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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 20th Nov 2018

Image result for High Street

Attempts to increase the number of people shopping on UK High Streets has been given a boost by search giant Google.

It has teamed up with start-up NearSt to help consumers see what is available in their local shops via the web.

The search results will also tell people the distance to the shop and the price of goods for sale.

The live inventory system should help make it "as easy to shop locally as it is online" said Google.

NearSt was founded three years ago by digital brand experts Nick Brackenbury and Max Kreijn.

Mr Kreijn literally had a "lightbulb moment" when one of the bulbs in his flat went, and he searched online to buy a replacement.

"That's how he pitched the business to me," Mr Brackenbury told the BBC. "It seemed crazy that it was easier to get a lightbulb shipped from a warehouse than from a shop 100 metres from his house.

"We all live our lives through our smartphones but they are blind to what is on the shelves of shops we are walking past. If that is made clear to people, then I am very optimistic about the future of the High Street," he told the BBC.

The pair developed technology which connects to a retailer's point of sale system, extracting the data and showing - in real time - what they stock and at what price.

Image captionAlara Health Store in Bloomsbury, central London, has seen more people visit since it used NearSt

Initially they focused on shops in London, but since the partnership with Google was announced, they intend to run the technology out to high streets around the UK over the next 12 months, particularly for retailers of small, independent stores.

"We are champions of the High Street as a whole but the small shops are the businesses that are able to make the fastest decisions," said Mr Brackenbury.

There have been fears in recent years that the High Street is dying, with both local and national shops struggling to make profits, while online shopping has seen huge growth.

But, according to the Office of National Statistics, online sales only account for 18% of total retail sales in the UK.

Nearly a third of all Google searches relate to location and it has focused recently on making more of that about local search.

Nathalie Walton, global head of local shopping at Google, said of the partnership: "It gives small retailers the ability to compete effectively in the online world, without needing any of the technical and financial firepower of their online competitors."

Nick Carroll, a senior retail analyst at research firm Mintel said: "We can't pretend that there are not problems on the High Street and we have seen a number of large chain closures in the last 18 months, but eight out of every 10 pounds is still spent offline.

"It has been easier for major retailers to integrate technology, so partnerships like this are important to support local independent stores, which make the High Street unique and provide its backbone. Using this type of tech, they can fight back."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 20th Nov 2018

Instagram fighting fake activityInstagram

  • Instagram is cracking down on accounts that use third-party apps to dole out fake likes and follows, the company announced Monday.
  • Using machine learning tools, the photo-sharing platform will remove "inauthentic" likes, which are generated by third-party platforms designed to boost audience growth for users.
  • Facebook, Instagram's parent company, has also worked to take down accounts and pages that have been linked to "inauthentic behavior."

Influencers and brands who use bot apps to boost their popularity and increase audience growth may be in trouble, thanks to a new initiative Instagram announced Monday.

In a blog post, Instagram said it would start removing fake likes, follows, and comments using "machine learning tools" it had built. The initiative is targeting "inauthentic activity" from third-party apps designed to boost popularity and audience on the platform, Instagram says.

"This type of behavior is bad for the community, and third-party apps that generate inauthentic likes, follows and comments violate our Community Guidelines and Terms of Use," the blog post says. "Today’s update is just another step in keeping Instagram a vibrant community where people connect and share in authentic ways."

Third-party apps are often used by influencers and brands who are trying to get more followers and boost their popularity. Users can pay for these apps to generate an abundance of activity for their accounts and hopefully increase their audience.

Accounts that have been identified as users of such third-party apps will receive messages from Instagram that notify them their fake activity has been removed, Instagram said. Instagram will also require such accounts to change their passwords, since third-party apps are given access to users' passwords and sensitive account info when they pay for these services.

Instagram has attempted to fight such actions of third-party services in the past. Back in August, Instagram rolled out an "About This Account" feature in an effort to let users themselves evaluate the authenticity of other accounts.  Instagram shut down a popular third-party app last year called Instagress, however, numerous audience-boosting providers still exist, including Archie, InstarocketProX, and Boostio.

While this initiative targeting "inauthentic activity" is Instagram-specific, the platform's parent company, Facebook, has led several efforts to target "inauthentic behavior,"  including a misinformation "war room" ahead of midterm elections. This has included taking down accounts and profiles from both Facebook and Instagram stemming fromIran and Russia for disseminating fake political news.

