Friday, April 13, 2018

Could 'The Internet of Things' Be The Greatest Threat To Human Freedom Ever?

from 'A Simple Explanation Of The Internet Of Things' by in Forbes

The Internet of Things has become an umbrella term for what appliance, transportation and construction businesses hope will be the future for what they sell - an Internet-connected network of sensors and intercommunicating devices in our homes, our offices, our cars and public spaces that, while they may feed data to us, do so more widely to databases and algorithms that will monitor and increasingly manage our days.

The driverless car constantly connected to the Cloud; fridge, washing, heating and other household devices that will soon sense and inform via networks; the audio-video technology, fixed and mobile, that is already connected via the Web to browsers, Netflix, Internet radio providers and others who monitor our ongoing activity and preferences; and the third party monitoring of home security systems that soon will extend inside our doors and windows to cover full household operations, these are just a few of the ways that our daily lives will service what Jennifer Cobbe of the New York Review of Books NYR Daily calls 'surveillance capitalism'.

A few years back a US robotics engineer, Daniel H. Wilson, authored the novel 'Robopocalypse' in which, in the not-too-distant future at a moment no-one will notice, the dazzling technology that will run our world will unite and turn against us through the agency of a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) who uses the interconnectedness of all things to attempt to dominate and exterminate humans. The book is a useful catalogue of how artifacts connected to the Cloud can be used to take over society.  

While the nature and capabilities of future AI is speculative, what we may safely guess is that humans in competing national intelligence agencies are already working on how to use the Internet of Things to cripple their antagonists. The current huge Chinese commercial data thievery and Russian online offshore disinformation campaigns are only a glimpse of what could be to in store for us if we don't strongly resist now rampant surveillance capitalism through our viewing and buying decisions, and, via both the ballot box and the courts, the already widespread but often illegal online personal and social intelligence gathering  of government security agencies like the US CIA.  

In 2014 David Ignatius, a distinguished Washington Post columnist and long-time student of the CIA, published 'The Director', a novel focusing in detail on the illegalities that have long characterized that agency's global endeavours and which had recently been given some air by both Wikileaks and an internal whistle blower. Four years later we can assume nothing has really changed other than the tools and options have got better, and will soon, thanks to the Internet of Things, be much more so.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

BREXIT As A Fault Line In Parliamentary Democracy


"Brexit has been the most divisive issue of my lifetime.  It has divided not only the four nations of our UK, but regions within them.  It has divided political parties;  political colleagues;  families;  friends – and the young from the old


by Steve Bell for The Guardian


We have to heal those divisions.  They have been made worse by the character of the Brexit debate with its intolerance, its bullying, and its name-calling.  I welcome rigorous debate – but there must be respect for differing views that are honestly held. 


In this debate there are no 'remoaners', no 'mutineers', no 'enemies of the people' – just voices setting out what they believe is right for our country." 

from a speech given today by the former UK Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major to the Creative Industries Federation

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

False Facts as Old News

"Let the greatest part of the news thou hearest be the least part of what thou believest, lest the greater part of what thou believest be the least part of what is true."

"Where lies are easily admitted the father of lies will not easily be excluded."

Francis Quarles, poet 1592-1664
 Image result for donald trump as the devil

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A White Brexit

"Exit" Arrow Left Sign - Vinyl, Adhesive-Backed - ULINE Canada - S-19209V

I'm dreaming of a white Brexit
Just like the world I used to know
Where our palefaces glisten
and our children listen
To Boris Johnson in full throw.

I'm dreaming of a white Brexit
With every Facebook post I write
May our days be free of foreign blight
And may all our Santas be white.

I'm dreaming of a white Brexit
With every Twitter tweet I write
May our days take us from their sight
And may all our fantasies be right. 


by Ian Keith Anderson with apologies to Irving Berlin

Monday, November 6, 2017

Keeping Things On the Up-and-Up

Once the front edge of the Boomer cohort began to reach its senior years, lifestyle and healthcare advertisers seized the opportunity to re-brand age 70 as the new fifty. I’m one of these ‘new’ septuagenarians and, to help you plan ahead if you haven’t joined us yet, let me give you some details on how I achieve the miracle of age stasis through the technical and chemical wizardry of modern medicine.

