Federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull isn't shy about sharing his thoughts on tech topics. His view on the internet of things? It's great and we should all get involved — but government should have as little to do with it as possible.
Turnbull gave the opening speech at the AIIA Navigating The Internet Of Things conference, which Lifehacker is covering today. His key point was that as we're still very much in the exploratory stage of working out what to do with these large collections of data, we need to be as creative as possible when considering the possibilities. "The key ingredient is imagination . . . technological imagination."
"Very soon the value of the info produced by all of these connected things will soon start to outweigh the small cost of embedding sensors in them," Turnbull said. "Its true potential will be seen when we have billions and billions of devices connected."
"This is a time for everyone — private sector, public sector to be imaginative. This is a time to do new things and be creative . . Leap out of bed ready to embrace the exciting things you can do, the way you can unsettle the established order. This is a time for excitement and imagination. There are no technological limits. The only limits are those we impose on ourselves by restricting our imagination."
Predictably given his political stance, Turnbull argued that innovation would largely be driven by the private sector, rather than through government, and that regulation should be minimal. "Obviously there are issues about regulation — from our point of view the less the better, plainly." However, government could set an example in delivering services digitally, he said. "Government has to lead by example and the critical thing is to focus on the customer."
One area that government had done well was in releasing government data through the data.gov.au portal, Turnbull said. Since the Coalition took power, the number of available data sets has risen from 514 to 5200.
He also noted that the internet of things was going to change the role of statisticians. "This is the interesting thing about big data. You get into this curious shift where statisticians spend their entire life thinking about how to get a reliable sample . . . but if you are now in a position where you can collect data from everyone, or close to 100% of the relevant population, imagine the difference that makes."