Privacy Matters

I was curious what others thought of the future and if they saw it the way I do. I had a chat with Andrew Trinh, 25 to see what he thought and surprisingly, it was quite similar. He is a technologically aware individual who is always up to date with all the new gadgets and systems. When I asked him if we are too reliant on technology his response was quite generic, a topic that we can all see but do nothing about.

His answer was yes, we are; our attention spans have significantly reduced where some can no longer multitask and babies know how to use smart phones and tablets now too.  It is all too accessible, which isn’t all that bad but we are so reliant on technology, there is no effort to remember key dates, a friend’s birthday, or anyone’s phone numbers. The convenience of technology has defiantly become highly integrated into our life and experiences are not all that personal anymore. Trinh feels that Instead of trying to multitask, we are now taking a step back due to info overload and trying to improve our efficacy by doing things one at a time. He used twitter as an example, the 400 letter restriction has forced us to explain something in great detail, in few words and there is no depth to knowledge anymore. He is unsure where the future is headed and states it is a great thing that we now have so many resources however questions the day to day life of individuals and worried we are really taking a step forward and two steps back.

On another note, he does think we have also become more aware of our carbon footprint on society and particularly the Earth. It would be a world where we have to think positively long term in order to keep a healthy environment, society and Earth.  He envisions the future to be clean and sterile but at the same time artificially green, quite like our alumni green behind building one at UTS.

p12021-perspective-01_the-green_cropped--1280pxjpg

Which leads to big cooperate leaders that are also seemingly artificial, so I think anyway.  They are highly involved with giving back to the society now because that is where they will build their reputation whether or not they are genuine is another story.

One of his main and strongest viewpoints was that technology is opening a door that should be glued shut. Privacy. We don’t have it anymore or increasing it has been falling short. He mentions the discontinuation of the most anticipated release, the Google glass which is no surprise really. It had major privacy issues where it was constantly recording. He also referenced a TV serious called ‘Black Mirror’ where in one of the episodes, the people had a memory chip implanted where they can review their past… similar to the Adam Sandler movie, ‘Click’.

To sum up, he doesn’t believe there is an end goal to technology, it will keep growing and growing into infinity. He doesn’t know how privacy issues can improve but he is quite interested to know how can grow out of these habits or if at all.

-Stephanie and Andrew

An interview with Susan Stubbs – The analogue convert

Sue is a fifty-five year old professional award winning photographer, with such the International Garden Photographer (UK) 2009 Competition. Winner of the 2004 Horticultural Media Award for best image, and the 2004 Gold Laurel Award, and her photography contribution of Child Magazine won Gold Front Cover 2013 Parenting Media Association awards, and is a published author of no less than two books.

(http://www.suestubbs.com.au/untitled-3, Sue Stubbs, 2014)

We sit down outside over a cup of coffee – she takes hers black, with no sugar. A timeless sentiment, that is until you look around her living room; a plasma TV on a sleek glass entertainment unit, Mac computer nestled on a desk in the corner attached to a colour inkjet printer and an assortment of digital SLR cameras and lighting equipment. I think to myself “for someone who pre-dates the invention of colour TV and personal computers, she’s definitely not adverse to it”.

I kick things off: “So Sue, what do you think of technology?” she laughs “technology in what way?”. Well, I think. “How has it changed your life?” She takes a sip of her coffee and replies “I think it’s amazing. It’s affected my work more than anything… or at least that’s where I notice it the most”. I ask her how she means that.

“Well, when I first started I was using a non-coupled rangefinder. You couldn’t actually focus through the viewing frame, so it took time to refine actually focusing an image. Now, my cameras take care of all of that for me. All of my adjustments are made from toggle switches and show up on the camera display. I couldn’t have dreamt of it being like this when I first started out. It takes some getting used to, but I refuse to let the stigma of me being a bit older mean that I can’t learn a few new tricks”

“So you’re an advocate for technology then?” I ask. “Definitely” she replies. I have to ask the question: “Does the direction technology’s taking scare you at all though?”. She thinks for a second.

But only a second.

“Yes and no. I think technology’s a touchy subject. I think of the things they’re doing right now with medicine, or with safety in general. We’re all living longer, healthier lives thanks to things we’re only finding out now. I had a relative pass from lock jaw. You don’t even hear about lock jaw anymore”.

“And what about the bad?” I ask.