Let’s start at wake-up where, groggily, I open my eyes to find them full of goo. I lurch out of bed, careful to have my feet hit the floor evenly, and totter over to the can to round off my night with another hard-to-direct trickly pee. I grope through the drawer that holds my extensive store of pharmaceuticals to find an eyelid cleanser. I apply its special hi-tech froth to each lid. I’m in luck if I don’t scratch an eye as my far sight makes this mirror-based manoeuvre quite tricky. I have clinical dry eye – an itchy condition that provides a bragging advantage during chitchats between seniors.
As each eye in turn is to be kept shut for several minutes, I thank the elder gods that I practiced hard in childhood at winking. The process though sorely tries my still Type A personality, which attempts to kill time by grabbing one-eyed for the blinds to let in the day while fumbling for the remote in an attempt to get cable TV’s take on the weather.

Once I’ve washed off my lids, I head for the shower. My still-recovering vision and weak sense of balance make for uncertain progress once inside the glass. If I don’t scald myself or crack the frame stumbling I consider my day to be starting out well. After drying off, I grab a Q-tip and the rubbing alcohol bottle and bend down to dry between my toes. If I haven’t put my back out straightening up afterwards, that’s another victory.

Back in the bedroom I prise my hearing aids out of their overnight cleaning device. My trifocal eyeglasses really do need a clean before wearing but I need them right away to locate and push back in the tiny batteries that power up the aids. After some fiddling, my regular nighttime chorus of tinnitus dims enough for the reassuring sounds of a household already in action to penetrate to my attention.

If it hasn’t already slipped off to plug the shower’s floor drain, after wiping my specs, I peel off the medicated Band Aid that’s been softening a persistently painful corn. I paste anti-fungal onto the other big toe’s nail and wear Birkenstocks sockless over breakfast until the lotion is dry.
To my bowl of muesli and fresh fruit I add psyllium seed, glucosamine and plain yoghurt (for calcium), and count out my tablets and capsules, about a dozen in all shapes and sizes. I try not to think about how many ailments they are meant to solve. They go down best via a restorative mug of strong tea, without which I may stumble when eventually getting down off the kitchen bar stool. To finish off I delve into a tray on the counter for asthma inhalers, after which I gargle vigorously. Oh, and I mustn’t forget a morning squeeze of an Rx anti-inflammatory into my eyes.
Back upstairs to some sensible shoes – I threw out my fashionable footwear; they were an inessential conceit. If my day is to include any serious leg action, I’ll have to strap on a plastic-and-metal leg brace to stop one damaged knee from wobbling alarmingly (not to worry – I’m next on a knee surgeon’s wait list).

Folk have learnt not to expect me before mid-morning and, as I travel through my shortened day, an evening round of pill popping isn’t too far away. I recall this takes care of a half dozen more infirmities though I can’t always remember what. The tablets go down over supper with a glass of virtually taste-free near-beer (for weight control). Before I leave the table, in goes another round of sore eyes relief. It’s now appropriate to seek out my cardio-chair to spend ten minutes with a microwave-zapped flax bag covering my eyes. After, I’m allowed to read a little or watch TV provided I don’t overdo it.

An approaching bedtime calls for yet another routine – there’s that toe painting again, then reapplying the plaster and, after brushing my deteriorating dentition with a special restorative paste, slipping a ‘nightguard’ against tooth grinding over my top set. Next comes Velcro-ing onto my wrist a carpal-tunnel-syndrome prevention brace. Then I must smear a protective strip of ointment over each bottom eyelid. This causes a visual blurring that has me hoping like hell that the dogs have settled out of the way as I turn out the room light and lurch across to our bed. Any day soon a crash-landing is in the cards. I just hope someone outside hears the noise; WW III won’t wake my spouse.

I must admit there’s one component I haven’t yet figured out – I’m still pondering where I might fit in the full fruit of this lifestyle improvement regime, the leisurely fornications that it promised would keep me on the up-and-up.