Monthly Archives: January 2014

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is a topic that, since the beginnings of computers, has come up time and time again. People seem to be fascinated at the idea that machines could perform tasks just as well or better than humans.

This year in particular has been particularly interesting already for artificial intelligence. Google just payed £400million for an AI research company, IBM is pouring $1billion into it’s newly branded Watson division, a movie about a man falling in love with an AI meets success, and Eric Schmidt warns that the Jobs problem will be ‘the defining one’. Why so much buzz about AI? In my opinion, I think it’s because artificial intelligence suddenly seems real to us as a people. We live in a world where computers beat humans at everything from chess to Jeapordy, a game that is uniquely human in so many ways.

Ethically, artificial intelligence is very interesting. In a world where tasks normally reserved for full time employees can be automated, it creates questions of morality. For instance, is it ethical to replace somebody with a machine? What if that machine could perform this task more accurately and safely. However, without that task to perform a worker may have trouble finding employment. Without employment, the worker contributes to a global trend of growing economic inequality.

AI is interesting stuff. Looking forward to comments.



BitCoin is the leading innovator in a new emerging market of digital currency. BitCoins are created and held electronically. It is decentralized, which means no one owns it, and can run due to the massive amount of computer power put into “mining” BitCoins. Some people believe that BitCoin could be the future of the global economy. If this happens there would only be one currency and it would be completely digital. This is obviously a huge change for what we know of now.

BitCoin was created by a Japanese man under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakomoto. No one actually knows who this guy is and he could’ve started a huge revolution in the way we view money.

BitCoin is so special because it takes out the middleman. There are no banks involved in BitCoin transactions which means no bank fees. This makes shopping online and in theory shopping anywhere much much cheaper for everyone.

This leads me to my question. If BitCoin takes off (p.s. it already has) how will banks fare? How will this effect the governments and their national currency? This could lead to catastrophe for banks and national governments. Was it ethical for this guy to ensue this chaos of banks and governments to give everyday people an easier, cheaper, and safer way to use money?

links to learn more about BitCoin. And sources I used. This site has many other links about BitCoin news.

Side note, if you invested $100 into BitCoin at the beginning of 2013. You would have made over $5000 today.  This proves the rate at which people are catching on to this new currency. Many big companies such as Google and Ebay are planning on integrating BitCoin use with their companies.


TPP and What Could Come From It

TPP stands for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. Many people draw similar to this international trade agreement to the controversial NAFTA agreement. NAFTA was known to provide little benefit to signatories Mexico and Canada, but assisted major US corporations greatly. Much of the negotiation behind TPP has been dealt in secrecy, from even the majority of Congress, and have been conducted by the White House and lobbyists. Sen. Wyden, who is the chairman of the International Trade subcommittee, stated, “The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.” A good portion of the public was kept in the dark about these negotiations until portions of the treaty’s draft have been leaked through Wikileaks, in November of 2013. TPP is major agreement with many different provisions, however, what is subjectively most concerning is how it would affect ISPs, intellectual property, and all Internet users.

The major points of concern behind TPP:

-The TPP will alter existing US intellectual property laws.

-Copyright holders now have control over temporary copies, holding ISPs responsible for cached versions of files, despite the difficulty in controlling those.

-Copyright holders do not have to prove irreparable harm in court.

-Using software to bypass a software lock, even for what is currently legal use, could now be criminalized

-TPP’s intellectual property laws are also of concern in the medical field, particularly those developing pharmaceuticals and medical technology.

-Signatories of these treaties will have intellectual property laws similar, and consequently just as strict, to the US’s legal code

This is just a brief summary of what could stem from TPP, however, I am interested in hearing your opinions on the subject. If there is any information I got wrong or missed, please feel free to contribute that as well.


Russia Today:

Wikileaks TPP:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Here is an infographic I found, however I cannot vouch for its accuracy.




Starbucks mobile app security

This seems to be a pretty common problem these days. An organization or company stores our data in some way that can easily be hacked or as in this case, in the open. According to this ComputerWorld article, Starbucks has apparently made the choice to save a person’s passwords directly on the mobile device to allow for quicker purchases that allows for convenience when purchasing items. However, if the phone is then connected to a PC, the data can then be found in clear text form. I guess all in all it’s not that big of deal, that should only allow a thief to purchase all the ridiculous amounts of caffeine fixes they want, unless you’re one of those people that uses the same username and password for everything (I was unclear when I read the article if the credit card information is easily found). I do think it rises some questions,

Why does a company think it’s a good idea to store data that allows quick purchasing in an easy to get to place? I think companies need to be a little more aware of what they doing in.

Are there other companies that allow “one-click” or quick purchases, storing financial and other user information in easy to access places. It is a great convenience to make fast purchases but at what cost to our security.


Google Enters Your Home

Google Inc. has acquired, at the price tag of $3.8 billion, another tech company called Nest. Nest is a company that develops electronic, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats. These thermostats, called the Nest Learning Thermostat, are capable of both analyzing your temperature preferences and they are able to detect when you are home. The founders of Nest, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, will also be joining the Google along with their company.

Google and Nest both have a lot to bring to each other’s table. Google would be able to provide its incredibly accurate location data to Nest and its presence on Smart Phones. Ron Amadeo writes, “An easy, low-power way to detect location would be to use a resident’s smartphone and Wi-Fi as an “at home” indicator. Just register each smartphone as a member of the household in the Nest app, and as long as one of those devices is connected to the home Wi-Fi SSID, Nest could safely assume that someone is at home. Or, Google Maps can predict the time it takes to arrive home, and Nest can predict the time it takes to warm a house up; by combining those two pieces of information, the Nest could kick on in advance of someone arriving home and have the house at an appropriate temperature by the time a household member arrives.” All while Google is able to take home information, which could provide very useful to advertisers or any other buyer, about temperature in your home, how often you enter and exit the house, and through their smoke detector product, they can tell how often these smoke detectors are set off.

While these all seem very specific and minor pieces of information, they can prove valuable to a few unique markets. There is speculation that Google is using this as an introduction into connected home devices, and allowing Google software/hardware into the home. Google could either use Nest engineers to develop more household goods, or acquire more businesses that focus on “smart technology” in the house. The more household goods developed under Google, the more data Google can collect and advertising markets they can serve. As the world becomes more and more connected, it is hardly a surprise that Google would want influence in these emerging technologies. However, it poses a few questions:

“How will Google store the data for Nest?”

“Will Nest data solely be used for the product itself?”

“Will Google sell this information off to potential advertisers?”

“What other implications could Google’s acquisition of Nest have?”

If you have any comments, or spot any errors, please post below.

PC World Article:

Arstechnica Article:

Google Official Announcement:

Nest Website: