"...Used in a car the GPS software could provide commentary on the country you are driving through and its significance to traditional owners. We believe this road trip with a difference would appeal to international and local travellers, from backpackers to ‘grey nomads’."
""...I've gotten these with Happy Meals for my kids and they are pretty much useless. One supposedly blinks slow or fast depending on the level of activity or motion. It merely blinks at any motion, but not always and not necessarily faster with more intense activity. Battery lasts about two hours at best. The step counter just does the same thing as the blinking version but increments a number display. Unfortunately, a single "step" is often counted as a dozen or more and other times movements/step are not counted at all. Battery lasted an hour before the device stopped working completely. Most don't work at all, having dead batteries from the start.Perhaps it's the gesture that counts but these items are essentially garbage. My five year old just pretends that they are wrist-based computers/communicators."
It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid screen culture is.
But now it's even parodying itself---in the way only the online spectacle can: by folding back into itself to keep us watching.
The problems and concerns, long since established, are all now just a big joke. Short attention spans. Superficial engagement with information. Advertising masquerading as content. The convergence of extremely powerful corporate empires that influence what we think, feel, and do, in a way never before possible. Distraction from the real world, while the real world burns.
The story of this first short is about the end of the world, and nobody even cares. Could that be any more close to home?
There's also a short about an "Uber for people," invoking the themes of exploitation, surveillance, and the enslavement-addiction to technological solutions that parodies the screen culture of today---especially the mindset of "apps fix all."
Can we see this as one thing in terms of another?
Likewise with, "Enter the Hive Mind."
What will you do, when it's time you're asked to put your whole self into the global computer even more completely than now? What is your personal threshold? Will you continue to "breathe life" into the machine?
"With widespread adoption among law enforcement, advertisers, and even churches, face recognition has undoubtedly become one of the biggest threats to privacy out there.
By itself, the ability to instantly identify anyone just by seeing their face already creates massive power imbalances, with serious implications for free speech and political protest."
"But more recently, researchers have demonstrated that even when faces are blurred or otherwise obscured, algorithms can be trained to identify people by matching previously-observed patterns around their head and body.
In a new paper uploaded to the ArXiv pre-print server, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Saarbrücken, Germany demonstrate a method of identifying individuals even when most of their photos are un-tagged or obscured. The researchers' system, which they call the “Faceless Recognition System,” trains a neural network on a set of photos containing both obscured and visible faces, then uses that knowledge to predict the identity of obscured faces by looking for similarities in the area around a person's head and body."
"In the past, Facebook has shown its face recognition algorithms can predict the identity of users when they obscure their face with 83% accuracy, using cues such as their stance and body type. But the researchers say their system is the first to do so using a trainable system that uses a full range of body cues surrounding blurred and blacked-out faces."
In a very COINTELPRO-esque context, the ACLU has received more than 18 hours of video from surveillance cameras installed on FBI aircraft that flew over Baltimore in the days after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015. The footage offers a rare insight into the workings of a government surveillance operation targeting protests.
"Records from the Federal Aviation Administration showed that the FBI’s aircraft, which were registered to front companies to conceal their ownership, carried sophisticated camera systems on board, complete with night-vision capabilities."
The FBI says they're only using the planes to track specific suspects in "serious crime investigations," and that "the FBI flew their spy planes more than 3,500 times in the last six months of 2015, according to an analysis of data collected by the aircraft-tracking site FlightRadar24."
"The FBI has been criticized in the recent past for its actions regarding domestic advocacy groups. A 2010 report by the Department of Justice Inspector General found the FBI opened investigations connected to organizations such as Greenpeace and the Catholic Worker movement that classified possible “trespassing or vandalism” as domestic terrorism cases. The report also found the FBI’s National Press Office “made false and misleading statements” when questioned by the media about documents obtained by public records requests."
