Author Archives: cyphertjohn

Race with the machines

This post is ties really closely with the Software is eating the world post. In this TED talk, Erik Brynholfsson addresses the problem how as machines take on more jobs more and more people find themselves out of work. “Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynholfsson — it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy.” The description of the talk also suggests to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon. (I watched his video too, but it doesn’t relate as much to our class).

Anyway, Erik argues that indeed at this moment people are losing their jobs, but this is just a growing pain for what he calls “The New Machine Age”. According to Erik at this moment in time productivity is at an all time high, and actually the numbers used to make this hypothesis are understated. He says that because a lot of the Internet is “free” economists miss about 300 billion dollars for the total GDP. Interestingly enough he will go on to incorporate a lot of the ideas that we have discussed throughout this course. He says that this new machine age will promote grow for three reasons. It’s digital, meaning it’s at virtually no cost. It’s exponential, like what Ray Kurzwiel says, and it’s combinatorial, meaning that new things will be building blocks for future implementation. His final point provides the most hope for our job situation. He states as an example that when Deep Blue played grandmaster Garry Kasparov, the machine won. And even today, a cell-phone app can beat even the most skilled grandmaster, but what is most hopeful is that today, the world champion is not a human or a machine. Today when humans work with machines, they can beat any human or any machine. This means that we need to race with the machines rather than race against the machines.

He also talks about Watson during the talk which can relate to the singularity.

And finally here is another TED talk that is unrelated to the first one, but I’ve been meaning to post it for some time. It describes the purpose of this class, and what we as developers should be doing, when making new software.

Forget about the CyberBunker attack—here’s how to take an entire continent offline

This post is kind of in response to the CyberBunker post. I saw this article somewhere. I don’t remember where?? Anyway, the article mentions how the CyberBunker attack at 300 gigabits per second is being considered the biggest cyber attack in history. However, according to the article three men in Egypt tried to take down 1.28 terabits of the Internet – four times as much bandwidth –  with nothing but an axe. Their identities and motives are unknown at the time of the article, but according to Reuters the Egyptian coastguard intercepted three men trying to cut the SEA-ME-WE 4 undersea cable. It’s one of the major cables connecting Europe to North Africa to Asia.

It’s important to remember that the Internet is not some abstract thing that exists in the cloud always. The connections between countries are very real concrete things. These connections are hundreds of cables that exist beneath the sea floor, and they are susceptible to damage. There are multiple of these connections between countries and continents, but when one is cut the others have to pick up the traffic. This causes congestion.

I think this is an important story. It really shows how fragile somethings we as a modern society are. If I was a bad guy, all I need to do is go into the Atlantic where the ocean isn’t very deep. I just trawl the ocean, find the cable, and make the cut. A few more of those cuts and boom. It’s all over, and that’s not a quick and easy fix. I would imagine that would take quite a while to get things back to normal. We need to make sure we protect our Internet.

Two-Step verification added to Apple IDs

While I was perusing the USA Today on my iPhone app today, I saw the article about car privacy, but I also saw this article on apple changing its verification policy for access to purchases on  iTunes or the App Store. Currently users can look around the App Store and select to buy something. Then, so long as users have a credit card linked to their account or money in their Account, they just need to enter in their Apple ID password and the purchase is made. Now, with the new changes when users need to make a purchase they will be sent a four-digit random code to a trusted device they have linked to their account. Then, the users enter in the code to complete the transaction.

I’m not sure how I feel about these new changes. Obviously the intentions of this move are quite code. No body wants to have money stolen from them, but I’m not sure how well these extra security measures actually help. For myself if I want an app odds are I’m away from my computer so they will send me a text message to the phone that I’m ordering the app for, which more than anything else seems just like an inconvenience. I would also like to say that in general I’m not too sure how extra security measures help. Whenever I have to choose a security question for an account, I can either pick a really obscure question, which means that it might be difficult for me to get exactly right later if I lost my password, or I can pick a simple question that anyone could guess if they knew anything about me. I think we as people in the computer industry have a duty to protect our users, but I don’t know how far that duty needs to go. I don’t know? I’m not the most forward thinking person when it comes to my accounts, so I would like to hear what you all have to say.

Tell-all cars put your driving business out in the open

Today I saw this article from The USA Today about privacy and cars. The article starts off by stating that today almost every car today has more and more on-board computers, and these computers are collecting consumers data. Many people don’t know they’re data is being collecting, but still it is happening with their permission. A lot of people simply sign those agreements unaware of what that means for their data collection. The article also states that in the future it will be even harder for individuals to subvert being watched.

The article goes on to discuss three systems that monitors drivers. The first system is Electronic Data Recorders (EDR) or more commonly known as black boxes. These systems record information about the car most commonly used to see what happened in the case of an accident: how fast the car was going, were seat-belts engaged, were the airbags deployed, etc. The second system is Infotainment systems and on-board computers. These systems provide more information to car manufacturers to see how the car is running. Oil changes and tire pressures are examples. The third category is transponders. These devices are used for traffic studies. Something interesting, Progressive gives their drivers discounts of 10% to 15% on drivers premiums for access to install transponders in their cars.

What interested me about this article was how it seems that if we as a society want to progress and live better lives we need to give up some of our privacy. For instance some company could have transponders installed in people’s cars. They could use that data to give other drivers important traffic information and road situations. Also if we want our cars to be the safest possible car manufacturers need real world car data. Finally, and most importantly if we are ever to have self driving cars we’ll have to give up all the data of our cars. So, I see the need to give up our data, and that in today’s world I don’t think that our data will be used so severely against us. However, should things change, and citizens for instance come under the rule of an oppressive government, this car data could be very dangerous, and that bothers me slightly. The data might not be used against us but I would sure hate to give someone the opportunity too.