Category Archives: The Future

Posts about the Future

Facebook Biometric Snooping Called Illegal By LISA KLEIN

Noteworthy news on the privacy front:

By Lisa Klein, Courthouse News Service:

Facebook violated its users’ privacy to acquire the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world, a class action claims in Chancery Court.

Lead plaintiff Carlo Licata claims Facebook began violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy act of 2008 in 2010, in a "purported attempt to make the process of tagging friends easier."

Through its "tag suggestions" program, Facebook scans all pictures uploaded by users and identifies any Facebook friends they may want to tag, according to the April 1 lawsuit in Cook County Court.

Facebook got its facial recognition technology from the Israeli company Face.com, which Facebook later bought. Face.com is not a party to the lawsuit.

via Courthouse News Service.

Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

Here’s a great Berkman panel discussing Bruce Schneier’s new book that zig-zags back and forth on which is worse – big data, or big government snooping.


via Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World – YouTube.

Merchants of Doubt: What Climate Deniers Learned from Big Tobacco

How professional sowers of doubt moved from issue to issue: tobacco, energy, climate.

Merchants of Doubt: What Climate Deniers Learned from Big Tobacco – YouTube.

Richard Muller: I Was Wrong on Climate Change – YouTube

Muller was a go to guy for many climate deniers the last decade, so it’s nice that he’s finally discovered that the Malankovitch cycle, vulcanism, and other half baked theories of global warming are wrong, and that only CO2 accounts for our warming. Of course scientists knew that back in the fifties, and Isaac Asimov tried to convince folks back in the sixties, however the right is still in fossil fuel funded denial to this day.

Richard Muller: I Was Wrong on Climate Change – YouTube.

A New Year’s Resolution Challenge for All – Always Augment Your Intelligence

The other day I saw someone online boast about how they knew some obscure English etymology fact as they proclaimed that they ‘didn’t even have to look it up!’ Their pride in their knowledge of a trivial fact was a revelation for me: my generation usually takes great pride in their knowledge of facts, as if knowing something obscure were of value by itself. However does knowing facts matter as much in this day and age, and does knowing more facts than your neighbor make your life better anymore than having more beer caps would?

Remember when you memorized kingdoms, phylums, orders, species in that branching tree of life? That's all been uprooted and it's better and more useful to look up the clade and phylogeny of species now.
Remember when you memorized kingdoms, phylums, orders, species in that branching tree of life? That’s all been uprooted and it’s better and more useful to look up the clade and phylogeny of species now.

Before you automatically object, please take a moment to weigh some values against the facts you treasure.

First – Is it better to know things, or is it better to know how to know new things? Is it better to commit things to memory, or is it better to commit patterns, learning tools, logic, faces, friends, beautiful moments, and art to memory? Is the knowledge that you have as important as the journey to gain it?

Second – Any bare fact in and of itself is pretty trivial – and gaining that fact is more trivial still. This thudded home to me with great force on my last vacation as I watched a couple unfold a map, and pore over it, trying to find some location. Meanwhile their teen kept trying to interject and they kept hushing her. It took the teen pushing her phone screen with a pinpointed map on it in her parents face for them to recognize that she had just asked her phone and found the spot they’d both been arguing over and trying to find for ten minutes. She’d done it in seconds.

Third – Our memories are fallible, and we all have built in biases. These are inescapable conditions of being human. What we think we know is sometimes wrong. e.g. My wife tells me I’m wrong a lot. I think it was Socrates who said something akin to “The unexamined life is not worth living” so why don’t you examine your assumptions and “knowledge” on occasion?

Fourth: Our biases aren’t all socially evolved conditions of being human, some are built in by purposeful lies. That’s known as propaganda, and propaganda is driven by fear and hate. Propaganda only works with the ignorant, or the with the willfully ignorant who never test their knowledge, challenge their assumptions, or question what they hear.

Fifth: Your human perceptions are also flawed, maybe that song’s not really about a cross-eyed bear. (mondegreen – you could look it up.)

