DIGC 202

Man vs. Machine

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All I have ever wanted was a piece of technology that would detect when I was awake and make me a cup of coffee – of course to my exact preferences – each and every morning. And it turns out that it may just be on its way as the Internet of Things (IoT) is a raising phenomena in technology.

The Internet of Things are common physical items that connect to the Internet which enables the item to collect information about the changes in its surroundings and initiate action based on this information (Mitew, 2014).

Lost? So was I until Lupton (2013) explained the use of wearable technologies to track and collect data on a variety of things including exercise, diet, calories burnt, body temperature, brain function, moods, social encounters and the list goes on. These ‘Things’ blur the lines between human and object as they both transgress the boarders originally assigned to them (Mitew, 2014).

And this is concerning as it raises poignant issues such as how do we distinguish ourselves as humans when these sociable technologies are mimicking human behaviour?

But there are positives to have such integrated lives especially as we face an obesity epidemic. Apps have been designed that calorie count (MyFitnessPal), map runs (Nike Run) and improve brain function (Luminosity) as Constantini (2014) states that our bodies are radiating data loudly, continuously, honestly and individually. Why not capture that data and simplify it for an average individual to track and monitor their health? These applications and wearable technologies – such as FitBit – are our speakers and we no longer need qualifications to decipher what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us.

Constantini (2014) continues on to mention an app that enables you to take pictures of your freckles or moles and it will algorithmically tell you whether it has the potential to become cancerous or whether you need to consult a doctor. As someone who has skin that is prone to getting large freckles and a family history of skin cancer, this app is a beneficial addition to the other myriad of ‘health and fitness’ applications swimming around my phone.

The possibilities are endless. After Constantini’s video, there was another that popped up examining a new development which was a wearable device that would detect the early stages of seizures.

The increasingly sociable nature of technologies exemplifies how broad and beneficial the market is. But I feel that there are unexamined negative connotations regarding the constant collection of data as Lupton (2013) alluded to, “sharing data has implications not only for how users view and understand their own bodies but for how other members of the quantified self community view and respond to them”. Is this another avenue for aggregated negative body image? Are we going to over self-diagnose and miss an important symptom?

But what I really want to know is where is my morning coffee when I wake at 7am?

 

 

References:

Constantini, L, 2014, ‘The Quantified Self: How Wearable Sensors Expand Human Potential’, Ted Talks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FESv2CgyJag

Lupton, D, 2013, ‘Understanding the Human Machine’, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 32 issue. 4, pp.25 – 30, accessed 23 October, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6679313

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘The Internet of Things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces’, University of Wollongong, week 12 lecture, 23 October, http://prezi.com/1lgxfron1kj0/digc202-the-internet-of-things/

Photo credit

 

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DIGC 202

1, 2, 3, 4 I Declare a Cyber War

 

Bombs away. Warfare no longer resembles a bomb but something that is equally terrifying

Bombs away. War between nations are no longer as easy to spot as bombs; rather, less tangible and more terrifying

As we move towards a more distributed network – and society – it means that we equally move towards distributed control. Despite the fact that we regularly relinquish our control on a daily basis, it is when it happens unbeknownst to us, and our personal information falls into the lap of those who crave it most – hackers – that is the real issue as it exposes the dark side of the Internet.

Yes, there are the lovely hackers – or hacktivists – who unveil the lies we have been force-fed for decades; but when a hacker goes haywire, we then see the formation of cyber-sleuths, creating cyberwarfare and ultimately it is cyberterrorism.

One of the main issues around the rise of cybersleuths, is that we too readily believe that that there is – as Mitew 2014 defines – and electronic frontier that is protecting us and in reality there is not and it leaves us, the government, major organisations and institutions extremely vulnerable.

Cyberhackers are said to have aims which include the need to “gain attention, embarrass website owners and ridicule security measures” (Arthur, 2013) and this is why I find their motives to be childish and quite frankly, impish. As Mitew (2014) suggest “[these] agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate and warp online discourses, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself”

Arthur (2013) explores the recent history of cyberhackers LulzSec after they hacked Fox.com for making remarks on-air including calling rapper Common “vile”. Then they unleashed their incredibly moronic behaviour. The group leaked “73,000 X Factor U.S. contestants names” and from there continued on to hack into PBS and plant a false story and later, hacked into the Sony PlayStation Network where they then stole, “24.6 million customers’ private data”. So what are they trying to prove? That certain computer systems are weak and easy to hack? Well, congratulations, you found that out but why leak pointless, personal information? At least Assange and other hacktivists have a motive, a goal, something that contributes to society.

Society should be worried about cyberhacker’s tenacity over the Internet as it is the new age Cold War, “some the largest U.S. threats are buzzing through Russian and Chinese computer systems…operated by highly skilled hackers” (Summers, 2014). And as Summer (2014) continues to state that these highly skilled hackers are either financially backed by the state or they are purely state-employed hackers and this is of concern as they are after anything from oil drilling maps to military technology blueprints.

