‘Things’ Ain’t What They Used to Be

(or “Is ‘Everything’ Going to be OK?”)

A very brief note, this one, along the lines of, “Why do we always over-hype ideas?  Even the good ones?”

So is it the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) or the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE)?  Or are they different things?  If so, what’s the difference?

Well, we’ve been talking about the IoT for some time now.  And it certainly seems to some that the IoE is just a better-sounding name for it.  Cisco though seem to have other ideas.  Here, “Cisco Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery explains how technology transitions like the Internet of Things are enabling the Internet of Everything to revolutionize industries and create value.”  Any idea what that actually means?  Nope, thought not.

Sadly, the video itself doesn’t offer much in the way of clues either.  Two minutes and three seconds of empty marketing-speak.  (Cisco’s come a long way since the hippies invented that switch.)

Well, this is only a guess but maybe it works like this.  We already have a pretty good hardware platform and some clever algorithms.  So, combining the existing Internet infrastructure with artificial intelligence gives us what sometimes gets termed Web Intelligence.  In other words …

(1).     IT + AI  =  WI

or something akin to an extension of the Semantic Web, to use a term that comes in and out of fashion.  This has all been around for a while so what about the new stuff?  Well, combining the Internet of Things, viewed simply as a collection of identifiable objects, with the huge amounts of data/information slowly being amassed on us (Big Data) gives a concept we might call Big Connectivity.  So …

(2).     IoT + Big Data  =  Big Connectivity

Now, what happens if we put these together?  Combining Web Intelligence with Big Connectivity gives an end result something like the Real Internet of Things (RIoT), which we’ve already discussed.  So possibly …

(3).     Big Connectivity + WI = RIoT

which is effectively the ability to intelligently process, report and act upon a global database of information in real time.  It would seem reasonable that Cisco’s definition of the ‘Internet of Everything’ must be in (2) and (3) somewhere but it is difficult to place it exactly based purely on their own promotional material.  Certainly, the use of the term Internet of Everything, seems rather premature and will probably be regretted at some point in the future when such a grand claim looks more warranted.

So, at this point in time, the IoE looks more like a promotional concept than an actual technological advance, unless it somehow means ‘Big Connectivity’ or the ‘Real Internet of Things’ as we’ve defined them here.  It’s just not clear; time will probably tell.

What is interesting, when we take a closer look at (1), (2) & (3), is the reintroduction of us into the general IoT ‘equations’.  Remember, the whole point of the IoT in the first place was to get rid of the hopelessly inefficient people in Internet processing.  The ‘things’ can sort it out for themselves so much better than we can.  However, of course, the ‘things’ can’t be exploited in the way we can.  ‘Big Data’ can’t be used to influence, control, coerce, manipulate bribe and blackmail ‘things’, only people.  Just as with the original Internet, when the IoT is used and abused in future, it’ll be us on the receiving end.

We’ll probably have to return to this later …

About Vic Grout

Professor of Computing Futures at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Wales, UK. View all posts by Vic Grout

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