sure the negatives along the way will not diminish trust to the point that people disconnect in a big way.”

D. Yvette Wohn, assistant professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, wrote, “The trend toward greater connectivity will take place among majority of people (90%) but people who have very high income, are public figures or celebrities, or have very high adversity to technology will disconnect. The issue will not be about how we can make technology safer, but what is being done with the data that is collected. The government will come up with guidelines so that there will be different tiers of data that companies can use, based on the users’ preferences. People who are willing to have companies utilize their data more will receive stipends, creating a social imbalance where lower income people will be more vulnerable to privacy relinquishment.”

Frank Elavsky, data and policy analyst at Acumen, LLC, commented, “The greatest damage will occur not when people are connected, but by those that are systemically excluded from growing global connectivity (namely, affluent communities will be connected first while impoverish communities, primarily those of color, will be given beginning opportunities much later in the game). Now, from a safety and networked standpoint, the adoption of any new technology comes with risk of security. I would say that most technologies which networked the world in greater quantities had the following effect: For example, when large ships capable of travelling across oceans were finally established by a large constituency we saw two things result: the global death and eradication of those not included and the incredible proliferation of those who were. The greatest security threats to those who participate in systems of connectivity have never outweighed the potential benefits of that connectivity. Of course, hacking will be a greater threat. But I believe that the threat will be so nominal that only those too fearful to continue in the connectivity will be the real victims of the system.”

Avery Holton, an assistant professor and humanities scholar at the University of Utah, said, “As individuals, much of the technology we already rely on is vulnerable to attacks. Our cars can be hacked and our GPS data collected. Our phones can be traced and our identities stolen. Our energy grids can be disabled and our home-security systems remotely undone. Yet, we continue to drive and text and punch in our home security codes without much thought to localized or widespread attacks. We are vulnerable at many levels, and we search for particular levels of comfort in our technology without giving much thought to those vulnerabilities. While we may ask ourselves, ‘Who would want to hack me?’ that may be the wrong question. Instead, we should ask ourselves, ‘What we can do to avoid the consequences of different forms of hacks?’ For example, what sort of preparedness might we have if a power grid were attacked? If our car were hacked? If our phone were hacked? What is our contingency plan? As technology improves to stave off certain attacks, we have the ability to be prepared for them in smart ways that can be as simple as having solar panel backups or as complex as having multiple phones across multiple carriers. The point is that individuals must realize where vulnerabilities are and they must do something about the risks related to those. This doesn’t mean Doomsday prepping, but rather well-informed decisions that meet the current levels of technological safety and resilience against threats.”

K.G. Schneider, a higher education administrator, commented, “There will always be people who choose security over convenience, but they won’t be the dominant players. Librarians and other free-speech and privacy advocates will continue to caution about the erosions to basic civil privacies. Hard to say what the government will do, since it always lags at least a decade or two behind technological advances.”

Raymond Plzak, former CEO of a major regional internet governance organization, observed, “Disconnect will happen as long as there continue to be cyber exploitations causing feelings of anxiety and mistrust.”

David Morar, a doctoral student and Google policy fellow at George Mason University, replied, “The growing and expanding Internet of Things has the rare opportunity to get it right from the start. If engineers and policymakers are able to create infrastructures and standards that prioritize privacy and security, the future will be slightly less dangerous. If one examines technological innovation, the most glaring thing that pops out is that path dependency plays an important part. If the initial steps are not guided by what can already be identified as potential future issues, then the work of mitigation and consolidation later on will be much more difficult. A total reliance on connected software for almost everything in our lives will most likely lead to a significant dependence on technology. After a few generations of such dependence, a critical failure in the system would nearly cripple the world. Thus another concern that should be addressed would be to prepare for a temporary shutdown of our connected systems, just like we do now for potential power outages.”

Joe Mandese, editor-in-chief of MediaPost, said, “People will become more dependent on technology for accessing data and connecting with other people and other things, despite nefarious practices by hackers.”

Alice Marwick, a fellow at Data & Society, wrote, “Opting out of the ‘Internet of Things’ will become increasingly difficult, as devices from automobiles to alarm clocks will be equipped with proprietary internet-enabled software. The ability of people to tinker with their own devices, choose whether they want internet connectivity, and select non-connected devices will decrease, making opting out onerous, expensive, and disadvantageous. This is similar to the body scanners in airports, where one can opt-out, but it has a cost. Currently, data breaches are widespread, but the cost of opting-out (of, for instance, credit cards) generally outweighs the risk. People will have little choice but to participate in the ‘Internet of Things.'”

Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, commented, “The advances in technology will be accompanied by improved security. That is the only way companies and organizations can protect the economic investment in connected products and services; it is the only way connected services can continue to deliver value. There will always be some who choose to self-regulate by withdrawal, but most will learn new skills of self-management and be willing to exchange the currency of personal data and privacy to get the most value from the products available.”

Demian Perry, director of mobile at NPR, observed, “The internet has so changed our lives that we now take constant connectivity for granted, so much so that we may not always think about all the facets of our lives that could be exploited by hackers. The problem with IoT devices is not that these devices are inherently less secure, but that the space is too new to have a mature security infrastructure. The market is likely to weed out insecure products over the long term, but it might also be helpful to have regulatory review over certain product categories, similar to the way the FDA manages food safety, or the role the National Transportation Safety Board is now playing in autonomous vehicles.”

Michael Whitaker, vice president of emerging solutions at ICF International, replied, “The inevitable march to a more-connected life will continue unabated for two reasons. 1) An increasing amount of technology will emerge that is connected by default and the onus will be on users to disconnect (rather than connect). Most users, even if concerned about vulnerabilities, will not proactively disconnect across all of their devices. 2) The general understanding of the public related to the vulnerability of connected devices will remain low. They will be sold on the benefits (of which there are many) with few voices echoing the risks. Barring an awareness-altering event, people will generally think less and less about their connectivity over the next decade and will come to expect connectivity as the default state.”

Glenn Ricart, Internet Hall of Fame member and founder and CTO of US Ignite, said, “There is tremendous latent potential in greater connectivity—enough potential to force providers and consumers alike to find ways of minimizing the inevitable downsides. Just as Underwriters Laboratories (the famous UL label) was started by insurance companies to minimize losses due to fire and other malfeasance of new electrical technology, I would expect that organizations like Mozilla and Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others will create testing programs and labels that will have value in creating trust and reducing vulnerabilities. At some point, the National Institute of Standards and Technology will find that it must turn the majority of its activities to standardization and testing in the cyberphysical space because that is the portion of the economy growing most rapidly.”

Vin Crosbie, adjunct professor of multimedia, photography, and design at Syracuse University, wrote, “The next ten years will see the dawn of hacking attacks on the Internet of Things, notably viral and trojan attacks on household and automotive applications. Nevertheless, the Internet of Things will be become widely used at home, in transport, and in all other domains.”

Jesse Drew, cinema and digital media professor at the University of California-Davis, replied, “There is a limit to the trust people put into their machines. Physical objects where the human being is ultimately responsible are less likely to be surrendered to the machine. Besides, there is a control freak within all of us.”

