Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Fight Against Cyber Bullying

                The issue of Cyber Bullying has always been around but now there has been increased pressure in Britain to extend the punishment for those who commit that crime. The main supporter of this move is Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who wants to take a greater stance on the subject. Initially the sentence that the crime had was six months, but this move is pushing for the sentence to be increased to two years. Chris Grayling has said that this government proposal is against the “internet trolls who are poisoning our national life.” This has led to me think of the act of “Trolling” on the internet and how far people are willing to go to punish people for these acts that they commit online.
                The Internet is a dark place filled with many people that can be really nasty. Some of them can even be in middle school. However, who is really to be blamed when the perpetrator is that young?  Recently a Georgia court has ruled that the parents of a 7th grader can be held liable for his actions. Initially the 7th grader was caught for making a fake Facebook profile of a female classmate and then posted “fat” images of her and making explicit comments. However after he was caught and punished, the page stayed up for 11 months. The parents of the girl sued the boy’s parents and claimed that the parents are liable for the content because they neglected the content that the boy made.  This is an interesting point because it reflects the poor parenting that brought up this issue. Not only did the parents not teach the boy to respect other people in general, they neglected the crime that the kid committed. The only way to fix cyber bullying is to fix the poor parenting that kids are growing up with. The internet is a huge place that people can get lost in and lose their identity. That is why parents should teach their kids the right etiquette so that they can avoid problems like these. In my opinion, I feel that the parents are at fault for the decisions that their kids make at such a young age. However, if they are older I feel that they are not as responsible for their kid’s actions.

                This leads into increased time for criminals that commit cyber crimes. Is it reasonable for them to serve the same amount of time as a second degree felony? Using the word “trolling” isn't the definition that people should use in order to punish them. Words like cyber bullies, criminals, and extremists are the words that should describe the people who commit heinous crimes that affect other people. It shouldn't be narrowly defined as the internet “trolls” who do stupid stuff to annoy other people. Also who is to blame when kids commit these crimes against each other? Should the parents also face consequences when their kids commit internet crimes or should they be freed from the consequences? Since the crimes can be committed so easily on the internet, the kids and parents should be sentenced for negligence and bad parenting.

Programming used to be "Women's Work"

      When it comes to programming, there is an abundant amount of male dominance that exists in this 21st century. These individuals use their knowledge about Computer Science to the fullest extent to provide us with products and services that we use on an everyday basis. Others' perception of these individuals as nerdy or anti-social people continue to strive just like it did when the profession was coming into existence. Now, we think that the number of female programmers does not stand a chance compared to the number of males in the field, but surprisingly there is more and more females taking Computer Science courses and choosing to lead software engineering careers. In fact, according to Rose Eveleth, programming was once considered "woman's work."

      In the 1960's, programming was dominated by women that looked for better job opportunities. It was considered an easy job, where women developed software and often led projects with male colleagues to improve existing hardware.

      Dr. Graced Hooper, a computer scientist said that programming was "just like planning a dinner. You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so that it’s ready when you need it. Women are ‘naturals’ at computer programming.” So after all, is programming a difficult job, or is it just that the person must be a great planner? The answer is that yes, programming is a difficult job but women can be just as successful as their male counterparts.

      But why does the number of male programmers still dominate when it comes to software engineering positions or even enrollment in polytechnic institutes and universities? According to the article, the reason why we mostly see male programmers is due to the competition that arose between men and women when it came to career dominance. Male programmers even created associations in order for women not to be hired in this field, to separate themselves from the rest. However with the changing society and job equality rising, more women are motivated to pursue this career, making this profession more diverse.  

Mass Murder Simulators

A new video game called Hatred might be the most violent video game ever made. It is essentially a mass murder simulator, and although other games like Grand Theft Auto can also be mass murder simulators if played that way, Hatred makes mass murder the focus of the game, as can be seen in the trailer here.

According to creative director Jaroslaw ZieliƄski:
Yes, putting things simply, we are developing a game about killing people. But what's more important is the fact that we are honest in our approach. Our game doesn't pretend to be anything else than what it is and we don't add to it any fake philosophy.
In fact, when you think deeper about it, there are many other games out there, where you can do exactly the same things that the antagonist will do in our project. The only difference is that in Hatred gameplay will focus on those things.
Some people think this is poor taste. The developers have also gotten positive feedback though, and the YouTube page shows a pretty even split between likes and dislikes. Some of the discussion about the game on Polygon is pretty moderate, with few people saying that the game should be banned or anything extreme being said on either side.

It is also worth noting that the developers of Hatred have an incentive to create controversy for their game from a marketing perspective, and that certainly seems like what they tried to do with the trailer and description on their website.

