The Data Age
Overload like never before
How much data is generated in one day?
A million times more information than the human brain is capable of holding (over 2.5 quintillion bytes¹). More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. (Forbes)
Privacy is so passé
Computer vision is advancing all the time and machines can not only recognise your face, but work out from your expression how you might be feeling. Are you paying attention at school? Were you bored during the movie? Soon there will be no hiding your true feelings from the cloud, and a sad face could mean that box of tissues costs a little more…
- Computers that see you and watch over you (The New York Times)
- The average child will feature in over 1,500 online photos by their fifth birthday, finds this study by Nominet.
- This website allows people to see if their friends or partners are using Tinder, and even their last recorded location: New website lets anyone spy on Tinder users (Guardian)
- Manoush Zomorodi, writing on the TIME website, suggests we “rethink the basic pact we’ve made — that digital connection is the only way to sustain a livelihood or connect with others and, therefore, disempowered, we must keep giving ourselves away.”
Computer personal assistants are already intrinsic to many businesses. We don’t quite know how to deal with automated receptionists – should we be polite out of habit, or will we lose the habit of politeness? Will we become accustomed to the idea that many functional roles are taken by robots, and start treating the dwindling number of humans in those roles with lackadaisical contempt?
- Why people send flowers to computer-generated PAs: With love from my robot: virtual assistants may secretly be emailing you (the Guardian)
- The rise of robots: forget evil AI – the real risk is far more insidious: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/30/rise-of-robots-evil-artificial-intelligence-uc-berkeley?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Gmail
- Driving will be almost fully-automated within 25 years, and thanks to Big Data and Deep Learning, computers are starting to see and hear as humans do. With 47% of the US workforce at risk of being ‘automated’, a big stratum of society could find itself jobless. AI could leave half the world unemployed (Guardian)
What is the point of reality?
When virtual reality becomes so real it is indistinguishable from everyday life, what will be the difference? In this brilliant article, Why Pokémon Go is a game-changer for us all (Guardian)argues that real life resists our desires, whereas virtual reality is designed to satisfy them. What will humans become if we can live in a world that bends to our every whim?
Other articles and sources
Bear in mind that technology articles date fast!
- Taste the future with this intriguing vision of tomorrow’s tourism from Skyscanner.
- BBC’s Panorama investigates What Facebook Knows About You
- Explore the digital world with these excellent podcasts from BBC Radio 4’s Digital Human series
- My favourite book on algorithms is The Formula by Luke Dormehl, which explains how these systems already dictate many things in our lives, solving all our problems and creating more.
- Studies have shown that Facebook outperforms you, your family and your friends at answering questions about you – see this article in Wired.
- The Children’s Commissioner has recently published this report into the effect of social media on 8-12 year olds, A Life in Likes (pdf)
- Artists and Machine Intelligence website is a hub of interesting articles on how computer neural networks are being developed to create art, including an exhibition of machine-created artworks in 2016.
- Stop telling us to switch off (Guardian), says Suzanne Moore, who reckons the narrative around living online has become too punitive.
- Machine learning and art – an interesting lecture from Google Arts and Culture (42 minutes)
- The July/August 2016 issue of New Internationalist has several interesting articles about the ‘smiley-faced monopolists’ eroding our privacy and influencing people in secret, with some ideas for active resistance.
- I am No One by Patrick Flanery, reviewed in the Guardian, delves into a world without privacy, where prying is legitimised as ‘research’.
- The inexorable march of urbanisation is not the only way: Fancy life in an eco-village? Welcome to the hi-tech off-grid communities (Guardian)
- Intelligence rethought: AIs know us, but don’t think like us (New Scientist).
- In 2015 the first supermarket trial of LED lights that follow you around the store and communicate with your phone was trialed (BBC)
- Can trolling and abuse be discouraged by manipulating people through the web? Play nice! How the internet is trying to design out toxic behaviour (Guardian)
- Facebook has secretly manipulated the emotions of over 700,000 people. They can encourage you to vote in elections too, but what happens if they throw their weight behind a particular candidate? You may hate Donald Trump, but do you want Facebook to rig the election against him? (Guardian)
- Following from this… what actually happened: fake news on Facebook helped get Trump elected (Guardian)
- Recordings from the University of Warwick’s Festival of the Imagination (2015) – in particular ‘Big Data. Big Opportunities’ and ‘Building a Human for the Future’
- Digital Vertigo by Andrew Keen is a book explaining how social media divides and isolates us more than we realise.
- More on the internet of things, including why it makes us more vulnerable to viruses in this article from Cloudwards.
- ¹Source: https://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/what-is-big-data.html There’s also a great infographic which breaks it down a bit on the vcloudnews website.