How the end of Net Neutrality will affect IoT

IoT enthusiast should prepare themselves for a grim, less-connected future, and take steps now so they can continue to collaborate and innovate in a decisively worse regulatory environment tomorrow.

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The ongoing debate over net neutrality has the internet abuzz, and for good reason; forthcoming changes to how internet service providers are regulated could fundamentally reshape the modern internet, with unknown implications for the internet of things. As the IoT continues to grow at a staggering pace, it’s important for its advocates to understand the ongoing hubbub surrounding net neutrality, and how its cessation will impact the IoT for years to come.

So, what exactly is net neutrality, and what specific obstacles may spring up in the IoT’s path should it come to an end? By examining the heated ongoing debate surrounding net neutrality, IoT enthusiast can come to have an understand as to how vital a free and open internet is towards its continued success, and prepare themselves for a future where net neutrality is gone.

A hampered IoT

Few things enable the mere existence of the IoT more than a free and open web; collaboration and interconnectivity are perhaps the foremost defining traits of the IoT, and both are threatened by net neutrality’s forthcoming demise. Internet service providers play a vital role in the IoT’s development, and have a massive impact on the legislative world that regulates its existence. The innovative culture that fostered so much of the IoT’s early growth could soon come to an end, however, as these tech companies tighten their grip on the information highways that enable the internet to exist in its current form.

As more and more devices proliferate across the globe, with some reports estimating a jaw-dropping 30 billion connected devices online by 2020, today’s pressing latency issues will only grow worse. Many internet service providers who shoulder much of the existing latency burden see the end of net neutrality as a way to shift these costs to the consumer, and see a new age of the internet defined by pay-to-play practices that are currently absent.

The innovative spirit of the IoT has won over the hearts and minds of millions of global tech-addicts precisely because of its democratic nature; eager startups can compete with existing tech-behemoths like Apple and Amazon, provided they have an original idea and the gusto to make it a reality. With the end of net neutrality, however, established powers in the marketplace will have a much easier time clamping down on competition long before it ever poses a threat to them, and everyday consumers will end up footing larger portions of the bill.

Today’s leading companies could charge more if consumers want to connect additional devices to the internet, for instance, a practice which could stifle innovative, small startups before they get a chance to get off the ground. Paid prioritization could become an everyday practice, as well, with certain websites receiving higher levels of traffic solely because they’re part of packages which other websites are excluded from. Such things will only stifle the IoT’s development, resulting in a stagnant internet with fewer ideas flowing freely.

A new era of development

The end of net neutrality would signal the end of an era, and the ushering in of a new kind of IoT-development. Without net neutrality, innovation would largely be left to companies which enjoy monopolies over certain sectors of the market, and aspirant techies with a dream to change the world would largely find themselves locked out of the rooms where serious decision-making is occurring.

This new era of IoT development would be decisively grim for innovation; the open connectivity that’s for so long defined the IoT is more than just a buzzword – it’s a defining facet of the internet-based phenomenon that’s come to fundamentally reshape how we shop and live our everyday lives. For instance, it is fundamentally important for the commercialization of AI and for the next advanced step of “ cognitive intelligence”. While machine learning and big data have dominated for years, a new breed of commercial AI has begun to emerge to meet the more complex demands of modern human machine interactions. According to AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits, the aim of cognitive intelligence AI platforms is to monitor how traditional AI processes data, filling in gaps and identifying misinterpretations. Ultimately, the goal of a cognitive AI platform is to be able to complete tasks without the need for human supervision, to be able to quickly process unexpected or unfamiliar external input and adjust its response accordingly. Wherever it is used, cognitive intelligence will be the true watershed AI and it will be immensely beneficial for everyone, continues Abdallat.

Envision Smart IoT where we will be able to connect and optimize devices, data and the IoT. Or advanced Intelligent Assistants where our devices will continuously learn and reason, become smarter and can simultaneously integrate location, time of day, user habits, semantic intensity, intent, sentiment, social media, contextual awareness and other personal attributes. Beyond Limits has successfully transferred AI technology developed by NASA to the mass market, even being able to fit AI software on a chip, something that bodes well for IoT. But few things propelled the explosion in the IoT’s growth like the open access to information and new products generated by net neutrality, which now stands endangered.

Many of today’s leading tech companies recognize this, and are taking a stand while they can. Over 200 leading companies have signed a letter to the FCC detailing how the end of net neutrality would negatively impact the US economy and innovation, and millions have made their voices heard in petitions and public protest. These companies understand that the end of net neutrality means a significantly less-profitable and less-innovative internet and IoT.

With the future of the free and open internet – and thus, the future of the IoT – at stake in the net neutrality debate, massive tech companies and small startups alike will continue to make their voices heard. The end of net neutrality may be here already, however, given that the FCC appears indifferent to pleas for its salvation; IoT enthusiast should prepare themselves for a grim, less-connected future, and take steps now so they can continue to collaborate and innovate in a decisively worse regulatory environment tomorrow.

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