Singularity is far ahead? Maybe it is not in terms of intelligence augmentation. Human exoskeletons to enhance physical abilities are no longer in the research and development process; they are now in the production process for disable athletes (parathletes). Cybathlon is the championship for robot-assisted parathletes, and in this case the parathletes are racing pilots with disabilities, who are using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. Cybathlon comprises of different sports and people with different kinds and levels of disabilities. The equipment being used includes powered exoskeletons, removable powered limbs, powered knee, electrically simulated muscles and “brain-computer interfaces” Cybathlon is being organized by Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics), which claims that the event is being used to remove barriers between the public, the disabled, people with disabilities and science.
This cyborg type of technology is definitely going to change the lives of the people with disabilities; it might also make them more able than the normal people. Are normal everyday individuals going to want such technologies to enhance their lives? Will all military personal be asked to use this technology? Would there be any regulations as to who gets to use this technology with robotics and brain-computer interface? Are we going to need people for physical labor? Are we responsible enough to use this technology?

Facial Recognition Software being adapted and utilized by the FBI

Singularity University updated their website with an article, THE FBI’S MASSIVE FACIAL RECOGNITION DATABASE RAISES CONCERN yesterday. The article talks about FBI beginning to use the facial recognition database with facial recognition software, even though the algorithm written for it continues to produce false positives and false negatives very frequently. FBI stance is that basically they will continue to use it anyways according to papers obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a FOIA (Freedom of information act) lawsuit. Right now there are 16 million images mostly from non-criminal records like driver’s licenses; however, the number is expected to hit 52 million face images by 2015. The FBI’s criterion for accuracy is that the search should give out top 50 top images about 85% of the time! Furthermore, the FBI is going to obtain about 200,000 images from repositories, not mentioning what these repositories might be. The law enforcement agencies will also drop in 700,000 images, while the images on social media are off-limit.
As the database grows, the number of false positives will increase with it, and some innocent person might end up in the FBI’s interrogation room. Another ethical question arises by using the driver license data in this process; these people will be presumed guilty until proven innocent. How responsible is this action, and how to use this technology responsibly, and ethically?

Aereo Streaming Broadcast Service Under Attack

Aereo, a recent internet start-up that rents roof space on local buildings to place small antenna’s to capture and stream local TV broadcasts to your device’s over the internet has come under attack by major broadcast corporations.  Time reports that the major companies such as NBC are angry that Aereo pays nothing for retransmission fees for the public broadcasts but charges their users $8-12 a month for the service.

According to Time, retransmission fees are a huge business for over-the-air broadcasters.  About $4 billion a year are spent by cable companies to  rebroadcast the streams over their networks in order to offer the services to their customers.  Aereo argues that they don’t rebroadcast in the same way, they just provide an antenna for users to stream shows from over the internet when they don’t have easy access to them.  TV providers argue that they discourage company’s from broadcasting content such as sports on their networks and could hurt business.

While over-the-air broadcasting isn’t as popular as it once was, for people cutting the cable, it is an essential source for news and several popular TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory.  Aereo’s remote DVR service for the streams should be protected, but Time quotes that “The Aereo case puts the cloud at risk because when broadcasters have complained about Aereo, their complaints also describe cloud computing,” (Matt Schruers, Vice President for Law & Policy at the Computer & Communications Industry Association).

Comcast Accuses Netflix of Throttling it’s Own Bandwidth

Internet watchdogs TekSyndicate broke news on Saturday of a new accusation posted to the Comcast Corporate Blog on by Senior Vice President Jennifer Khoury.  The post accused Netflix of double dipping, and throttling their own bandwidth to be able to accuse Comcast.  According to Comcast’s logic, Netflix would then be “forced” to pay Comcast for higher bandwidth, turn off the throttling, and then stick all the blame on Comcast.  As they say in their post: “Netflix’s decision to reroute its Internet traffic was all about improving Netflix’s business model.”  They go on to defend their position saying, “Comcast has a multiplicity of other agreements just like the one Netflix approached us to negotiate….”