Uta Russmann, communications professor at the FHWien University of Applied Sciences in Vienna, Austria, replied, “The majority of people do not understand the Internet of Things and what comes with it for them (data collection, etc.), they see the amenities to be greater than inconveniences, so they will move more deeply into connected life. The physical damage to ‘Joe Sixpack’ will be very small; she/he will be primarily affected by it as all her/his data is stealthily used for marketing purposes (most people won’t even realize this). I am more concerned about the general human damage: What about ethical aspects? Will there be enough people to question the doings of corporations, governments etc.? (The fewer people who understand it all, the fewer who are in charge of the many.)”

Lauren Wagner, a survey participant who shared no additional identifying details, said, “With a critical mass of objects becoming connected, it will be difficult or impossible to completely disconnect. For example, as more cars become connected it may be more expensive to order a special unconnected car than to buy the standard connected model. When the default is for a manufacturer to produce a connected device, consumers may not even realize what their products are connected to and how this makes them vulnerable to security breaches. When things are networked, I am most concerned about connected devices failing in real time—like self-driving cars and connected medical devices—where the cost is human life.”

Axel Bruns, professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology, wrote, “As with other trust issues, users may have significant concerns about data security in engaging with such networked objects—but in some cases their opportunities for opting out by choosing a non-networked device are likely to diminish rapidly. It is increasingly difficult to find new cars that do not feature back-to-base position tracking and networking as a default, for instance—so, as older models are disappearing from the marketplace, users will be forced to accept the embedding of such surveillance technologies into their cars (or find ways to hack them, potentially voiding the warranty). In other markets, the choice between networked and non-networked devices remains broader, but this may also change over time. User acceptance here will also depend on the tangible benefits that IoT functionalities actually provide: a networked fridge, for instance, may continue to be seen as a gimmick rather than a necessity, limiting user adoption; a networked TV or set-top box may be much more obviously beneficial, increasing the speed of adoption even in spite of known security vulnerabilities.”

Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, commented, “The issue is less about what choices individuals wish to make than about the choices that institutions or other individuals make for them. If my bank only lets me access my account online, if my telecommunications company only lets me do business online, if my doctor only makes my lab results available online, then to disconnect from the internet would mean disconnecting from the individuals, institutions, and services I need for everyday life.”

Erik Johnston, associate professor and director of the Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University, observed, “Trying to disconnect in the future will be increasingly difficult. Only those who are either very privileged or unprivileged will find themselves in a situation where the majority of their lives are not connected in a meaningful way. As the default becomes to be to opt in (unless there is a sea change in regulation) it will be very costly and time consuming to disconnect from each phase of life. And that is for the places where they know they are connected. It would be impossible to opt out of public surveillance, the TSA, and many other essentials of navigating a normal life.”

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung, an assistant professor at Adelphi University, replied, “There is no doubt that hackers will take advantage of the Internet of Things and pull down massive infrastructures. But this will not deter most people from the convenience it offers. Some people will disconnect but they are likely going to be the minority. It will always continue being a game, as people create better encryption and hackers get better at hacking. There is no ‘foolproof’ method that cannot be exploited in some way. Two-factor or device authentication type methods may help to a great extent but they’re not perfect, and most people, at the moment, may not want to do that. Perhaps the only way to be safer would be to change the way in which financial transactions are done, or even redefine it altogether, but I cannot foresee what that might look like.”

Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios, said, “We have a deep need and desire to connect. Everything in the history of communication technology suggests we will take advantage of every opportunity to connect more richly and deeply. I see no evidence for a reversal of that trend.”

Mary Chayko, professor of communication and information at Rutgers University, observed, “Full participation in a society now requires digital connectivity and literacy, even as privacy and security have become upended. While cybersecurity has become a critical challenge for governments, psychological security—a sense of safety and rootedness—becomes perhaps the premier challenge for individuals. As we see our devices and our world become ever more tightly networked and interconnected, and recognize the inherent security vulnerabilities in such a system, we become more psychologically and emotionally vulnerable. My hope is that we will address this, as we have so many other issues in the digital age, in community with one another—coming together (often online) to better understand our common human responses, needs, and frailties, and to develop stronger, more secure, systems (and selves).”

Kevin Novak, CEO of 2040 Digital, replied, “I teach a Digital Media and Society course at UMD. The course covers the growth in data collection across services, devices and actions. Millennials comprise the majority of students in the course. They have a concept but don’t realize the level of data being collected and managed across their life and activities. Their reactions over the semester result in disconnecting from many of the online activities they were participating in. Although the intent of the class is to educate and create awareness not abstinence, the outcome is interesting as they begin to consider how much of their life is unknowingly being ‘collected.’ Despite this outcome, It is my belief that benefit will over come the challenges and people will move more deeply into a connected life.”

Scott McLeod, associate professor of educational leadership at University of Colorado, Denver, said, “There will be all kinds of hiccups, horror stories, accidents, deliberate acts of sabotage, and other bumps along the road that will slow but not stop our greater connectivity. Convenience and empowerment always seem to win for most people, even at some loss of privacy, control, or transparency.”

Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, wrote, “Because connected life offers so many opportunities in terms of cost savings, entertainment, news and public participation, people will keep moving into it. But sooner or later, there is going to be a significant wave of cybercrime that makes every company in the ecosystem and every user wake up to the dangers. We may see a step back at that point, but I have confidence that services providers on one side and the users themselves will find solutions that strengthen security online. It unfortunately takes a crisis to make people care.”

Irina Shklovski, an associate professor at the IT University of Copenhagen, commented, “Trust has little to do with the reasons why people do not use the internet for shopping, banking or socializing. Trust is not in ‘the internet’ anyway but in the entities with whom people interact on the internet (your bank, your book seller, etc.). As these entities create conditions that make online interactions the most effective way to achieve particular goals, more of such interactions will happen. I am curious as to why ‘key social interactions’ are part of this list (and what these key interactions are envisioned to be). Arguably, key social interactions happen online all the time but it is hard to identify what these are. How do you know that a conversation in a bar or over messenger is going to be key in advance? At the same time, people will continue to insist on meeting in person but this, once again, has nothing to do with trust in online interactions. Really what does ‘trust in online interactions’ even mean? Yes, people will be more connected but this has nothing to do with trust.”

Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois, Springfield, said, “The Internet of Things will continue to rapidly grow and become more reliable with time. Connectivity and networking will become the lifeblood of effective tools and technologies. Systems will be hardened against intrusion and disruption. While hacking battles may persist, effective technologies will continue to adapt and advance to remain one step ahead of the black hats.”

Amanda Licastro, an assistant professor of digital rhetoric at Stevenson University, wrote, “The college students in my classes are already taking themselves offline by eschewing social media sites and deleting their own content from corporate-owned platforms. Many are influenced by the slew of movies, TV shows, and books that present satirical or exaggerated versions of our future through a lens of constant surveillance and corporate control. At the same time, we are all reliant on these tools—Google, Facebook, messaging apps, etc.—to communicate and organize. This paradox may cause a division in our society that replaces or supplants the current political parties.”

Paul Dourish, chancellor’s professor of informatics at the University of California-Irvine, commented, “It is not so much that people will tend to disconnect; it is more that the value proposition changes. Being able to remotely check the contents of one’s fridge or switch lights on and off with one’s phone simply aren’t terribly compelling applications.”

