Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them

9:55am–10:10am Thursday, 06/25/2015
Location: Herbst Pavilion
Average rating: ****.
(4.73, 22 ratings)

From “ecosystem” strategies to the war on terror, from the copyright wars to the subprime lending industry, it seems like everyone wants to build an Internet of Treacherous Things whose primary loyalty is to someone other than the people with whose lives they are intimately entwined.

Your gesture-driven, voice-controlled future is a future in which you are never off-camera, never out of range of a mic. The difference between a world where computers say “Yes, Master” and computers say “I can’t let you do that, Dave,” is the difference between utopia and dystopia.

EFF is laying the legal groundwork for an Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them, and we need your help!

Photo of Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow


Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction novelist, blogger, and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing, and a contributor to “The Guardian”, “The New York Times”, “Publishers Weekly”, “Wired”, and many other newspapers, magazines, and websites. He was formerly director of European affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org), a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards, and treaties. He holds an honorary doctorate in computer science from the Open University (UK), where he is a visiting senior lecturer; in 2007, he served as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

His novels have been translated into dozens of languages, and are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. He has won the Locus and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and British Science Fiction Awards. His latest young adult novel is PIRATE CINEMA, a story of mashup guerillas who declare war on the entertainment industry. His latest novel for adults is RAPTURE OF THE NERDS, written with Charles Stross and published in 2012. His New York Times Bestseller LITTLE BROTHER was published in 2008. A sequel, HOMELAND, was published in 2013. His latest short story collection is WITH A LITTLE HELP, available in paperback, ebook, audiobook and limited edition hardcover. In 2011, Tachyon Books published a collection of his essays, called CONTEXT: FURTHER SELECTED ESSAYS ON PRODUCTIVITY, CREATIVITY, PARENTING, AND POLITICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY (with an introduction by Tim O’Reilly), and IDW published a collection of comic books inspired by his short fiction called CORY DOCTOROW’S FUTURISTIC TALES OF THE HERE AND NOW. THE GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL TOMORROW, a PM Press Outspoken Authors chapbook, was also published in 2011.

LITTLE BROTHER was nominated for the 2008 Hugo, Nebula, Sunburst, and Locus Awards. It won the Ontario Library White Pine Award, the Prometheus Award, as well as the Indienet Award for bestselling young adult novel in America’s top 1000 independent bookstores in 2008.

He co-founded the open source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, sold to OpenText, Inc. in 2003, and presently serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the Clarion Foundation, The Glenn Gould Foundation, and the Chabot Space & Science Center’s SpaceTime project.

In 2007, Entertainment Weekly called him “the William Gibson of his generation.” He was also named one of Forbes magazine’s 2007/8/9/10 Web Celebrities, and one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2007.

His forthcoming books include ANDA’S GAME (a graphic novel from FirstSecond).

On February 3, 2008, he became a father. The little girl is called Poesy Emmeline Fibonacci Nautilus Taylor Doctorow, and is a marvel that puts all the works of technology and artifice to shame.

Comments on this page are now closed.


David Lizakowski
06/20/2015 2:02pm PDT

What is the business case for having open architectures with IOT? What does the business model look like?

The existing business models for OSS and embedded software don’t work well because IOT (and drones / robots) introduce Actuators.

The problem is that Actuators can reconfigure our meatspace. That raises the stakes and affects the business model.

  • If a user misconfigures their kernel, they go offline.
  • If a user bricks their Xbox or cellphone, they have to buy a new one.
  • But If a user bricks their car on the freeway, people can be hurt or killed, including uninvolved parties.

I create software for big robots. It’s a lot of work to make them safe. User modifications wouldn’t have that level of assuredness.

What should a business do?

Or, do we wait a decade for the technology to mature (like AT&T Unix), then once the safety issues are resolved, people make clean-room implementations as OSS (like BSD and GNU/Linux)?