Google headlining the Internet of Things

HAL-9000

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting, and perhaps at first a little worrying concept. I am a big cinephile. Admittedly, when someone tried to explain to me what exactly the ‘Internet of Things’ is – the first thing that comes to mind is the terrifying Hal 9000 of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

However, I think it is a bit better summed up in the following video.

As stated within the video, with the current internet protocol IPv6, it is possible to “…live in a world filled with sensors, with data reacting to us, changing every moment dependent on our needs” (FW: Thinking 2013). So essentially, the Internet of Things is a concept of technologically advancing our previous ‘analog’ items to an unimaginable level. Not only is that idea not far off, it may have already arrived.

Some of these seemingly unrealistic ideas or products might appear optimistic to skeptics, particularly since we are still waiting for a working Hoverboard. However, technology mastermind Google is already in the works of revolutionising the IoT. Just this year, Google bought Nest, a thermostat company, for over US$3 billion (Clark 2014). This move is Google’s first step to market the ‘connected home’. As Miners states, by taking control of Nest, Google is able “to link heating systems, lighting and appliances to the Internet, so they can be made more efficient and be controlled from afar.” (2014).

Than, in June this year, Google’s Nest bought DropCam for US$555 million (Barr & Winkler 2014). DropCam is a “internet-connected video-monitoring service” (Barr & Winkler 2014), that when combined with the Nest hub, will further produce services and products to interconnect the household via the internet.

It is evident that IoT is becoming a very viable market, and Google’s interest in developing and marketing products is, as Kovach states, “…just the beginning of the ‘Internet of Things'” (2014). And if you believe you own a few too many devices now, according to Business Insider Intelligence, that number is expected to grow exponentially with the IoT to become the dominant internet devices in the near future (as depicted in the graph below).

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence's projected Global Internet Device installations.

GRAPH: Business Insider Intelligence’s projected Global Internet Device installations.

Sources:

2001: A Space Odyssey 1968, DVD, MGM, Shepperton UK, dir. Stanley Kubrick.

Barr, A & Winkler, R 2014, ‘Google’s Nest to Buy Dropcam for $555 Million; Deal for Video-Monitoring Security Startup Is a Push to Dominate Connected Home Devices’, Wall Street Journal, 20 June, viewed 24 October 2014.

Business Insider Intelligence 2014, ‘Global Internet Device Installed Base Forecast’, Graph, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.businessinsider.com/image/52d46f41eab8ea664bb245af/image.jpg&gt;.

Clark, E 2014, ‘Media companies must prepare for the “Internet of Things” with Big Data’, INMA, 26 January, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.inma.org/blogs/value-content/post.cfm/media-companies-must-prepare-for-the-internet-of-things-with-big-data&gt;.

FW: Thinking 2013, ‘What is the Internet of Things?’, YouTube clip, 1 March, viewed 24 October, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVlT4sX6uVs&feature=youtu.be&gt;

Kovach, S 2014, ‘Google’s Multibillion Purchase Of Nest Is Just The Beginning Of ‘The Internet Of Things’, Business Insider, 14 January, viewed 24 October, <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/internet-of-things-billions-of-connected-devices-2014-1&gt;.

Miners, Z 2014, ‘Why Google wants to sell Thermostats’, ComputerWorld, vol. 48, no. 2, p. 2.

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The Darknet: Just Name Your Poison

A little while back, I discussed the idea of Niche Markets, and their very successful performance on the internet. Well, another very popular Niche market until recently was, of course, the Silk Road.

The only difference between your regular niche markets and the Silk road is that, firstly, the Silk Road is located on the Deep Web, and secondly, Anything was available on the Silk Road.

As discussed by Neal, the majority of internet users frequent the Surface Web (basically anything accessible through search engines such as Google), whereas a small percentage of users can be found on the Deep Web (2013). The Deep Web, as Neal states, is “content hidden from these indexes… meaning they could be accessed only via Tor(2013). Located on this Deep Web was the notorious Silk Road.

So what exactly was available on the Silk Road?

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

PHOTO: Screenshot of Silk Road on the Deep Web.

Of the 10,000 or so items that were readily available on the Silk Road, more than 7,000 were illegal drugs (ranging from MDMA, Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin ect.). Dubbed the ‘Amazon.com of drugs’ (NPR 2011), the site also sold various items from high-powered weapons and armor, to tutorials on hacking ATMs, counterfeit goods, child pornography and even hitman contracts (Ball 2013).

How were goods bought and sold?

Items available on the Silk Road were tradable with the very controversial Bitcoin, a internet-based currency.

As revealed in the video above, Bitcoin is essentially the world’s first global currency. It is stateless and therefore uncontrolled. Although the use and ownership of Bitcoins is legal, as the currency of choice by Deep Web users, it has concerned many government and law enforcing agencies globally. However the use of Bitcoins is not only restricted to the Deep Web. In fact, sites including WordPress, Reddit and Wikileaks all trade in Bitcoins (Ball 2014).

Despite the Silk Road shutting down last year, DarkNet markets are still a booming business. There are subreddits dedicated to providing subscribers the latest Deep Web site to buy certain goods and items, such as DarkNetMarkets. As well as Explain Like I am 5 (ELI5)  posts that detail how to get on the Deep Web in less than 10 minutesFurthermore, the arguable news site, DeepDotWeb provides the latest news regarding DarkNet Markets, as well as various tutorials and guides informing internet users about the Deep Web.

With a global consumer market, sellers/dealers located globally, as well as a global and uncontrollable currency, I don’t see the FBI shutting down the Dark Network anytime soon. Particularly when the hackers the FBI hope to hire would benefit from the Dark Net Market.

Sources:

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road: the online drug marketplace that officials seem powerless to stop’, 23 March, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/22/silk-road-online-drug-marketplace>.

Ball, J 2013, ‘Silk Road 009’, Image, The Guardian, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/3/22/1363967178098/Silk-Road-009.jpg&gt;.

Estes, AC 2014, ‘The FBI Is Struggling to Hire Hackers Who Don’t Smoke Weed (Updated)’, 20 May, Gismodo, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://gizmodo.com/the-fbi-is-struggling-to-hire-hackers-who-dont-smoke-we-1579183208>.

Neal, RW. 2013, ‘What Is Silk Road? 4 Things You Need To Know About Underground Black Market Shut Down By FBI’, 2 October, International Business Times, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.ibtimes.com/what-silk-road-4-things-you-need-know-about-underground-black-market-shut-down-fbi-1414042>.

NPR 2011, ‘Silk Road: Not Your Father’s Amazon.com’, NPR, 12 June, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.npr.org/2011/06/12/137138008/silk-road-not-your-fathers-amazon-com>.

Swearingen, J 2014, ‘A Year After the Death of Silk Road, Darknet Markets Are Booming’, The Atlantic, 2 October, viewed 24 October 2014, <http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/a-year-after-death-of-silk-road-darknet-markets-are-booming/380996/2/>.