One of the strengths of internet of things (IoT) technology is that it can do so many things well. From smart toothbrushes to predictive maintenance on jetliners, the IoT has more use cases than you can count. The result is that various IoT uses cases require optimization for particular characteristics, from cost to speed to long life, as well as myriad others.\nBut in a recent post, "How the internet of things will change advertising" (which you should definitely read), the always-insightful Stacy Higginbotham tossed in a line that I can\u2019t stop thinking about: \u201cIt's crucial that the IoT optimizes for trust."\n\nTrust is the IoT's most important attribute\nHigginbotham was talking about optimizing for trust as opposed to clicks, but really, trust is more important than just about any other value in the IoT. It\u2019s more important than bandwidth usage, more important than power usage, more important than cost, more important than reliability, and even more important than security and privacy (though they are obviously related). In fact, trust is the critical factor in almost every aspect of the IoT.\nDon\u2019t believe me? Let\u2019s take a quick look at some recent developments in the field:\nFor one thing, IoT devices often don\u2019t take good care of the data they collect from you. Over 90% of data transactions on IoT devices are not fully encrypted, according to a new study from security company Zscaler. The problem, apparently, is that many companies have large numbers of consumer-grade IoT devices on their networks. In addition, many IoT devices are attached to the companies\u2019 general networks, and if that network is breached, the IoT devices and data may also be compromised.\nIn some cases, ownership of IoT data can raise surprisingly serious trust concerns. According to Kaiser Health News, smartphone sleep apps, as well as smart beds and smart mattress pads, gather amazingly personal information: \u201cIt knows when you go to sleep. It knows when you toss and turn. It may even be able to tell when you\u2019re having sex.\u201d And while companies such as Sleep Number say they don\u2019t share the data they gather, their written privacy policies clearly state that they can.\nLack of trust may lead to new laws\nIn California, meanwhile, "lawmakers are pushing for new privacy rules affecting smart speakers\u201d such as the Amazon Echo. According to the LA Times, the idea is \u201cto ensure that the devices don\u2019t record private conversations without permission,\u201d requiring a specific opt-in process. Why is this an issue? Because consumers\u2014and their elected representatives\u2014don\u2019t trust that Amazon, or any IoT vendor, will do the right thing with the data it collects from the IoT devices it sells\u2014perhaps because it turns out that thousands of Amazon employees have been listening in on what Alexa users are saying to their Echo devices.\nThe trust issues get even trickier when you consider that Amazon reportedly considered letting Alexa listen to users even without a wake word like \u201cAlexa\u201d or \u201ccomputer,\u201d and is reportedly working on wearable devices designed to read human emotions from listening to your voice.\n\u201cThe trust has been breached,\u201d said California Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton) to the LA Times.\nAs critics of the bill (AB 1395) point out, the restrictions matter because voice assistants require this data to improve their ability to correctly understand and respond to requests.\nSome first steps toward increasing trust\nPerhaps recognizing that the IoT needs to be optimized for trust so that we are comfortable letting it do its job, Amazon recently introduced a new Alexa voice command: \u201cDelete what I said today.\u201d\nMoves like that, while welcome, will likely not be enough.\nFor example, a new United Nations report suggests that \u201cvoice assistants reinforce harmful gender stereotypes\u201d when using female-sounding voices and names like Alexa and Siri. Put simply, \u201cSiri\u2019s \u2018female\u2019 obsequiousness\u2014and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women\u2014provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products, pervasive in the technology sector and apparent in digital skills education.\u201d I'm not sure IoT vendors are eager\u2014or equipped\u2014to tackle issues like that.