Tse-Sung Wu, project portfolio manager at Genentech, said, “Perhaps the proliferation of the Internet of Things is not dissimilar to the development of labor saving devices in the household. Perhaps this its latest incarnation, devices that not only save labor, but also supplant planning, remembering, deciding, executing. As long as the security of these can be protected, it seems doubtful that people will turn away from these latest conveniences; in the face of such new tools, it will take a concerted effort to reject these, perhaps much like a middle class American would choose not to own a car or cell phone. There will be inherent instability due to malware and other malicious actors, virtual or human, that will make these unstable. Much like an early toaster design that caught fire too easily. Designs to improve fire safety are stable- once you figure out what does or doesn’t burn, it’s not hard to codify these into your design specs when building a home appliance. Can a similar, stable, design be found for the new Internet of Things? Imagine having to do an OS update for your fridge every year. When the internet was first conceived, an important design consideration was robustness against a physical degradation of parts of the network. Should a node be damaged in war, how do we reroute messages around the fallen node, for instance? This I believe is the basis of the internet as we know it. Now that it is inevitable that there are actors on the internet that for a variety of reasons behave dishonestly and disruptively, what should the new design basis of the Internet of Things be? In a city where there is crime, we know to design windows and doors that lock, curtains that hide, police that protect and a legal system that prosecutes criminals. In an Internet of Things where malicious acts take place opportunistically, what should be built in, the way we designed it to withstand nuclear attack? What would make the Internet of Things inherently difficult to disrupt, while still staying open and accepting of innovation? Is that even possible?”

Alexander Halavais, director, MA in social technologies at Arizona State University, wrote, “We will see the same battles we already have between closed infrastructures and open, interoperable ones. We are already seeing the early days of this with wearables. Your Withings devices all talk to one another, but talking across makers becomes more difficult. Services like ifttt [If This Then That] are fighting against these new walled gardens. The future of these systems requires open standards. It took a long time for Web browsers and operating systems to learn this lesson, and government regulation has played a role in making such exchange even more difficult, but it is likely a question of when, not if; eventually makers will come to understand that open standards improve user experiences and lead to greater adoption.”

Dan Caprio, co-founder of The Providence Group, commented, “We need to work together to protect privacy and security and enable innovation.”

Christine Maxwell, entrepreneur and program manager of learning technologies at the University of Texas, Dallas, replied, “Cyber warfare is real—major breakdowns are more likely to occur and IoT goes ‘mainstream.’ There will need to be far more collaboration among governments and technologists to thwart ever-more-sophisticated cyber attacks. The public should be educated on the impact of the Semantic Web—and it should learn swiftly why they should be pushing for IPv6!”

Dariusz Jemielniak, professor of management at Kozminski University and Wikimedia Foundation Trustee, wrote, “Current technology already offers much higher levels of security than the market actually uses, there is a scope for radical improvement if people demand it. “

Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics at Adams State University, said, “This is still a puzzle to me. I believe many more people will choose to disconnect from the increasingly interconnected world. Yet the majority of people will accept and even embrace the Internet of Things since it will make their lives easier and more comfortable perhaps even saving money. Yet criminals will also do well and hacks will occur. People are like water or electrical circuits and follow the path of least resistance. Thus going along with industry designed changes will be acceptable to most.”

Ian O’Byrne, assistant professor of literacy education at the College of Charleston, said, “More people will become connected because device manufacturers will make it far easier and acceptable to purchase and use these devices. In the same fashion that we added electricity to every device possible with advances in technology, I believe that manufacturers will ‘add the internet’ to all devices in the attempt to make them better…but also possibly sell more product. In short, more people and devices will be connected. Whether this is a net positive or a net negative depends on the issues of privacy, security, and trust.”

Wendy M. Grossman, an independent writing and editing professional based in London, said, “Both statements are true, and I don’t think they conflict. As we become more sophisticated about and used to these technologies, we will (I hope) make better-informed decisions about which ones we use and how. Twenty years ago, I did a piece (as every journalist did then) about information overload. I found that everyone I knew had some strategy for taming the flow: one friend never returned phone calls he missed, for example; another only answered email in the morning; etc. As I watch the way IT is developing, I’m increasingly dubious about how far I want to let it—and the concomitant exposure to potential surveillance—penetrate into my home life. Some of this is because I’ve been online for 25 years and I write about security—I’m distrustful enough that I do almost no online banking and don’t use my smartphone for anything that would expose any of my financial accounts. I’m in the fortunate position of not needing to do these things, so I don’t. I think in the short to medium term we’re in for a lot of grief as legacy manufacturers who know nothing about security add wireless connections and computational power to everyday objects; there’s going to be a big mess one day soon when governments start demanding that the data collected by smart TVs, robots, etc. be retained for use by law enforcement and security services. It’s simpler (to me) to opt out of that before it happens. That said, “most people”, at least in the western developed world, do not think like this, and going forward many will not have a choice about it. Wealthier people seem to prize convenience and the elimination of really minor problems to the extent that they’ll do anything to automate even trivial things whatever the risks; poorer people often don’t have alternatives—desktop/laptop computers and wired broadband are becoming luxuries that many households can’t afford. If you can only have one device and one communications network, that’s going to be a smartphone and a data plan, and if you can save money by consenting to let your refrigerator send the supermarket statistics on how and when you consume the groceries you buy, then you will. I think the problem is especially acute with respect to the technology underlying smart cities, because local authorities make operational decisions that don’t require public consultation that have later impact on civil liberties and human rights. A great example is the auto-dimming streetlights being installed in a number of cities. Local residents, if asked, certainly support the goal of reducing energy use and cost; but they aren’t consulted about the video and audio surveillance systems that form part of these systems. So: both of the statements we began with are true.”

Adrian Hope-Bailie, standards officer at Ripple, said, “The allure of better services will always be stronger than the fear of the risks. As with the growth of the internet, the vendors that provide services to users will be measured in some way on how well they protect their users and so market pressure will force them to continue to try and stay ahead of the curve with respect to security. There will be breaches and dips in trust but the overall trend will be strong growth.”

Kjartan Ólafsson, head of the department of social sciences at the University of Akureyri, Iceland, commented, “I doubt that being ‘disconnected’ will be a viable choice in life. People might have a choice of various levels of connectedness however and some people might opt for (or aim for) some kind of limited connectivity.”

Isto Huvila, a professor at Uppsala University, said, “Unless something very dramatic would happen that would essentially disconnect entire societies, the possibilities to disconnect are reducing. Natural disasters and human action are the most likely threats. The best possible way of securing connectedness is to see to it that systems are autonomous, regional, and local and do not rely on the functionality and presence of specific global infrastructures. That online systems can function on a municipal, regional, and country level and that infrastructures do not rely on each other.”

Laurent Schüpbach, neuropsychologist at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, wrote, “I’ve personally decided to disconnect everywhere when possible. The biggest exception so far is my smartphone. I prefer to have one device that I can keep up to date and secure. Completely disconnecting is probably very rare. I wish more people would realise that IoT is a security nightmare, but I can’t imagine what scandal would be necessary for people to take action.”

