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The IoT Impacts Manufacturing, Too

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templar781
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Ethics and the IoT
templar781   2/12/2014 6:09:23 PM
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The article on the spamming fridge, and the example of the self-diagnostic washer got me thinking about the Ethics of the IoT.  Hacking a refridgerator to be a spam-bot is an obvious ethical breach by a third party, but what happens when ethics are comprimised at the manufacturing level? 


The example of the defect reporting washer states that washer manufacturers could obtain value from the IoT by implementing service relationships to the end user.  So let's suppose such a relationship has been put in place by an imaginary manufacturer named Acme Washers.  Their latest model the H.A.L. 9000 will not only get those stubborn grass stains out, but thanks to it's IoT connenctivity it can report a defect even before it becomes a problem for the end user.  Our particular H.A.L. 9000 has dutifully reported a worn bearing, so the service tech is called, the module with the faulty bearing is replaced, and all is good.  Or is it?


Unbeknownst to the customer Acme Washer's projected revenue for the upcoming quarter looks like it might come up short.  The CFO leans on a VP, the VP leans on the Service Dept. Director, and then the Director leans the Service Engineers to come up with some more revenue.  The Service Engineer who's barely 3 years out of school accesses the service link of several, or dozens, or hundreds, of H.A.L. 9000's who are past their warrenty dates and injects error codes.  The several, or dozens, or hundreds of H.A.L. 9000's dutifully report that they need repair and several, or dozens, or hundreds of service trucks roll out to address the issues.

Even though there is nothing wrong with the washer's in question, "repairs" are conducted and since they are past warrenty the end-user gets stuck with the bill.  Now a $50 repair here and there won't move a large companies numbers, but what would happen if a company could artificailly increase the failure rate of a product line from 4% to 7%, and do that over a long period of time?

As with any technological advance the IoT will bring with it a whole new set of ethical challenges.  Unlike advances of the past however the impact of ethical breaches in the IoT will be incredibly far reaching, happen lightning fast, and may be very very hard to detect.

 





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