A Philosopher's Blog

How Your Next Fridge Will Turn on You

Posted in Technology by Michael LaBossiere on January 10, 2014

Fridge2There is considerable buzz about the internet of things, smart devices and connected devices. These devices range from toothbrushes to underwear to cars. As might be imagined, one might wonder whether a person really needs a connected toothbrush or even a connected fridge. While the matter of need is interesting, I’ll focus on other matters.

One obvious point of concern is the fact that a device connected to the internet can be hacked. In some cases, people will engage in prank hacking. For example, a wit might hack a friend’s connected fridge to say “I am sorry Dave. No pie for you” in Hal’s voice. Of greater concern is the possibility that people will engage in truly malicious hacking. For example, a smart fridge might be hacked and shut off, allowing the food in it to spoil. Or the temperature might be lowered so that the food in the refrigerator is frozen. As another example, it might be possible to burn out the motors in a washing machine—something analogous to what happened in the famous case of the Iranian centrifuges. Or a dryer might be hacked in a way that could burn down a house. As a final example, consider the damage that could be done by someone hacking the systems in a connected car, such as turning it off while it is roaring down the highway or disabling the software that allows the car to brake.

Because of these risks, manufacturers will make considerable effort to ensure that the devices are safe even when hacked. Naturally, the easiest way to stay safer is to stick with dumb, unconnected devices—no one can hack my 1997 washing machine nor my 2001 Toyota Tacoma from the internet. But, of course, being safe in this way would entail missing out on the alleged benefits of the connected lifestyle. I cannot, for example, turn on my washer from work—I have to walk over to the machine and turn it on. As another example, my non-smart fridge cannot send me a text telling me to buy more pie. I have to remember when I am out of pie.

Another obvious point of concern is that connected devices can easily be used as spies—they can send all sorts of data to companies, governments and individuals. For example, a suitably smart connected fridge could provide data about its contents on a regular basis, thus providing a decent report on the users’ purchasing and consumption behavior. As another example, a suitably smart connected car can provide all sorts of behavioral and location data. It goes without saying that the NSA will be accessing all these devices and siphoning vast amounts of data about us. It also goes without saying that corporations will be doing the same—just think about Google appliances, cars, and underwear. Individuals, such as stalkers and thieves, will also be keen to get the data from such devices. These concerns are, obviously, not new ones—but the more we are connected, the more our privacy will be violated.

A practical concern is that such devices will be more complicated than the non-smart devices they replace, perhaps making them less reliable, more expensive and such that they become obsolete sooner. While my washer is not smart, it has proven to be very reliable: I’ve had it repaired once since 1997. In contrast, I’ve had to replace my smart devices (like my PC and tablets) to keep up with changes. For example, the used iPad 1 I own is stuck on version 5 of the iOS—and Apple is now on version 7. While some apps still update and run, many do not. Just imagine if your fridge, washer, dryer and car get on the high tech upgrade cycle of being obsolete (and perhaps unusable) in a few years. While this will be great for the folks who want to sell us a new fridge every 2-3 years, it might not be so great for the consumer.

While I do like technology and can see the value in smart, connected devices, I do have these concerns about them. Of course, my best defense against them is that I am a low-paid professor: I’ll only be replacing my current non-smart devices when they can no longer be repaired.

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7 Responses

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  1. WTP said, on January 10, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Didn’t read any of this nonsense beyond the headline. Didn’t need to. I mean duh, of course your fridge is trying to kill you. Refrigerators are made by corporations then sold to other corporations are in the retail business. Corporations, and especially those in the retail world, are controlled by Jews. QED.

    • T. J. Babson said, on January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Ho ho ho ho.

      • WTP said, on January 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        It’s the TRUTHY-TRUTH-TRUTH. Read your Talmud. It’s all spelled out in there. Assuming you have a Talmud. Of course, we all know what that “J” in the middle of your name stands for.

  2. apollonian said, on January 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Who Rules?–And What Are Their Plans?–Hint: It Ain’t Some Big Secret

    WTP is right again–seriously. And ck http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/. Noneother than Gen. Petraeus, former head of the CIA admits this surveillance and control is the fact, and the intent.

    People have to begin to getting a serious clue about things: the top monopoly conspiracy is the funny money-making machine/instrument, the US Federal Reserve (legalized) COUNTERFEITING scam (the “Fed”–see RealiztyZone.com, Mises.org and LewRockwell.com), which absolutely controls EVERYTHING and everyone, w. only very few exceptions.

    One can argue pro or con whether it’s Jews at the core of it, but regardless, the Fed is un-questionably the instrument of control, NSA mere appendage.

    And if u wonder whether these satanic criminals want to kill u/us, just ck AGENDA-21 for it’s de-population plans, http://www.infowars.com/agenda-21-for-dummies-new-world-order-depopulation-exposed/. Don’t forget ObamaCare death-panels–haven’t contributed to ur designated, politically-correct political party?–sorry about that, sucka. Ho ho ho.

    And note it’s PROVEN, fluoride in water-supplies is POISON; aspartame and MSG food additives are poison. The vaccines are toxic; the “chem-trails” (in the sky) are poison. GMO foods are deadly.

    The people who rule–who control the money and banking–and who thus own practically everything, esp. the politicians and judges, and including the public edjumacation, mass-media, and entertainment prop. machines, don’t consider they need the people anymore–and they have decided to do away w. them/us–get a clue, to save ur very lives.

  3. WTP said, on January 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    This just in..Is it possible the Jews are really alien beings or possibly alien beings are doing the bidding of the Jews? Either way, we should be thankful for these technological improvements.

    There’s nothing quite like a former high-ranking official giving credence to conspiracy theories to kick off a work week.

    Over the weekend, Paul Hellyer, former Canadian defense minister, went on television and declared that not only do aliens exist but that they walk amongst us and are responsible for some of our modern technology. Among these tech gifts are the microchip, LED light and Kevlar vest.

    All this according to a nonagenarian man who at one point had access to highly classified information during the height of the Cold War.


  4. magus71 said, on January 11, 2014 at 6:40 am

    That picture, is cruel, Mike. Truly cruel. Even I’m not that heartless. (Inside story)

  5. boo coins hack ios said, on February 8, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I constantly emailed this webpage post page to all my associates, since if like
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