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The pros and cons of the Internet of Bodies (IoB)

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We’ve become accustomed to the Internet of Things but are you ready for the Internet of Bodies? Some see it as the obvious next step, but others urge caution.

Our laptops, tablets, phones, doorbells, home security cameras, TVs, cars, workplaces, and all manner of devices in our homes are all online. Then there are wearable technology devices like smartwatches, smart eyewear, and more lately smart clothing. This interconnectedness is designed to bring many advantages, and while they don’t always live up to the sales hype, they do perform useful functions most of the time.

If you walk a mile in any modern city you’ll pass thousands of online devices and while you may choose not to interact with any of them or make use of them, the security cameras will record your presence and add yet more data to the vast amount that has already been collected. This interconnectedness is possible thanks to the internet – the network of networks, and it used to be thought that WAN (Wide Area Network), MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), and LAN (Local Area Network) technology would eventually bring us to the point at which we would have our PAN (Personal Area Network), but it seems that stage is already redundant as developers now have their sights on biometric networks.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – the interconnectedness of physical objects and devices

The internet of things (IoT) is a term used to describe the interconnectedness of physical objects and devices. By embedding sensors and other computing technologies into everyday objects, the IoT has transformed the way we live and work in many parts of the world. Connected homes can enable appliances to communicate with each other to improve energy efficiency, and smart factories can use data from connected machines to optimize production lines.

Wearable technology such as fitness trackers can provide real-time data on our activity levels, sleep patterns, and heart rate, and by understanding more about the condition of our bodies, we can make better decisions about our health.

Connected devices can communicate with each other to save energy, make transportation more efficient or provide real-time information about the environment.

The IoT also has created new business models and revenue streams. For example, a manufacturer can use data collected from connected devices on the factory floor to identify bottlenecks in the production process and address them before they cause delays or lost productivity. Alternatively, a retailer can use data collected from customer interactions with smart devices in their stores to optimize product displays and marketing campaigns.

The Internet of Bodies – the interconnectedness of humans and their biological data

The internet of bodies is a term used to describe the interconnectedness of humans and their biological data. This includes data collected not only by fitness trackers, smartwatches, and other wearable devices but also data collecting implants, such as those that monitor heart activity or blood sugar levels, and anything technology that is embedded in the body. This could be a device that is visible to anyone else or some form of nanotechnology that is microscopic.

The internet of bodies could represent a new era in healthcare, one in which patients are more actively involved in their care. In addition, it has the potential to transform research by providing real-time data on a large scale. Combined with AI and deep analysis of the vast amounts of data collected in this way, it could lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that benefit everyone.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about our bodies being connected in this way. It’s one thing to have a weak heart monitored but do we really want anyone to have access to our brainwaves, emotions, and perhaps even our thoughts?

Internet of Things & Internet of Bodies
Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Examples of Internet of Bodies technology

IoB technology can be divided into three main IoB categories:

  1. Wearable technology; clothes, wrist items, eyewear, headgear, etc.
  2. Embedded technology; devices implanted into or under the skin or scalp
  3. Internal technology; devices that are ingested or surgical fitted inside the body

So you may see devices performing various medical functions:

  • Wearable health trackers
  • Wearable neuro devices
  • Brain embedded neuro devices
  • Body embedded sensing devices
  • Body embedded heart monitors
  • Ingestible pills containing sensors (digital pills)

Biometric Data

Biometric data is a type of personal information that uses physical or behavioral characteristics to uniquely identify an individual. Common examples of biometric data include fingerprints, iris patterns, and facial recognition.

In recent years, the use of biometric data has become increasingly common as a way to verify identity and provide access to sensitive information. For example, many consumer electronics devices now use biometrics to unlock the device or grant access to certain features. In addition, biometric data is often used for security purposes, such as allowing employees to enter a secure building or granting access to financial accounts.

As the use of biometric data continues to grow, it is important to understand how this type of information is collected and used.

What Is the Internet of Bodies? (video)

4+ Minute Video By The Rand Corporation

Internet Of Bodies | The End Of Privacy (video)

So, the Internet of Bodies. Imagine the power of AI. What is Artificial Intelligence? It’s a way to automate computation and cognition. So we can now automate learning, perceiving, doing computation. It’s a pervasive general purpose technology that will be used in all of our industries, that will come into our professional network, our private network, our schools, our industries, and our offices.