“There’s always going to be some good with the bad. I think technology comes with a certain responsibility” I can’t help but make a rebuttal. “What about the saying ‘nothing advances technology faster than war'”. “That might be true, but I think that comes down to responsibility – and in some ways we should be grateful. On the one hand, it’s scary to think that there’s nuclear technology out there, but because that technology is spread throughout, nobody can use it. You don’t even hear about any of that any more really, and when you think about say World War 2, how many people died? I don’t know…but I don’t think that many people will die in circumstances like that ever again, and that has a lot to do with technology”.

“But what if someone develops something new. What if we all lose our jobs to robots? And what if the machines rebel against us and we end up in a Terminator situation?” I half joke.

“I think that for now, we’re safe. It’s unbelievable how fast everything’s moving…like I said, I never could have dreamt about the things we have today. Fortunately for me I don’t think robots are going to take a good picture any time soon, and I think Facebook is more likely to wreck people’s lives than robots turning against us”

– Alex

Those Falling Behind.

It is extremely common for younger generations in todays society to be at one with there mobile phone, facebook and various other social media portals due to being immersed into a computerised lifestyle from a young age and essentially not knowing any different. But what of the elder generations, do they follow trends in the same manner, can they keep up with technology and the progression of 2014’s current understanding of what is considered to be the norm.. I went straight to the person who I know would be perfect for this discussion. My father Paul Baker aged 64.

My dad was a computer and electrical technician for over 20 years and when he recieved his trade certificate in the mid 70’s was in his opinion “up to date with technology”. He spent many years following repairing many electrical goods and understood the way they worked quite comprehensively.

In the mid 90’s his trade became redundant as the “inbuilt obselesence era” grew into fruition. It became easier and cheaper to replace electrical components and products than to repair them ending my dads trade.

Throughout the late 90’s and into the 2000’s technology took monumental leaps forward. Components became smaller, components became faster and resolution of screens and screen technologies all took a rapid step in a new direction due to needs and trends. My father believes that because he was no longer in the technological loop he slowly fell behind, he now considers himself unconfident in operating many new products on the market.

“I have an IPhone and one of the newest laptops on the market but I cant operate half of the functions as I dont know what I am doing. And if I ever tried to fix them I would probably just break them more!” he claims.

I asked him what he thought his generation will do in the future if they have already fallen behind in keeping up with the technological advancements we have today and he simply replied “we are all screwed.”

In my opinion new emerging technologies yes they are helpful but why not design them for the simplest of tech savvy individuals. Technology should be there for everybody to use, enjoy, and communicate via, but for some reason more and more complex apps and programs are emerging. Engage the whole of society into this techno-obsessed-social structure.

Ben.

Foward Thinking

Dangar, a 22 year old engineering student enlightened me with his views on the future and where our future lay. I found his perspectives to be quite interesting because of his logical and statistical approach to portraying the future world.

The world today is rapidly evolving and transforming, at a pace where humanity can barely get use to one form before it’s superseded by another. This is spoken on all three levels; socially, politically and technologically.

50 years ago, many movements have been made to change what society believes in; from human rights, sexual orientation and feminism, to name a few. These views from what they were before have now changed radically to what today is accepted normally. From marriage law changes (for same-sex) and other religious views, these ‘traditional views’ are constantly challenged in our modern times, pushing forward new social norms to fit into what we call modern day society.

On a global scale, Dangar strongly feels that political agendas are pushing towards an age of prior WWII. Mainly focusing on economic, imperialistic and militaristic points. All those focus points revolve around resources. We have USA constantly acting as the global police since post WWII and will continually to do so because it benefits them, in addition to the notion of maintaining peace and a better world. In Asia, we have nations like China who have unsustainably grown. Russia in today’s time have shown there aggressive manoeuvres to acquire weapons for strategic reasons (and for the oil/gas lines) despite worldwide criticism. At least in 50 years, unless nations move on to a greater single goal rather than to meet their own personal agendas, with reason to believe that an inevitable WWIII will break out, regardless of the known consequences. Either nations fight independently, or super federations formed between different groups for example, China expands over SEA and develop a larger coalition or unified ASIA. The North and South America combined into one Federation.

