What, you ask, is the Internet of Behavior, also known as IoB? Good question. This term is suddenly becoming more common after the pandemic, and it’s a concept with important implications for the future. IoB refers to internet-connected technologies that collect, integrate, and analyze data related to people’s behavior within a space.
Will the Internet of Behavior Improve Everywhere You Go?
How people interact with space has become extremely relevant in the wake of the pandemic. When a deadly virus can spread through minimal contact, it’s vital to manage public health and maintain social distancing by whatever means necessary. That’s where IoB comes in.
Better Understanding the IoB Space
Many workplaces welcoming employees back on site for the first time in over a year now have IoB technologies installed. So, for example, there could be RFID tags tracking hand-washing or sensors detecting mask-wearing, coupled with automated alerts if someone isn’t following protocols. These are some of the most common applications for IoB technologies right now, but they’re hardly the only ones.
Combining data from multiple technologies (cameras, scanners, sensors) and multiple sources (private sector, public sector, social media) helps distill the dynamism of spaces filled with human beings into a format ripe for analysis.
Understanding how and why people occupy spaces helps those spaces become safer, cleaner, more convenient, and more attractive — better in every way.
IoB allows us to know what we couldn’t know before — which means that we can improve and innovate upon spaces in ways that used to be impossible.
How We Live
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about IoB — and to be alarmed about a world that tracks our every move. But, unfortunately, both sides of the coin require debate because it looks all but assured that IoB technologies would one day be everywhere.
Rapid expansion looks likely, given how many different things IoB can do.
Consider that there are already billions of connected devices collecting data about where people go and what they do on a very granular level. Those devices are in offices, stores, and restaurants — not to mention in our cars, phones, and wearable devices, all collecting troves of data about the details of modern life.
There will be more than 42 billion connected devices in use by 2025, generating more than 1 billion GB of data daily.
Previously, we used this data only for specialized purposes like tracking our health, and we made minimal effort to integrate disconnected data sources. IoB, at its core, is about using more of this data to understand more about how we live.
Fixing Complicated Problems with IoB
The implications are huge, yet the applications are hyper-specific. For instance, a company could use IoB to track when people join and leave Zoom meetings over time and then use that data to set a better schedule.
Another use would be deploying facial recognition technology during the meeting to track the participant’s facial cues and identify employees who may feel overworked or under-engaged, thereby allowing for early intervention instead of inevitable burnout.
IoB applications aren’t limited to the workplace, either.
Traffic data could be used to prevent slowdowns and accidents and design future roadways for maximum safety and efficiency. Crowd data could be used to keep protests or large celebrations from erupting into riots, just as it could help more people pass through airport security in less time. Schools could even use IoB data to help prevent or stop school shootings and fights.
Any place where people interact could literally leverage IoB to identify and eliminate pain points for all involved.
Where IoB Could Go Wrong
It’s not at all an overstatement to say that IoB can solve some of the most common, consequential, and complex problems affecting humanity. But, unfortunately, these outcomes are far from guaranteed.
IoB may be promising — but it’s also problematic for many reasons.
Because internet-connected devices are currently subject to relatively few regulations, it’s often up to whoever collects data to decide how to use it. Harnessing the power of IoB will require sharing that data early, frequently, and completely. But sharing it will also require a firm commitment to ethics and a clear understanding of how things could go wrong.
Good Versus Evil
Here’s a hypothetical that illustrates the fine line that IoB must walk: Let’s say a surveillance company has data showing everywhere someone went for the past month. The company may agree to share that data with a partner as long as the person’s identity is obscured or to supply it to a judge who issues a warrant. However, they could also decide to sell that data to the highest bidder or give it to government officials who use it to quell dissent.
For every piece of IoB data, there are ways to use it ethically or exploitatively.
Another potential drawback is that people’s movements aren’t great indicators of their motives. For instance, if a fitness tracker registers that someone heads for the bedroom every night at 3 a.m., are they staying up so long because they’re working late, partying hard, or struggling with insomnia?
Enough IoB data can usually answer that question. When it can’t, however, it leaves companies with lots of data and very few actual insights.
How We Make IoB Work
Companies involved with IoB, whether with developing or implementing the technology, need to seriously take legal and ethical issues. The question remains, will the companies do the ethical thing? And then think of the costs. Who bears the costs of keeping the internet safe? You? The government? The company?
They must be transparent about what data they’re collecting and why.
More importantly, however, companies and individuals need to use IoB as a force of good: something that improves people’s experience rather than punishing, rejecting, or stalking them.
In a nightclub, for example, IoB could help monitor the sentiment of the crowd and then adjust the ambiance accordingly by playing different music. Armed with this information, the nightclub could be admitting more or fewer people, switch drink specials, or tweaking the lighting.
Over time, this data could help a club owner fine-tune a space that makes everyone feel like a VIP when they step inside. But potentially more important, the club owner will increase his business by catering to his customers’ special needs and wants.
Endless IoB Possibilities
Another area where IoB could have tremendous impacts without raising ethical concerns is inside the home, where people control what technology sees and tracks. For example, the right mix of technologies could detect when someone is running late for work and then automatically turn up the bedroom lights, start the coffee maker, and get the car warmed up.
As long as we get creative and stay conscientious, there’s little that IoB can’t transform for the better.
Image Credit: jacek dylag; unsplash; thank you!
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!