Internet of behaviors (IoB) – a clarification

February 2, 2021 § Leave a comment

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After Gartner listed the Internet of Behaviors (IoB) as the number 1 technology trend to follow in 2021, a flow of news and commentaries, like from Forbes, and other significant sources have emerged. At the writing of this, feeding “Internet of Behaviors” to Google returns 130 000 hits.

Privacy worries

The version which Gartner mentions can be called the General IoB because it has an open approach in the sense that any behaviors can be monitored with suitable tracking and pattern recognition technologies and individuals can be approached based on that information. Potential solution for the resulting privacy issues are not included in it although any possible tools for anonymity can be provided. Nevertheless, this version of the IoB concept has caused worries and invited the suspicion that it could become a new surveillance tool if IoB will be adopted in that form. This is no surprise, remembering that only some time ago Facebook had to pay 5 billion USd for violating customer’s privacy. 

The original IoB concept respects privacy

My core idea in the original version of IoB in 2012 which can be named Private IoB, was to build it on permission contacting. In this sense it has a similar ’ideology’ as Tim Berners-Lee’s current model. Reading the early IoB texts, I remember that the aim then was to contrast the IoB with the Big data hype, which underestimated the value of subjective knowledge, and I did not strongly lift up the privacy aspect. I saw the value of subjective data for IoB. Later I have kept the privacy issue in my writings and in the notion that Private IoB is based on the idea that behavior knowledge and identity data can be kept separate so that privacy can be guaranteed.

In the quotation from my book On the Edge of Human technology – An Essay (2020), this is explicit:

What if we/you could know when thousands or even millions of people on earth are doing the same thing or engaged with the same plan, intention or wish at a certain moment of time? What, if we could have this knowledge without knowing who they are and not necessarily even where they are, if they so wish? This was the trigger to my idea on the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).

Building a platform for the Private IoB requires specific architectures and platform solutions  whereas the General IoB as described by Gartner can be built almost directly on the present ones.

Next steps will be something to follow: where does the IoB get its first, solid application where the architecture is meant to keep behavior data separate from identity information. And still provide exceptionally well targeted, 100% right timing and relevance in services.

Finally, an idea: what if we could have a well-defined Private IoB service as a privacy-secure component in Facebook and in other social media platforms? It could launch the use of IoB immediately and perhaps offer some ethical facelift for the giants who have been hurt by their privacy scandals. GDPR would accept it, too. Could we trust the giants? Hmmm.

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