A spy under the tree for the holidays?

The Observer on IOT and spying

Quite enjoyed Guardian’s piece about the raff of home iot devices coming to the home these holidays.

If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to.

It was a real welcome surprise to read/hear Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino too. Her new book Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life is pretty much on the money.

“It’s very clear what they’re trying to do: sell you more stuff through third-party use of your own information,”

The fear about whether or not such devices are actually always on causes some users to relegate their smart speakers to corridors. “Think about where in the home you want to use these things, particularly if you think they might be listening all the time,”

I had the joy of capturing some of Alexandra’s early thoughts while putting together the ethics of personal data video interviews back in 2015.

I think the only thing missing from the article is a link to Mozilla’s buyers guide, which charts in a friendly consumer fashion whats actually going on underneath the surface of the iot devices we may get over the holiday period.

Worm attacks over unsecured protocals

Philips Elevation Ambilight+hue

Bruce Schneier isn’t the only person worried about this type of attack. I already turned off external access to my Hue lights following the IOT bot net news.

This is exactly the sort of Internet-of-Things attack that has me worried:

“IoT Goes Nuclear: Creating a ZigBee Chain Reaction” by Eyal Ronen, Colin OFlynn, Adi Shamir and Achi-Or Weingarten.

Abstract: Within the next few years, billions of IoT devices will densely populate our cities. In this paper we describe a new type of threat in which adjacent IoT devices will infect each other with a worm that will spread explosively over large areas in a kind of nuclear chain reaction, provided that the density of compatible IoT devices exceeds a certain critical mass. In particular, we developed and verified such an infection using the popular Philips Hue smart lamps as a platform. The worm spreads by jumping directly from one lamp to its neighbors, using only their built-in ZigBee wireless connectivity and their physical proximity. The attack can start by plugging in a single infected bulb anywhere in the city, and then catastrophically spread everywhere within minutes, enabling the attacker to turn all the city lights on or off, permanently brick them, or exploit them in a massive DDOS attack.

What are hyper-reality experiences?

perceptive-media-ethics-dreams-hyper-reality-44-638

I talked previously about mixed reality but the consensus seems to be VR+AR = Mixed Reality… it looks like that ship has sailed and no matter what I say nothing will bring that back. So I have started talking about hyper-reality when discussing perceptive media across objects and things.

You could say its like a theatre cast in your living room and starts to answer some of the questions about perceptive media killing the shared experience. Theres already people hacking things to media, BBC R&D even experimented a long time ago in this area with the famous dalek example and of course the Perceptive Radio was just the start. The second version of the perceptive radio, did actually include more connectivity options to reach out and interact with devices in the local space such as Philips Hue lights, bluetooth devices, etc. It seems so simple but the big difference is they are reacting to the media rather than being thought about at the script/narrative level. With object based media (media+metadata) we can get to level much richer and interesting than ever imagined perviously.

Imagine what would happen if the director/writer could start to specify these type of experiences, the same way a director chooses to show certain characters in certain light, angles, etc. However the big difference is it can be contextual, flexible and scalable for 1 or many more people. How about that for a shared experience?

Of course this  brings up many ethical questions, data dilemmas, and questions about graceful degradation and progressive enhancement for media experiences. But I’m going to side step that in my blog for now. There are too many questions and research is well underway.

Ethics of personal data videos

Hyper-reality (or shall I call it hyper narratives, certainly can’t call it hypermedia) extends the narrative into the real world. This is fascinating because;

I contest this is closer to alternative reality gaming and the very popular immersive theatre works such as sleep no more. A problem with both is the scalability and consistency of experience, but whats great about them is the unique and shared experiences.

The Verge recently did a whats tech podcast which talks about immersive theatre, alternative reality games and the logical future of this stuff. Like the psychtech podcast episode 44, it highlights a lot of my current thinking and how all these things are connected. I always said the Internet of things needs a narrative because right now it all feels to service/utility. Even Google’s home project lacks that human-like narrative.