Instagram also said Monday that this wasn't the only action it was taking to fight inauthenticity on the platform, and that it would reveal "additional measures" in the coming weeks.

The blog post warns that users who continue to use third-party apps "may see their Instagram experience impacted." 

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Nov 2018

Pupils in schools where smartphones are banned like being free of the associated pressures, says England's Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield.

Ms Longfield said schools across England should have a consistent approach to the use of mobile phones.

Image result for mobile phones

She told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that every school seemed to have its own policy on whether pupils could use phones.

She said schools could help families if they took a "bold approach".

The select committee was taking evidence about the impact of social media and screen use on young people's health.

Appearing as a witness on Tuesday, Ms Longfield said research from her officehad shown that children's social media use increased dramatically when they made the transition between primary and secondary school.

She said children spoke to her about an "avalanche of pressure", particularly in the first year of secondary school, to be popular and successful on social media.

"The huge message for me out of that was to prepare children in Year 6, at primary school.

"I've seen some really good examples where you've got secondary-school-age children going back to primary schools and saying, 'If I'd have known this, then this would have really helped', and I think the peer education is a really important part of the whole solution as well."

'Every school has its own policy'

Ms Longfield said schools took very different approaches over the use of smartphones during the school day.

"Every school is different, every school will have some kind of policy.

"Some of it is, 'Keep it in your bag if you can', some are quite off-hand with it, some say, 'No smartphones in school', but they allow the old brick phones in, you know, a little £10 phone so you can make phones calls.

"But I've been to schools where they don't even allow that during school time.

"There's a school in north London that does this and the children I spoke to - they worked with teachers and worked with parents on this - actually like that time in school where they don't have those pressures.

"I would like there to be a commitment that there is consistency across schools in that it isn't relying on the will of the school or the interests of the school."

She added: "It couldn't be something you could impose without being able to bring people with you to really make it effective, but I think there's a real role here for school to be brave and bold and have that leadership with families about access to screens in schools."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Nov 2018

Image result for 5G mobile network

EE has announced which six UK cities will be the first to get faster 5G mobile networks.

Building on existing trials, EE will turn on 5G in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester by mid-2019.

By the end of 2019, another 10 cities will get EE networks which could transmit data at speeds faster than 10 gigabits per second.

Other UK networks are now trialling 5G to accelerate their rollout next year.

Security fears

When 5G networks are operating, Britons can expect higher speeds and better reliability, said Marc Allera, head of the consumer division at EE-owner BT, in a statement.

"We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or wi-fi 100% of the time," said Mr Allera.

He suggested that customers would "pay a little more" for 5G because of its speed and responsiveness.

The other 10 cities will be Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.

Vodafone, O2 and Three are all running trials of the futuristic network technology and are using these as a test bed while they develop services.

In early November, Three said it was well into work to prepare its network for 5G by boosting capacity and installing hardware that will work with existing and faster, future networks.

Vodafone said its trial in Manchester was now part of its "commercial network" and similar sites in five other cities would soon start. It has given no date for when it would offer a 5G service.

O2's test systems are based around the O2 arena in London and it is also running other trials in locations around the UK. It has written to every company in the UK FTSE 100 inviting them to join tests of how the new mobile tech could help their businesses.

The announcement comes soon after the government wrote to UK telecoms firms warning those building 5G networks to take care when selecting which hardware they use.

The letter, reported in the Financial Times, said a review of hardware used for the UK's national infrastructure started in July could delay any rollout.

It said the review could place limits on how much equipment firms could use from Chinese electronics firm Huawei.

Huawei has been stopped in Australia and the US from being used for 5G networks.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 14th Nov 2018
  • Over 600,000 Americans followed Instagram accounts that are now believed to be run by Russian trolls.
  • Facebook, Instagram's parent company, deleted them just days before the 2018 midterms.
  • The action came after the company was tipped off by the FBI.

Over 600,000 Americans followed a series of fake Instagram and Facebook accounts suspected to be linked to Russia that were detected and removed just days before the 2018 midterms. 

 On November 5 — the eve of the contentious midterm elections that saw Democrats take control of the House of Representatives — Facebook announced it had been informed by the FBI about "online activity that they belied was linked to foreign entities," and subsequently took down dozens of accounts and pages. 

