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The Internet of Things: the case for public voice

This brief paper considers existing work to identify the issues that are most likely to frame public debates on new technologies and explores ways of engaging the public on a debate on the IoT.

Executive summary

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes several technologies that enable the internet to reach out into the real world of physical objects to create a global infrastructure where machines, household appliances, clothing and virtually all things we use and wear communicate with each other online.

It is impossible to anticipate all the social implications that might flow from these new forms of connectivity between devices. How these will manifest themselves is not yet clear and will depend upon uncertain innovation and societal choices. The importance of the IoT will depend heavily on up-take by individuals, businesses and governments, all influenced by public perceptions of benefits and risks. In this respect, early involvement of the public can help both technology developers and policy makers to understand and respond to public interests and concerns, while balancing out the benefits and risks for both individuals and society at large.

 

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