These are published chapters from my book The real Internet of Things, published on January 1st, 2017.
We’ve already discussed the concept of continuous advocacy, whereby the digital assistant is constantly studying the world, curating, and presenting you context-sensitive data that might help you in your life. But there’s another use case for your digital assistant being continuously aware, and that’s the monitoring of your safety.
Because we’re talking about a future of unified identity and ecosystems rather than standalone devices, people will have visual, audible, and other types of access to many places at once. They’ll be able to see and hear in and around their home, their vehicles, and any other place that they have extended access to.
This will include networks of monitors controlled by people who’ve given you access. Your kids, your elderly family, friends, and many others. They could give you access to their personal live stream (when they’re not in dark mode or doing something private) so you could see what they see by simply switching to their POV. You could see the environments your children are in, listen to what’s going on around them, etc.
Now there are a few reasons why we’d not want to do this. First of all, it’s a bit weird to sit and watch everything your kids (or anyone else) are doing just because you could. Second, it doesn’t scale. It’s hard enough to watch our own live stream (reality), let alone trying to watch your house, vehicles, kids’ surroundings, the home of your parents while they’re on holiday, etc.
That’s what your DA is for.
Your DA will have access to all these systems based on them being either part of your ecosystem, or access being granted by others. So if it’s 47 or 470 live feeds, that’s fine. Drone visuals so you have overhead views of a plot of land you own? Overhead shots provided by the city of a place where you know you have loved ones? It’s all covered.
Because your DA will watch, listen to, and otherwise monitor all those feeds constantly looking for signs of danger. Is someone moving in a strange way? Is someone following your daughter too close on her walk home? Is their body language similar to that of a purse-grabber or other type of assailant? And if so, what then?
Your DA can do a number of things instantly as a response. It can summon a local private citizen who is in the neighborhood watch to simply come outside and help her walk home. It can call a law enforcement person nearby. It can issue a micro-payment to summon a nearby drone (now enrolled under your DA) and fly over both of their heads while playing Eye of the Tiger or Every Step You Take.
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What’s so interesting about this is that each stream can have a massive amount of analysis attached to it. Audio streams will go through voice and speech analysis. Your DA will know the likelihood that people are lying around you and your loved ones. The chances that someone in the area is a criminal, or is about to commit a crime, based on body language. Facial and voice recognition.
If you’re panicking right now, I am right there with you. It’s unbelievably powerful, and the potential for abuse is ruining every chart that tries to measure it.
One concept that you have to keep in mind here is that functionality usually wins over nearly any objection, and the ability to monitor content feeds (visual, audio, RF, air pressure, barometric pressure, chemical air composition, etc.) will simply provide too much benefit for it to not be used at scale.
Thousands of companies will be competing to provide analysis algorithms to look at incoming streams of this data. You simply prove that you’re allowed to see the stream, provide access to the company, and it’ll give you all manner of live and interesting data about the feed. And where safety is the question, the game will be prediction.
So you’ll have access to dozens of your own and your loved ones’ feeds, and your DA will be able to monitor them all continuously, using sets of algorithms provided by various companies, paid via micro-payments and subscriptions, that allow you to keep the safety of what you care about within acceptable levels.
Safety is one of humans’ most sacred needs and thus will be one of the main applications of technology as it advances.
Your DA never needs to rest and will be able to monitor hundreds or thousands of input feeds simultaneously to protect your interests.
This monitoring will be augmented by the use of thousands of companies’ algorithms for intelligently analyzing the inputs.
You will be able to relax knowing your DA is watching what you care about in ways you couldn’t hope to.