In an update on Tuesday, Facebook said it has now taken down 99 Instagram accounts, 36 Facebook accounts, and 6 Facebook Pages. 1.25 million Facebook users followed at least one of the Instagram accounts — and 600,000 of these users were in the United States. 

Like previous influence campaigns, the various accounts and pages posted politically divisive content, from both left-wing and right-wing perspectives, according to samples provided by Facebook. 

In a blog post, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the accounts may be linked to Russia, which has repeatedly tried to spread misinformation and propaganda on the company's social networks — most notably during the 2016 US presidential election.

"Last Tuesday, a website claiming to be associated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russia-based troll farm, published a list of Instagram accounts they said that they’d created. We had already blocked most of them, and based on our internal investigation, we blocked the rest," Gleicher wrote.

"Ultimately, this effort may have been connected to the IRA, but we aren’t best placed to say definitively whether that is the case. As multiple independent experts have pointed out, trolls have an incentive to claim that their activities are more widespread and influential than may be the case. That appears to be true here as well."

sample content 11 12 18 0011 instagramAnother of the accounts promoted pro-LGBTQ content. Facebook

The takedowns are illustrative of the ongoing struggle Facebook faces to protect its platform from covert political influence campaigns — with everyone from Iran-linked operatives to political activists at home in the US attempting to game the system in recent months, according to Facebook's past announcements.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 12th Nov 2018

Students aged 18 and younger will work with China's top scientists to research and build lethal weapon systems

China recruits ?patriotic? teenagers to work on AI weapons

China is far from the only country working with autonomous weapons

China's Beijing Institute of Technology, which specialises in weapons research, has recruited a group of teenagers straight out of school to work on autonomous armaments.

All of the 27 students are 18 or younger, and where chosen for the four-year ‘experimental programme for intelligent weapons systems' from more than 5,000 candidates.

"We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges," an unnamed professor at the BIT told the South China Morning Post. "A passion for developing new weapons is a must … and they must also be patriots."

The teens will have to choose a field to specialise in, such as mechanical engineering, electronics or overall weapon design. After finishing the course, they will be expected to continue on to a PhD programme and eventually become the future leaders of China's AI weapons research.

China has aspirations to become a world leader in AI and autonomous tools, and has already been accused of using the technology in espionage. This week, the Xinhua state news agency unveiled AI news presenters at the World Internet Day conference - China's answer to Davos.

First, though, the country must catch up to the rest of the world - in particular the USA, which is the current AI leader. It is well under way, with research ongoing at domestic technology giants like Baidu and Tencent, and Chinese research papers accepted at respected AI conferences.

This is the great benefit, and threat, of an authoritarian society: the government can divert funds to wherever it likes, working with top scientists at private institutions to drive innovation forward at a pace that would be unthinkable in a less controlled state.

Earlier this year, thousands of scientists signed a pledge stating that they would not help to develop autonomous weapons. China's foreign ministry told the SCMP that it was ‘very aware' of the possible problems with such systems. In April this year, the Chinese government submitted a position paper to the UN appealing for more discussions on the subject:

‘As products of emerging high technologies, development and use of lethal autonomous weapons systems would reduce the threshold of war, and the cost of warfare on the part of the user countries. This would make it easier and more frequent for wars to break out.

‘Until such discussions have been had, there should not be any preset premises or prejudged outcome which may impede the development of AI technology,' it said.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 12th Nov 2018

Many families currently pay for a separate mobile and home broadband services

Image result for 5g

5G mobile data will be so reliable and fast most homes will no longer need a separate home broadband connection, according to one of the companies planning to launch a UK service.

Three UK's chief executive told BBC News there would be enough capacity on 5G to cope with demand, meaning households would be able to save money by ending their fixed-line contracts.

He predicts consumers will use 13 times as much mobile data in 2025 as today.

But one expert warned against "hype".

Three has said it intends to launch its first 5G services in the UK as soon as the middle of next year.

Its announcement coincides with news from BT's mobile division, EE, that it has switched on nine 5G trial sites in London.

Vodafone and Telefonica-owned O2 have also bought spectrum to launch 5G services of their own in the country.

Higher capacity

In theory, 5G could offer download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second or even 20Gbps - although these are unlikely to be attained for many years if at all.

