As Robert Heinlein once asked Who will watch the guardians?

clip_image002Sensors are everywhere. You have about 100 or more in your car. You have many in your cellular device. Your computer has them to sense the temperature of the mother board and many other issues before they happen.

They exist in our world and they are growing. What once was big is now small. What was once few is now many. There is a Latin phase Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guardians? First off we to a degree wants to have the guardians. They make the world we live in safer, the places we go safer. Our world is smaller though because there are so many sensors crowding it.

clip_image004The sensors in our phone reporting our location. Reporting inputs and outputs they receive from beyond us to us. The cellular sensor system built into your phone connects through a provider to beyond you and well into the universe. Of course someone can steal your world very quickly.

This image in particular showcasing the abilities of the accelerometer present in many cellular devices. A simple chip that opens the door for so many innovations. Tell me where I am on the planet earth and where am I relative to vertical or horizontal. All of that from a simple sensor.

clip_image006Or more complex sensors that sit at the edge of a volcano.

They can’t fail until they are consumed by lava. If they do we miss critical data that will tell us when the next time the volcano erupts. Or the ever critical river flood stage sensors. We need to know where that winter snow melt is going. Or that huge rain storm last night that dumped three inches of water. That water has to go somewhere and flood sensors help us get that data. Sensors are everywhere. From that traffic camera you blew by yesterday (that in a week will send you a friendly greeting) to the devices sitting at the edge of a volcano collecting scientific data so that we can better predict eruptions.

Guarding us. Watching us. Knowing what we are doing. Using the GPS in your car police can retrace where you have been. Your cellular device has a predictive spelling system to help you get to the message you are trying to send. Video feeds make malls safer.

I just wonder who watches the guardians?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.