Is the Internet of Things the Future of Care?

By Sinéad Nolan

Last week The Guardian ran an article on how the care we need may come from the Internet of Things. The article was interesting and while I didn’t necessarily agree on all points, it was food for thought. It got me thinking about today’s society with our smart phones, self-service tills, contactless payment and Pokémon augmented reality and I realised from that we can deduce one thing at least: humans like technology.

We enjoy things that entertain or connect us, and being naturally lazy, anything that makes life easier and speeds up a process. We also seem to like anything that helps us do things we cannot do. It stands to reason that people in the stage of their life where they need care would elect for a technology that makes their life not only easier, but also more enjoyable, dignified and independent. Doesn’t it?

Perhaps at the moment the answer may be more complex than a simple yes or no. Speak to any group of people and you will find a divide – with many people still worried that this technology (the Internet of Things, assistive technology, care robots) will not make our lives more dignified and independent, but instead make us more susceptible to loneliness and even more removed from society.

Nevertheless, with new apps and assistive technology devices being created every day it seems we are on our way to a smart home generation. Monitors and sensors that link people’s data to their family, their GP and their care provider, ensure our relatives (and all of us one day) will soon be safe from potentially laying on the floor for hours after a fall.

It would be easy for the critical thinkers among us to reject the idea of a smart home outright, and perhaps we still have a long way to go until there is technology acceptance from everyone on this level. Realistically, how many old people want to be monitored 24/7 by their family, and potentially put their most intimate data at risk of exploitation to third parties.

The feeling of trepidation may come from those who look around and see how technology has not, in their opinion, made life happier or better. Those who do not think Facebook is a substitute for reading nor Pokémon a substitute for a cup of tea and a chat. There are those of the pre-Tinder generation who still long for the days of writing letters, looking out windows on trains, making eye contact with handsome strangers in bars, and of relatives who visited to see if you were alright.

Secrecy and privacy seem to always end up as a sacrifice to the god of safety, but hopefully for the older generation of the future we can strike a balance between the two – and who knows, smart homes might lead us into the future of our dreams.

Technology vs Humanity

by Sinéad Nolan

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Working on the CHIRON project, thoughts of the future and technology progression are never far from my mind. That’s why last week I decided to attend the launch of Gerd Leonhard‘s new book ‘Technology vs Humanity‘ at the Cass Business School in London.

As a seasoned journalist, I know that book launches can be hit and miss. However, the Technology vs Humanity launch did not disappoint. Leonhard gave a fascinating and thought-provoking talk on our rapidly approaching future.

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From ethical questions such as whether technology makes us happy, to future issues such as whether we will be the last offline, un-augmented generation, Leonhards philosophical ideas left burning questions in my brain (which I discovered makes 20 quadrillion calculations per second!) long after I’d left the auditorium.

Is data becoming the new oil? Who will be in charge of the global brain? Will we ever reach the singularity where computers can match human intelligence?

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Leonhard powerful book looks at where the world is going; the current shifts in technology that will radically alter our society, economy, values and biology. Nearly seventy years after the publication of Orwells 1984, Gerd Leonhard investigates how we preserve our humanity in a world that is rapidly beginning to resemble science fiction.