Technology is breaking rules faster than they can be made. This has paved the way into massive leaps into innovation and breakthroughs in technology. In 50 years, the adoption rate of technology rates will be quicker, whether it may be in physical or software form. The greatest area of interest will be the day humanity decides to integrate technology into their bodies. Being an engineer student, his interest greatly lied in bionic limbs and materials that were innovative for human integration. Although there are medical reasons for example amputees can benefit from having working limbs (mechanical ones that operate such on a level if not superior to original biological arm), there is an area to explore when an individual chooses to consciously remove his limbs in pursuit of bionics on the pure basis of performance. Where is the line drawn then? This area in 50 years will be the greatest debate for medicine as it has potential to wreck and shatter society entirely, and break conventional rules in the technology of warfare.

– Rachel ft. Dangar Nguyen

The Human Role

The role of humans since the beginning of recorded time has been survival. The undoubted survival of the human race. Now, here we stand in the 21st Century surrounded by technology to improve our life, to improve our survival. The very beginning concept of saving the human race has morphed with the acquirement of knowledge and power into something totally different. Our existence is touched in every aspect by technology, there is no doubt that nowadays we cannot live without technology, without it’s existence then we’d be doomed. Let’s face it, it rules our lives even though we control it. How we use, adapt and view these new technologies that are trying to integrate themselves into our lifestyles directly impacts its success.

I have a niece, she’s now 4 but when she was 2 she was able to unlock my iphone and tap into my games and play like it was her normal everyday routine. When i was 2 i was still figuring out why the triangle didn’t fit into the square hole… To me this poses the question, is technology helping kids to develop faster, does this create better personal development? The technological aid whilst still developing reveals the impact that technology has made on our lives, the contrast in the way that i developed compared to that of kids nowadays and compare those two to the way that the generation above us interacted with technology really allows us to see the impact that technology has made on our lives.

Technologically speaking the world has not advanced or changed as rapidly as it has now with no signs of it ever slowing down the interaction of humans with technology is something to be embraced. I am a strong advocate for technology assisting our way of life, and also in personal development. We are in an age where data is collected all around us, from the amount of steps we take, our heart rates and the mood that we’re currently in. We share our lives through technology, it has become our way of life, our way of communicating and interacting. Technology has become our comfort, talking to strangers on a daily commute is now considered ‘creepy’ dating is no longer talking to strangers you meet on the street in hopes of becoming more than strangers, it is now a swipe to the right and a hope you’re a match. Technology has created a better quality of life, but in doing this it has filled up the space that was once taken by human interaction, it has now become our only interaction. Although, some may argue the point social media is creating a false sense of connection. This is true, but with technology becoming what it is and us adapting ourselves around it it’s inevitable that this is what we obsess over it, however it is a connection after all.

Usability, aesthetics and emotions in human–technology interaction. (2007). INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 42(4), pp.253-264.

– Rachel

ANTHROPOCENE: the under-defined over-definition?

by definition:

Anthropocene

ˈanθrəpəˌsiːn/

adjective

1. relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

o the Anthropocene period.

noun: Anthropocene

But what does this actually mean?

Anthropocene was a term originally coined by Nobel laureate and atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen. ‘Anthropo’ for man, ‘cene’ for new. Essentially the lay term for Anthropocene is ‘the era of man’.

Consider this. The Earth has been around for approximately 4.54 billion years, and humans existing on it for approximately 200,000 years. If you were to scale that timeframe down to one year, humans have spent about 23 minutes of that one year in existence.

According to scientists, in that 23 minutes of that one year humans have managed to use approximately two thirds of the Earth’s resources. And while there are still polarised nay-say-ers who exist among us, it is hard to deny that human’s exorbitant abuse of our planet and its natural resources have had an effect; Co2 emissions rose drastically during the period of industrial revolution, and continued the further upward trend from the 1950’s onward with a mass increase of the use of fossil fuels. In the United States alone stand close to 600,000 abandoned coal mines. And that’s just coal. Over-fishing has had a similar effect on the oceans too. In some commercial fishing areas, vessels are reporting hauls as low as one hundredth of what was caught in the areas originally. It’s hard to argue that humans aren’t having a negative effect on the Earth, so why is anthropocene just a debated term, and not a globally recognized one?

Abandoned coal mine, America (http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/14/17/resized_abandoned_coal_mine.jpg?itok=Qa6_1iC8)

Basically, the Earth has gone through various stages during its existence. Take for example the Jurassic age, or the Ice Age. These eras were definable by geological findings that were actually imprinted on the face of the Earth. Palaeontologists can dig up a dinosaur bone and define it from a specific era. When the ice age hit, species from the previous era were wiped out, and new ones appeared. What is considered detrimental to the declaration of a new age, though, is not the disappearance of existing species…but rather the appearance of new ones. These periods are known as epochs, and our current epoch is known as the Holocene which has been ongoing since the last ice age.

