George Orwell’s 1984 is one of the most seminal dystopias in all of literature. Set in an authoritarian future, one of the novel’s more fascinating details is the ubiquitous presence of a technology called the telescreen. Part television and part security camera, the telescreen is an always-connected, two-way street of thought control and personal vulnerability. No one is safe from it or free from its influence.
Thankfully, Orwell’s vision of the future hasn’t come to pass. However, the vast technological changes making the rounds are enough to make people wonder if what we take for granted today might be totally obsolete tomorrow.
One version of that technological change is what’s known as the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s most obvious arena of transformation is the future of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
VoIP is So 1984
When VoIP first burst onto the stage, it was a trailblazing technology. Individuals and businesses saved untold sums of money on long-distance calls by making them over the Internet. The age of VoIP had arrived.
Today, VoIP is so commonplace that it’s fairly mundane. And why wouldn’t it be? Even before Skype arrived in 2003 and transformed communication, 25 percent of all calls were already placed over the web. In today’s technological climate, 12 years can feel like a century.
What More There is to Share
So, here we are ages after VoIP changed calling forever, and everything is—more or less—able to connect and share information like two people talking on their headsets over the Internet. The future of VoIP is here, but instead of calls, it’s all about data.
From wearable devices and clothes that track fitness to helmet sensors designed to help the military and the NFL learn of head injuries, the IoT is a total game-changer. Not only is it able to monitor and gather copious amounts of data, but the IoT also analyzes that data, makes it meaningful and shares it.
What VoIP did for people’s and businesses’ bottom lines in relation to telephone calls and service, the IoT is doing with knowledge. Information we had no way of knowing prior to the IoT can now be known, studied and—the hope is—understood and acted upon.
Public health patterns, military movements, weather trends and even traffic safety can now all be brought beneath the umbrella of the IoT for analysis and improvement. It’s as if the public service announcements, The More You Know, grew up and embraced all of reality.
The Cons of Omniscience
Of course, all this potential for good can’t help but come with a downside. Like the telescreen, the IoT comes packaged as a dual threat in risks to both privacy and security. With only 5 to 10 percent of the most advanced cyber threats even garnering notice, the more connected everything is to everything else, the more of everything we all stand to lose.
As VoIP makes way for the Internet of Things, everything old is new again. The dawn of a new age is upon us, and, as long as we can stay ahead of any threats, how we talk to each other will prove to have been just the beginning.
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