What I wanted to epitomise (sic) about the Internet of Bodies is this notion that we will be under assessment, we will be under measure of computation in every aspect of our lives in the future, from what you eat, who you date, what you buy on the internet, how much energy you use, but also what are you vital signs, what are you doing in terms of health, what kind of specific genetic quirks do you have, what’s your genome telling you about your health, your mental health, how you are doing, how your are ageing, what kind of disease you are susceptible to.

Eleonere Pauwels, June 5th 2018

Risks associated with these technologies

While new technologies can bring significant benefits, there are also some potential risks associated with them. One such risk is data breaches. As more and more businesses store sensitive customer data in the cloud, the chances of that data falling into the wrong hands increase. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to break into even the most secure systems, and the consequences of a data breach can be devastating.

A data breach occurs when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive, confidential, or private information. This can happen when hackers penetrate a company’s computer network and steal data, or when an employee accidentally exposes data through email or social media. Data breaches can have serious consequences, including financial loss, damage to reputation, and identity theft.

Data breaches are more common than people imagine. Companies are reluctant to admit that their cyber security has been breached and that they have allowed bad actors to gain access to customer data. They may eventually admit to it but such occurrences do not get the publicity that they might. Consequently, public awareness is not as widespread as it could be. As our lives move increasingly online, it is important to be aware of the risks of data breaches and take steps to protect our personal information.

Another risk is that of over-reliance on technology. As we become increasingly reliant on technology, we may find ourselves lost if that technology fails. If we rely on GPS to get around, what happens to our map-reading skills?

Then there is the risk of job loss. As technology becomes more advanced, many jobs will likely be automated. While this may result in increased efficiency and lower costs, it could also lead to large-scale unemployment. This type of unemployment was generated when automation in manufacturing was first introduced. Other jobs were created in the IT industry but not everyone will be a suitable match for the positions that are created.

Who owns the data?

One of the main concerns is the issue of data privacy. If our biometric data is stored on devices that are connected to the internet, it could potentially be accessed, not just by cyber criminals, but also by government agencies or corporations without our consent. This could lead to a loss of privacy and the misuse of our personal data.

If hackers can gain access to our biometric data, they could use it for identity theft or other malicious purposes. It could be a target for ransomware attacks, for example.

This technology could be used to discriminate against certain groups of people. For example, insurance companies could use biometric data to refuse coverage or charge higher rates for people with certain health conditions.

Governments could use it to track people without their consent. As technology evolves, devices in our bodies could be altered in such a way that they no longer simply monitor health conditions but proactively carry out tasks without our consent. As they become more sophisticated and sensitive they will be able to transmit more data about us to those who collect and control the monitoring of them.

If you extrapolate this Orwellian scenario out it’s not long before you see that Big Brother will know where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re thinking and feeling. They will tell you that they will use all this information to prevent crime and terrorism and to keep you safe, but they could also use it to change your thoughts and feelings, make you ill, or simply switch you off.

Data Legislation

In the United States, private medical data is protected by a number of laws and regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is perhaps the best-known of these laws, and it establishes standards for the handling of protected health information (PHI). Under HIPAA, covered entities such as healthcare providers and insurers must take steps to safeguard PHI from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. In addition, HIPAA gives patients the right to request copies of their own medical records and to request that corrections be made to inaccurate or incomplete information.

Other laws that impact access to private medical data include the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Privacy Rule, which is a regulation promulgated under HIPAA. Together, these laws and regulations help to protect the privacy of patients and ensure that only those with a legitimate need for access to PHI are able to obtain it.

In Europe and the UK, there is a complex system of legislation and regulations that control who has access to private medical data. The Data Protection Act 1998 is the primary piece of legislation governing data protection in the UK. It sets out strict rules about how personal data must be collected, used, and disclosed. The act also gives individuals the right to request access to their own medical records. In addition to the Data Protection Act, there are also a number of specific laws that relate to medical data, such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. These laws work together to ensure that individuals have a high level of protection for their personal information.

However, none of these laws and regulations guarantee that the data is kept confidentiallly and that it is never altered or interfered with in any way. Incomptenence, system failures, and cybercriminals of various types pose and ever present risk to all types of data storage.

Conclusion

The internet of bodies and the internet of things are two important technologies that are quickly changing the way we live our lives. These technologies have many benefits, but they also come with some risks. It is important to be aware of both the benefits and risks before deciding whether or not to use them. Some will rush to use them all, like those who queue around the block for the latest iPhone, but others may decide it’s time to go off-grid altogether, to wipe their online life and move out of the city.

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