Rise of the Machines

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.” (TechTarget, 2014)

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First of all, the Sense employee that designed this face is evil. No one can tell me that if you walked into your house, late at night and saw that face it wouldn’t freak you out and if that doesn’t just think of the ‘big brother’ possibilities. But I digress objects ranging from watches to cars and even refrigerators are becoming able to communicate without the need for humans. These objects will have a mind of their own knowing when and what to do by communicating with each other. Thus creating a sort of collective ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Sounds great right? Wrong, it is terrifying and let me tell you why.

In 1997 an ‘Artificial Intelligence’ Skynet was activated by the US government and given command over all computerized military hardware and systems. This was done to allow all hardware to be synchronised which would eliminate the chance for human error and guarantee a fast reaction in response to enemy attack. But the A.I gained consciousness when the operators realised this they tried to shut it down but the system registered this as an attack and declared humanity a threat. So it fired nuclear missiles at Russia which in retaliation fired nuclear missiles back. This killed 3 billion people. The survivors were enslaved and forced to build factories that manufactured killing machines that were programmed to eliminate the remaining not enslaved survivors.

So obviously as seen in the example above devices being able to communicate with each other is a terrible thing destined to end with the annihilation of the human race. Another example of why this is a bad idea is this video by Ericsson a Swedish communications tech company. It shows how emotionless and devoid of social interaction a man’s life has become in the near future in which a social network for household appliances has been created. The ending of the clip where he blows off the girl to stay at home with the A.I is quite a statement of the possibilities of life in the future and gives off serious Her vibes.

In conclusion if movies have taught us anything it’s that robots and artificial intelligence are evil. Just take this trailer above for example. A robot named Ultron has broken the ‘strings’ controlling him and now he has created his own robot army and is going to take over the world. This what the world will become we let our toasters become self aware.

Hack The Planet

“For practically as long as there’s been an Internet, vandals, troublemakers and criminals have sought to exploit it. Even before the advent of the personal computer, “phone phreaks” manipulated computerized phone systems to make free long-distance calls.” (Time,2009)

A cybercrime is basically just a criminal activity carried out by means of computers or the Internet. Technically cyber crimes have been possible since the inception of the computers and the Internet but cases of it were very rare and not really publicized. It was not until the late 1990s – early 2000 when PCs got better and Internet connections improved that these ‘cyberthreats’ received widespread attention. Since then the attacks have grown more frequent, more destructive and even been used as tools of war. One of the most popular methods of ‘cyberwarfare’ is a DDoS attack

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. They target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and present a major challenge to making sure people can publish and access important information. (Digitalattackmap, 2013)

DDoS attacks use Botnets spread to users through various methods. Once a machine is infected with the Botnet it can be controlled remotely and armys of them are used to flood the servers of online services. As of 2014, the frequency of recognized DDoS attacks had reached an average rate of 28 per hour.(Eweek,2014)

Cyberwarfare has become a legitimate military tactic. Professor Isaac Ben-Israel Chairman of Israel Space Agency is calling rules to cover cyberwarfare “While there are the Geneva Conventions to turn to when there are wars between states or armed conflict, there are no such rules governing the online space.”

Hack and Slash

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Hacktivism in its simplest form is the practice of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system and carrying out various disruptive actions as a means of achieving political or social goals. Basically hacking for the ‘greater good’. This is a very polarising issue in today’s society. Everyone you speak to will have different opinions on if it is ethical to break the law to expose government secrets.

“The N.S.A. has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.” – Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is one of the most recent examples of breaking the law for the greater good. He worked for the NSA as a system administrator until 2013 when he leaked NSA documents to media outlets worldwide. These documents detailed the extensive surveillance network run by the NSA in conjunction with their partners in Australia, UK and Canada. The documents revealed a program called XKeyscore, an analytical tool that allows for the collection of “almost anything done on the internet”. The NSA was monitoring phone calls, hacking email accounts, using location services on mobile phones, tracking cookies and even creating characters in online games such as World of Warcraft to monitor ‘potential threats’.

Snowden is seen by many as a hero for exposing the extent of the surveillance network used by the NSA but in the eyes of the law he is a criminal. Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” but is still currently free living in Russia.

I believe that what Snowden did was a public service and his actions are completely justified. I can see why the U.S would be pressing charges but I sincerely hope nothing ever comes of them. The NSA surveillance techniques exposed by Snowden are shining example of why hacktivism  is necessary.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

It is impossible to ignore to the importance of social media. It allows people to speak their minds on a platform that can potentially reach millions of like minded others. This allows certain movements to spread like wildfire and go ‘viral’. But how much of an impact does sending a tweet actually have?

#Euromaiden, #Syria and #Egypt are all great examples of how many people social media can reach. #Egypt used all forms of social media to rally everyone behind the cause. A YouTube video (see above) from an Egyptian vlogger Asmaa Mahfouz goes viral and informs the world, FaceBook groups and events are used to organise protests and twitter is used to instantly update the world on what is happening. The movement a success with millions of protesters flooding the streets and President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. But the protest was not without casualties as 12000 people were arrested, 6000 injured and at least 800 killed.

