From Westworld to Best World for the Internet of Things

From Westworld to Best World for the Internet of Things

June 3, 2018 Commissioner in the News

Jonathan Zittrain

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The op-ed by the GCSC Commissioner Jonathan Zittrain was published on 03.06.2018 in The New York Times.

Last month the FBI issued an urgent warning: Everyone with home internet routers should reboot them to shed them of malware from “foreign cyberactors.”

Putting aside the strangeness that for once power-cycling a device could perform an effective exorcism upon it, the episode reveals more than just the potential for disruption of internet access for people using equipment they never expect to have to physically manage. It also underscores how unprepared we are to manage downstream-networked devices and appliances — the “internet of things” — that are vulnerable to attack.

A longstanding ethos of internet development lets anyone build and share new code and services, with consequences to be dealt with later. I call this the “procrastination principle,” and I don’t regret supporting it. But it’s hard to feel the same way about the internet of things.

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