The article went over recent news posted by the group about Comcast’s confirmed throttling of Netflix’s bandwidth by the company (including a insider source that emailed them with information about the throttling).  Making Comcast’s accusations much less likely.  The Huffington Post also confirmed, adding that this is just the latest in the war of words between these two.

This all comes on the heels of a recent FCC announcement that has basically reversed their earlier attempts to fight the cable companies on net neutrality.  According to the Huffington Post, “then the battle between Netflix and Comcast is set up to only grow more contentious”.

3-D Printed Cancer: The Breakthrough and The Risks

The discussion on our last class touched slightly on 3-D printing organs. I am not the kind of person to follow every new technology that comes out, so I was caught off guard by it. I decided I wanted to find out more about it. Through curiosity, I found that the development is going so quickly, that organs are not the only kinds of cells that can be 3-D printed. Apparently cancer tumors can also be 3-D printed. The main purpose of 3-D printing cancer tumors is to study cancer and eventually find a way to cure it.

However, the fact that we can 3-D print cancer tumors now, means that 3-D printing other diseases is not going to be something that is too science fiction in the near future. This raises a serious safety and ethical concern. The fact is, the ability to 3-D print diseases will be very dangerous if the wrong people get their hands on it. The problem is that there is nothing that seems to be regulating 3-D printing organs yet. Knowing this fact and the risks associated with it, the question remains: Is the medical field ready to be using 3-D printing as a research tool? Do you think it is time to initiate regulation concerning 3-D printing organs?

Kill Switch for Smartphones Coming Next Year

The biggest cell phone manufacturers plan on having “kill switches” a standard feature on smartphones sometime in 2015. These “kill switches” would be able to remotely disable the device, effectively wiping all data from memory. Advocates say that this will deter thieves from stealing cell phones, which seems to me that it would. People store a bunch of sensitive information on their phones, and some people (with questionable morals) look to get this information. Maybe they want to steal the person’s identity, get information about another person, etc. With the “kill switch”, once you determine that your phone has been stolen or lost, you can wipe that device clean and have peace of mind.
I tried to think of some disadvantages to having standard “kill switches” on cell phones, but I am having a hard time coming up with any. I ask myself, why hasn’t this feature been standard a long time ago? Well, according to this article, “they fear hackers exploiting remote-kill technology, while critics accuse the industry of not wanting to lose revenue from replacing and activating stolen phones.” Unfortunately, money seems to win out over common sense sometimes.
Although this is an opt-in feature, continued pressure from legislature will probably push carriers to offer it as an opt-out feature in the near future.

Possible for real-life pirates to arm themselves using the piratebay?

Guns and firearms have been in hot debate lately. It is a hot topic issue with a lot of people nowadays.  There has been a call to action from many for congress to pass new laws that would make it harder for criminals to get their hands on guns. But, a lot of people make the claim that criminals will be criminals and will find any way to get guns.

This topic has made its way to being a technology debate as well. There has been much improvement in the way of 3-D printers and they are becoming more accessible for the  average person to get one.  Most of what the people will be using 3-D printers for is recreation and being able to create new things at home.  But, there are ways for people to abuse the technology.  Schematics for guns are now available online on sites like pirate bay and if you have the required printer you would be able to print your own guns at home. This could become a nightmare for law enforcement and government agencies to know who have guns, since you will not have to register the fire arm, and they will not know how many have been created.

The type of gun that is most popular right now, the Liberator, is just a single shot, .22 caliber firearm. The main problem with this type of gun is that the only metal part in the gun would be the brass on the cartridge and this would most likely not be enough to set off a metal detector.  So, if you had multiple guns there could still be a great danger.

Recently congress has passed another 10 year ban on plastic guns, but as people become better at hiding their internet activity from the government and getting better using 3-D printers, the sky is virtually the limit for criminals.  This type of technology also opens the gate for cyber criminals.  There is a need for someone to create the schematics for the guns and that requires a person with relatively good understanding of open-source design.  But, should the person creating the schematics be held responsible if it gets into the wrong hands?

