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How will the relation between people and their Things change?

Sogeti Labs
October 03, 2013

With things becoming more smart and connected, how will it change our interaction with these things? How will we relate to technology? Speaker Tim Cannon stretches our imagination. He represents a movement, Grindhouse Wetware, who are trying to explore this question to the extreme. They ‘hack people’, they try to extend human senses or try to measure all dimensions of human behavior. With great enthusiasm, Cannon preaches the advantages of people becoming more wired: you could keep real-time track of your health, you could fix things that are broken and get better insight into your life. In his hand, he carries a magnet and, since last week, an RFID tag, but that’s not the end: he expects that in the coming month, he will implement a device that will allow wireless interaction and has a rudimentary display. Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 5.43.54 PMBut wait a minute? What about privacy? With these devices giving off ever more intimate personal data, is privacy an issue? Andreas Kirsch, who is president of the organization for European Digital Rights (EDRi), made a forceful statement in defense of our privacy, while we still have some left. Instead of data as the new oil, perhaps we should see data as the new wind: do it right from the start and think about privacy from the start. Many scenarios of things exchanging information or collaborating in a system can be designed with anonymity in mind, safeguarding privacy while maintaining functionality. Since privacy lies at the core of our democratic system, it should be worth saving. And then there is the philosophical view. How do we relate to things in general? How do we perceive? What are things? Professor Luciano Floridi, as the true philosopher that he is, started back from the basics. He first challenged our view that perhaps there are, generally speaking, across the universe, actually no things… and when there are things, we only see very little of them and that, perhaps, things don’t matter at all. In the end, what defines the thing is the interface, the relationship, the interaction. “To be is to be interactable”. So what about the relationship between people and things? People should experiment, be aware of the privacy dimension and, of course, let the interactions define ‘things’.

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SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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