Professional geologists known as stratigraphers; scientists who study rock layers, argue that there is no definable point to start the Anthropogenic era from. Do we start it from the time that mankind discovered fire? In terms of affecting the Earth itself it would certainly be a fair jumping off point. But is that enough to declare a new geological age? Perhaps the splitting of the atom and the various uses of nuclear weapons in the 20th century would be a better starting point? As Paul Crutzer, the man known to be the turner of the phrase anthropocene himself said; “I’m starting to think the strongest signal, one of them, is just nuclear explosions — the test cases of atomic material,” Crutzen said. “There were the first two nuclear explosions in Japan, but then [much more] testing took place, and anytime that radioactive material came into the world, into the sediments, we had an example of a good marker. Now I’m more in favor of declaring the nuclear tests as the real start of the Anthropocene.” It certainly coincides with the beginning of fossil fuel use en masse, and leaves sedimentary traces in the atmosphere which can certainly embed themselves in the ocean floor and over time become part of our geological environment. But wait, what about the Industrial revolution?

Nuclear test fall out (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/–y7zueHi3CI/UpdwYTf4UMI/AAAAAAAAat8/BVk_VfVSJ-c/s1600/atomic-bomb-explosion-military-wallpapers-nice-wallpaper-1024×768.jpg)

Essentially Anthropocene has been a hot topic for debate between climate change advocates who argue that the undeniable damage we’re doing to our planet is inexplicable, undeniable and unforgivingly permanent against the geologists who

argue that there has been no major definable event to justify the ushering of a new geological era. And whilst it is not yet technically recognized, it is ironically undeniable.

– Alex

The Fourth V

Look at the world around you, what do you see? The person sitting next to you, or the view out the window? – Yes that too but,  what you see is 2.5 quintillion bytes of data floating around endlessly a day; and that is what we like to call big data. So big data is all around you but what exactly is it?

It is variety. It is more than just the zeros and the ones. It is every imaginable and unimaginable manmade object or program that relies on one another. That’s all four billion hours of video uploaded and watched, thirty billion pieces of content on social media, hundreds of millions of wireless technologies.

It is Velocity.  It is streaming in to the enterprise in order to maximise its value to the business. The sensors in a car, the trade information updated daily and, the 18.9 billion network connections worldwide.

It is Volume . It is BIG. Need I say that again. Like real BIG. Data is unimaginably massive, amassing terabytes or even petabytes of information an expected to be 40 zettabytes by 2020.

And it is Veracity. It is the uncertainty of data and information that floats around, the $3.1 trillion of bad data a year and amount of people who question the authenticity of information today. So what does that mean to me? We live in a world that is unknowingly dictated by surveillance and mistrust.

Surveillance has started to emerge, particularly in Sydney. There has been an increase of police activity as well as new laws and regulations implemented by the state government to control the streets at night.  It is due to the extensive collection of data and information on individuals and groups are being surveyed and some might say it lacks societal ethics and morals. It then forces people to conform, shaping a public views, opinions and be highly self-aware. This is evident in both governmental implements and societal pressures. We live in a world that now employers are resorting to social media when hiring new employees or ‘stalking them’ on Facebook. It is repelling social interaction, connectivity and as a result everyone curates the most perfect image of themselves rather than revealing who they really are.

In the legal system and the media, it is both good and bad. With the petabytes of memory and storage, we are able to uncover the truth and lies in society and within the government. We are better equipped in laying criminal charges and things government officials hide. We also have the technology to create, fake images and information, hack information already now, so what does the future hold?

A lot of issues with breach of privacy laws. We need to rethink veracity and regulate what is outputted and minimise the fourth, unneeded and unnecessary fourth v. But, in doing so are we also further becoming more of a surveillance state.

-Stephanie

http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/infographic/four-vs-big-data

Unknown, An Introduction to Surveillance Society, last viewed: 22/10/14, http://www.surveillance-studies.net/?page_id=119

Manovich. L, (2012), ‘Trending: The Promises and the Challenges of Big Social Data’, Debates in the Digital Humanities, University of Minnesota Press, 6:27:460- 475, http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=_6mo2tApzQQC&oi=fnd&pg=PA460&dq=big+data+and+surveillance&ots=9XufhrJ8Ly&sig=jPEot16jlxc_fsedzO4dkk6iguE#v=onepage&q&f=false