Hatred has drawn comparisons to other past controversial games, including RapeLay, which is often described as a rape simulator, and JFK: Reloaded, which lets players play as Lee Harvey Oswald and assassinate John F. Kennedy. Generally, when games like this are released, the reaction is similar. The game is banned in some places but more or less ignored in most places, and the general consensus is usually something like "the content of this game may be pretty sick but you know, free speech and all."

However, the world of video games has changed over time, with games becoming more and more popular. Thus, Hatred is more interesting than previous controversial games because of its context in the current state of video game culture. The gaming community has recently been described as sexist, misogynist, and immature, exemplified not just by the people that play video games but by games like Hatred. Also, some critics of video games as an art form think that games need to strive to be more than mass murder simulators, while others (myself included) think that current video games (even mass murder simulators) are already works of art.

There is the question of what kind of an effect games like this have on the industry, but really the video game industry will be fine regardless of the success of this game. Personally, I don't have a problem with Hatred. I think that game developers should make mass murder simulators if they want to, and gamers should play mass murder simulators if they want to. If it looks like a fun and interesting game, I'll play it too.


Apple to Take Your Money in New Ways

                Apple is going to be releasing “Apple Pay,” which will allow users to tap their phone to a reader, hold their Touch ID, and then their payment is done. They’ve already gotten their readers in more than 220,000 stores, including some major retailers. My major concern with Apple doing something like this is security, but apparently they’ve got that handled. “When it's time to check out, the device account number and a dynamic security code are used to complete the transaction. Apple will never know what you purchased, the company claims, and you'll still get rewards points on the credit cards you use.” Now this is all well and fine, but I’m still a bit concerned considering the whole iCloud scandal.
                What’s crazy about this is that Apple is pretty late to the party, and yet they’ve managed to already get 220,000 stores on board. Google launched Google Wallet, which does basically the same thing, on May 26, 2011. For Google Wallet you tap the checkout terminal, and you’ve paid. What’s interesting about this is that, Google Wallet didn’t do so well. According to an article written in June of 2013, “Wallet has been downloaded fewer than 10 million times in the two years since its launch, according to Play, Google’s app store” (Millian). I think everyone can agree that Apple knows what they’re doing from a marketing standpoint (excluding U2). I feel like Apple is going to have an easier time getting people to adopt Apple Pay, compared to Google Wallet. In Apple’s case, everyone has the same phone, an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6+. There’s uniformity with iOS users that Android user’s lack. Clearly Apple has the sway to get companies to adopt this system (that’s obvious with the amount of stores that are going to be utilizing it) before it has even been released. I think that Apple waited so long to see how Google Wallet was going to perform. Once it was evident that Wallet wasn’t doing so hot, Apple decided to wait a couple years. This gives them the opportunity to see what Google did right and wrong, and to then build on it.
                The major concern with electronic payments, like Apple Pay, is security. Apple does not have the greatest track record right now with keeping people’s online information safe. Looking at the way Apple is going to keep the information secure sounds like it could work, but I have one major concern with it. “Instead, users take a photo of their credit card and add it to their phone’s Passbook.” I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to online security, but taking a picture of your credit card and uploading it to the internet sounds like a horrible idea. If Apple can manage to keep the way of payment secure, I think that it will be a natural progression from the credit card. It would definitely be much easier, if we could all drop our wallets, and just carry a phone around, and, at this point, there really is no reason why we shouldn’t as long as it’s secure.

Google Wallet Article

The Right to be Forgotten

The right to be forgotten is the idea that everyone has the civil right to request information about themselves be removed from the internet. With the rise of search engines and the continued advancements of the internet, it has become harder and harder to suppress unsavory information about an individuals’ past. Almost any information is now just a search away.

The right to be forgotten recently surfaced in Spain in May 2014. A man who had previously gone through bankruptcy was attempting to get a newspaper article about his bankruptcy removed from the internet. He argued that since it was several years ago, there was no reason for the outdated information to be accessible to the users of the internet. The case went to the European Court of Justice, who ruled that search engines act as data controllers. As data controllers, the court determined they must consider requests to stop displaying outdated or irrelevant material in their search results. This ruling meant that search engines in the European union must begin accepting requests for certain links to be excluded from their search results.

As a result of this ruling, Google now supports receiving right to be forgotten requests. The requests are to have pages not be returned in search queries, rather than being removed from the internet in their entirety. Opponents of this new ruling say that although it supports personal privacy, it conflicts with the free flow of information that makes the internet what it is today.

This ruling has been in place since July 2014. On October 13, 2014, Google released some initial statistics on the right to be forgotten in Europe so far. Google has received 144,954 requests, which spanned 497,695 different urls. Google said that it has removed 42% of these, leaving 58% of them in search results. Google said, “In evaluating a request, we will look at whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person”. This is important because it shows they will not just remove any link that is potentially damaging to a person’s reputation. Instead they take the time to evaluate whether the information is actually invalid or outdated.