Though the single shot “Liberator” is the most popular right now, there is also designs for AR-15 lowers and large capacity magazines. There in lies 2 new debates on plastic guns.  Right now you are able to buy an 80%  metal AR lower and not have a license for it, because in the eyes of the law it is not a “gun” yet. So should it be alright to be able to download and print an 80% plastic AR lower?And the other debate is on magazines, specifically those that have a 30 round capacity. Many gun rights activists believe that this will be the first major ban on “traditional” firearms. Many law abiding citizens think that since they can go to the store and buy a 30 round magazine that they should be able to download a schematic for a magazine, since you can’t do anything with a magazine alone. And some believe that magazines should be exempt from the plastic gun ban.

Should there be a ban on all gun related 3-D printing? or should it be a case by case basis? also, is it ethical for someone to create a document that could be used to print a gun? does this ban hinder technological advancement when it comes to 3-D printing?

Put A Camera On Your Eyeball

Google has filed a patent for a camera-containing lens.  There’s not too much information on product that may come, but Google says a possibility could be to give sight to the blind. Certainly, this development will visually be less noticeable than Google Glass, but it seems the consequences of having hidden cameras in the literal eyes of all the world is an obvious pandoras box.

I could list a hundred and one potential scenarios that might arise in support or defense of this technology, but to put it simply: I don’t believe our lives were meant to be recorded by little more than the memories an individual might carry.  Surely there are reasons for documentary, but I don’t want to live where our lives are documented persistently like how the NSA seems to monitor our internet actions.  You can’t stop the world from advancing forward, you can only delay it, but I’d like to stay in what would become “the past,” honestly.

At least everyone would learn binary, though: “Sensors on the contact lens would detect blinks and respond to commands based on those blinks.”

What do you think?

How “close” can google get to you?


Ever since the google glasses came out, I had this idea/imagination of this program that someone is going to write for the google glasses that captures faces and recognizes them. Then it will pull up all the information about the person that you are looking at in matter of seconds (maybe not even that). At the meantime, I thought to myself that these glasses are so obvious it is hard not to notice that someone is staring at you while that little transparent screen on the glass is showing your information.

Today, I read about google patenting google lenses! It apparently started as “world’s smallest wireless glucose sensor ever made in a pair of smart contact lens” in January. Shortly after, they filed a patent for a series of micro-cameras to be integrated into their future smart contact lens.

As readwrite mentions in this article about Google lens, there are a lot of benefits that would come with this device such as the things that it could do for people with poor vision, or maybe people with diabetes. But we are not here to discuss those stuffs! There are always a lot of good benefits with the new things that come out in the world. For example, internet has A LOT of good impacts on nearly everyone’s lives today. But at the same time, it is used for almost any malicious idea in the world!

My question is now this: What if this device does make it to the market and becomes a very successful device? Now we have a camera attaches to everyone’s eyes that could potentially be compromised and . . .

I think this video sums up a lot of my points! Totally worth watching and it is only 2 minutes AND it is hilarious! Google Glass Contact Lens?!?

Snowden a Surprise Guest for Putin During Interview

Reuters, famed hard news aggregation group much like the Associated Press, reported a surprisingly interesting story last Thursday.  Vladamir Putin, Russian President and ex-KGB director took several direct questions during a call-in news program in Russia, one of which being a pre-recorded question from Edward Snowden, prominent NSA leaker, and currently in refuge in Russia facing espionage charges.

According to Reuters, Snowden’s question was a fairly simple one:

“Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?  And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”

Reuter’s reports: “Putin said Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but ‘on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it.'”  And further that, not only does Russia’s laws not allow such an action but that “…we have neither the technical means nor the money at the United States has…”.  An expected response, but one that seems very unlikely coming from a state that was known for surveillance and terrorizing it’s citizenry during the Cold War.

Of course the political puditry in the US was quick to respond.  CNBC reporters were quick to debate and bring up that this question was very likely set up to make Russia look very good in comparison to the US.  And that in addition they were told in Sochi that the Russian authorities could look at any content on your phone at any time.

Very protecting of it’s citizen’s privacy indeed.

Samsung Sues Korean Newspaper Over False Claims

Samsung, the Android phone giant, is suing Korean newspaper ETNews for falsely publishing incorrect information related to the upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone.  According to the news article, Samsung was apparently having trouble with the manufacture of cameras for the S5.  This would mean a push back on the April 11 launch date for the phone (a big prompt for investors to get angry).  This prompted a response from Samsung for the news corporation to retract the statement, which it refused.