Most handsets are not yet capable of pushing 4G speeds to their limits, so UK networks are under pressure to convince the public of the need to upgrade having spent more than had been predicted on the spectrum auctioned to date.

As part of its pitch, Three is making the case that 5G will offer a "genuine alternative" to fixed-line copper and fibre services.

Mr Dyson has led Three UK since 2011. "Maybe not for the whole country, but certainly a significant majority of the country, I strongly believe 5G can offer a good enough home broadband experience for people to effectively ditch their copper [or fibre] connection," said David Dyson, Three UK's chief executive.

"The challenge in terms of why we can't do that today is that the mobile networks don't have the capacity with 3G or 4G. 5G changes all of that."

Capacity refers to the amount of data that can be handled at any one time rather than the speed.

Three already provides a 4G-based "unlimited data" home broadband service in London, called Relish, which it acquired last year.

But Mr Dyson said the business had to be careful how many people it signed up, to prevent its service degrading.

This, he said, would not be a problem with 5G.

But one industry-watcher said it was still unclear how reliable the technology would be.

"Stability is important for video streaming at HD and Ultra HD quality levels, and paramount for the gaming community," said Andrew Ferguson, from the news site Thinkbroadband.

"Full-fibre services are going to beat 5G as you have a connection as stable as the one that will be feeding the mobile masts and thus the variables of signal strength dropping due to a bus passing the home are avoided."

The government is currently pursuing a target of "full-fibre" broadband coverage to the whole UK by 2033, in which high-speed optical cables are used to bring data right up to buildings without having to rely on slower copper for part of the journey.

At present, only 5% of all properties have access to the full-fibre connections, according to the regulator Ofcom.

But Three's chief executive suggested the cost involved could help make 5G a more attractive option.

"Fibre-to-the-home for the small number of customers who value it and need it will probably provide a faster speed," Mr Dyson said.

"But I think for the majority of people, 5G will be a genuine alternative.

"It's still quite unclear to me, as I'm sure it is to many people, what is going to be the price of all these fibre-to-the-home deployments when it actually arrives

"It's expensive to dig up roads. It takes a lot of time and money.

"It's much cheaper and quicker to provide that connectivity via a wireless connection."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 7th Nov 2018

Image result for alexis ohanian​​​​​​​

  • Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian wants you to know that "hustle porn" — the fetishization of extremely long working hours — is bad.
  • Ohanian let his own mental health go when he built Reddit. He suffered from depression, he says, but worked instead of getting well.
  • "This is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now," he told Web Summit on Tuesday.

LISBON, Portugal — "Hustle porn!" exclaims Alex Ohanian, his voice booming through the 20,000-capacity Altice Arena. "Is this a thing in the European tech community? Or is this a US thing?"

The Reddit founder is standing onstage at Web Summit, the annual tech conference in Lisbon, and the audience is baffled.

"This is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now," he says. "This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding working every hour of every day, you're not working hard enough."

"It's such bulls---, such utter bulls---."

Ohanian is referring to the fetishization of extremely long work hours, typically by entrepreneurs or tech workers, who give up nights and weekends to code their software or build their businesses.

Ohanian hates it. It was a recurring theme in his speech to Web Summit on Tuesday, titled "What I wish a VC had told me." The backstory, of course, is that Ohanian was given $12,000 at a Y Combinator event in 2005, told "good luck," and went on to launch Reddit.

Now — in addition to being executive chairman at Reddit — he is a general partner at Initialized Capital, his own VC firm. And he has advice to give about not working ludicrous hours that sacrifice your physical or mental health.

"It has deleterious effects not just on your business but on your well-being," he says. Ohanian is passionate about this in large part because he suffered from depression while building Reddit after his mother died.

"As entrepreneurs, we are all so busy 'crushing it' that physical health, let alone mental health, is an afterthought for most founders. It took me years to realize that the way I was feeling — when working on Reddit was the only therapy I had — was depression," he wrote earlier this year.

Ohanian has other advice to give, of course. But it was a theme that ran through his speech. Take care of yourself, because work is not a substitute for health: "Please do not succumb to hustle porn."

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 6th Nov 2018

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”

It was an argument we heard a lot in the years following Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s famous claim that privacy was no longer a social norm. A lot has changed in the eight years since. The web has evolved, new tools make it easier to protect our privacy online, and scandals with social networks and other online entities have made privacy itself a hot topic once again.

