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Are You Smarter Than Your Smartphone?

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This morning, The Cuddly Redhead looked up from her newspaper and made the comment: "There are a lot of motorcyclists having accidents around here because they just lose control."

We care about that because we spend many hours a week zooming around on a motorcycle.

My response was: "There are a lot of people around here who just don't know what they're doing. On a motorcycle, that gets you dead."

At the same time, I was reading in my newspaper about how toothbrush manufacturers were arguing about who was the first one to introduce an Internet-connected toothbrush. It seems everyone making their living off oral hygene has, for the past couple of years, been feverishly struggling to add position and motion sensors onto both electric and manual toothbrushes, along with bluetooth connections to smartphones running apps that gather data not only on how long you spend brushing your teeth, but how long you spend brushing the teeth in each part of your mouth!

The idea seems to be that people aren't smart enough to brush their own teeth correctly without being told by their smartphones. They need help from The Internet of Things.

To quote a line from an old Beatles tune: "Are you one of them?"

These days, there seems to be a lot of "excitement" about what's being touted as "The Internet of Things," which I've been hearing people yak about for about a decade, already. As regular readers of this column have noticed (if they're paying attention and not just sliding glassy eyes over the typeface without having the meaning filter into their brains), I usually run across new developments several years before they start becoming mainstream. The sequence usually goes like this: I hear about some newly conceived development and say, "Are you #@#$& nuts?"; Years later I hear people ranting about all these new whizz-bang products incorporating that development; then I write a column saying, in effect, "Are you #@#$& nuts?"

That's what's happening here.

Enough about me. Let's talk about you.

You, who has to decide how much you want to become involved in the Internet of Things.

The way the Internet of Things works is a three-step process. The first step is to con you into spending idiotic amounts of money for products that gather information about all the mundane activities you perform in your life. The second step is to upload all that drivel into databases developed by unidentified people out there in the Internet Cloud who don't really know you and don't care because they're just out to make a buck off you. The third step is for automated systems (developed by those people who are just out to make a buck off you) to judge your activities, make decisions for you, and download advice calculated to modify your behavior.

Is that something you want to be a part of?

I didn't think so. If you did, you'd be stupider than I thought you were. You'd be stupid enough to drive a motorcycle in a manner beyond your capabilities, lose control, crash, die, and get your fifteen-minutes of fame in a newspaper article that gives The Cuddly Redhead another reason to say: "There are a lot of motorcyclists having accidents around here because they just lose control."

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