Cisco, for example, announced it is releasing a small form-factor router that, among other things, facilitates M2M communication for uses such as automatic inventory management and real-time traffic alerts, while M2M vendors Axeda and Walsh Vision have partnered to develop solutions that 'keep drivers accountable for bad driving habits,' according to the release announcing their partnership.
These applications sound kind of interesting, and I have to admit I am infinitely intrigued by the idea of my freezer automatically ordering up another pint of my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream when I run out (and thereby facilitating a perpetual Weight Watcher's membership), but there are implications way beyond my waistline that I can't get comfortable with.
First off, M2M, by its very nature, eliminates human interaction. That's great when we're talking about mundane tasks such as inventory control, but add M2M to other, more complex tasks where the human touch is essential to ensuring a quality outcome - such as patient care or, yes, even driving - and you've got the potential for some very unsettling and potentially dangerous situations.
After all, how would you like to be admitted to a hospital by an electronic 'nurse' that takes your vital signs directly from the sensor-equipped stretcher, escorted into surgery via electronic 'patient movers' and operated on by a robotic surgical machine, all without ever seeing a health care professional before being escorted into surgery?
Not my idea of a comforting situation.
And the idea of cars that drive themselves via signals bounced off strategically located sensor points - well, maybe I'm a control freak, but I know no machine is infallible. And it would be my dumb luck to be the one whose car gets its signals mixed up and ends up crashing into the car in front of me because it thought the lane was clear.
Maybe I'm a little sensitive to the whole machines-running-the-world idea. The "Terminator" series is to blame. Good thing my name's not Sarah Connor.