And yet, as the second decade of the 21st century edges towards its conclusion, we continue to sacrifice our privacy in the name of progress, often without our knowledge. But do we care enough about it to slow down the pace of technological innovation? To halt the development of more powerful interconnected services? Well, it all depends on who you ask.

 

IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS

In his 2014 Ted Talk titled, “Privacy is dead and that’s great,” Richard Aldrich highlighted some of the exciting benefits of a privacy-free future. He suggested that through smartphones and cameras, the general public could help solve high-profile crimes, corporations wouldn’t be able to dodge tax obligations through shady accounting, and tracking people’s biometrics could lead to great advances in healthcare.

His idea of the future relies on such transparency extending to everyone, including the wealthy and politically connected. But the promise of living longer by having health data on tap for analytical services and artificial intelligences, could be an easy sell in comparison to the seemingly ever more nebulous concept of privacy.

If we’re going to have a real shot at fixing the problems caused by Facebook's dominance, it needs to give users meaningful control of their own data. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/07/facing-facebook-data-portability-and-interoperability-are-anti-monopoly-medicine …

10:02 PM - Aug 5, 2018

Facing Facebook: Data Portability and Interoperability Are

Social media has a competition problem, and its name is Facebook. Today, Facebook and its subsidiaries are over ten times more valuable than the next two largest social media companies outside

eff.org

Twitter Ads info and privacy

In a talk at dConstruct 2014, Tom Scott took a step further. He suggested that by 2030, privacy could become something that only grandparents remember. Such an age of pervasive surveillance would create a socially manned, digital panopticon he said, helping to bring crime levels to historic lows, making everyone accountable to their actions, not just of today, but of everything they ever did.

In many ways, we’re seeing the first hints of such a future right now.

If the 2000s were a decade of advancements in compact computing and processing power, the 2010’s have been driven by data. With ever expanding free services offered by companies like Google and Facebook, big data and the analytics that followed, have lead to huge profits for those companies, but also exciting new products. Translation tools, image and speech recognition, have all improved enormously in the past few years thanks to the collection of data on a hitherto unheard of scale.

Smart assistants like Siri and Cortana take those tools and improve them further through personalization by learning behaviors based on information gathered on the user(s). Smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa driven Echo devices are increasingly offering more data driven functions with voice support.

These are all ideas that on paper sound like they would open up the world to a beautiful, data-driven tomorrow. As Google’s Sundar Pinchai explained, this vision of the future is “AI-first” and allows us to live alongside this augmented reality in a manner that is more personalized, if less anonymous.

It sounds like the trade is worth it then, right? Well, not to everyone. Rising to counter these utopian ambitions is a growing movement that doesn’t want to see such a future come about, especially if it’s not willingly instigated. That’s proved a very real concern too, since companies like Google have been found to effectively disregard user preference in its ever hungrier quest for data. There’s a disturbing perspective on where this is leading, and the stakes rise by the day.

LOOKING FORWARD THROUGH DYSTOPIAN LENSES

One expert waving a red flag is Lotte Houwing. She’s a privacy enthusiast who works on strategic litigation in the field of human rights in the Netherlands. For her, it’s all about data and who controls it.

“I share different data with my employer than with my mother, and it is important for me to have that control,” she told Digital Trends.

Houwing suggested that too much surveillance, combined with a willingness to accept it as the norm, could lead to a society built around compliance to an arbitrary digital authority. Such a world, she argued, would cater to a select few and reward falsehoods and conformity above all else.

“The social justice implications of [facial recognition…] people of color are so disproportionately impacted by the collection and use of this information”

To help imagine how this philosophy of privacy could play out in the real world, Houwing drew upon the wealth of dystopian fiction we have. In a particularly illuminating episode of  Black Mirror(“Nosedive”), it shows how every aspect of a person’s life could be affected by their numerical stature in a digital application. How they interact with people in their personal life, how bright their smile is, and perhaps most disturbingly, their adherence to societal norms, all have an affect on their rating. That rating in turn affects their ability to take out loans, to live in certain neighborhoods or to work for certain companies.

