An anonymous reader writes: Current standards of network timekeeping are inadequate to some of the critical systems that are being envisaged for the Internet of Things, according to a report (PDF) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The report says, "A new economy built on the massive growth of endpoints on the internet will require precise and verifiable timing in ways that current systems do not support. Applications, computers, and communications systems have been developed with modules and layers that optimize data processing but degrade accurate timing." NIST's Chad Boutin likens current network accuracy to an attempt to synchronize watches via the postal system, and suggests that remote medicine and self-driving cars will need far higher standards in order not to put lives at risk. He says, "modern computer programs only have probabilities on execution times, rather than the strong certainties that safety-critical systems require."