Are you ready for the Internet of Things? It's coming. Soon enough everything in your home will be plugged in to the net. Your refrigerator will know when you're out of milk, and order more via Amazon! There's no stopping this advance in human civilization — but here are nine items that we absolutely never want to have online.
Top image: Sleeper
And yes, before anybody says anything, some of these items have already been connected to the internet. But you know where none of these things is connected to the internet? Your house. Here's why that's for the best.
1. Your toaster.
Sure, you can see why someone might think having a toaster online would be awesome. You can email your toaster and tell it to toast some toast! If your toaster catches fire, it can tweet at you, "@you, hey — i'm on fire! just fyi." And so on. But you know what's the first thing that will happen when your toaster is internet-enabled? Toaster spam. Someone will figure out a way to burn corporate logos and Viagra ads into your morning slice. You know what's the second thing that will happen? Toaster porn. Are you ready for Goatse Toast? Because that's what's coming.
2. Your toilet.
There's already been an internet-connected toilet. And it's already been hacked. According to Security and Sound, the security researchers were"able to easily reverse engineer the toilet's electronic computer and develop an android application that allows anyone to take over one of the toilets from afar. Apparently, the toilet manufacturer had hard-coded the PIN of '0000' into the product." Do you really want a Belarussian hacker named k0Wboyz4400 demanding you send him $100 or he'll keep making your toilet flush all night? Or to have your toilet lid flapping up and down like something out of No Time for Sergeants?
3. Bathroom Scale
Many people already have their bathroom scales connected to the internet, and these people are crazy. Your scale can wireless upload your weight and BMI, including minor fluctuations in body mass, via your home wireless network — so you never have to keep track of your weight. This will help you win at Fizzbin! Or something. Seriously, what's so hard about just remembering what you weighed yesterday? Or — here's a radical idea — not obsessing about minor weight fluctuations, and just weighing yourself once a month or so? It's only a matter of time before a glitch posts your realtime weight and BMI on your Facebook page, or someone remotely takes control of this thing and starts slowly adjusting the weight measurement up, an ounce per day, until you're spending all your time doing Crossfit and eating nothing but raw mastodon.
4. Your cat
I get it. You leave your cat at home for hours every day and you want to make sure the little guy is okay. Like, what if he chokes on a hairball or drowns in the toilet when k0Wboyz4400 lowers the lid at the wrong moment? If a cat meows really loud and there's nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound? Etc. But it's just a small leap from realtime cat monitoring to cat remote controlling, using some kind of collar that delivers tiny zaps. So you can tell your cat to get his grubby paws out of the artisanal biscuits. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. You don't want the internet to be able to condition your cat using negative reinforcement, or you'll be putting out fire with gasoline.
5. Your garbage can
Your garbage can could be connecting to an app on your phone that lets you know when it's been five days since you emptied it, or just how many hot dog packets you've tossed out this week. After all, you can't really have a Quantified Self (TM) without quantifying what you throw away. Right? Ugh. But for one thing, you really don't want there to be some security breach that results in the entire world knowing how many hot dogs you eat. (While also knowing your exact weight and BMI, thanks to that scale.) But there's more than that — as soon as enough people have internet-enabled trash cans, and it becomes feasible to regulate your trash, you just know that your town council will pass a law imposing fines on people who put too many recyclables or compostables in the trash can. The data will be there, and they'll just have to require it. Plus: biohackers will custom-engineer killer bacteria for the exact mix of biological components in your particular trash can, and you'll wake up to some horrible trash-monster infestation. Think about it.
Image via Newtown Graffiti.
6. Your shower head
Why would you even want your shower head connected to the internet? Maybe because you want to have a sound system in your shower, streaming Italo Disco tunes from Pandora while you soap yourself. Maybe because you want to monitor the real-time temperature of your water, and send an alert if you're about to scald yourself. (Picture your phone buzzing, a few seconds before all your skin gets melted off. Handy!) But in any case, someone will come up with a reason why your shower needs to have the internet — and tell that person to stop. For one thing, it would only be a matter of time before your shower head would have a webcam installed in it, just so you can check on your tiles or something. And that would inevitably mean the NSA watching you soap yourself. But more importantly, picture turning on the shower and being informed that you have to listen to a ten-second ad before the hot water will come on. Just ten seconds, mind you.
7. Your door locks.
Home security systems are already internet-enabled and controlled via iPad, in the homes of the very, very rich. But soon this technology will come down in price, and everybody will get to have doors that lock and unlock remotely via smartphone. What a convenience! But no. Forget the worry that some guy with a $1000 laptop will hack into your system and open all the doors and windows in your house while you're off on a vacation. There's also just the fact that you know your home security system will keep silently installing live updates — and maybe the latest firmware upgrade will be a wee bit buggy. You'll get home one day, and your front door won't open, no matter what you do, because your PIN got deleted by accident. Oops. You can't get into your house, just when your cat's cyber-collar is fritzing and giving it random shocks every few seconds.
8. Nursery Cam
Nanny cams are already connected to the internet. And they're — wait for it — already being hacked. (Warning: That link will upset you.) Seriously, do you really want random people to be able to watch your baby sleep? Or speak via the speaker system?
Especially piercings in the junk region. You know that some extreme body mod person is going to come up with the idea of piercings that can check in on Foursquare, or connect automatically to Friendfinder, or whatever. Having your Prince Albert or Princess Wendy (I just made that second one up) give you some kind of alert when someone with a similar junk piercing comes close would be a great conversation starter. This is an important step towards becoming posthuman cyborgs! But no. Apart from anything else, this would lead to people at parties coming up and telling us about their cyber-piercings, and exactly what kinds of real-time alerts they're getting from them, and these are conversations we do not want to have after three and a half tequila bombers.