So why think you know some fact, or take a guess, when instead you can just ask Google, Siri, Alex, or even Bing? Why not double check even if you think you know? When I thought I knew the quote author above I was a bit wrong…. Yes, it was Socrates sort of, but only as paraphrased by Plato’s recollection of his speech at his trial. I just learned something new that I thought I already knew. So there’s the power of augmenting your intelligence. Finding that out was as simple as asking my pad.

Perhaps to my generation facts are of more value simply because of the efforts you had to go to just to obtain them – as my many trips to the library for my high school debate team attest to… nowadays finding things out has become trivial with all of the online data tools and search engines that we have at our beck and call.

In this millenium why shouldn’t you Google, ask Siri, or Alexa, almost anything just to double check? Why wouldn’t you augment your intelligence with the biggest brain and knowledge base on the planet: the Internet? Please take a New Year’s resolution to start asking Google and Siri more, start augmenting your feeble human intelligence, in this coming year stop handicapping your brain friends. Be not proud of what you know – instead be proud that you are smart enough to look it up.

Crossposted to LittleGreenFootballs.com .

Brad Smith and Jonathan Zittrain on Privacy, Surveillance, and Rebuilding Trust in Tech

Some key concepts come up in this discussion of trust and corporate principles in the Post Snowden age of the internet. Pay attentions to Microsoft’s conclusions on when to redirect government subpoenas and when to deny extraterritorial requests.

“…but secret courts with secret decisions are NOT part of the American legal tradition” — Brad Smith — Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of Legal and Corporate Affairs on the need for reform of the FISA court.


 

Brad Smith and Jonathan Zittrain on Privacy, Surveillance, and Rebuilding Trust in Tech – YouTube.

The Internet of Things Is More Than Just a Bunch of Refrigerators

Harvard Business Review covers the internet of things, but everyone is probably wondering what the heck is meant when people say that. The (with a capital T and capital I) Internet of things is all of the public accessible things on The Public Internet plus a subset. The subset internet of everything are the things that are semi-private to private but still accessible to private parties via internet. So in the view below you see that a nearby view of things for me shows some Global Bike Share stations, some Raspberry Pi‘s, and some Netatmo & other weather stations. You can click on the “Thingful” icon and pull up a map of your area if you want to as well.

This area is somewhat un-thinged, and un- smart compared to some cities – that will change dramatically over the next decade. In time you might see those tennis courts get a public schedule, the transit stations might show up along with real time mapping of the actual buses, web cams will pop up, restaurant menus, and some things people haven’t yet imagined will also show up.

The internet of things is going to grow up organically around us over time, and in some exponential fashion — the more things that are on the internet, the more reason there is to have even more things that are on the internet. As that occurs it will sort itself into Public, semi-public, and private spheres – with some devices and sensors present in more than one of those overlapping zones.

In your private intranet you will have things at home that can only be reached internally like maybe your security cameras, and you might have other things that can be reached over the public internet with biometric passkeys, certificates, and/or two step authentication, such as your DVR or media center. You might also have a public accessible weather station or other sensors fully public on the internet (like some of the Netatmo’s in the map above.)

In fully smart cities like Santander, Spain, all sorts of services and things might be available. In other cities, like mine, you might see smart infrastructure and services slowly integrated as refresh and replace cycles hit, and as new infrastructure is constructed. In Lenexa they’ve added an app for users to let the publics works folks know when there’s a problem. So you can snap a photo of the streetlight that’s out from your phone, upload it with the GPS coordinates, and a crew will come out to replace the bulb.

The interactive features and networked devices in smart Stadiums, factories, transport hubs, and other public venues are still evolving quickly, and will continue to do so because we do live in an exciting time and like the HBR article says, it’s not just about smart refrigerators and things in your home.

by Scott Berinato | 11:00 AM October 14, 2014 Harvard Business Review

The Internet of Things is definitely becoming a Thing, in the same way that big data’s a Thing or the sharing economy’s a Thing. And the thing about a thing that becomes a Thing is, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that made it a thing before everyone declared it the Next Big Thing that will change everything.

