No longer confined to your computer or your phone, the Internet is now in garbage cans, refrigerators, and the infrastructure of our cities. The future will either be a surveillance nightmare or an eco-utopia.
[NOTE: The Internet of Everything, available until July 12, 2022.]
By Brett Gaylor
The Internet is invading all aspects of your life. No longer confined to your computer or your phone, the Internet is now in garbage cans, refrigerators, and the infrastructure of our cities. The future will either be a surveillance nightmare or an eco-utopia, the outcome determined by startups in Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. The Internet of Everything captures our present moment, when both futures still seem possible.
I’m Brett Gaylor and I’ll be your guide - I’m a reformed techno-utopian who works in the tech industry and has spent a decade critiquing it - my award winning documentaries Rip! A Remix Manifesto and Do Not Track have mapped the public’s relationship with the Internet: first fascination and obsession, then growing discomfort around the abuse of our private information, and now a sense of confusion and dread. If the pace of change and lack of agency is confusing for a techie like me, everyone else is probably feeling bewildered, too. But now, with the connecting of the physical world into the “Internet of Things”, the stakes have been raised - it’s no longer just the abstractions of cyberspace that are spinning out of control, but instead our homes, our bodies and our cities that are being transformed.
You’ll meet Kristina, developing a device that transmits fertility data to the cloud from inside women’s bodies. Nellie Bowles, a journalist for the New York Times, introduces us to a survivor of domestic abuse who was terrorized by her partner’s smart home. We’ll see the smart city vision of China, where citizens are rewarded for behaviour conforming to social norms - as well as Alphabet’s vision for a corporate neighbourhood built “from the Internet up”.
Best selling author and economist Jeremy Rifkin proposes that these digital disruptions are the signifier of an industrial revolution, and that the Internet is as significant a development as railroads and the internal combustion engine. In Barcelona, we grasp a new potential for the Internet to allow for the copying of physical goods, turning the material world of atoms into digital bits that can be transmitted at zero cost anywhere on earth.
It’s a fast, funny and enlightening take on the bewildering change the Internet has wrought. The Internet of Everything embraces the “techlash” while reflecting on the big picture of a world where we are all connected.
Storyteller airs every Sunday at 1800 GMT. Live stream: https://bit.ly/2LDmffl