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"Think about the computing systems you use every day. All of them represent attempts to simulate something else. Like how Turing's original thinking machine strived to pass as a man or woman, a computer tries to pass, in a way, as another thing. As a calculator, for example, or a ledger, or a typewriter, or a telephone, or a camera, or a storefront, or a cafe. After a while, successful simulated machines displace and overtake the machines they originally imitated. The word processor is no longer just a simulated typewriter or secretary, but a first-order tool for producing written materials of all kinds. Eventually, if they thrive, simulated machines become just machines. Today, computation overall is doing this. There's not much work and play left that computers don't handle. And so, the computer is splitting from its origins as a means of symbol manipulation for productive and creative ends, and becoming an activity in its own right. Today, people don't seek out computers in order to get things done; they do the things that let them use computers. [...] This new cyberpunk dystopia is more Stepford Wives, less William Gibson. Everything continues as it was before, but people treat reality as if it were in a computer."

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/arc...

"It works just as one might expect—diners approach a virtual menu, select the item they want to purchase, and then choose “facial scan” as a payment option. Users must input their phone numbers as an extra layer of verification, but the technology still works even if one’s phone is turned off, an Ant Financial spokesperson tells Quartz.

A promotional video shows a young female customer scanning her face while donning a wig and appearing with friends, to tout that the technology can recognize an individual even if they are disguised or in a group.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma first introduced the technology at a tech conference in Germany in 2015, dubbing it “smile to pay.” While Ant Financial has since let users login to its Alipay mobile payments app using facial scan, the KFC partnership marks the first time it has been rolled out for commerce. An Ant Financial spokesperson tells Quartz that it intends to roll out the scanning at more locations later."

Source: https://qz.com/1067460/in-china-facial-rec...

Katie Hafner writes in Wired:

"I have a condition, marked by an inability to remain focused on a single task without getting distracted by something that catches my eye or floats to the top of the running to-do list in my head.

My condition has crept up on me over the past decade or so. Unlike classic attention deficit disorder, which is associated with functional impairments in the brain’s neurotransmitters, I have brought this problem upon myself. And only I can work my way out of it.

A typical 45 seconds of living with episodic partial attention: I begin to put the dog’s breakfast in his bowl only to notice a spot on the countertop that must be wiped clean this very second, which leads me across the room to the rag cupboard. During my journey, I hear a text arrive on my phone, which is on the kitchen table, so I do a hairpin turn to check the message, and when I pick up the phone I see a notification of a breaking CNN story. I sit down to read it. I’m two paragraphs into the story when I remember to check the text message and start to respond, which feels like work. Wasn’t I about to make myself a cup of coffee? I get up to do that. But why is the dog staring at me so plaintively?"

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/my-iphone-turn...

"Facebook doesn't only know what its 2 billion users "Like." It now knows where millions of humans live, everywhere on Earth, to within 15 feet.

The company has created a data map of the human population by combining government census numbers with information it's obtained from space satellites, according to Janna Lewis, Facebook's head of strategic innovation partnerships and sourcing. A Facebook representative later told CNBC that this map currently covers 23 countries, up from 20 countries mentioned in this blog post from February 2016.

The mapping technology, which Facebook says it developed itself, can pinpoint any man-made structures in any country on Earth to a resolution of five meters.

Facebook is using the data to understand the precise distribution of humans around the planet.

That will help the company determine what types of internet service — based either on land, in the air or in space — it can use to reach consumers who now have no (or very low quality) internet connections."

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/01/facebook-h...

"On mobile, where the majority of the world's content is now consumed, Google and Facebook own eight of the top 10 apps, with apps devouring 87% of our time spent on smartphones and tablets, according to new comScore data (Figure A).

apps-rule.png

"In sum, the majority of our time online is now mediated by just a few megacorporations, and for the most part their top incentive is to borrow our privacy just long enough to target an ad at us.