You don’t need a system like that to prove the point. There has always been more privacy afforded to those with privilege than those without, if that’s what they desire. Historically, the powerful could afford houses with multiple rooms and larger plots of land. The same is true today, as Mark Zuckerberg showed when he purchased four houses around his own to improve his personal privacy.

There are always limitations to that kind of privacy, though, because it’s grounded in the real, physical world. In digital spaces there is arguably no limit to the amount of space the privileged few can put between their data and that of less wealthy or connected internet users.

That’s the greatest concern of Gennie Gebhart, a researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In her chat with Digital Trends, she suggested that certain technologies like facial recognition, have the potential to widen the gap between the haves and the have nots like never before.

“The social justice implications of this – people of color are so disproportionately impacted by the collection and use of this information – that’s a real dystopia,” she said.

It’s that interconnected, privacy-less world Google imagines — flipped on its head.

“It’s a technology that’s advancing rapidly and in particular when it comes to law enforcement,” she said. “Different kinds of regulations have not been able to keep up […] It’s something that affects more people than they’re aware of.”

 

That’s something we’re already seeing play out in some parts of the country, with facial recognition and analytics being used to even predict crimes before they happen, raising questions about the role law enforcement plays in society.

Were such a system to become commonplace, some believe that what it could mean a fundamental change in what it means to be human. That might sound overstated, but data collection always come at a price – and in this case, it’s at the privacy of the users. That’s not a far-off dystopia. It’s happening today.

TRADING IN PRIVACY FOR A PROFIT

The difficulty with privacy and the laws that protect it for individuals, is that privacy means something different to different people and some are more comfortable with less of it than others. Indeed the very concept of privacy is a modern one, with many historical examples to suggest that privacy is less of a social norm than proponents of it may suggest.

“Privacy can be part of our law and in the U.S. in that tradition, it’s the right to be left alone.”

“The notion of privacy that we are most familiar with comes straight from Aristotle in a lot of ways,” Gennie Gebhart told Digital Trends. “Privacy can be part of our law and in the U.S. in that tradition, it’s the right to be left alone. The right to a private space for self expression, exploration and growth. The right to control information about oneself – who else can have access to it and when.”

But it was only in the middle of the 20th-century that the concept of privacy was fully embedded in modern society and protected by law. Roman societies bathed and went to the bathroom in public and the concept of having a bed and “bed chamber” exclusively for individuals, even among the wealthy, was alien until the 17th century. Everyone else simply slept on one large mattress with their whole family – often with animals in the same room.

But many people today willingly give up their right to privacy for the sake keeping friends and family updated on what they’re doing in their lives. Others turn it into a business. Everyone from mommy vloggers and Twitch streamers to Instagram celebrities, make a living from their existence in virtual space by sharing their data with others. To some this is a crude example of a cultural shift towards the death of privacy, whereas others see it as a way to profit from something companies have been doing for decades.

British satirist, Oli Frost is most known for creating the fake social media enhancing company, LifeFaker. He famously attempted to sell his Facebook data on Ebay. While initially unsuccessful, he still considers his personal and private life unimportant enough to warrant protective privacy measures.

“The biggest companies in the world spend huge amounts of money and employ the most brilliant minds to make you click on the buttons.”

“I’m not doing much that’s interesting most days anyway,” he said. “Mostly I come home from work too exhausted to [deal] with the existential issues with my life, and so decide to watch Netflix instead.”

For the EFF’s Gebhart, though, this apathetic response to the concept of privacy isn’t born of a lack of care about it, but a feeling of helplessness in a world that seems designed to cater to those who discard it.

“I absolutely don’t blame consumers if they fall into the attitude of ‘I might as well share it,’ this security nihilism,” she said. “It’s easy to get dispirited or frustrated like that. Particularly when the biggest companies in the world spend huge amounts of money and employ the most brilliant minds to make you click on the buttons, make you continue sharing. The odds you’re up against as a consumer are really hard. I think that that attitude is really common.”

GIVING THE POWER OF PRIVACY BACK TO THE PEOPLE

Almost a decade on from Mark Zuckerberg’s inflammatory comments on privacy, Facebook’s public-facing stance is quite different. When asked for comment, the social network sent Digital Trends a quote from its deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman.

“When it comes to privacy, there are a few things we know to be true. First, everyone has a basic right to privacy,” he said during a recent talk. “Second, because privacy means different things to different people at different times, the only way to guarantee it for everyone, all the time, is by putting people in control.”

