But it's the next stage where things are supposed to get really interesting. That's when those devices are - we are told - going to start communicating and then learning from each other.
This will make life more convenient (!), which our behavior suggests is the goal we whose attainment to which are most committed. Not that the lives of most people in developed countries are models of slavish toil. But life can always be better, so here comes the future, ready or not.
There is a wondrous element to all this. We are like the conductors of a virtuoso technological symphony, weaving the disparate elements of our lives together with software, will power and imagination. Our ability is staggering and constrained more by the limits of our imagination than by any actual barriers.
But there is, as always, a price. And it comes in the form of both intrusion and transparency. In return for the freedom and power, we must give up an unprecedented amount of personal privacy. Most people appear to believe that the trade-offs are worth it. However, most have only experienced the beneficial aspects of that trade so far. It's hard to say how they will react when the piper has to be paid. It may be more discomforting than many imagine and we can not really pretend to understand where it ends.
In the interim, however, we are learning important skills - and wisdom - about the interface of technology and humanity. Which may serve us well in the future. JL
Bill Wasik reports in Wired:
In our houses, cars, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives.