The dangers of technology in the home

It is very tempting to fill our homes with a plethora of technology, “smart homes” I think they call it. It is suppose to make our lives easier, but in reality that is probably not the case. The bigger issues are however throw-away technology, and data privacy. The first issue is a pertinent one, because we create far too many technology products (which now includes appliances) that have a limited lifespan. When its battery wanes, or a new product version appears, we ditch the old one. If we’re lucky it ends up being recycled – if not it ends up in a landfill, plastic components and all. No electronic technology lasts forever. Sometimes it’s the software that just has reached the end of its lifespan, and the company doesn’t want to maintain it anymore. Technology companies need to reign in their throw-away ideologies which put profits before the environment (and let’s face it even appliance companies are technology companies).

Of course having said all that, sometimes the technology itself is substandard. I’ve had a Nest Protect for a number of years. The first one wasn’t great, but just stopped working properly one day, basically shutting itself down. Google sent me a replacement, but honestly it hasn’t been any better. It turns blue, and beeps when there is nothing happening anywhere. I’m not convinced it’s really functioning, and likely I will replace it with a dumber piece of technology. Even LED lightbulbs have a bunch of technology in them, and frankly that’s why their lifespans have been curtailed in recent years. The “Internet of Things” technologies are also vulnerable to a bunch of different issues. Would I trust a smart lock? No. Good physical keys are much better. Part of the reason is pertinent to colder regions – cold saps battery life, and smart locks run on batteries. Smart locks that have internet connections are more susceptible to attack, than say a keyed lock with a good keying system like Medeco. Check out this article.

TV’s can be smart, but most other appliances don’t need to be. The more technology you add to a device, the greater chance of errors, because no technology is perfect. Refrigerator problems use to be easy to diagnosis, not so now. The more technology we add to home, the harder it becomes to track what is functioning properly. Light bulbs provide light, they don’t need to be smart. Actually maybe people should stop offloading things to machines and get a little smarter in how they run their homes? One of the biggest issues is trust. Could a smart door be hacked? I mean car systems have been hijacked and controlled remotely in the past. What about malware attacks? Does the software in these devices need to be regularly updated, and if so is it done remotely? Can you trust that? Is your privacy being compromised by some home device that you talk to? Speakers that listen to you, a camera that can watch you, and technologies that control lights, locks, climate control.

The question is, how much control do you want to give away?

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