 

Statista via YouGov/Handelsblatt

He went on to refute the paradigm that people of the future will need to opt for privacy or functional services.

For privacy proponents like Gebhart and Houwing, this is all very encouraging, because as they see it now, the future is not as rosy as it could be.

Legislative changes like the GDPR and major privacy scandals like the Cambridge Analytica data theft have shown that there is still a real appetite for privacy in the modern day. Flipping the coin on their concerns for the future, we asked our sources to give us their idea of a privacy utopia and they all suggested the same thing: It should be one driven by choice.

 

“The right to informed decision-making and consent, not only in a meaningful way, but in an ongoing basis would be a must,” Gebhart explained. She went on to suggest that companies would need to be frank and open with people about the information they collected and stored on them, giving users complete control over how it was used, how long it was stored for, and when it was ultimately deleted.

For that to be possible though, she highlighted that more competition for top-tier services was needed. Right now, she said, Facebook has no viable competition – no other service has the number of users it has. That’s something Lotte Houwing was keen to see happen too, highlighting that in the future, we’ll need to see a lot more alternatives to the existing status quo.

Wherever you stand on the spectrum of the privacy debate, it seems hard to argue that we aren’t going through a transitory phase

“It might be a mixture between some cool privacy nerds taking privacy by design and privacy by default to the next level and develop a lot of alternative apps for the things people like to use on an open source basis” she said. “Reclaim technology thereby enabling themselves to set the standards and the requirements for what technology will be used.”

Wherever you stand on the spectrum of the privacy debate, it seems hard to argue that we aren’t going through a transitory phase as a burgeoning digital society. The early days of the internet and its services provided anonymity in a fashion that hadn’t been possible before, but the veil is gradually being lifted. It’s becoming a more personal space, but not one that the people in it have much control over.

If we can instead build digital services and products that let the people who use them decide what happens to their data and what the limits of its use are, then everyone wins. If we don’t, then we risk stifling progress in all sorts of exciting fields, or giving ourselves over to a world where the technology that was designed to set us free, imprisons us in a digital panopticon of our making.

Source: digitaltrends.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 6th Nov 2018

Image result for bill gates

Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates had his hands full on-stage in Beijing on Tuesday, showing a jar of human faeces.

The stunt was part of his speech at the Reinvented Toilet Expo event - a showcase for new toilet technologies.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $200m on researching the field across the last seven years.

Twenty cutting-edge sanitation products were on display, intended to destroy harmful bacteria and prevent disease.

"I have to say, a decade ago I never imagined that I'd know so much about poop," Mr Gates joked at the conference. "And I definitely never thought that Melinda would have to tell me to stop talking about toilets and faecal sludge at the dinner table."

The entrepreneur was helping to launch the three-day event in China - where leader Xi Jinping has made a so-called "toilet revolution" across the country a policy priority.

The showcased products aim to revolutionise sanitation technology by operating off-grid to separate liquid and solid waste and remove harmful by-products.

"It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems," he said. "It's a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale."

The entrepreneur described the inventions on display as the "most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years".

Deadly disease

The technology giant pointed out the jar of faeces beside him could contain as many as 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs.

Mr Gates' foundation - which he has donated billions to - operates in 130 countries

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2.3 billion people around the world still don't have access to basic sanitation facilities.

This can cause diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery which kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Gates discussed the inequalities in sanitation access.

"In rich countries we have sewers that take clean water in, flush some of the dirty water out, in almost all cases there's a treatment plant," he said.

"As we have these newer cities with lots of less wealthy people in them, those sewers have not been built and in fact, it's not likely they ever will be, so the question is, could you do it? Could you process human waste without that sewer system?"

The foundation has said they hope the reinvented toilet will first roll out in buildings like schools and apartment buildings, before costs gradually decline and they become affordable in households.

You're only going to pay hundreds of dollars for a toilet - if it's really fantastic maybe $500," Mr Gates told the BBC.

"You're saving all the costs of the waters, the processing products, but we have to bring it down by almost a factor of 10 from what the models are like - but that's not atypical for new product markets."

On his trip, Mr Gates also appeared at the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai, at a time of tension between the US and China.

The world's two largest economies have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war over tariffs for much of the year.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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