Dave Howell, a senior program manager in the telecommunications industry, wrote, “Convenience. Autonomous automobiles are probably more than one but under two decades out (they need infrastructure), but we’ll move deeper into a converged world because it’s a more convenient place. Dropouts will be clustered in retirement communities or Luddite compounds, mocked by the mainstream.”

Maria Pranzo, director of development at The Alpha Workshops, replied, “Wow. I’m trying to remember how it was before we were all connected. Before the world knew what was going on everywhere at once. It’s a frightening thought, all of this going away. And yet it’s one that I could be completely comfortable with. But that’s my privilege showing. Online security is, by and large, an illusion. And I think we all agree to the illusion together. We count on good people on the front lines: the makers of our hardware and software. We count on their continuing to advance slightly faster than the bad guys. Most of us do so blindly. Why would that change? I certainly don’t check the plane engine before I get on a flight.”

Lisa Heinz, doctoral student at Ohio University, wrote, “In the next 10 years, the companies building the pieces that fit the IoT must ensure the security and privacy of their systems for their users lest they want lose their customers. Economics will be a primary driver in the development of automation in our everyday lives, That is, until IoT becomes a matter of necessity rather than convenience. Young people are perpetually connected to each other, so much so they might not know how to exist without the internet that enables that connection. As our homes become a part of that connection in even the tiniest of automated ways, we will no longer care how it works, just that it works as expected. Thus, a mass migration away from a connected society is unlikely.”

Luis Lach, president of the Sociedad Mexicana de Computación en la Educación, A.C., wrote, “I am confident that In the future more people will be connected, no matter the challenges we are facing over our security. On the other hand, people who decide to disconnect will be the ones with more information, but this will be an elite group of critical people. The market will win, no matter the consequences to our personal security and protection of personal data, and people will be connected. The more-concerning threat for the technological paradigm (positive or negative) is the evolution of global and local economies. Today, in the year 2016, globalization is more of a risk to our lives than a social win. Fewer people are becoming richer in a stupid way, and a vast majority of population is becoming poorer. We can see a map of world´s migration, just to note that people from underdeveloped countries are migrating to the richest places (Europe and USA), and that is not because those geographies are lands of opportunity, it is because the countries they are coming from are being devastated.”

Stephan G. Humer, head of the internet sociology department at Hochschule Fresenius Berlin, commented, “We´ve just seen the early stages of Digitization, so there is only one direction: more and more people will move deeply into connected life.”

Klaus Æ. Mogensen, senior futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, observed, “This is a false dichotomy. People will still connect, although not necessarily more deeply, and people concerned about abuse will use protective measures the way we use antivirus software today.”

Matt Bates, a programmer and concept artist at Jambeeno Ltd., observed, “For the average person, I expect the following are and will always be true with regard to internet connectivity: Convenience > privacy. Convenience > statistically-infrequent health consequences. Convenience > statistically-infrequent financial problems. For a minority, one or more of the above will be reversed and they will stand out as oddities in an increasingly-connected world (note, e.g., code and security expert Dan Geer, part of the CIA apparatus, who doesn’t use a cellphone). What are the likeliest kinds of damage arising from networking? Social damage arising from unknown recording equipment, probably. I think most networked physical objects are ‘safe for the vast majority most of the time.’ It’s what happens with the aggregation of networked objects that is most concerning, and then it will usually be most deleterious to a minority of the population. There’s probably no way to get around this short of not networking things. Convenience will out. Sadly.”

Don Philip, PhD, retired lecturer, replied, “Most people will be more deeply connected than they are today, partly because they will be unaware of the potential threats posed by the poor security that currently surrounds the Internet of Things (IoT.) Physical damage could include traffic disruptions and attacks on homes and hospitals. Physical systems like traffic lights and hospital instruments could be shut down. Governments could act to make things more secure, but, based on current patterns, will probably work hard to install spyware and back doors, making things much more insecure. Technologists will be forced to go along. While it’s theoretically possible to make physical IoT objects safer the vast majority of the time, as noted above, governments will work to subvert this, making things very insecure indeed.”

Alan Cain, a respondent who shared no additional identifying background, said, “Your privacy are belong to us; we know when you are sleeping, we know when you’re awake. We know if you’ve been naughty or nice, so be good for goodness’ sake—a Shirley Temple future.”

Glen Thomas, a head of computing in an educational setting, wrote, “IoT devices do not generally get security updates, so most will have vulnerabilities for most of their life — owners will not be concerned about this if they appear to still function. Snappy Core could help with updates, but OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] need to have legislative encouragements to get their security act together.”

Karel Kerstiens, retired from the US Air Force, commented, “I declined to answer this question because it should have included an option to select ‘About the same as it is today,’ since I do not expect to see any change in percentages of the population to resist change, embrace change, or explore deeper technology than there is at present.”

Masha Falkov, artist and glassblower, observed, “People will move more deeply into connected life because the allure of exciting new technology and consumer products will overrule possible risks they have heard about. Also, marketers of the products will learn how to downplay any risks. Encryption is key to protecting devices and the information they hold within, especially as everything becomes more interconnected. Yet governments and marketers alike wish to weaken privacy and encryption in the favor of greater surveillance capability. This puts everyone in danger. Devices on whose consistent operation lives depend can be tampered with, sometimes by individuals whose sole purpose is just to see if they could, as well as terrorists and other people of malicious intent. I don’t believe it is possible to have 100% security because our operating systems are always evolving as we search for greater potential to our tech. But it is possible to improve security through several means. One is to require high security standards and encryption on all connectivity devices, and to make companies that create these devices and software liable for damages that may result. This will ensure to some degree that companies do not skimp on their security teams. Another means, which is happening right now, is to enlist hackers into helping companies and developers into finding security flaws through the use of cash prizes or employment. This also creates an outlet for people who love to hack to be productive individuals rather than a nuisance. Finally, make sure that the laws are set up so that hackers who find flaws but do not exploit them can report them without fear of prosecution.”

Jennifer Zickerman, entrepreneur, replied, “Sadly, people will continue to connect devices without demanding better security design. Shiny new technology will trump big dumb security vulnerabilities. Institutions are particularly vulnerable, as they stand to reap the greatest benefit from ‘smart’ devices. We will see situations where hospital equipment, utility systems, even entire buildings, are held for ransom. It is most definitely possible to improve security—however that would involve settling on a common, open-source security standard, which tech corporations are loath to do. (Witness the fragmentation of single sign-on systems.) As long as tech companies continue to look at security as a ‘feature’ rather than as a fundamental operating characteristic, they will be unable to cooperate to build proper security infrastructure. As long as society continues to allow tech companies to reap vast profits in spite of the damage they do to users through a lack of effective security, tech companies will have little incentive to improve.”

Chris Zwemke, Web developer, said, “The Internet of Things is but a giant playground. As people become more and more aware of security and algorithm dangers, the bar for what is a useful ‘thing’ will continue of rise. I don’t think there will be a rise in current disconnectedness. However what we connect to will shift. People will realize the safety perils of cameras and interconnected cars. The age of having dozens of devices on WiFi will come to an end before the decade and a superior, secure wireless format will emerge. First from a consortium of the typical large industrial players (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, ATT, GE, etc.) but it will morph into a regulated space, much like television and radio. I have no idea what the answer will be, but there will be one. Once the secure and trustworthy communication is found and proven, the rise of smart cars and appliances will start in earnest. However that rise is more than a decade away. In the same time span, culture will realize some of our connected things are in fact dumb—smart toothbrush—and the utility of connected things will rise. Perhaps a hurdle of regulation and openness will force the lesser-quality actors out of the field and into the black market where they won’t have anything more than a pestering impact.”