Got it? Good. We’ll start there. With the hype over the Internet of Things behind us. Because whether or not it’s a Thing, the internet of things is already a lot of things. Here’s a look at a tiny, tiny slice of it:

Those are a couple of dozen air quality sensors located around Boston, as documented by Thingful, a search engine for publicly available Internet of Things things (including sharks!). Click on a dot to get real-time information on air quality in the area. That alone may only cross the threshold of “neat,” but it’s also the foundation of real social and business applications.

More: The Internet of Things Is More Than Just a Bunch of Refrigerators – Scott Berinato – Harvard Business Review

Apple IOS 8 adds extensions for IoT

The new IOS extensions are Apple’s way of trying to meld their walled garden gear into the Internet of things. Essentially Apple has to poke more holes in the garden walls if they want their devices to stay relevant and useful in the coming home constellation of other devices and applications that must interact, talk with each other, and most important – know their context and their user’s context, in order to provide best utility and “artificial AI” semi-aware functionality. The real challenge is to keep those holes secure while functional.

 

Standards will evolve for this eventually…

Explaining iOS 8’s extensions: Opening the platform while keeping it secure | Ars Technica

Allowing third-party apps to communicate with other apps is just one of the problems extensions are meant to solve—third-party keyboards, connecting apps to cloud services other than iCloud, and the new Notification Center widgets are all their own kind of extensions.

Not all parts of iOS can be changed (or “extended”) by third parties. If you wanted to replace one of the default apps with your own or add some kind of toggle to the Control Center, you can’t do that. Apple defines a handful of pre-set “extension points” to show developers where they can add stuff. The iOS 8 extension points are as follows:

via Explaining iOS 8’s extensions: Opening the platform while keeping it secure | Ars Technica.

Cloud done right

This Google Cloud Data center is a thing of beauty to anyone who has maintained large scale IT infrastructure long term. It’s well constructed, simply laid out, and efficient. The computing power displayed in these fully populated rows of chassis’ used to take a small army of hands-on technicians onsite to maintain and this would suck power that you would not believe and take untold miles of cable. With this layout I imagine things are much simpler and greener.

apgoogle data center
Google Data center, Associated Press Photo

The Price War Over The Cloud Has High Stakes For The Internet : All Tech Considered : NPR by 

It’s a timely topic, since there’s a price war going on as tech titans aim to control the cloud market. Amazon Web Services, an arm of the e-commerce giant, is the reigning king of large-scale cloud services. If you’ve ever watched streaming TV on Netflix, clicked on a Pinterest pin, or listened to music on Spotify, you’ve used Amazon Web Services, or AWS.

“We delivered computing power as if it was a utility,” says Matt Wood, Amazon Web Services’ chief data scientist.

A decade ago, startups and other Internet companies had to set up their own data centers and computing backbones, which meant a serious capital investment up front and fairly fixed computing resources.

via The Price War Over The Cloud Has High Stakes For The Internet : All Tech Considered : NPR.

Future of Technology survey from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

A majority of Americans are optimistic about technology’s potential impacts on our future even after the last couple of decades of dystopian future films from Hollywood. Most of them when asked about specifics like personal implants or robots caring for elderly were against those notions of technology.

When asked for their general views on technology’s long-term impact on life in the future, technological optimists outnumber pessimists by two-to-one. Six in ten Americans (59%) feel that technological advancements will lead to a future in which people’s lives are mostly better, while 30% believe that life will be mostly worse.

Demographically, these technological optimists are more likely to be men than women, and more likely to be college graduates than to have not completed college. Indeed, men with a college degree have an especially sunny outlook: 79% of this group expects that technology will have a mostly positive impact on life in the future, while just 14% expects that impact to be mostly negative. Despite having much different rates of technology use and ownership, younger and older Americans are equally positive about the long-term impact of technological change on life in the future.

Read the full survey here Future of Technology – Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.