This pompously narrated documentary nevertheless provides an overview of the television series Mr. Robot, exploring how the show echoes and has even predicted events in real life of today's technology-gripped culture. It is an interesting interplay of pop-culture and hacker happening, the blurring of the line between the real world and storytelling and visa versa. Using interviews with cast and crew members, as well as the opinions of experts and journalists in the fields of hacking and cyber security, Mr. Robot Decoded examines the technical accuracy of the Mr. Robot series, while also discussing the show's cultural impact.
Contrasted with The Hacker Wars, a film which explores the strange duality of the modern-day computer-hacker as a mischievous provocateur, but also in some cases, societal activists with underlying political fervour, serious or not. This documentary explores this by profiling some of the renowned characters that have tickled the secretive inner workings of corporations and government agencies, IRL, for various reasons—ranging from the nefarious and narcissistic, to the political and scandalous. Some do it for the lulz, others do it to prove a point, and others still do it to speak truth to corrupt power. In any event, many have faced severe punishments as a result. Weaving through this, The Hacker Wars touches on issues of whistleblowing, social justice and power relations, in a time where computer technologies represent extreme power and control. But for whom? And what? This poses the question in deciphering the personalities of the hackers themselves. Are they troublemakers driven solely by a need to instigate havoc and chaos? Or are they in part activists with good intentions?
In 2013, Privacy International announced the Surveillance Industry Index, a comprehensive publicly available database about the capabilities, technologies and mindset of the private surveillance sector.
Also relevant is BuggedPlanet.info, a wiki in the public domain about "Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT), Tactical and Strategical Measures used to intercept Communications and the Vendors and Governmental and Private Operators of this Technology."
Likewise with Project PM, a wiki of a "centralized, actionable data set regarding the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry's interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/"cybersecurity" industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions." Entities of particular interest are PRISM, Trapwire, In-Q-Tel, and Stratfor.
Mark Serrels writes in The Age about how he knows he's addicted to his phone. He says "he's too far gone," "living inside your own head can be terrifying," and that he's addicted to the escapism over confronting the real world.
"Yes, social media is a poisoned chalice of pure narcissism," but, "if you have someone who depends on you, particularly children, it's probably a good idea to have a functioning mobile phone on you at all times. And that's precisely why I decided to stop being silly and get a mobile phone again."
"Nah, just kidding. It was totally social media. I gotta get those Facebook likes. I need that validation. And the podcasts. I really missed the podcasts."
"A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, they wouldn't normally do."
"Normally when you think of “bad design”, you think of the creator as being sloppy or lazy but with no ill intent. This type of bad design is known as a “UI anti-pattern”. Dark Patterns are different – they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind."
"London-based UX designer Harry Brignull documents this on his website, darkpatterns.org, offering plenty of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces. These dark patterns trick unsuspecting users into a gamut of actions: setting up recurring payments, purchasing items surreptitiously added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through prechecked forms on Facebook games, etc."
"Social media has changed. After 10 years of popular use, the information in our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profiles is no longer just about the current moment or instant connections. Instead of simply broadcasting our thoughts and actions as they happen, these platforms have become a biographical archive of our lives, storing our photos and recording where we went and who we were with. The result of this archiving is that social media is taking on a new role in the way that we remember."
Coinciding with a continued rise in public cynicism and a legitimate mistrust of mainstream media beholden to systems of power that are discredited, it seems most people turn to social media networks to get their news now. But this seemingly doesn't fix the problem. Rather than a "democratisation" of the media and/or a mass reclamation of investigative journalism (as technology pundits continuously purport), there's arguably been the opposite.
Now, with the convergence of closed social media networks that are beholden to nefarious algorithms such as The Filter Bubble and the personalisation of information, as an article in the Guardian explains, "Social media has swallowed the news – threatening the funding of public-interest reporting and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts. But the consequences go far beyond journalism."
