But the coming transformation is about more than ownership. It’s about attempting to take a way of thinking (and selling) from one technological world and apply it to another. It’s about making things “smart”—which means, in effect, making them function like our smartphones…Smartness often entails a whole ecosystem, too. Smart things can do more with software—which means they have an app store. And because they have a computer or storage on board, smart things, too, need to be replaced at a decidedly un-plunger-like rate. “Smartness” implies a smartphone-like upgrade cycle. This aspirational smartness is not just coming to watches. Any product that’s worth more than a few bucks will have some intelligence and communication abilities embedded in it. Companies that exist today are trying to create smart umbrellas and smart crockpots.
When all of our tools are smart it’s likely that we won’t need to be. Are we setting ourselves up, then, to succumb to the singularity? If this is inevitable, what can we do to protect ourselves? And if it’s not inevitable, what will it take for us to control our innovation responsibly? We’re entering a time when everything is becoming possible. We can do everything, but should we?
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