The Internet of Things
By Jack Kinsella
Giant chipmaker Intel has announced the creation of a joint project with the Beijing Municipal Government and the Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences. The project will be called the 'China-Intel Internet of Things Joint Labs'.
Internet of Things? What in the world is that? I'm glad you asked.
The Internet of Things is the name given to the global effort to create a globe-spanning sensor network capable of monitoring things as large as climate change and as microscopic as the life-cycle of product packaging.
By increasing the amount of data gathered, the theory goes, efficiency can be improved and our quality of life increases. That's the theory. But somehow, it sounds like the old, "computers make our lives easier" argument.
Overall, perhaps they do, but if cars operated like computers, they would run flawlessly for thousands of miles before suddenly crashing themselves into a tree for no apparent reason.
The Internet of Things sort of sounds like a good idea, but, as the saying goes, "every silver lining has its cloud" -- including the planned Internet of Things.
Viewed in context, (context being that the Internet is not yet thirty) the Internet of Things isn't all that new -- it has been around since 2009, which in Internet terms is a fairly long time.
What the Internet of Things actually describes is a network of Internet-enabled objects, together with web services that interact with these objects. Underlying the Internet of Things are technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification), sensors, and smartphones.
The Internet fridge is probably the most oft-quoted example of what the Internet of Things will enable, but there are lots more. What is an internet fridge?
Imagine a refrigerator that monitors the food inside it and notifies you when you're low on milk. It also perhaps monitors all of the best food websites, gathering recipes for your dinners and adding the ingredients automatically to your shopping list.
This fridge knows what kinds of foods you like to eat, based on the ratings you have given to your dinners. Indeed the fridge helps you take care of your health, because it knows which foods are good for you. And not only can your fridge figure out what you like to buy, it can also notify the manufacturers.
HP is developing a project for the Internet of Things on a platform called CeNSE, which stands for, Central Nervous System for the Earth. The goal is to create a worldwide network of sensors, which will create a feedback loop for objects and people.
These sensors will measure data such as vibration, rotation, sound, air flow, light, temperature, pressure and much more.
IBM's Smarter Planet campaign is about connecting objects to the Internet and applying intelligence and services on top of that. Like HP, IBM uses the central nervous system analogy. "The planet has grown a central nervous system," it states on the Smarter Planet overview page.
According to a report at gigaom.com, the Internet of Things already consists of more than 9 billion devices and that is expected to balloon to 24 billion devices by 2020.
What does that mean? More connected televisions, cars, DVD players, photo frames and of course tablets and smartphones.
And more government.
Broadcom has just introduced a new GPS chip for smartphones that is capable of pinpointing one's location, not to within a few meters, but to within a few centimeters!
The unprecedented accuracy of the Broadcom 4752 chip results from the sheer breadth of sensors from which it can process information. It can receive signals from global navigation satellites, cell-phone towers, and Wi-Fi hot spots, and also input from gyroscopes, accelerometers, step counters, and altimeters.
The variety of location data available to mobile-device makers means that in our increasingly radio-frequency-dense world, location services will continue to become more refined.
In theory, the new chip can even determine what floor of a building you're on, thanks to its ability to integrate information from the atmospheric pressure sensor on many models of Android phones. The company calls abilities like this "ubiquitous navigation," and the idea is that it will enable a new kind of e-commerce predicated on the fact that shopkeepers will know the moment you walk by their front door, or when you are looking at a particular product, and can offer you coupons at that instant.
What does that mean? About half of all phones today are smartphones. And if you have checked out the telecoms lately, they are so desperate to get you into a smartphone that they will give you one for the asking.
The government is already capable of tracking almost every move a person makes; between electronic toll barriers and CCTV cameras, you are already under government surveillance most of the time. The Obama administration is pushing to use drone aircraft as a tool of domestic law enforcement.
But all that is necessary for the government to track your every movement is for you to have a smartphone in your pocket and a smart TV in your home.
CIA Director David Petraeus recently called the Internet of Things “transformational” because it would open up a world of new opportunities for “clandestine tradecraft,” or in other words, make it easier for intelligence agencies and governments to spy on you via your dishwasher.
Petraeus said the emergence of so-called ‘smart’ devices would “change our notions of secrecy,” allowing authorities to track individuals via their household appliances.
“Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the “smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance."
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing,” Petraeus told attendees at a meeting for the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.
Remember all the paranoia and fear back in the early 1990's about the Mark of the Beast? Every new development, from barcodes to RFID chips was immediately hailed by prophecy teachers as "one step closer" to the Mark of the Beast.
They were right. But 'one step closer' is not the same as 'here.' If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me, "when somebody imposes an economic mark that uses three 6's without which one cannot buy or sell, then I will believe," I'd have many dollars today.
But the fact is that Universal Pricing Code (UPC) has been on all products for two decades or more. 'Universal' means just what it says. No products can be sold in the US or EU commercially without it. In fact, in the EU, it is nicknamed the "EU Mark".
Take any product you have in your cupboard out and look at the UPC barcode. It is a series of parallel lines readable by a computer. Notice that it begins with a little longer series of parallel lines, then there is an identical long one in the middle and another at the end. Each of those longer lines is identical to the code for 'six'.
So there already IS a 'mark' that employs what appear to be three sixes as a condition of being able to buy or sell. But it hasn't resulted in the mass conversion of skeptics. Neither has it resulted in anyone being forced to accept it on their right hand or forehead.
Instead, it has served as part of an ongoing conditioning process whereby we are being carefully prepared to accept such an eventuality.
When it DOES come, it will seem a natural progression; from RFID chips to credit card chips to smart phones to the Internet of Things....to a mark in one's right hand or forehead.
But it is NOT here now. We're rapidly moving in the direction of a cashless society within a larger, global economic system. But that is just the beginning.
For there to be a Mark of the Beast, a number of things are necessary that are not yet in evidence. First and foremost, we are missing a Beast.
The Bible says the Mark of the Beast is imposed as a form of worship of the Beast. So we also need a religious system suitable to that purpose and a False Prophet to propagate it.
We don't yet have a cashless society or a fully integrated global economy. The Beast of Revelation has not yet been introduced. There is no functioning global religious system or False Prophet that fits the Bible's description.
And the Church still remains on the earth.
Two things I want you to see here. First, owning a smart phone or smart TV or internet-ready dishwasher or having a credit card doesn't mean one has joined the system of the antichrist or has accepted the Mark of the Beast.
Secondly, I want you to marvel with me at the fact that some people worry that they might have already.
Because when John predicted it, it was impossible on every level. It was impossible to track a person's buying habits. It was impossible to impose restrictions on an individual's ability to use money. It was impossible to impose a global financial system.
It was impossible in AD 88 when John likely first penned it. It was impossible in AD 1088. It was impossible in 1887. It remained a social and technological impossibility until Bell Labs patented the transistor chip in early 1948, setting the stage for both the Computer Age and the global economy.
In every generation from John's until mine, it was impossible. Today, it is necessary to offer assurances that it isn't already here.
Because we are the generation of whom the ancient prophets spoke. We are the generation that has seen all these things begin to come to pass, and we are the generation that will hear the trumpet call.