Samsung is now suing for $284,000 USD (or 300 million KRW) from the newspaper.  Of course, as pointed out by BGR, we don’t know a lot of details since the site’s translation is horrible.  It released a statement to internet news site TechCrunch to clarify it’s actions related to this case:

“Samsung Electronics sought a correction from ET News following the publication of false claims that can hugely damage our business and brand value. In the interests of providing consumers with accurate information, we made a number of requests for the information to be corrected. Unfortunately this was ignored and we are now taking legal action as a last resort.”

While Samsung’s position on this is understandable, especially on the heels of investor outrage over the low sales figures of the Galaxy S4.  Apple Insider has pointed out that similar happenings have gone on at the launch of every major Apple phone and the company has yet to sue any news outlet for incorrect information.


Foxconn, or Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, is a multinational manufacturing company based out of Taiwan which accounts for about 40% of all assembled electronic products.  Though Foxconn has factories throuhgout  Asia, Europe, Mexico and South America, its largest operation takes place in China, where the majority of the controversy surrounding the company has stemmed from.  Foxconn has 13 factories throughout China, the largest of which is in Longhua, and with potentially 450,000 workers that live, eat, and work within the walled compound, has been dubbed “Foxconn City”.

Many of the confirmed documented complaints about the conditions in the factory stem around questionable demands and working conditions.  A 2012 audit by the Fair Labor Association uncovered some unethical workplace issues.  Many workers reported working in excess of 60 hours a week, but received unfair overtime compensation, and the majority of workers complained that they were not paid enough to afford basic needs.  When a factory like “Foxconn City” houses, feeds, and employs these people, it would appear to be by design that these workers are trapped in a slave-like situation.  In addition to issues over hours and pay, many concerns have been raised over the amount of workplace accidents and lack of safety precautions that exist in these factories.

Arguably the largest emphasis of the media in recent years has been the issue of suicide at the Foxconn factories.  After a spat of 14 suicides in 2010, Foxconn factories installed the infamous “suicide nets” that are pictured above.  However, since then the amount of employee suicides has been negligible, and interestingly enough, the rate of suicides among Foxconn employees has always been lower than the average rate of both Chinese and American citizens.

All in all, there is no doubt that Foxconn has engaged in some ethically questionable practices as an employer.  However, it is up for debate whether their factories truly represent modern day labor camps, or if they are in reality the best opportunity for Chinese workers to make a living.  Perhaps both cases are simultaneously true, which speaks about the basic plight of the Chinese lower class.  What do others think about the ethical issues surrounding Foxconn and other similar companies?

Drone Strikes Expanded

The previous post raised the issue of US drone strikes, and I wanted to offer a more complete post rather than just a comment.

The US use of predator drones is a topic which has caught my interest for quite some time now. While their use is intended to be used delicately and deliberately, there are many assertions from independent sources that these strikes are not as precise as the military’s narrative suggests. The military acknowledges the possibility of civilian casualties, but they regularly (and from their perspective, understandably) downplay the size of the issue. Since it is inherently difficult to get exact figures, there are only varied estimates of the civilian death count. However, this independent journalism group gives what they believe to be the true statistics on the issue. If one tallies only the conservative estimates, it results in around ~450 confirmed strikes throughout Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, with a death toll of around 2,600. Of these 2,600, at least 446 are civilians, and a minimum of 175 being children.

When analyzing the burden of responsibility, it is important to understand a few factors at play in each individual drone strike. While a large team is required to run and service a predator drone, in the end there is a kill order that comes from the upper echelon of the CIA or Air Force, and then there is a single pilot that executes this order. These pilots often report being indoctrinated into the culture by being promised that they will never be faced with killing innocents. However, when it comes time to execute an order, the pilot is often aware that he/she will be taking the lives of civilians or children. While this weighs heavily on their mind afterwards, more often than not they make the decision to follow through in the moment.

