The “Internet of Things” and Big Data: How they work

Imagine your refrigerator ordering milk through your cell phone, or your toothbrush scheduling a dental appointment based on its own evaluation of your oral health.  

Billions of objects around you, as innocuous as your toaster, or your favourite pair of sneakers – may very well be alive through communication. They are processing, storing, and sharing data in real time with each other over the “Internet of Things” (IoT) – a phenomenon that’s rapidly changing the relationship between man and machine.

But how does it work exactly? And what’s its connection to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Machine Learning (ML)? Watch this video to find out!

A lot of the seemingly inanimate objects in our daily use are being designed with the ability to communicate with other objects using the internet, constantly collecting data from the sensors within them, and sharing trillions of data points with each other.

The sheer number and complexity of these datasets have paved the way for an entirely new discipline in analytics – aptly named ‘Big Data.’

All of this data is uploaded to the ‘Cloud’, which in reality exists as massive server farms all over the world. The IoT gives humans access to data from millions of these servers. But what can we do with all of this data.

This is the space where Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning exist – in making computers understand and mastering data analysis, recognizing useful patterns, and allowing them to make decisions in real time.

Technologies like IoT, Big Data, Cloud Computing and AI/ML will play a critical role in creating solutions in the future. They can even save lives. Machine-learning, for example, can create digital diagnostic tools for serious illnesses that can be prevented if detected early.

But there are some caveats. There are many qualified observers of this space that give caution against the unintended consequences of Big Data. Historian and author, Yuval Noah Harari, for example, says data is the new source of political power, and he worries that Big Data and AI technology in the wrong hands threatens to destroy liberal democracy.

While Pakistan is considerably behind in the adoption of these technologies, we are still affected by giants such as Google and Facebook that use Big Data for numerous tasks.

Take the research done by James Bridle, an artist and writer whose work explores the consequences of technology use. At a recent TED Talk, he explains how the revenue-driven algorithms that drive content suggestions on YouTube can expose children to disturbing and inappropriate videos.

While IoT and Big data are unlikely to replace some human characteristics and common sense, they’re here to stay. So, the more we test and question their use, the better their impact on the world around us.

  This is why VCast Online will continue looking at developments in this space in Pakistan.   If you want to contribute to the conversations that emerge around data-driven decision-making in Pakistan, or if you have a suggestion of your own, please write to us at

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