Privacy, Algorithmic Discrimination, and the Internet of Things

Privacy, Algorithmic Discrimination, and the Internet of Things

Jenifer Sunrise Winter (University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch429

Abstract

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a paradigm encompassing a wide range of developments that enable everyday objects to be tagged and uniquely identified over the Internet. The IoT ecosystem is comprised of networks of physical objects embedded with the ability to sense, and sometimes act upon, their environment, as well as related communication, applications, and data analytics. This chapter introduces the Internet of Things, addresses its definition and related concepts, outlines anticipated application areas, and highlights challenges for its development. Concerns about privacy, and surveillance, and unjust algorithmic discrimination are discussed.
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Background

Current research agendas focus on the IoT ecosystem – networks of physical objects embedded with the ability to sense, and sometimes act upon, their environment, as well as related communication, applications, and data analytics (Gartner, 2014). The IoT is often mentioned in relation to other, overlapping research paradigms, particularly Ubiquitous Computing, Pervasive Computing, and Ambient Intelligence, research agendas that address the integration of myriad, heterogeneous objects into the everyday environment. Weiser’s (1991) vision of Ubiquitous Computing emerged in the late 1980s and emphasized the potential of multiple computers per person, in a variety of forms, to activate the physical environment and make computational intelligence an extension of human activity. Ubiquitous Computing research is distinguished by its human-centered focus and has increasingly addressed interaction contexts (Abowd, Ebling, Hunt, Lei, & Gellersen, 2002). The related concept of Pervasive Computing (Hoffnagle, 1999) emerged as a corporate vision at IBM during the late 1990s. This agenda has focused on the technical systems required to embed numerous, networked devices throughout the environment. Over time, the two research communities have overlapped, and the two leading conferences, ACM’s Pervasive and UbiComp, merged in 2013. Ambient Intelligence research has been guided by the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme (Information Society Technologies, 1998-2002) and focuses on embedded devices, particularly those in smart homes, which are context-sensitive and tailored towards personal needs. While the IoT overlaps technical developments in these related areas, it is distinguished by several concepts. These include 1) goals for an architecture that provides billions, or trillions, of heterogeneous objects with unique identifiers that allow them to interact over a global network; and 2) an emphasis on machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. Although all of these paradigms tend to focus on near-term visions of potential future environments (Dourish & Bell, 2011), the IoT is already manifest in various ways today.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ambient Intelligence (AmI): Describes an environment in which many embedded, networked devices exist throughout the environment. Typically, these are tailored towards personal needs and aware of context. This research program is often associated with smart homes. Ambient Intelligence research has been guided by the European Union’s Fifth Framework Programme (Information Society Technologies, 1998-2002).

Electronic Product Code (EPC): Is a standard that seeks to provide unique identification for RFID tags. It was originally created by MIT’s Auto-ID Center and is currently directed by EPCglobal, an organization dedicated to the global standardization of EPC. The EPCglobal stack is the de facto standard for retail and consumer goods industries.

Ubiquitous Computing: Is a research paradigm that emerged from anthropological studies at Xerox Parc in the late 1980s. Marc Weiser proposed a human-centric vision of a many-to-one relationship between computers and humans.

NFC (Near Field Communication): Is a collection of standards that enable the wireless exchange of data between mobile communication devices in close proximity. NFC is currently being used to exchange personal data and as in electronic payment systems.

RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification): Is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) incorporated into a product for the purpose of identification and tracking using short-range wireless communication. RFID tags store information and can be read at short range with an RFID reader.

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