Based on this information, it would seem that current US drone policy needs revised if it wants to be held to any ethical standard. Statistically speaking, for every confirmed strike there is at least one death of an innocent, and roughly half of which have resulted in the death of a child. While some of the more extreme proponents of the strikes argue that these innocent casualties are, in a sense, “guilty by association” because they live in close ties with known terrorists, this characterization lacks prospective. Hypothetically, if you are a child who lives in a rural tribal village in Pakistan, and your entire family is in poverty and lives in one house or compound, how are you expected to have the means to separate yourself from your “terrorist uncle”? However, he may very well be the target of a strike, which could have an immense impact on your entire family or even cause you to lose your life.

While Predator drones have a place in modern military operations, their use thus far has been non-transparent and much messier than promised. I personally feel that their current standard procedure is wholly unethical and needs revised. Anyone who has an HBO account and wishes to know more of the effects of these strikes on the people of Pakistan can watch this episode from season 2 of Vice.  What do others think of the ethics surrounding this issue?

Unmanned Drones

Saw this the other day on the web, thought it would be very interesting to talk about.

Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle also known as a drone that has no on board human pilot. They are usually under real-time human control. Stuffs that would be required for a human on board would not be needed for the drone. This would reduce weight for the drone and would require less motor power.

Drones can be used to hold strikes on other countries without the possibility of losing allies’ human lives when shot down. These drones can be used to kill enemy armies, buildings, and even civilian.

This raises a lot of ethical concern. What if a drone kills a lot of innocent people in places like Afghanistan. Who is at fault? the commander of the soldier? the soldier? the army? the government? “it takes a team of about 180 to run and service a Predator”

Who do you think is at blame?

Google plagiarism?

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When I write down the name of this post, I am actually pretty nervous because I have no idea how people react due to a great reputation of Google.  And personally, I really like Google and think it brings u s so many wonders and make our life easier.  So my point of this post is to see whether any people happen to know about it and what you would react if it is true.

It was a normal after school day and I was hanging out on a forum I usually spent time on. Then I found that there was a big debate about Google and another search engine famous in China, named Baidu . Baidu is the most famous and popular search engine in mainland China and it won the battle when years ago Google tried to move in China. However, this great company had a really bad reputation as most of people thought what it was doing is just mock Google.

Naturally, I thought Google of course would win this battle and most people are satisfied. However, I was astonished because someone said actually Google plagiarized the algorithm invented by Baidu’s CEO before Baidu is founded.


This is such a shocking news as I never thought a company with bad reputation would have such great invention. Thus I kept reading and found what he said seems really reasonable and convincing. So I made a little research about this and this is what I found.

First, let me introduce the main character in this story, the CEO of Baidu, graduates of the State University of New York, Robin Li .  In 1994, after graduation, he “joined the IDD information Services” and “helped develop a software program for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal”. And at this time, he was devoting himself to his own search engine.

Then in 1996, he developed the Rankdex site-scoring algorithm, which is the topic of whether Google plagiarize. And in the hyperlink I provided there, it illustrates as ” Many experts and commentators are unaware that RankDex was cited in Lawrence Page’s patent application for Google PageRank as the first qualitative search engine” . And the Google PageRank is exactly what Google use as for its searching engine, which is patented in 2005, 9 years later than Rankdex was patented. And here is the most controversial part, Google PageRank was created in 1996 when the founder of Google was still in Stanford and exactly in the same year Robin Li gave a speech in Stanford about his algorithm. And interestingly, the patent of Google PageRank actually wasn’t assigned to Google, instead it was assigned to the Stanford university.

Then in 1997, Li started working for a pioneer internet search engine company named infoseek, which had a great success at that time. And 2 years later, he went back to China and founded Baidu, which I mentioned before.

So from what I write above, Li is a really excellent programmer and entrepreneur  so I think he probably has the ability to develop a great algorithm and Google plagiarize or refer to it.

So what you think if Google really plagiarize Li’s invention as it’s patented or do you agree with Richard Stallman, who we learned in former classes that this is a freedom of software that should be advocated?

P.S. I’m not so sure what Li invented there, but some people said he also patented algorithm of hyperlinks, so when you click the hyperlinks above, you may also be charged if he did ask for it? Correct me if any mistake.