It's like the well-oiled tactics of the tobacco industry that have since permeated pretty much all industries---confuse the hell out of people so they don't know what's true anymore. It's a popular PR tactic honed over decades for social control and manipulation of democracy, and it's that element that exists and is especially reinforced online (particularly in real time), in the giant echo chamber of corporate social media networks, where the user is constantly subjected to streams and streams of information about current events---most devoid of context, analysis, or even significant depth in the time and space of a tweet.
The grounding that gives rise to physical reality and epistemological truths goes missing when we're tied to screens that simply reflect our projections.
In the words of Sherry Turkle, the issues facing our planet right now cannot be solved in the time-space of texting/tweeting. So if the way we understand, perceive and relate to the world through the prism of media (mainstream media and social media alike) is in decline, it should tell us volumes about the state of democracy...
Global Voices' adds: "The need for fact-checking hasn't gone away. As new technologies have spawned new forms of media which lend themselves to the spread of various kinds of disinformation, this need has in fact grown. Much of the information that's spread online, even by news outlets, is not checked, as outlets simply copy-paste -- or in some instances, plagiarise -- "click-worthy" content generated by others. Politicians, especially populists prone to manipulative tactics, have embraced this new media environment by making alliances with tabloid tycoons or by becoming media owners themselves.
UPDATE 29/7 -- Example, of sorts. "#SaveMarinaJoyce conspiracy theories about British YouTuber go viral." News reporting social media rumours, facts from source ignite disbelief and cynicism, confirmation bias at work, etc.
Since its release Wednesday night, a new game, Pokémon Go has already gone on to become the top-grossing game in the three countries where it's currently available, adding nearly $11 billion to the value of Nintendo in less than a week.
The game, which "marries a classic 20-year old franchise with augmented reality," allows players to walk around "real-life" neighbourhoods while seeking "virtual Pokemon game characters" on their smartphone screens. Basically, a glorified fake scavenger hunt, similar to games like Ingress, etc.
In the United States, by July 8--just two days after its release--the game was installed on more than "5 percent of Android devices in the country, is now on more Android phones than dating app Tinder, has daily active users neck and neck with that of social network Twitter, and is also being played an average of 43 minutes a day--more time spent than on WhatsApp or Instagram."
"Some fans are now tweeting about playing the game while driving, and one user already reports, "Pokemon Go put me in the ER last night... Not even 30 minutes after the release...I slipped and fell down a ditch." In Australia the game has been leading some players into their local police station, and a woman in Wyoming reports that the game actually led her to a dead body floating in a river. One Pokemon Go screenshot has also gone viral. It shows a man capturing a Pokemon while his wife gives birth..."
The app's popularity has created lagging servers and forced the company Niantic to delay its international roll-out, meaning "Those who have already downloaded the game in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand can still play it, while those in the U.K., the Netherlands and other countries will have to wait."
Meanwhile, as people clearly can't wait, there has been a flood of downloads of unofficial copies of the game, exposing users to hackers who are circulating malicious versions of the game in order to backdoor their devices. "A remote access tool (RAT), known as DroidJack (or SandroRAT), has been added to some APK files, allowing third parties to gain full control over the users' mobile devices. Permissions granted then include: being able to directly call phone numbers, reading phone status' and identities, editing and reading text messages, sending SMS messages and recording audio."
It surely is spurious times...
UPDATE 13/7 -- Holocaust Museum to visitors: Please stop catching Pokemon here. "Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism," Andrew Hollinger, the museum's communications director, said. "We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game."
UPDATE 14/7 -- "Law enforcement agencies around the globe are reminding citizens to obey trespassing laws and follow common sense when playing Pokemon Go. The new crazy-popular mobile game has led to some frightening results in recent days, such as the location of a dead body and robberies of players in Missouri. Now, San Francisco Police Department Captain Raj Vaswani warned in one online posting for players to "obey traffic laws, please. Do not run into trees, meters, and things that are attached to the sidewalk; they hurt," he said. "Do not drive or ride your bike / skateboard / hipster techie device while interacting with the app. Know where your kids are going when playing with the app, set limits on where they can go, so they don't keep going trying to get that Pokemon."
