Past eventMembersChatham House Forum

Chatham House Forum: Should We Fear Smart Technology?

8 May 2018 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Chatham House, London


Sadie Creese, Professor of Cybersecurity, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford



The global market for internet-connected ‘smart’ devices – from fridges and kettles to phones and personal assistants - was valued at around $24.10 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately $53.45 billion in 2022. Smart technology and the ‘internet of things’ can save consumers money as well as time and frustration but does this convenient lifestyle come with hidden costs beyond the initial purchase price? Smart devices need to collect and store data to function effectively, meaning that devices are continuously learning about a consumer’s habits, likes and dislikes. Moreover, many devices are designed to work in unison with others, ultimately creating a repository of data about virtually all aspects of a person’s day-to-day activities.

Will the increasing use of smart technology in households, the complexity of online systems and the sheer scale of data being created lead to a host of new unacknowledged and underestimated risks? Do consumers know who holds their data? And just how vulnerable to hackers are smart home devices?

Professor Creese will outline the real and perceived threats from the mass connection of consumer devices to the internet and offer her thoughts on how different environments should adapt to these threats in differing ways. She will imagine what a fully-digitized, instrumented and connected future may bring to ‘cyber-humanity’, and present policy options to protect states and people from incumbent threats.

About Chatham House Forums

Each Chatham House Forum considers a question around an important contemporary debate in international affairs.

An expert speaker will offer a polemic in response - providing their answer to this question and outlining the key arguments that have convinced them of their position. The audience then have the chance to query and challenge the speaker’s views in a Q&A session during the second half of the event.

Each event will be followed by a reception with the speaker, allowing attendees to continue the conversation.