Heard about the Internet's creepy next wave? If you haven't, Sue Halpern's coverage of four recent books on the subject gives you a front-row seat on the spectacle that is slowly and quietly unfolding behind closed doors.

At center stage is the "Internet of Things." In 2007 there were ten million sensors of all kinds linked to the Internet; experts surmise that this number will increase to 100 trillion by 2030. According to Halpern, a lot of these small radio-frequency identification (RFI) microchips are attached to goods and generate data that is valuable to those who view pervasive connectivity as manna from heaven.

Here is an example of this technology: "Among the enchanted objects are the Google Latitude Doorbell that 'let's you know where your family members are and when they are approaching home,' an umbrella that turns blue when it is about to rain so you might be inspired to take it with you, and a jacket that gives you a hug every time someone likes your Facebook post."

At first glance these options seem dazzling until one realizes that the Google Latitude Doorbell which records our comings and goings not only limits our privacy but might be used in a court of law. Halpern quotes journalist Glenn Greenwald who put the number of Americans under government surveillance at 1.2 million people.

Things know our heart rate, favorite movies, personal grooming habits, medications, and preferences in music, dining spots, and sports. We wonder about this "datazation" of our bodies, our intimacies, and all our activities in the world. We cherish the freedom that comes from not being monitored by this new kind of connectivity. What choices are we making, and what choices are being taken away from us?

This revealing article has opened our eyes to the spiritual challenges facing us as we move into a new techno-era.

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