David Orban: Internet of Things

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BELVIGLIERI S., David Orban: Internet of Things, amapola.it, 09.06.2015

Type Article
Abstract In the episode aired on June 5 of 2024 of Radio 24 David Orban had a conversation with the show’s conductor Enrico Pagliarini about interoperability, morality and biocompatibility of the Internet of Things. The following is the translation of the edited transcript of the interview which was originally recorded in Italian.
Link http://www.amapola.it/david-orban-internet-of-things/
Topics Competition, Ethics, Personality, Technology, Interoperability


Dominant companies against interoperability

Large companies want to maintain their dominant position: new developments - for example the Internet of Things - may be a threat for the maintaining of this dominant position.

Specifically for what concerns the IoT, "too often the proposals of big companies come from a point of view of preserving an existing condition".

In effect, one of the main characteristics distinguishing IT markets from more traditional markets is dynamism: innovation is a fundamental aspect of these markets; indeed, it is fundamental for the success of companies operating in the IT markets; today's hot products may become obsolete tomorrow. The consequence of dynamism on competition is that existing monopolies may be ephemeral. See In Search of a Competition Doctrine for Information Technology Markets: Recent Antitrust Developments in the Online Sector.

To protect their position on the market, big companies "try to choke the essential criteria of interoperability, or ability to act without preauthorizations".

The consequence is a lack of standards, and therefore IoT products are difficult to be integrated one another. For ORBAN, practically this standard adoption and implementation is not difficult to be put in place (it exposes the example of cars: it is for the fact that cars have standards that we are able to drive also models that we have never seen before: imagine of forbidding a firm from using the wheel), but the problem is that dominant companies want to avoid it, and sometimes the courts help them to realize this aim.

Components for a good technological architecture for the Internet of Things

  • In ORBAN's opinion, interoperability and standards would thus be fundamental for a beneficial development of the IoT.

  • Open Source is another important component: "none of the backend systems of large companies such as Google, Twitter or Facebook could exist without the independent Open Source revolution of Linux, nor in fact we would have our cell phones, because the dominant operating system Android, on one hand, is Open Source itself, and on the other it owes a great legacy to Linux."

  • Also peer-to-peer would be "an essential development for the Internet of Things". "Aggregating the data in centralized data centers is not only a huge waste of resources or just a less optimal way than what it could be to organize the exchange of information. Right now, our 2 phones should talk between them about which apps they should exchange, according to our preferences." Dealing with peer-to-peer, ORBAN cites the Blockchain, a feature of Bitcoin. "[W]hat this allows is to organize networks where in the presence of imperfect information, the network itself can reach an agreement without the regulation of central authority. Translated into the language of the Internet of Things, there can be objects that communicate with each other without a switch, a router, without a data-center, and they still can reach decisions on how to operate. In fact, there are prototypes of important internet infrastructure components that are already working in research laboratories based on the blockchain because it’s going to represent a fundamental revolution of the whole architecture of the Internet and the Internet of Things." See also User Data Manifesto 2.0.


Today, we think that we make the decisions, but in fact there are many cases (let's think about politics) in which we delegate. With the IoT, we are increasingly going to delegate decisions to more or less automatic structures. In ORBAN's opinion, "we'll be happy to delegate", because if today we are able to manage our devices, because they are not copious, tomorrow we won't be able to do that: there will be hundred of devices, and they should be able to manage themselves.


There is need for an "engineering of the moral sense" to let things (e.g. cars) act in an automated and autonomous way: there is need for a formalization of the philosophy of morality and ethics. Companies should establish ethics boards.

A problem with ethics is, however, that we can't probably imagine a sole ethic for the entire world: different nations have different visions about how people should live their lives.