Karl M. van Meter, sociological researcher and director of the Bulletin of Methodological Sociology, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, wrote, “I cannot mark both ” and ‘,’ but that is what is happening and will continue to take place during the next decade. There will be great discrimination concerning for what being ‘connected’ is better than being ‘disconnected.'”

Pete Cranston of EuforicServices.com, commented, “There will be scares, genuine disasters, but the potential gains from inter-connectivity are so great that we will continue to lurch into a future where we will have to confront issues of independent machine-machine decision making (aka machine intelligence, but actually more to do with interlocking algorithms exponentially increasing the complexity of machine response patterns) much more actively.”

Garland McCoy, president of the Technology Education Institute, observed, “Cyber wars will rage at the edge of the electric grid for some time, causing massive disruption. But in the end, as bumpy as the ride will be, people will accept the significant benefits of an always-on, connected life.”

Tom Ryan, CEO of eLearn Institute, Inc., replied, “Trends certainly indicate that the Internet of Things continues to grow, especially as new ways to connect machine-to-machine to automate provide more convenience. There is also a corresponding growth in industrial and governmental cyber security and international cyber combat that are driving treats and responses. There will most likely be a major event that will occur due to the opportunities that the Internet of Things provides to people that choose to do harm. My biggest concern is something that cripples countries’ infrastructure (electrical, communications, water, energy), but for most people, most of the time, we will remain generally safe.”

Bart Knijnenburg, an assistant professor in human-centered computing at Clemson University, said, “The immediate and concrete benefits of connectivity, however small, will outweigh the uncertain future threats, so people will choose connectivity over security. Insurance firms may capitalize on insuring against digital threats to physical devices. The only thing that may cause people to disconnect is a widespread terrorist attack against the digital infrastructure. Even if such attack is inconsequential for people’s TVs and fridges, it may change the narrative enough that people will disconnect.”

Dan McGarry, media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post, commented, “Connection is inevitable. It’s what Pratchett, Stewart, and Cohen call extelligence. So much of human experience is based outside of the human being these days, you can’t be a functioning adult and remain unconnected.”

Katharina Anna Zweig, a professor at Kaiserslautern Technological University in Germany, commented, “As the connectivity promises more comfort, more safety, more savings, more almost anything (next to less privacy), most people will get more and more connected. After a hack or attack, users might disconnect from single products, but I do not believe that there will be a larger group of people totally disconnecting from the Internet. It might become a privilege of the very rich, but they can only afford it because the people surrounding them and in their service are connected.”

Paul Davis, a director based in Australia, said, “As digital devices and connectivity becomes ubiquitous being ‘connected’ will become simpler than not. The benefits of the connected life, particular in the area of health and lifestyle outcomes, will outweigh risks of privacy loss. However, the challenge of a post-growth world where automation and algorithms have replaced most of the need for labour will present significant societal challenges.”

Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional relations at the European Broadcasting Union, commented, “Despite the growing number of incidents and hackings and problems related to IOT, connected world will continue to grow. It will be like at the beginning of the introduction of cars. Society—in exchange for the advantages—will raise its level of tolerance and accept a higher number of accidents.”

Joan Noguera, a professor at the University of Valencia Institute for Local Development, replied, “The benefits and opportunities of connectivity will convince most citizens to stay connected. In any case, prevention mechanisms (anti-hacker, anti-virus, etc.) will most probably be improved, thus diminishing the risks of connectivity.”

Thomas Keller, head of domain services at 1&1 Internet SE, based in Germany, and active ICANN leader, wrote, “The train cannot be stopped anymore. Technology providers need to be aware of their responsibility.”

Dave Kissoondoyal, CEO of KMP Global Ltd., said, “The Internet of Things will make all connected. As the users and the providers have influenced the development of the technology and non-technology aspects of the Internet, the Internet of Things will go through the same process. As more and more people have been trusting to the Internet and connecting to it, the same will apply to the Internet of Things.”

Alf Rehn, professor and chair of management and organization at Åbo Akademi University, wrote, “Whatever can be hacked will be hacked, and some will opt out. Not a majority, maybe only a smallish minority, but still.”

Ben Railton, professor of English and American studies at Fitchburg State University, said, “I’m sure some folks will disconnect, and I hope that opportunity remains and will always remain a viable one. But, for the vast majority, increasing connection is both inevitable and an intregral part of how we live and operate in society.”

Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene professor and associate dean for research at Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, wrote, “I assume it will be increasingly costly and inconvenient to disconnect.”

Janice Lachance, interim president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust, commented, “The public will have no choice but to delve into an increasingly-connected world. Both individuals and trusted institutions will have to take responsibility for vetting systems and becoming knowledgeable on how to avoid scams of all types. For example, the BBB’s Scam Tracker program relies on crowdsourcing to inform consumers of unethical business practices.”

John Sniadowski, a systems architect, observed, “IoT is unstoppable because it will provide convenience without the vast majority of individuals knowing or even being able to comprehend the risk landscape. Take a simple analogy. You wish to make a cup of tea of coffee. You fill up your electric kettle, plug it into a power receptacle, power on and wait for the water to boil. Or perhaps you use an automated machine to make the brew for you. Either way, the act of plugging in the appliance into the power receptacle is a simple consumer step. Underpinning that there is a power grid system of varying complexity. The consumer has no need of knowledge of that and so the same process applies to IOT. Devices are sold for their convenience and the supporting infrastructure is someone else’s problem to worry about.”

John Laprise, founder of the Association of Internet Users, said, “Historically, there’s always a tradeoff between privacy and convenience. Convenience will continue to have the upper hand going forward.”

David Collier-Brown wrote, “Our current security and maintainability is far, far behind the state that we need for networked security cameras and routers (today!) and for baby monitors and refrigerators in the immediate future. Unl;ess we get people like Dave Taht [co-founder of the Bufferbloat Project] and Vint Cerf [Internet Protocol co-inventor] being listened to, I expect a boom-bust cycle as vendors sell garbage and unhappy consumers discard it.”

David Lankes, professor and director at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science, said, “There is an interesting shift when a feature or service becomes a utility. It becomes simultaneously expected and invisible. You flip on the light switch and you simply expect power to be delivered while simultaneously become less aware of how that happens. You expect roads to take you to a destination but have little knowledge (or concern) with what the road is made of (concrete, asphalt, new materials). This leads to a series of troubling issues. Take those roads. We assume, as a utility, they are available, but don’t know specifics. Specifics like bridges aging out of service. We only become aware of the importance of both availability and service assurance when something goes wrong. Even then, we still drive on the next bridge assuming that the failed one was an anomaly, or that a failed bridge will spur action. The Internet of Things is nothing more or less than the evolution of the internet to a utility. We don’t think about our refrigerators having IP addresses, or our cars linking to WiFi because we simply assume they will. The value we get is too high not to take the risk—particularly because the risk is hidden or minimized.”