Internet of things needs a narraive

Some will sniff at this blog post but hyper-reality is the best word I can think of to explain what happens when you mix media objects, physical things, storytelling and context together.

Building virtual worlds is nice, augmenting the real world is better. However in my mind the future is those who explore the cross over of things, devices and media. Can you imagine the incredible levels of immersion?

 

Data portability and the internet of things

Nabaztag on the Microwaves
I can’t help but laugh and partly shake my head at the crazy things which are being networked. You only have to follow internet of shit to get this.

I said heck no when a friend who I’d expect more thought from, suggested I should get one of the internet connected door locks; following my thoughts about Airbnb hosting. Not sure if they were being ironic or serious.

It comes as almost no shock, when reading the time that Tony Fadell sold me a container of hummus.

On May 15th a critical Nest product will go dark. I’m shocked this isn’t bigger news.

I don’t mean that the Nest product will reach end-of-life for support and updates. No, I mean that on May 15th they will actually turn off the device and disable your ability to use the hardware that you paid for.

Google/Nest’s decision raises an interesting question. When software and hardware are intertwined, does a warranty mean you stop supporting the hardware or does it mean that the manufacturer can intentionally disable it without consequence? Tony Fadell seems to believe the latter. Tony believes he has the right to reach into your home and pull the plug on your Nest products.

This littarly tingle’s of ethics of data; as I lumped data portability in the class of ethics a while ago. Theres been a few scary stories such as Berg cloud, the end of aibos and the famous nazbaztag saga. This is just the start, imagine when its your whole home system like in the example of Nest

Is the era of IoT bringing an end to the concept of ownership? Are we just buying intentionally temporary hardware? It feels like it. I own a Commodore 64 that still works.

The point is perfectly made. We have moved into a world of renting and/or licencing. I have many things which past their support date ages ago. For example my old Nexus 7 2012 edition, still runs and even has the latest Android 6.0 operating system on it. My pacemaker is coming up on 9 years old and there was a beta update 6 months ago! Even my Pebble smartwatch just recently got a update. And I can go back far further with other devices and machines. Heck my original Xbox and Playstation 1 still run and work..

Interesting to see Tony Fadell has stepped down too…

Barbie will be the hacker’s number one stocking filler this year

I guarantee you… Forget the wifi pineapple, its all about barbie.

Why? Well anybody who understands technology knows why… But everybody else has just caught up.

But I absolutely love this picture of Barbie in the corner thinking about what she did. Like she has been a little naughty and taking some time to think about things.

 

The global connected village at Mozfest

Mozfest 2014

In two weeks time (November 7-8th) I’ll be spacewrangling once again in for Mozfest 2015.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy but its always amazing how everything comes together on the weekend. You are literately fielding the water with your hands into channels, but far down the river, it all collects into a massive lake of tranquillity and calm.

This year, we are not just running an area, like last year. Oh no that was too easy (I of course joke) nope this year its the global (connected) village which is about 5-6 connected spaces.

What is the Global Village? A collection of self-contained but interconnected places from around the world where participants at Mozfest meet, learn and tinker with tomorrow’s places. The Global Village cultivates leading practitioners to build, teach and advocate for an Internet of things that empowers its users.

Turn off your screen. Close your book. End that meeting. Pick up a sketchpad, a pair of scissors, a hot-glue gun, some parcel tape and come cry “If We Build It They Will Come.” This is a springboard for tomorrow and welcoming place for those inclusive citizens and communities.

The spaces each take a part of the home (note I say home not house) and are then run by friends of  For example our big space which connects to all the others is a library (or even study if you restrict it down to a house). Each unique space will explore the future of that space and challenge the typical notions which make up the future home. The spaces will be littered with provocations and there will be themes around narrative, diversity, inclusion, connection,  wellness and humanity.

