Computer and Cell Phone Usage Up Around the World
If you have deja vu seeing statistics like these, join the club: Some 81 percent of affluent Generation Y adults logs on to Facebook daily.
Facebook’s social graph appears to those who look at it most as blocks of code. Paul Butler, an engineering intern at the company, has rendered it into a stunning visual map of friendships that proves his theory that geography and political borders influence where people live in relation to their friends.
The Highlights – “Social media: what works & and what doesn’t?” from the European Public Affairs Action Day
So Thursday was the long awaited European Public Affairs Action Day, organised by the Parliament Magazine, and of course it was every bit as good as it promised to be. We hosted a workshop entitled ‘Social Media: what works what doesn’t’? We aimed at having a range of perspectives in our panel to get a good picture of how social media is being developed in different areas, from industry to national and then European politics.
The past few weeks have highlighted the vulnerability of centralized information systems to censorship: online speech is only as strong as the weakest intermediary. Sites hosting legitimate speech were caught up in an anti-counterfeiting raid by the Department of Homeland Security, EveryDNS stopped hosting WikiLeaks.org’s DNS, Amazon refused hosting service to WikiLeaks, and independent protesters conducted denial-of-service attacks on businesses refusing service to WikiLeaks. If the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA; the internet censorship bill introduced in the US Senate) or something like it passes, the threat centralization poses to First Amendment-protected speech may be unavoidable. Corrective action — designing, implementing, and deploying robust, fault-tolerant architectures — will improve the security and availability of the internet infrastructure generally, to the benefit of all.
It’s been two months since the first Google TV device went on sale. Since
then, we have been hard at work thinking about how we can make the
platform even better for our users. In fact, one of the greatest things
about Google TV is that it comes with free, automatic “over-the-air”
software updates that give you the newest features and content as we
release them. It’s as if Google TV goes up in value over time.
“Twitter has analyzed the 25 billion tweets sent in 2010 and published the list of top overall trends in the year behind us,” Mashable reported, “as well as the top 10 trending topics in eight categories: news events, people, movies, television, technology, World Cup, sports and hashtags.”
Related to my work here in robot ethics, the following is an advance look at my paper forthcoming in Journal of Military Ethics:
Military 2.0: Ethical Blowback from Emerging Technologies
ABSTRACT: The military is a major driver of technological, world-changing innovations which, like the Internet, often have unpredictable dual uses and widespread civilian impact (‘blowback’). Ethical and policy concerns arising from such technologies, therefore, are not limited to military affairs, but can have great implications for society at large as well. This paper will focus on two technology areas making headlines at present: human enhancement technologies and robotics, representing both biological and technological upgrades to the military. The concerns we will raise are about (1) the unintended effects that these technologies could have on society and (2) the possibly self-defeating nature of these military programs in making war itself more, rather than less likely to occur. Given that society also can influence military programs (e.g., through civil protests) it is important for the military to attend to such concerns.
The first ethics concern with any new military weapon or system is usually whether its development or use would violate existing international law. However, emerging technologies can also raise much larger worries, given their revolutionary nature. For instance, using robots for dangerous jobs promises to help reduce the number of casualties on the deploying side. But might this effect prove counterproductive to the larger goal of peace, to the extent that these machines also lower the political costs associated with declaring war, and so make engaging in war as a preferred or convenient method of conflict resolution easier rather than more difficult? Toward the same goal of soldier survivability and reducing abuses and accidents, at some point we may be able to eliminate human emotions such as fear or anger or hatred—but must these enhancements (and others, such as super-strength) be temporary or reversible, considering that warfighters usually return to civilian life?
There have been a couple of watershed moments in UK online politics in the last few weeks, notably the reaction to the Wikileaks cables and the decision of a number of well known British political bloggers to stop blogging, importantly Iain Dale and Tom Harris. These developments are related and show, in my opinion, how blogging has essentially assumed the role of the new mainstream when it comes to reporting what goes on in the Westminster village.
Here’s another wiki that has made the news in the recent days. While WikiLeaks has definitely garnered a large following around the world, there are other wiki sites that are worth talking about as well. Just the other night, my friends and I were talking about Cuba – the way of life there, tourism, etc. I didn’t think I would be writing about a Wikipedia-style web site focusing on this Caribbean island.
It’s no surprise to EFF members that the Internet is full of security flaws, some of them severe. Yet many Internet companies try to deal with these problems internally, or not at all. They don’t encourage outsiders to report flaws discovered when using or testing a website, and may even be hostile toward those who reveal facts they don’t want to hear. Well-meaning Internet users are often afraid to tell companies about security flaws they’ve found — they don’t know whether they’ll get hearty thanks or slapped with a lawsuit or even criminal prosecution. This tension is unfortunate, because when companies learn what needs to be fixed, their services will be better and their users safer.