Peter Brantley, director of online strategy at University of California-Davis, wrote, “There will be a constant flow of relatively contained efforts to disconnect from one or multiple facets of network participation and surveillance. Often, these may be deeply reactionary, but some will contain highly expressive and imaginative efforts which hold the promise of reshaping our understanding of the dialectic conversation emerging with the network of things, whose ubiquity we are helping to forge.”

Paul Lehto, an author, replied “With the Internet of Things, the capability of a jilted lover to make mischief by turning off power when the love interest is preparing for a date with another, to use a somewhat off-the-wall but colorful and illustrative example, will cause significant numbers to disconnect for peace of mind and privacy reasons.”

John Bell, software developer, data artist, and teacher at Dartmouth College, wrote, “More people will become more connected, but largely because individuals won’t have any choice but to participate in connected technologies due to market forces that encourage centralization and constant connection. This will continue until there is a global security event that causes governments to intervene, like a war where infrastructure technology is targeted. Technologists could solve this problem by, for example, using completely different networking protocols for IoT devices than are used on the commercial internet. Another possibility would be engineering home-automation servers that only operate locally. However, there is not enough awareness of or concern about the potential security problems of always-on cloud services to force companies to develop local solutions when there are vast economic benefits for those companies to make sure devices must be connected to their services.”

Michael Dyer, computer science professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, replied, “I am not a networking expert but researchers in networking are developing distributed systems that produce quality of service while remaining robust under a wide variety of perturbations.”

David Banks, co-editor of Cyborgology, said, “Disconnection from networks of capital and information generally come at a high price for individuals and even entire communities. As more parts of our lives become connected to the IoT it seems likely that disconnection will become a privilege to those that can afford to, for example, forgo the savings on car insurance that come with agreeing to be tracked.”

Edward Friedman, emeritus professor of technology management at the Stevens Institute of Technology, replied, “These new technologies will not emerge overnight. As they evolve, people will have an opportunity to evaluate them and adapt to new connections in a judicious fashion. The technology of safeguards will also be evolving and becoming more effective.”

David Golumbia, associate professor of digital studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, said, “Neither of these options is correct. Many more people will connect, and hacks, attacks, and illicit algorithmic control will increase. Most people won’t understand this and will do nothing about it even when it becomes clear.”

Jon Hudson, futurist and principal engineer, wrote, “The sad thing is. You won’t have a choice. Disconnecting will not only hurt you and your earning capabilities, but also those of your children and anyone else living in your house. We all must get more and more connected if we want to see where this is going and reach that next level. Whatever it is.”

Ryan Sweeney, director of analytics at Ignite Social Media, commented, “We’re going to see two groups start to emerge within the next decade: those connected, and those unplugged. Being connected can be burdensome to users as they face information fatigue. Bret Easton Ellis wrote a fascinating book titled Lunar Park that provided a fascinating take on the concept. (Spoiler Alert) Ellis depicts a world where kids are so saturated with information they become bored with and numb to technology so they run away and start a community of their own. In Dave Egger’s book The Circle, (spoiler alert) a character strives to escape the oppressive nature of an omni-connected dystopian future and finds death to be the only way out. Exaggerated? Yes. Conceptual plausibility? Definitely. Meanwhile, as algorithms become more efficient and technology more omnipresent and accepted, there will be continued growth of plugged-in users. Governments will need to focus on protecting the connected user, as acts of terrorism will likely shift to the digital when the damage potential is great enough. When everything is connected and relies on said connectivity of other sources, disconnecting one system could result in a significant freeze of efficiency. If, for instance, within this decade automated cars become standard that system could become compromised resulting in anything from an economic shock to massive loss of life by collision. The sci-fi nerd in me wonders if, in several decades, this will result in a new type of class system.”

Malcolm Pell, IT consultant, observed, “I am still very sceptical about this as too many manufacturers, OEMs, developers—see effective security as a cost burden. Also, how do we maintain the security of legacy and unsupported and obsolete devices?”

Mary K. Pratt, freelance technology journalist, commented, “Even if individuals are concerned about the risks, they’ll find it difficult or impossible to opt out of these connections if they want to continue with the products or services they want and/or need.”

Dave McAllister, director at Philosophy Talk, said, “The clear direction is toward ever-increasing connectivity. Those who disconnect will end up as a class with diminishing resources. Information is king and connectivity will power that.”

Joanna Bryson, a senior associate professor at the University of Bath, wrote, “This is not a good question, because I believe both answers are true. Certainly the two answers are not necessarily contradictions. The details of the extent of the significant disconnections will depend on how successful industry and governments are in creating secure firewalls between sectors. This is an incredibly important area of academic research.”

Karen Mulberry, a director, commented, “Most people are not really aware of how connected they are and how the devices capture and transmit the data they have. Features are not really being communicated as data use, connectivity is to really seen as anything outside of a feature for the users benefit. Security and opt-in approaches to who has access to the data and how it is used are needed to provide informed consent rather than the assumption that devices can capture all data and use it as they wish, and in lots of cases not provide any security or privacy protections for that data.”

Susan Mernit, CEO and co-founder at Hack the Hood, observed, “The Big Brother aspects of the Internet of Things really scare me. I don’t want my self-driving car to control where I go. But for many, these will be viewed as creature comforts and conveniences—until they don’t work as planned.”

Christian Dawson, a respondent who shared no additional identifying details, commented, “The same companies who drive IoT will have great incentives to quickly mitigate mass issues, and even if they occur, the general populace has a craving for these tools—and though every generation has its technophobes, we will more likely than not continue to get even more connected over time.”

Jan Schaffer, executive director at J-Lab, observed, “Jan Schaffer: I believe young people will continue to deeply connect, until they have assets and identities that they care about and don’t want to put at risk.”

Joel Barker, futurist and author at Infinity Limited, said, “Disconnection is the only solution to the size of the risk.”

Daniel Menasce, professor of computer science at George Mason University, wrote, “I selected significan numbers disconnect, but I am not 100% sure about my answer. What will happen will depend on how secure these objects are. For example, it has been demonstrated that is not very difficult for a hacker to gain control of your car-control systems and cause bad things to happen. Similarly, pacemaker devices can be caused to malfunction and kill a person. Unless objects connected to the Internet are designed and implemented with security in mind, the IoT may not succeed.”

Eduardo Villanueva-Mansilla, associate professor of communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, wrote, “The wonders of the IoT will prevail even against the risks. Experience shows that most consumers tend to ignore the risks unless they happen to them, and even when something bad happens to anyone they tend to prefer to return to their old practices since they are accustomed to them. As the risks of the IoT are farther away from consumers than the everyday risks of getting mugged, unless there are massive losses of money the problems will be incorporated into every day’s risk assessment and forgotten in favor of the benefits.”

Shreedeep Rayamajhi, activist and blogger, said, “People adapt with technology, and, since it provides better service and likely better future security, it will grow.”

Jeff Johnson, consultant at UI Wizards, Inc. and Wiser Usability, Inc., replied, “My actual answer is ‘both.’ , but  (or remain disconnected).”

Steven Polunsky of spin-salad.com commented, “The marketplace will make Internet of Things a reality and people will have little choice. Eighty percent will adopt, actively or passively. Twenty percent won’t, either, because they choose not to or because they can’t afford to.”

