There's this 1960 Twilight Zone episode, "A Thing About Machines," that hinges on one of the classic conflicts in science fiction: Man versus machine.
The story is about a wealthy curmudgeon who lives in a house filled with technology he's not convinced he needs. Naturally, the appliances fight back. This guy is attacked by his typewriter, a television set, a rotary telephone, and an electric razor that slithers down the staircase. These devices had learned to communicate with one another, a fairly fantastical idea 50 years ago. But technology experts today fully expect our devices to be able to communicate with one another in the next decade. (Clearly, some of them already do. Think: Fitbits and iPhones, for example.)
"We will want, and need, the machines to talk behind our backs in 2025," said Lee McKnight, a professor of innovation at Syracuse, in a new Pew Research Center study. "But maybe there are some social and ethical limits that will need to be in place in order for the public to become comfortable socializing, while knowing the machines are listening, watching, and analyzing our every move."
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The Cloud of Things is the term used to describe the way machines will use our digital data—untethered to any single device or platform—to communicate with one another. So while a smartphone is the device for sensing and viewing and networking, the Cloud of Things is digital information "about the things, and their inter-communication and sense-making patterns," McKnight said.