UPDATE 19/7 -- "Pokemon Go is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States. Not only has it surpassed Twitter's daily users, but it is seeing people spend more time in its app than in Facebook. The game also surpassed Tinder in terms of popularity (based on installations) on July 7th."
UPDATE 29/7 -- "It turns out that the stairs of the Internet Archive’s San Francisco headquarters are a PokéGym, a site where players can train their Pokémon and fight with other Pokémon. Fortunately, the Pokémon warriors aren’t rowdy or disruptive; they resemble somnambulistic zombies stumbling around under the control of their glowing smartphone screens."
UPDATE 8/8 -- How Pokemon Go will make money from you. "Augmented reality games like Ingress and Pokemon Go have the potential to open up a very lucrative new revenue stream based on the acquisition and sale of data – not just personal data, but aggregated spatial data about urban activity patterns. There has already been some controversy about the terms of service for players, which give Niantic access to all manner of data on their phones – including email contacts and social media profiles. This data could potentially be sold to third parties with an interest in targeted advertising. But it is not only individually identifiable personal data that interests Niantic. They are also interested in the spatial data that is generated by Pokemon Go players. As has been widely observed, playing the game rapidly drains phone batteries, because when the game is open your phone is constantly in touch with Niantic servers and providing location information about your movements. [...] Niantic is now harvesting "geospatial data" about millions of people's movements: about how far they are prepared to travel as part of game play; about the kinds of places they stop during game play; about the groups they travel with; and the connections they make during game play, and much more."
UPDATE 18/8 -- I recently discovered some interesting background to the company Niantic Inc.---the company that developed Pokémon Go and indeed Ingress. The company was formed in 2010 by the founder of Keyhole Inc., John Hanke as "Niantic Labs," being an internal startup within Google. Niantic left Google in October 2015.
Keyhole Inc., founded in 2001, was a "software development company specialising in geospatial data visualisation applications and was acquired by Google in 2004." Keyhole was backed by Sony venture capital, NVIDIA and the CIA's venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, with the majority of In-Q-Tel' funds coming from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. "Keyhole's marquee application suite, Earth Viewer, emerged as the highly successful Google Earth application in 2005; other aspects of core technology survive in Google Maps, Google Mobile and the Keyhole Markup Language. The name "Keyhole" is a homage to the KH reconnaissance satellites, the original eye-in-the-sky military reconnaissance system now some 50 years old."
Just like how now smartphones are the new "eye-in-the-sky" on the ground...
Minutes after a police officer shot Philando Castile in Minnesota, United States, a live video was published on Facebook of the aftermath. Castile was captured in some harrowing detail and streamed to Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, using the live video tool on her smartphone. She narrates the footage with a contrasting mix of eerie calm and anguish. But the video was removed from Facebook due to, as company says, a "technical glitch." The video has since been restored, but with a "Warning -- Graphic Video," disclaimer.
Now an article has come out commenting on how Facebook has become the "de-facto platform" for such "controversial" videos, and that there's a pattern in these so called glitches--as they happen very often time after "questionable content" is streamed.
It has long been obvious to anyone paying attention that Facebook operates various nefarious controls over all aspects of how information is displayed and disseminated on their network, not just with advertising and the filter bubble:
"...The AFP argued during a 10-day hearing, which concluded earlier this month, the tracking device was "by far the single most important control" in reducing the risk of a terrorist act.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/victoria/tracking-device-removed-from-former-anzac-day-terror-plot-accused-harun-causevic-20160708-gq1m7l.html#ixzz4DnmauiaL
Make note of the screen culture symptoms: lack of linear narrative, increase in speed, shorter attention span, skimming, less engagement with content/meaning, "efficiency", increase in scatterbrain, etc. Also, the descriptions about how this behaviour effects the perception of reality.