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The smartphone changes everything, Part II

That is why these gadgets are rapidly integrating with the Internet of Things (IoT)

Portable ‘second brain’ that we take everywhere we go

The number of global citizens with smartphones is projected to increase from 2 billion to 4 billion by 2019, over 50% of the world’s population. The smartphone will continue to become more affordable and robust, further securing its position as a portable ‘second brain’ that we take everywhere we go.

The big picture

In the February 28 issue of The Economist, the cultural/social psychological impact of the Smartphone was summed up in the following incisive quote–

“In its present form, admittedly early, days the (smart)phone seems to permit…(greater relaxation, more spontaneity, and less regimentation). It encourages renting over buying, trying out over tying yourself down, coordinating things on the fly rather than in advance.”

Smartphone technology generates unprecedented profits

Smartphone technology development will continue to attract the best minds because it yields the greatest profits of any industry. That is why these gadgets are rapidly integrating with the Internet of Things (IoT) to give us still greater control over our environments and appliances, whether from near or far. That said, if Internet security implodes into a consistently hostile environment (already bad enough, right?) all bets would be off on that aspect of smartphone functionality. This is a real and growing concern for IoT…

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The smartphone commodifies relationships

Dating sites like Tinder, messaging sites like Snapchat (a favorite among teenagers because it allows them to send pictures that fade away within seconds), service websites like Uber (now valued at $41B) are blurring lines between products and services, making our everyday relationships more fluid and commodified. Another example–freelance shopper websites like Instacart, are quickly gaining momentum. These options both make our lives easier and pose potential security concerns, as well.

The downside

  • Too many folks are seeking illusory social fulfillment from online relationships, especially those that are in one way or another commodified. We are social creatures and our bodies/minds know the difference between flesh and blood human interaction and something as abstract as posting comments on a blog, hoping for a positive response from users you’ll probably never meet in real life. This isn’t just speculation. MRIs of brain function and various biomarkers show that Internet and real life social interaction yield very different results, with the ‘real thing’ enhancing stress management and enhancing health overall, while prolonged Internet social communication, by comparison, does not.
  • Another major concern: many critics have written articles and books on how the smartphone and other Internet devices allow dictators to watch (and control, even imprison) their subjects. This is already happening.
  • Similarly, Internet security vulnerability also has a subverting effect on democratic governments that overreach and violate the privacy of the average citizen in order to stem homegrown terroristic threats.
  • Finally, you don’t have to go on gambling sites to know that smartphones are addictive. Every time we check our email or texts, we are looking for a reward–with every disappointment priming us to try again and again.

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