Dmitry Strakovsky, a professor of art at the University of Kentucky, said, “Most people are waaaay too comfortable with the easy-to-use mobile systems to forgo the experience of the connected world. Security will be an increasing concern but it will not deter any serious number of consumers. We will simply move deeper into biometrics land. The bigger issue is going to be further down the line when we finally have access to quantum computing and no encryption will be enough. Then we are in trouble.”

Christopher Owens, an adjunct professor at Columbus State Community College, said, “Being connected is becoming less and less of a choice, so even if someone wanted to disconnect, they would not realistically be able to, any more than people 20 years ago could stop driving, using the telephone, or having a bank account. Too much of modern life is dependent on having near-constant internet access.”

David Williams, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, said, “While I believe more people will become more connected; I’m certain we are in for a rocky ride. There are sure to be many very high-profile cases of that connectivity being abused. One of the bigger challenges we’re faced with is how to ensure all those new connected ‘things’ are connected securely and yet able to be safely updated as new bugs and vulnerabilities are found. Things like WiFi access points and cable modems are cautionary tales as they often are tuned on, connected and never patched. That security patching has to be built-in, bulletproof, and secure. Manufacturers need to have the cost of patching and maintaining those ‘things’ built into their costs, perhaps covered by a ‘thing’ annuity that would ensure funding for maintenance over the long haul and across mergers and acquisitions.”

Theo Armour, a coder, commented, “The harm comes from not living in the moment—from losing awareness. The safety comes from having the antennae up and listening right now.”

Dudley Irish, a software engineer, wrote, “This is a very complicated issue but what I suspect will happen is that people will make changes that should lead to them being more disconnected, but in reality, they will be increasingly connected. I am a very knowledgeable technologist and I can’t keep track of all the ways that my behavior is tracked. I consciously avoid being tracked and suspect that I am tracked much more than I would like. Meanwhile, most of the people I know can’t be bothered to limit how much they are tracked because it just takes too much effort. And, it seems like every time I turn around I am reading about yet another privacy failure or technique for de-anonymizing data. This is a context in which regulation could help but is it very unlikely that any useful regulation will be done.”

Will Kent, an e-resources staff member at Loyola University-Chicago, replied, “People won’t have the choice to disconnect. Take applying for jobs as an example. It is nearly impossible to apply for a job without a computer or email. Soon it will be that way for housing and for all communication and appliances. Two hundred years ago we were able to make mail safe enough to become the relied upon technology for all sorts of information (health care, social, civic, economic, etc.) so it seems like there should be a safe digital analogue in the technology somehow. It may take business embracing privacy in order to do it (like the government respecting privacy with physical mail). It will also take coordination and de-centralization to preserve balance, back-up, and adaptive support to ongoing threats with developing technologies. Lastly, and most problematically, it will take the vigilance of users to demand protection, oversight, and transparency. This is the only way we will be able to fix damaged devices in networks or reconfigure things on the fly or call out attackers. As it stands, this conversation is over and things will become more connected. Authoritative bodies must advocate for user education and safety. Even if this is a priority for some, it is not a common practice for all.”

Jeff Kaluski, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, commented, “Trust is going up as security vulnerabilities are being found and patched, hackers are having a harder time once the potential pitfalls are published. Open source will be the path that the IoT will be secured along.”

Tony Pichotta, creative director at Recess Creative, observed, “While some will choose to drop out, the benefits of a connected life far outweigh the harms—or so we’ll be told.”

Nick Tredennick, technology analyst, replied, “Wealth is built upon knowledge accumulation, and that is fostered by more information access and better connectivity.”

John B. Keller, director of eLearning at the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, said, “We’re still in the beginning stages of truly connected lifestyles and I think the trend toward “smart” / network capable everything will only accelerate in the next decade. However, we need override capabilities and firewalls that will keep contamination from spreading virally. This is especially important in any system that could be directly or indirectly associated with human safety (e.g., navigation, air quality, water quality, food safety. We must have ways to minimize the opportunity that such systems would be compromised and should insist on designs that allow for quarantining to mitigate the effect of malicious or inadvertent corruption.”

Mike Warot, machinist at Allied Gear, wrote, “People deeply discount the future costs of flaws in things they buy today. The big shiny new toy will always get bought.”

Erik Anderson, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, wrote, “Devices will always have vulnerabilities. You must stop investing into firewalls and other perimeter security. You must add security at the data level. Secure objects that remain secure regardless of whether they are in motion or at rest. Look at Constrictive Key Management (CKM).”

Richard J. Perry, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, commented, “Great damage is possible and governments and vendors will strive to improve security but will fail. Internet insecurity will be the rule, not the exception. But we are addicted and will not surrender this.”

Sam Anderson, coordinator of instructional design at the University Massachusetts-Amherst, said, “The benefits will be too appealing (and likely too immediately societally beneficial) to turn away from. There will be some communities that turn away, but they will be a minority. It may be that many people try to partition their lives into connected (most of the time) and unconnected (for quiet, for deep work).”

Ida Brandão, an educator, observed, “The risks are there but the advantages may lead people to adhere increasingly to connectedness. Regulations and safety developments may balance the risks, hopefully.”

Vance S. Martin, instructional designer at Parkland College, observed, “If you build it, they will buy it. I am supposed to take my blood pressure every morning and email results to my doctor every few months. Wouldn’t it be easier to take my blood pressure and have it automatically sent to him? That would save me 10 minutes a month. Don’t we want a TV or device we can tell to find and play Die Hard, or to load Fallout 4? Isn’t it great to have a button on your washer that you can just push to fill an Amazon order for soap? If all of these things had appeared at once, we might be put off. But with slow release and the allure of the newest, time-saving device, and the fact they become cheaper and cheaper, we will have them in our homes. If you want a refrigerator that doesn’t take a picture, inventory the contents, and order refills you’ll have to start buying old appliances and refurbishing them, which some will do. But who is going to remember to safeguard your blood pressure monitor or the Tide button that is hooked up to Amazon? Your cellphone, your computer, your TV may be kept secure, but not the rest. And with that will come backdoors for hackers to shut down your furnace, get your account information, and hold your digital photo albums hostage. This will not cause us to disconnect; it would be too difficult. It will lead to a reactive stance rather than a proactive stance for most American and global consumers.”

Margath Walker, associate professor at the University of Louisville, replied, “Connection is intricately related to the market and so to opt out often means loss of profits, perceived alienation, and so on.”

LT Wilson, a survey respondent who did not share additional identifying details, said, “We’ll collectively learn as we go. Advances and vulnerabilities and fixes will successively ladder up.”

Megan Browndorf, on the staff at Towson University, replied, “Vulnerabilities are real and scary. But, people don’t seem to be concerned with the consequences of anything else. In the long run, I doubt they will be concerned about these either.”

Walter Minkel, a librarian, commented, “People will expect more action from businesses and governments to keep the Internet safe, but I don’t think many people will even consider disconnecting. Crime will always be with us, and I’m sure we will see plenty of new ones.”