Then there's Mozilla, an organization whose mantra is "Internet for people, not profit." That feels like a necessary voice to add to today's internet oligopoly, but it's not one we're hearing. Mozilla once had a commanding share of the desktop web browser market; today that share has dwindled, and on mobile devices it's virtually non-existent.

This isn't good, but I'm not sure what to do about it. We clearly need an organization standing up for web freedom, as expecting Google to do that is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse."

Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/mozill...
Posted
AuthorJordan Brown

Elise Thomas writes at Hopes & Fears:

"Right now, in a handful of computing labs scattered across the world, new software is being developed which has the potential to completely change our relationship with technology. Affective computing is about creating technology which recognizes and responds to your emotions. Using webcams, microphones or biometric sensors, the software uses a person's physical reactions to analyze their emotional state, generating data which can then be used to monitor, mimic or manipulate that person’s emotions."

[...]

"Corporations spend billions each year trying to build "authentic" emotional connections to their target audiences. Marketing research is one of the most prolific research fields around, conducting thousands of studies on how to more effectively manipulate consumers’ decision-making. Advertisers are extremely interested in affective computing and particularly in a branch known as emotion analytics, which offers unprecedented real-time access to consumers' emotional reactions and the ability to program alternative responses depending on how the content is being received.

For example, if two people watch an advertisement with a joke and only one person laughs, the software can be programmed to show more of the same kind of advertising to the person who laughs while trying different sorts of advertising on the person who did not laugh to see if it's more effective. In essence, affective computing could enable advertisers to create individually-tailored advertising en masse."

"Say 15 years from now a particular brand of weight loss supplements obtains a particular girl's information and locks on. When she scrolls through her Facebook, she sees pictures of rail-thin celebrities, carefully calibrated to capture her attention. When she turns on the TV, it automatically starts on an episode of "The Biggest Loser," tracking her facial expressions to find the optimal moment for a supplement commercial. When she sets her music on shuffle, it "randomly" plays through a selection of the songs which make her sad. This goes on for weeks. 

Now let's add another layer. This girl is 14, and struggling with depression. She's being bullied in school. Having become the target of a deliberate and persistent campaign by her technology to undermine her body image and sense of self-worth, she's at risk of making some drastic choices."

 

Source: http://www.hopesandfears.com/hopes/now/int...

"... a collaboration between Apple and Cochlear, a company that has been involved with implant technology since the treatment’s early days ... announced last week that the first product based on this approach, Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 sound processor, won FDA approval in June—the first time that the agency has approved such a link between cochlear implants and phones or tablets.

Those using the system can not only get phone calls directly routed inside their skulls, but also stream music, podcasts, audio books, movie soundtracks, and even Siri—all straight to the implant.

It connects with hearing aids whose manufacturers have adopted the free Apple protocols, earning them a “Made for iPhone” approval. Apple also has developed a feature called Live Listen that lets hearing aid users employ the iPhone as a microphone—which comes in handy at meetings and restaurants.

An iPhone or iPod Touch pairs with hearing aids—cochlear and conventional—the same way that it finds AirPods or nearby Bluetooth speakers.


[...] Merging medical technology like Apple’s is a clear benefit to those needing hearing help. But I’m intrigued by some observations that Dr. Biever, the audiologist who’s worked with hearing loss patients for two decades, shared with me. She says that with this system, patients have the ability to control their sound environment in a way that those with good hearing do not—so much so that she is sometimes envious. How cool would it be to listen to a song without anyone in the room hearing it? “When I’m in the noisiest of rooms and take a call on my iPhone, I can’t hold my phone to ear and do a call,” she says. “But my recipient can do this.”

This paradox reminds me of the approach I’m seeing in the early commercial efforts to develop a brain-machine interface: an initial focus on those with cognitive challenges with a long-term goal of supercharging everyone’s brain. We’re already sort of cyborgs, working in a partnership of dependency with those palm-size slabs of glass and silicon that we carry in our pockets and purses. The next few decades may well see them integrated subcutaneously."

