The Smart Grid is moving fast to become the future of the West’s electrical distribution network. Gradually replacing a huge patchwork of pylons, wires and cables, the Smart Grid aims to distribute electricity using digital technology, automation and smart metering to produce ‘distribution technology’ that will detect outages and generate efficiencies throughout the network. it will also integrate with the ‘greatest technological invention of the modern age’ – the Internet.
SmartGrid GB & US
In the United States, the Smart Grid is moving forwards at pace and other Western governments such as the United Kingdom are investing time and money in developing this into a reality. SmartGrid GB, the UK equivalent was launched in June 2011 and is working with the UK Government to implement smart grid technology claiming that it is ‘of critical importance to the UK’s future’.
Not everyone is keen, however.
A recent press release from hacker expert David Chalk suggests that the last thing Western populations should be doing is sitting back and allowing smart grid technology to take over our power networks. Connections into the home with smart metering and digital technology allows those corporations with power over our power, so to speak, the ability to invade our privacy in the same way that the Internet can be used to intrude into people’s private lives.
What is more scary however, is the possibility that the smart grid could be hacked and our power supply hijacked and taken down, says Chalk. Ultimately, according to Chalk, this could have consequences that would be akin to, if not worse than, all-out nuclear war.
The fear of large corporations plotting to take over the world through control over every aspect of our daily lives is nothing new. It could be said that whenever new technology is released, developed and integrated into the everyday lives of ‘ordinary’ people, there will always be someone who is willing to question the motives behind its introduction. It is the stuff of conspiracy theorists.
Democratically elected Governments should put in place safeguards against corruption and large corporation influences and power. Whilst this may not be enough to prevent Chalk’s predictions that in 3 years the entire electrical distribution network will be taken down by hackers 100%, the very ideals behind the technology seem admirable.
The powers that be already have accumulated great levels of access into our private lives; Internet monitoring, CCTV and countless Government departments and corporation server rooms filled with data about us that we’ve probably forgotten about ourselves. How realistic is it that, even if it were true that we are being manipulated beyond our imaginations, it will lead to a more devastating effect on human society than nuclear war?
If this is paranoia, it is of the worst kind. However, the point that should be taken seriously is that we recognise the importance of using good technology to reduce energy usage, generate financial savings and reduce environmental impact with our eyes open. Questioning authority is fine, so long as it is for a valid purpose. If David Chalk’s press release is about self-publicity, it carries no more integrity than the system he purports to be mankind’s enemy.
What do you think?
Need we be worried about the smart grid and accusations of insidious corporations in bed with Western Governments determined to feather their own nests.
Or should we simply accept that with all technological advances designed ultimately to benefit us, there will be a less ‘glamorous’, intrusive and risky side?
Or is this mindless fearmongery?
About UsWe are a UK organisation promoting the security and safety benefits of home automation and smart home technology. Read more about our stated aims here.
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