In the report, Google gave a few examples of requests they have received so far. The first example was a request that was granted for a user in Germany. The user was a rape victim and when searching for her name, a newspaper article about the incident was one of the first results. The second example was a request from that was denied for a user in Switzerland. The user was a financial professional who had been arrested and convicted for several financial crimes. Google denied the request for more than 10 links to be taken down.

Complaints have surfaced that this process puts too much power in the hands of Google. As a result, individuals whose requests are denied, can appeal to data protection authorities. Google is also working to create a channel for webmasters to appeal these decisions.


Online Ordering

For the past few years Amazon prime has held the title of quickest delivery service for an online retailer, but according to this article Google's Express service is seeking to dethrone Amazon with same day deliveries and a cheaper membership cost.
When Xbox 360 was released in 2005, I like many young gamers, begged my parents to buy me one (or influence Santa to bring me one) for Christmas. The demand for the console was so large it was sold out in every retail store I could think of, so I began searching online for a way to purchase the console. After much searching I came across the popular bidding site Ebay where I found no shortage of Xbox 360s being sold unsurprisingly above retail value. After convincing my parents to place the order I immediately felt concerned, we had made a large online payment in hope that the seller would deliver the product even though there was no guarantee they would. Luckily two weeks later my Xbox arrived and now I place frequent online orders through EBay, Amazon, and other online retailers without worrying.
In less than a decade online ordering has gone from a risky bet to a reliable service with guaranteed delivery dates. Today Amazon Prime allows customers to select from a vast inventory of Prime eligible items which have free shipping and a guaranteed delivery date of two days. Having placed many orders using Amazon prime they have never failed to deliver my items within two days, but if they do you can usually get a $10 Amazon credit which is a fair compensation. Another feature I love about Amazon is their return policy. I am not sure what Amazon's return policy is, but I know I can return anything for free and get my money back if I am not satisfied. This is another feature that allows for worry free online ordering that was not available in its early days.

Google's Express service is $95 per year which is cheaper than Amazon Prime and allows you to subscribe to the service only during the holiday season for a reduced rate. Unfortunately the service is only available in a few cities and has a more limited inventory than Amazon. Lately Google and Amazon have been pursuing the possibility of automated drones to deliver small items to customers in under 30 minutes. If Amazon hopes to top Google’s same day delivery guarantee it will likely require a private delivery service. If Amazon delivers packages to its customers privately through the use of drones or other means it must also take on responsibility for the package should it be lost or stolen in the delivery attempt. This responsibility is currently placed on USPS or UPS which have contracts with Amazon that allow for the two day delivery service. Only time will tell if the reliability of Google Express will match the standard we have become accustomed to with Amazon Prime, until than I am happy to wait two days for my packages.

When Will Computers Stop

Self driving cars seem like something of the future, yet they are already being produced today. Google has been working on a self driving car for a few years now.  The car uses LiDAR (Light Detection and Radar) as its eyes.  Throughout the testing the car has only been in two accidents.  The first was when the car was under human control.  The second accident the car was rear-ended at a stop light by a human driver.  So even with undeveloped technology the computer in the car has not caused an accident, but humans have.  The driverless car is safer than the human driving a car.

Many people think that the humans are inherently safer than anything else. There is some sort of voodoo behind machines that do not require a human to operate. Many people believe that these machines are more likely to fail, but time has shown this is not true.  In the case of driverless car, the Google car has not caused a single accident.  People are more inclined to trust a stranger behind the car that obtained there license from just a few hours of training an exams than a computer that has been tested and fine tuned for years.  Some people might say that a person is just smarter than a computer because of our powerful brains.  This is not true, the driverless car will always being more information faster than any person could. Driverless cars are the future and there may be a day when human driven cars become banned.

Because computers are really safer than any human there will come a point where it is too dangerous to have humans around driving cars.  This idea could be extended to other forms of transportation, such as plains and trains. One day if you want to get anywhere the only from point A to point B, other than walking, will be by computer. It is inevitable that computers will take over the jobs of people, it has already happened with assembly lines. At what point will computers no longer be able to take jobs, is there a certain threshold that computers would not be able to pass?

The first thing that comes to mind is any task that requires creativity.  But I believe even this will be surpassed by computers. As mentioned in class there is already a computer attempting to create every possible literary passage ever and every single musical riff ever.  Although the computer is using a brute force approach, it is still capable of creating creative works.  So computers have already got this one.

As long as computers can't build themselves and can't program themselves we should be fine.  As far as I know computer can't program themselves yet, but they can sure build each other (car assembly line).  In science fiction there are often stories of computers taking over the world.  I believe this is the next greatest crisis that we need to worry about.  Not necessarily robot overlords enslaving humanity, but computer taking ever single job we have.