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/how-apple-is-p...

Microchipping at work: US employees get voluntarily implanted at staff 'chip party'

Updated yesterday at 10:54am

Employees of a Wisconsin technology company who received a microchip implant in their hand said they felt only a brief sting during the procedure.

Key points:

  • Employees of a Wisconsin company have been voluntarily microchiped
  • It is the first US appearance of technology that is already available in Europe
  • The microchips will allow employees to log onto the company system, open doors and buy snacks

Three Square Market, also known as 32M, said 41 of its 85 employees agreed to be voluntarily microchipped during a "chip party" at company headquarters in River Falls yesterday.

The technology will allow employees to open doors, log onto computers or buy breakroom snacks by simply waving their hand.

"We came across this and saw it being used in other societies, we said why not us?" 32M chief operating officer Patrick McMullan said.

"Why not us, bring it and provide a solution that we can use for so many different things."

PHOTO: A microchip is shown compared with a dime at Three Square Market in Wisconsin. (AP: Jeff Baenen)

Melissa Timmins, vice-president of sales at 32M, said after learning more about the technology she decided to try out the chip.

"I'm excited to see what this can do," Ms Timmins said.

"I was a little apprehensive about more of the health part of it and actually implanting something into my body.

"But from day one I was excited about what we could do with the technology itself and where it could go for our company."

Ms Timmins said she hoped to eventually use it to get into her car or go shopping.

Noelle Chesley, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, said microchipping could give employers more power over their staff.

"Is it really voluntary when your employer is asking you if you would like to be microchipped?" Ms Chesley said.

"Will there come a day where people who prefer not to be microchipped won't get certain jobs?"

Ms Chesley said she thought implanting microchips into all people would be the wave of the future.

Company leaders said this was the first US appearance of technology already available in Europe.

Three Square Market paid for the $300 microchips.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-02/microchip-workers-hold-chip-party/8765934

"A ban on pedestrians looking at mobile phones or texting while crossing the street will take effect in Hawaii's largest city in late October, as Honolulu becomes the first major U.S. city to pass legislation aimed at reducing injuries and deaths from "distracted walking."

The ban comes as cities around the world grapple with how to protect phone-obsessed "smartphone zombies" from injuring themselves by stepping into traffic or running into stationary objects.

Starting Oct. 25, Honolulu pedestrians can be fined between $15 and $99, depending on the number of times police catch them looking at a phone or tablet device as they cross the street, Mayor Kirk Caldwell told reporters gathered near one of the city's busiest downtown intersections on Thursday... People making calls for emergency services are exempt from the ban... Opponents of the Honolulu law argued it infringes on personal freedom and amounts to government overreach."

In a related article:

"The city of London has tried putting pads on their lamp posts "to soften the blow for distracted walkers..."

 

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-hawaii-...
Posted
AuthorJordan Brown

"An ambitious project to blanket New York and London with ultrafast Wi-Fi via so-called "smart kiosks," which will replace obsolete public telephones, are the work of a Google-backed startup.

Each kiosk is around nine feet high and relatively flat. Each flat side houses a big-screen display that pays for the whole operation with advertising.

Each kiosk provides free, high-speed Wi-Fi for anyone in range. By selecting the Wi-Fi network at one kiosk, and authenticating with an email address, each user will be automatically connected to every other LinkNYC kiosk they get within range of. Eventually, anyone will be able to walk around most of the city without losing the connection to these hotspots.

Wide-angle cameras on each side of the kiosks point up and down the street and sidewalk, approximating a 360-degree view. If a city wants to use those cameras and sensors for surveillance, it can.

Over the next 15 years, the city will go through the other two phases, where sensor data will be processed by artificial intelligence to gain unprecedented insights about traffic, environment and human behavior and eventually use it to intelligently re-direct traffic and shape other city functions."

Source: http://www.computerworld.com/article/32114...