BYOI (Bring Your Own Identity): Internet of (you will lose) Everything

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…I got a reson to declaim
the applications are to blame
for all my sorrow an my pain
a feeling so alone….

My computer thinks I’m gay
What’s the difference anyway
when all that people do all day
is staring to a phone…

Placebo – Too Many Friends  (Loud Like Love 2013)

In the internet of things everything will be connected. In the internet of things an API will provide us a way to authenticate to our home and directly interact with your fridge to get the actual food need and accordingly suggest a list of products to buy at the nearest store. In the internet of things we will be informed (and consent) on everything is going to happen around us, at home, at work before will happen since a sophisticated set of algorithms will calculate everything from the potential risk to the average time of reaction we need to implement so that our day will be a shiny and happy day.

In the internet of Everything most of you will miserably fail and their identities will be simply thrown in the digital garbage by someone else.

Yes you read well I said you’ll fail and I’m going to prove it. Oh and by the way this post will not change it anything if not for a brief period  of your life and you know why? Because we’re all human and so things do not change based on a single post or maybe…well maybe not.

Confused so let me confuse you a little bit more:


clear enough?


okay let me try again:


Did you start to bring up a combination of context to the green isn’t it? It’s our brain the way it works. The first time you simply read the word “green” and due the fact that was completely out of context you  simply dropped it without paying attention to the word but only to why I actually wrote it. Second time it was clear that a “context”, a purpose was there and you tried to find it. Please take in mind this word “context”.

Butterfly Effect:In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Edward Lorenz –

Butterfly effect is quite known as theory and basically what it says is that if I change, even slightly a factor in a complex, connected sum of factors it will produce a reaction, an event, multiplied exponentially by all the “similar little changes in the connected factors”. It’s a chaos theory but try to apply it to the so called Internet of Things. If I attack a fridge to compromise its capability of providing an analysis of the actual food in it, I’ll end up to buy “useless” food or will not buy it all. Now think at this on a  large scale and think at the “reaction” produced on the food market. Catastrophic? maybe but in the end today my fridge doesn’t suggest me the list of things to buy…at least, mine (

Now let’s get back to the word I told you to take it in mind, remember?

con·text (kŏn′tĕkst′)


1. The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.

2. The circumstances in which an event occurs; a setting.

[Middle English, composition, from Latin contextus, from past participle of contexere, to join together : com-, com- + texere, to weave; see teks- in Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved

or to be more adherent to the computer science:

Context is any information that can be used to
characterize the situation of an entity. An entity is a
person, place, or object that is considered relevant to the
interaction between the user and application, including
the user and applications themselves

A. K. Dey, G. D. Abowd, “Towards a better understanding of context and context-awareness”, Technical Report GITGVU-99-22, Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Computing, 1999.

You’re reading this post, probably shaking your head and rotating your eyes wondering why you’re continuing to read but when you eyes catch the word “green” you’re brain invariably define a list of possible words who may fit a context where the same word would have make sense. It’s something you cannot control because humans are context-aware “machines” and consequently part of their brain job is to run an uninterruptable task called “contextualization”. That’s how it simply work but this is the “human machine”. Are computer so “smart”? Indeed not as a human brain yet but indeed context-aware science is deeply “integrated” in the development process of the so-called “smart devices” these days.

To recap in case you just missed the point:

  • a “smart devices” is or will be a machine able to contextualize the request received (i.e.: do I need to buy food?) or the decision that must be taken (i.e.: Food is under % limit while drinks are still ok so I need to send an email to fridge owner).
  • “human machines” are not aware of the context where or based on which the “smart device” will take the decision or will reply to their request.
  • “human machines” and “smart devices” do not communicate but only define a set of rule to “expect” a defined reaction based on the context where they’re actually operate.

What it is? yes a Butterfly effect. Lost again? okay let’s put it simple

  1. You buy a “smart device”
  2. This device is “programmable” or even better “…earns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone” (Google it…)
  3. Device is connected to the outside world. I would say that just few of us would setup a VPN to control the data transmission between the device and your phone and anyway for what I know this is not supported by almost all vendors of “smart devices”.
  4. Device got a unique ID and a context- aware algorithm that basically learn your habits and may eventually exchange these information’s with other “smart-devices”

I see already:

    • a security issue unless I have no control on the kind of data that will be exchanged by the smart-device and any other partner
    • a security issue if I have no control on the self-programming algorithm of the smart-device in order to inhibit some of its “contextualization rules”
    • a security issue if I eventually do not inhibit or have a real way to manage the identity of the smart-device and the correlation between this unique ID and the ID’s connected (see my post of The Tree of Identities here)
    • a security issue if my context analysis says that I do not know or recognize the above statement just because this is a thermostat or a fridge or a sensor of a pacemaker who actually I trust because it actually make me safely alive

We’re approaching the fully connected world in a weird way, at least from my point of view. We’re focus on making the device smart but we’re not focusing on making it “compatible” or  at least “manageable” by us. We simply apply a rule that says:

if the device carry an information that must be “protected” (i.e.: PII) then I’ll constrain the information or better the device from use the information freely

but the device has to be connected to a partner and I, the “owner” of the information, I’m not necessarily informed of how the data will be actually “used”. I’m not aware of the context where the device operate and consequently I’m not able to modify the capability of the device to adapt itself to my way of ” contextualize the data I’m participating to produce. I’ll be an alone “machine” unable to communicate with the other “machines” in this fully connected world.

What did you do when you read the word “green”? you simply spent seconds wondering what I meant. What if this happen to a smart-device connected to your body and who actually has the job to “make your heart work”? seconds may be a long time….

What if the device simply misunderstood the context where the data are produced (i.e.: stress, pressure,sweat,running, having sex,humidity…) and you’re not able to communicate with the device in any way?

The device would communicate with another device who actually works fine but who has to contextualize the wrong data that are coming from the first one. It will apply correctly an algorithm, again not able to communicate with you and will produce a “right-wrong” effect that is nothing but …the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state (Butterfly effect).

And at that point….you’re digital identity will be gone…

…I got a reson to declaim
the applications are to blame
for all my sorrow an my pain
a feeling so alone….

My computer thinks I’m gay
What’s the difference anyway
when all that people do all day
is staring to a phone…

Placebo – Too Many Friends  (Loud Like Love 2013)

Placebo – Too Many Friends