Security: Encryption, A.I. and drones (Oh my!)

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data securitydata securityPersonal security has taken a number of recent hits, most notably with the reports of recent hacking into the databases of Target, Home Depot and other national retailers. Financial institutions are finally concluding that the U.S. needs to start using chip-embedded credit cards to better protect their funds and identities.

On the heels of that, the iPhone 6 has been released with an encryption system that (supposedly) no government or agency can break, keeping anything stored therein private from prying eyes.  On one hand, law enforcement agencies are complaining that this will only make their jobs more difficult.  On the other, agencies are realizing this makes their operatives’ data better protected.  And, of course, private individuals like the idea of being able to secure all of their data, allowing them to, as law enforcement puts it, “place themselves beyond the law.”

But as secrets become easier to keep, we run the risk of ne’er-do-wells attacking us more often, targeting our institutions, our money, and even our lives, using the same security measures we rely on.  Does my need for privacy include allowing a terrorist an easier time destroying my plane?  Is the collection of internet porn on my cellphone so important that we should also allow foreign agents to store their collection of bomb making manuals and list of suppliers on their cellphones?   Do we have to allow people to keep whatever secrets they have, only to examine them within an inch of their lives every time they approach a public place?  Continue reading

Laws for drones

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Jeff DuchameCollege of the North Atlantic made news recently when journalism instructor Jeff Ducharme developed a drone journalism code of conduct that his students will have to follow when using the unmanned aerial vehicle for news gathering.

This is a significant step towards standardizing drone use in public and private spaces, a very contentious issue for our future. Continue reading

Invasive technologies define the future of Sarcology

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sarcology cover 2014Invasive technologies, by definition, tend to have the most initial resistance to their introduction to society.  It can be hard to imagine a future world in which new and sometimes disturbing, often painfully-disruptive technologies come to be accepted, even common, parts of our lives.

Sarcology, recently updated and re-released, depicts a future world full of these invasive technologies, making it easy for the reader to question the likelihood and desirability of this future reality.

But given time, and often contrary to public perception, we have seen that even the most invasive of tech can overcome initial resistance and become accepted, even ubiquitous, in society. Continue reading

The drone impact

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Sycamore droneDrone technology has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade, a unique convergence of kids’ toys and military-grade surveillance equipment that is inexorably reaching into other aspects of our lives, filling in the gaps between those extremes.  And as it develops, we are already seeing signs that this could signify another quantum shift in the impact of technology in our everyday lives. Continue reading

Drones in the USA: Should we worry?

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surveillance droneThe use of flying surveillance drones is beginning to move from the battlefield to our domestic shores.  Not surprisingly, it is stirring up plenty of controversy.

Some of the concern reflects the present use of drones in battle areas.  Equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment and lethal munitions, military drones are sent on reconnaissance and surgical kill missions against military targets, leaders and terrorists.  Which all sounds fine in a battle situation (even if they still result in some collateral damage); but what about in the USA?  Some citizens are concerned that Americans in the US would be singled out as targets for military-grade drones to attack, and they question whether an American citizen determined to be a threat against other Americans should be surgically killed on American soil.

Okay… that’s not entirely true.  The real concern American citizens have is that our government, not being infallible, will be told by some anonymous or insane source that one of us law-abiding citizens is a terrorist; and that the government, not questioning or investigating said information, will fire off a drone to take us out on our way to Burger King. Continue reading