Eric Keller, retired from the US Army, “My guess is we will be more networked and thus more vulnerable to cyber attacks in times of war. Having retired from Pentagon I am pretty confident the vast resources of the government will figure out how to keep it reasonably secure.”

Edward Tomchin, a retired law and journalism professional, replied, “I have found that my species never retreats but for a few minor regressions that were shortly overcome. We are extraordinary in our natures, our drives and our abilities and our future is going to be even more so. Human beings are destined to settle the universe in all its complexity and beauty.”

Manoj, an engineer working in Singapore, replied, “Loss of trust can have a very heavy and debilitating effect.”

Barry Chudakov, founder and principal at Sertain Research and StreamFuzion Corp., replied, “Gartner estimates there are 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ in use worldwide this year. DHL and Cisco Systems give even higher estimates—their 2015 Trend Report sets the current number of connected devices at about 15 billion, with industry predictions saying ‘things’ will increase to 50 billion by 2020. We are witnessing the advent of what the brilliant scholar and media theorist Derrick de Kerckhove (years ago) called ‘connected intelligence’—but on a scale unimaginable before the twenty first century. This connectivity, a fledgling version of global consciousness, is one of the most remarkable and revolutionary developments in human history. De Kerckhove called it a ‘change of being,’ which captures the breadth and depth of what is happening daily as our physical and digital objects intertwine. So not only will the trend toward greater connectivity of people and objects continue, it will continue to change boundaries and dynamics of all sorts—personal, social, moral, political. Today we snag on finding the signal in the noise of all the messaging and commentary, and we will continue to struggle to keep our focus from skidding off onto side roads and dead ends. But stop for a moment and consider: We can now unleash the power of all brains, all consciousness—both somatic and artificial—to solve problems and improve the human condition. This is truly a remarkable development. Not without pitfalls and quandaries, yes, but remarkable nonetheless. Paraphrasing William Gibson: The Internet of Things is already here; it is just unevenly distributed. The trend toward greater connectivity of objects and people will continue unabated because product innovation and emerging business models will exploit and depend upon that connectivity. Most people will move deeply, seamlessly, into the connected life because a wealth of the products they need and buy—phones, computers, washers and dryers, refrigerators, cars, televisions—are already being prepared for a bourgeoning connectivity. The pipe dream of going off the grid, where you live an unconnected life, means doing without a host of common, useful and often necessary objects. What is the most likely kind of physical or human damage that will occur when things are networked? Security expert Bruce Schneier says the Internet of Things, with the computerization of everything, will be the world’s biggest robot. This everything-everywhere ‘robot’—a concatenation of connected things, sensors, and actuators—will change the world in ways we cannot predict and will maximize profits for those who control the components. Physical or human damage might be more contained, such as driverless cars that miss sensor signals or autonomous drones that fly and spy in places we consider off limits; or, it could leave nations and governments more vulnerable to hacktivism and cyberterrorism targeting air monitoring, water and electrical infrastructure systems which rely on connected things, sensors and actuators, to keep our air clean, our water pure, and our electrical grid working. We are now in the curious position of having hidden connecting IoT processes to make them more efficient, which, perversely, we now have to take out of the process stream, or shine light on that process stream, in order to create awareness of what we have done and understand the implications of all that connectivity. Said differently, when we first thought of the Internet of Things, embodied intelligence seemed natural, a no-brainer. Put intelligence somewhere inside of things, connect those things to other things, and, voila! a better world. But the more things we build with embodied (hidden) intelligence, the more we are challenged to match or understand that intelligence—or perhaps outwit it—if we have a different outcome in mind. If your smart car wants to drive you to the hardware store and you want to go visit your sister, there’s a clash of intentions. The obvious answer to that is the ability to override the object’s intentions. But what if you can’t? Or don’t know how? Or what if you don’t even realize the intention until you see the effects of the intention? For example, you don’t know that the algorithm programmed to stop steep market decline could, in fact, precipitate a further decline? Dr. Sanjay Sarma, one of the fathers of IoT, points to a potential cause of networked-object damage when he says there are too many standards and not enough commercial, academic and government coordination to help create a dominant IoT architecture: ‘Outside of a few exceptions there are no toolkits and everything is open-ended.’ This brings us to the area of awareness and consciousness. Manoj Saxena, executive chairman of Cognitive Scale, says that computers are super-intelligent; they are not super-conscious. It is now incumbent upon us—and of course the creators of the Internet of Things—to bring awareness and consciousness not only to the objects we use, but also to the people who use them. This is something for which we are mostly unprepared. The Internet of Things is a way of not only connecting objects, but also embedding intelligence into those objects. That intelligence is persistent and will soon be ubiquitous. Very quickly the question arises: how much intelligence? And how much decision-making, or control, can be embedded into those objects? Smart garbage bins for more-efficient waste management; smart and wireless outdoor lighting systems that save electricity and brighten the way for cars and pedestrians; smart catheters that monitor vital signs and alert for sepsis—these are the beginning of a vast number of smart, connected objects that will transform our lives for the better. But smart and networked also means malicious actors can hack these systems and create mischief and worse. The mostly likely physical or human damage that will occur when things are networked arises in this area: whose intelligence, whose control? How do we, if need be, circumvent it or turn it off? How can we monitor the monitors to ensure no bad actors are trying to harm us using IoT as a weapon? The way to network physical objects in such a way that they will generally remain safe constitutes an entirely new industry, or at least a sub-industry: communicating about the nature of connected objects (how do they think and what does that thinking mean for you); explaining hidden functions and processes or making those functions and processes completely transparent; and enlightening the users of those objects about possibilities and dangers. Of course, this is not the way inventors and entrepreneurs typically work or think. They invent new technologies and new capabilities within those technologies, and then let the consequences emerge. The inventors then are far away on a relaxing psychic island while the rest of humanity adopts their innovation and begins to change behaviors and social structures. Security expert Bruce Schneier said, IoT and cyber-physical systems have ‘given the Internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world’ and, ‘What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel, and concrete.’ Response—waiting for a security breach—is insufficient. Governments and citizens have to be proactive. The IoT reality represents both huge opportunity and huge vulnerability. They go hand-in-hand. We cannot be proactive until we educate ourselves and continue to educate others about what is required to secure IoT and what secure IoT practices entail. MIT professor and IoT expert Sanjay Sarma posits three important steps for making things more secure and safe: 1) Agreement on a system architecture. 2) Development of open standards reflecting the best architectural choices. 3) Creation of a DARPA-like test facility where best practices can be designed and perfected. A Princeton survey estimated there are already 500,000 insecure devices on the Internet. Since, as Schneier points out, ‘vulnerabilities on one system cascade into other systems,’ governments and technologists must now prepare for IoT hacks and dysfunction as part of an overarching networks and netwars strategy. As Sarma describes it, we should put in place standards and ‘swim lanes.’ He writes, ‘Right now, there’s a lack of swim lanes and an absence of governmental or concerted end-user intervention in terms of helping to create challenges and test beds. There’s been no activity similar to the Auto-ID Center to bring together industry and research. There’s also too many standards and not enough commercial, academic and government coordination to help create a dominant architecture. Outside of a few exceptions there are no toolkits and everything is open ended.'”

If you wish to read the full survey report with analysis, click here. 

To read anonymous survey participants’ responses with no analysis, click here.