The evolution of war

The evolution of war between nations

 

Eugene Kaspersky co-founder and chief executive of Kaspersky lab commented on the rise of cyberwarfare, “I think that this is a turning point…because in the past there were cyber-criminals, now I am afraid it is the time of cyber-terrorism, cyber-weapons and cyber-wars” (Mgtitew, 2014). So what is the future for us? Constant surveillance, hackers digging through our personal information just to retaliate against a radio station?

 

References:

Arthur, C, 2013, ‘LulzSec: what they did, who they were and how they were caught’, Guardian, accessed 17 October, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/may/16/lulzsec-hacking-fbi-jail

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘Dark fiber: hackers, botnets, cyberwar’, University of Wollongong, week 11 lecture, accessed 13 October, http://prezi.com/iiied2_aa8tc/digc202-dark-fiber-hackers-botnets-cyberwar/

Summers, D.J., 2014, ‘Fighting in the cyber trenches’, Fortune, accessed 13 October, http://fortune.com/2014/10/13/cold-war-on-business-cyber-warfare/

Photo credit – cyberspace bomb

Photo credit – Evolution of war

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DIGC 202

Power is Made By Power Being Taken

“The most exciting and interesting hacking scandal ever” gushes Bruce Sterling in his article Blast Shack (2010) regarding the hacktivist – Julian Assagne.

A hacktivist as defined by Ludlow (2013) is in the simplest and broadest sense, “someone who uses technology hacking to effect social change.” Moreover, a whistleblower is a “person who provides information on a person or organisation who are engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity” and these, dear readers, are the people who will change the way in which we view both foreign and domestic government and institutions.

In Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace , he outlines a cyberworld that values expression, it is a world without sovereignty or rules and one that revels in individual freedom. But more importantly, is a world that needs to be treasured and nurtured as it is our last hope for truth in an increasingly secretive market.

WikiLeaks – later dubbed the Cablegate scandal – was launched in 2006 but soon gained international attention when in 2010, Australian Julian Assange along with his team exposed some “400,000 secret US military logs detailing its operations in Iraq” (Fildes, 2010) and continued to leak top-secret military files online. Whilst this seems unethical, he did not once violate the ethics of hackers which are: sharing information, no secrets, no authority and information freedom (Mitew, 2014).

A new range of merchandise Assange is rumoured to be launching

 

But ethical questioning is not new, as another major political scandal which followed similar events was the Watergate Scandal from 1972 – 1974. This was where two American journalists worked collaboratively with individuals who stole information from the Democratic National Committee and launched one of the largest political scandals in modern history which ended with the forced resignation of President Nixon. Yet, it is remembered as one of the most intriguing and well regarded pieces of investigative journalism despite it not being ethically or morally sound.

Ethics and journalism are like peanut butter and jam. Some like it and follow the rules – one spread per piece of bread – whereas others are rebellious and put both on one side – gross. To me, Assange is a journalist as he is rebellious and as Simons (2011) declares, he follows the core practices of journalism which are to source information, curate, verify and edit information along with having an element of transparency. Simons believes that Assange qualifies, noting his recent acceptance of a Walkley Award and being the previous winner of the Martha Gellhorn prize for Journalism.

But Sterling (2010) – after gushing about Assange – notes him as “no more a ‘journalist’ than he is a crypto mathematician”. It is also a topic that infuriates some as seen here after I tweeted a link to Simons article. I suggest you bring the popcorn – it is quite something.

But by far the most resounding, eloquent and honest article was by Slavoj Žižek in the Guardian as he accredits whistleblowers and hacktivists as being the new age heroes as “his acts provided a factual foundation to our suspicions of being monitored and controlled” (Žižek, 2014). Moreover, he perfectly summarised the confusion that many individuals had towards WikiLeaks and other political scandals as being like an affair, “it is one thing to know in general, another to get concrete information…one can accept abstract knowledge, but pain arises when one gets the steamy details” (Žižek, 2014).

Whether you believe he is a criminal, a narcissist, an unethical monster or generally good guy who wanted to expose the lies that we have been fed, Julian Assange is a man of the future who pushed the boundaries and in some way succeeded. He is a hacktivist who did a necessary evil and as the Mentor of LoD concluded, “my crime is that of curiosity…my crime is that of outsmarting you” (Mitew, 2014).

Definitely a more controversial take on WikiLeaks.

Definitely a more controversial take on WikiLeaks.

 

 

References:

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Ludlow, P, 2013, ‘What is a ‘Hacktivist?”, New York Times, accessed 12 October, http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/what-is-a-hacktivist/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Mitew, 2014, ‘Digital resitiance: hacktivists, whistleblowers, #AfterSnowden’, University of Wollongong, week 10 lecture, accessed 12 October, http://prezi.com/hotqlxztvxdb/digc202-digital-resistance/

Simons, M, 2011, ‘Walkley Awards decide Julian Assange is a journalist’, Crikey, accessed 12 October, http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/11/28/walkley-awards-decide-julian-assange-is-a-journalist/

Sterling, B, 2010, ‘The Blast Shack’, Medium, accessed 12 October, https://medium.com/@bruces/the-blast-shack-f745f5fbeb1c

Žižek, S, 2014, ‘Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes’, Guardian, accessed 12 October, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/03/snowden-manning-assange-new-heroes

 

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