TED Conversations

Robert Winner


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Are smart devices too smart for our good? Smartphones and tablets are rapidly becoming the universal remote controls for everyday life.

The next phase of the digital revolution will dramatically alter entire industries while simultaneously creating new ones. It will affect the way smartphone and tablet users — whose ranks are skyrocketing — manage their cars, their homes and their personal lives.

In the end, convenience will win out over ethical and legal concerns, analysts say, and the market will decide how far mobile technology should go.

One thing is for sure: The transition to a remote-control society already is well under way.

In todays electronic society, it is not inconcievable that a dishonest person can track, locate, and download all your information without your knowing it. Sole source items such as a Pad / tablet / etc ... that provide all information on you, your life, and property make destroying your life extremely easy.

Is this degree of "convience" really where we need to go.


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  • Mar 13 2013: It is not where we need to go, but it is definitely where we want to go, PROVIDED that we make the internet secure.

    The notion that the internet cannot be made secure is making a lot of people a lot of money. Sooner or later, our governments, corporations, and our whole society must demand a secure internet.

    When we can keep all of our personal information securely in the cloud we can access it wherever we go with any number of any kind of devices. Right now, it is literally impossible to imagine how much this will change our lives, because information is that powerful.

    People have been talking about the information age for decades, but it is still in its infancy. As we move into the information age we will have to redefine the meaning of privacy and personal information. (At some point we will have to reclaim our right to our own DNA.) Now, corporations own your internet search records, social networking records, communication records, medical records, shopping records and financial records. Corporations know more about you than you do, and they control that information. The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets will make people more and more conscious of how information affects their lives, while also giving them ready access to (and perhaps control of) that information. That is very good.
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      Mar 14 2013: The possibilities seem limitless with regards to what can be done as more and more information and types of information become digitized into the cloud, and frankly it does excite me. What worries me is the security of it; I feel as if there's always some way for the system to be breached. As long as the security risks outweigh the benefits they reap I think adoption will continue to rise. I wonder though, is there a limit to how integrated they can become? I already feel some of the integration is too much, like the car integration as I said earlier.
      • Mar 14 2013: As long as the security risks exist, further integration compounds those risks.

        Unfortunately, the security risks are just being patched over in an unending race between the hackers and the providers. This approach is madness. If development of the smart grid continues with our insecure internet we are headed for disaster. We need a comprehensive approach to complete security of information. The first step is for the so-called experts to become convinced that it is possible.

        Meanwhile I do not use cloud services or social web sites. I do use online banking, and keep a close watch on my account.

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