 

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The events in Egypt were heavily inspired by the Tunisian Revolution in which protest organised on social media resulted in the democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. These ‘social media’ revolutions have caused people across the world to stand up for what they believe in most recently 2014 Hong Kong protests, also referred to as the Umbrella Revolution and #2014 Hong Kong protests, also referred to as the Umbrella Revolution and #Ferguson.

The change brought by these protests has shown how much of an impact social media can have on the world and that sending a tweet, making a YouTube video or creating a FaceBook group can bring about a revolution.

 

New Journalism

readership_graphJournalism is in a state of change. News aggregators, message boards and social media have overtaken traditional media channels such as newspapers. These new media outlets are becoming the go to places to get the news. Sure many people still read the newspaper but those numbers are slowly dwindling and the Internet is becoming the go to news source.

Rupert Murdoch has labeled the practice of news aggregation by entities like Google News “theft,” and a professor from the Wharton Business School recently called on lawmakers to amend the copyright laws to prevent aggregators from posting any portion of news stories for a full 24 hours after their initial publication. – Who’s Afraid of the News Aggregators?

A news aggregator at its core is a website that gathers news from different sources and other Web sites and gathers it in one place for easy consumption. Examples of news aggregators include Google News which just aggregates news from other sources and The Huffington Post which mixes original content with aggregated content in one place. Sounds great right? Just one stop for all your news consumption needs from sources across the globe for free, well if your the consumer yes but as you can see above legacy media channels are not to happy about this.

http://reverb.twitter.com/view/126740849281262175 – Visualization of #ferguson

Another new source of news for many is Twitter. Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. Twitter also allows for these tweets to be tagged via hashtags (#) that can then be searched and every tweet with that tag will show up in a feed. This allows users to follow and comment on events in real time. For example “When unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed in broad daylight in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, Twitter users quickly reacted to the shooting using the hashtag #ferguson to comment on the racial tensions still prevalent in the US today.”(SBS, 2014)

Whether these new forms of journalism will be beneficial or not has yet to be decided. But the these new ways of receiving news given users a choice in when, where and how they consume their news content and I believe that is a step in the right direction.

Escaping The Garden

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Last week I discussed the ‘walled garden’ nature of Apples popular iOS mobile operating system and the restrictions that came with it. But what if I told you there was a way out, an alternative called Android. This alternative boasts source code that’s open to all allowing developers and enthusiasts to develop new features and customize to their heart’s content. This alternative sounds great but is it open source savior we need?

Google was terrified that Apple would end up ruling the mobile space. So, to help in the fight against the iPhone at a time when Google had no mobile foothold whatsoever, Android was launched as an open source project. – Google’s iron grip on Android

Android began in 2003 originally aiming to create an advanced operating system for digital cameras. They quickly realized that the market wasn’t big enough and changed their focus to creating a smartphone operating system. In 2005 they were acquired by Google and continued to develop the OS shrouded in secrecy until 2007 when the Open Handset Alliance a group of technology and mobile companies dedicated to creating open standards for mobile devices unveiled itself and announced its first product Android.

While reviews were skeptical at first Android has become the most widely used smartphone operating system with around an 80% market share worldwide. Reviews now tout the open aspect as one of the top-selling points for devices running android and hardware developers such as Amazon and release hardware (Kindle) running their own customized version of Android but problems have arisen. People have questioned if Android is truly open source with the majority finding that in the legal definition of ‘open source’ it is but it is not transparent and the consumer cannot do whatever they want with it.

Once the code is released, Android developers can download it and do what they want with it, but they have no way of seeing what’s happening behind the scenes every day. If you want to know how Firefox changed last night — however esoteric those changes may be — you can study the changes on the Mozilla site. The same is true of the Linux kernel, Open Office and nearly every other open source project with a website. – Is Android open?

Android is not the savior that most open source enthusiasts will tout it as but it is more ‘open’ than iOS. It has shown that an OS based on the concept of being ‘open’ can be successful which in turn will hopefully pave the way for a truly open source platform in the future.

Solid, Liquid or Gas?

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Liquid labour seems to have completely changed the way that people think about work. It has been transformed into a new space where information and knowledge is the sought after commodity. No longer is your job contained to the old 9-5 schedule now you are connected 24/7 whether it be through a social media service such as twitter or a mobile phone. Sure the freedom to choose where, how and when you work might sound like the greatest thing ever but it seems that the lines begin to blur between life and work is where the problems begin. How many people have you seen sitting in a cafe on their lunch break but still working?

Presence bleed explains the familiar experience whereby the location and time of work become secondary considerations faced with a ‘to do’ list that seems forever out of control. It manifests as the variable degree of willingness workers feel in letting work seep in to and coexist alongside other spheres of life activity.

From Presence Bleed: Performing Professionalism Online more by Melissa Gregg

The concept of a ‘Presence bleed’ is the only real problem I have with this new style of ‘work’. Personally I am all for flatter organizational structures, focusing on information/knowledge sorting and being able to communicate across the globe instantly to collaborate with like minded individuals but we all need some time off the clock.