Nick Bilton quit his Nest Thermostat because a software malfunction left him unable to heat his house for a while. In Nest Thermostat Glitch Leaves Users in the Cold he extrapolates to concerns about what happens when connected devices stop working as they should:
We’ve seen this before, with wireless fobs for keyless cars. They are supposed to make life easier by letting us do away with car keys, but they also make it easier for thieves to break in (by using a simple radio amplifier).
It also happened recently with Fitbit, the maker of wearable activity trackers. The company was hit with a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco asserting that the wristbands failed to “consistently and accurately record wearers’ heart rates,” which is vital for those with certain medical conditions.
I’ve heard dozens of other stories from people with connected homes who were locked out by malfunctioning door touch pads, or about newfangled security alarms going off in the middle of the night because a bug (one with wings, not a digital one) flew by.
This reminds me of Daniel Rivero’s Robots are starting to break the law and nobody knows what to do about it. Since companies are starting to require customers to sign agreements that prohibit them from filing law suits in the event of a malfunction, there is no one to hold responsible. Combine this with last week’s The internet of all the things, and I’m suddenly not so keen on this “connected home” thing any more.