Convenience is the sales pitch, but the real goal is control in service of maximizing profits and extending state power.
When every device in your life is connected to the Internet (the Internet of Things), your refrigerator will schedule an oil change for your car–or something like that–and it will be amazingly wunnerful. You’ll be able to lower the temperature of your home office while you’re stuck in a traffic jam, while your fridge orders another jar of pickles delivered to your door.
It’s all in service of convenience, the god all Americans are brainwashed to worship. Imagine the convenience of turning on the light while seated on your sofa! Mind-boggling convenience at your fingertips–and since you’re already clutching your smart phone 24/7, convenience is indeed at your fingertips.
It’s also about control, and as we lose control of everything that’s actually important in our lives, the illusion of agency/control is a compelling pitch. Imagine being able to program your fridge to order a quart of milk delivered when it gets low but not order another jar of pickles when that gets low! Wow! That’s control, yowzah.
The Internet of Things is indeed about control–not your control, but control over you– control of what’s marketed to you, and control of your behaviors via control of the incentives, distractions and micro-decisions that shape behavior.
The control enabled by the Internet of Things starts with persuasion and quickly slides into coercion. Since corporations and government agencies will have a complete map of your movements, purchases, consumption, communications, etc., then behavior flagged as “non-beneficial” will be flagged for “nudging nags”, while “unsanctioned” behavior will be directed to the proper authorities.
Say you’re visiting a fast-food outlet for the fourth time in a week. Your health insurance corporation has set three visits a week as a maximum, lest your poor lifestyle choices start costing them money for treatments, so you get a friendly “reminder” to lay off the fast food or make “healthier” choices off the fast food menu.
Failure to heed the “nudges” will result in higher premiums or cancelled coverage. Sorry, pal, it’s just business. Your “freedom” doesn’t extend to costing us money.
Domestic corporate versions of China’s social credit score will proliferate. Here is evidence that such scores already exist:
Then there’s the surveillance. The Internet of Things isn’t just monitoring energy use and the quantity of milk in a fridge; it’s monitoring you–not just in your house, car and wherever you take your Personal Surveillance Device, i.e. your smart phone, but everywhere you go.
If you are a lookie-loo shopper–you browse the inventory but rarely buy anything–expect to be put in Category Three–zero customer service, and heightened surveillance in case your intent is to boost some goodies (shoplift).
Heaven help you if you start spending time reading shadow-banned websites like Of Two Minds: your social credit standing moves into the red zone, and your biometric scans at airports, concerts, retail centers etc., will attract higher scrutiny. You just can’t be too sure about people who stray off the reservation of “approved” corporate media.
Your impulses are easy to exploit: since every purchase is tracked, your vulnerabilities to impulse buys will be visible with a bit of routine Big Data analysis, and so the price of the treats you succumb to will go up compared to the indifferent consumer next to you. Sorry, pal, it’s just business. Your vulnerabilities, insecurities and weaknesses are profit centers. We’d be foolish not to exploit them to maximize profits, because that is the sole mission of global corporations.