If you don’t have a ticket for Mozfest 2015 yet, its time to get one before they sell out.

Afrofutures in Manchester next week

060/365: Afro Halo

Manchester is running Afrofutures next weekend

Afro Futures UK, a collective of researchers, artists, programmers and activists exploring new ways of examining blackness and futurism. We are hosting an  FREE all day Afrofuturist Conference and Exhibition on 10th October 2015 at MADLAB with a special rosta of speakers and workshops from the USA, Europe Africa and the UK.

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A world written by one slice of a very big pie

Diversity in the digital sector, its the thing which I and many many others are banging about. In recent times, I have been thinking about this a lot and even more in regards to the Mozilla Festival.

This year one of the ambitions in Mozfest is…

How can we leverage the web to include more people, across gender, class, race and age? How can we be humble yet proactive in overcoming real discrimination and exclusion?

On a related note… , sent me a tweet to his idea to put together a digital diversity alliance.

I do want to make the digital world diverse, I am seriously worried about where we are going. There are signs that things will get better for some but its clear we need to look diversity not just one segment of the whole pie. I understand this is incredibly hard but its so important that the aim is the moon not just the upper atmosphere.

Mr Robot says Fcuk society

Recently I watched Mr Robot and a few other films (I promise no spoilers) but it emphasize the problem with a mono culture for me.

A young computer programmer (Malek) who suffers from social anxiety disorder and forms connections through hacking. He’s recruited by a mysterious anarchist, who calls himself Mr. Robot.

The problem with the mono culture around the digital industry is in my mind self evident. This is bad but its going to get way worst

As software makes its way into more services and those services in turn become a larger part of our lives through law, economics, social norms plus practically through the internet of things, synthetic biology, etc. It’s important to think about software as having an opinion of some kind.

Larry Lessig

Lawrence Lessig wrote a fantastic book called code: and other laws of cyberspace. Where be talked about code as law because the law is always playing catch up to the code, algorithms, systems and ultimately opinions baked into the code. Imagine trying to reason with a drone carrying guns, when you naturally act outside of the parameters set by somebodies idea of how people should act (or is that the American police force now?). Reminds me of a colleague at work who during BarCampMediaCity somebody thought was drunk and should be told to leave. But anybody who knows him, knows thats his natural state.

united colours of benetton advert
Ah Remember those united colours of benetton adverts? Maybe Tech needs more these…?

Sounds extreme but the example is pointing at the same thing. Its unconscious bias and unfortunately its being baked into software, hardware and the services we use. But unlike us its not got the chance to recognise the bias and correct its self (as such).

THIS IS BAD!

Why am I not taking Toby up on his ask?

Simple

You have time to help create the best Digital Diversity Alliance in the whole wide world.  It’s not a full-time job but we need committed individuals brimming with passion and drive.

I am time poor, I have a lot of things happening including helping out at a dyslexia group in Manchester and I’m trying to commit to less stuff till I get things in a reasonable state. Its a shame but I need to be honest with myself and its not fair on those who can do a equal or a better job but can also dedicate more attention than myself. Hate to be the one hold back such a great alliance.Take good fortune Toby and if I can help in future, I certainly would like to feed into the alliance in some way. I’d like to start this by encouraging you to float the idea in a workshop at Mozfest 2015. Equally if you too would like to have a less bleak, diverse and collaborative future. Contact Toby in his post

Quantified relationships?

Tony asks my view on pplkpr.

pplkpr is an app that tracks, analyzes, and auto-manages your relationships. Using a smartwatch, pplkpr monitors your physical and emotional response to the people around you, and optimizes your social life accordingly.

Its a interesting project/art project. I don’t think it would work so well but I seen it all before in QSEU13 with Fabio who records every single person he talks to.

Well at least its not a complete system, it works with other wearable devices.

pplkpr has been extensively tested with the Mio wristband, but any Bluetooth LE (also called Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth 4.0) device that transmits heart rate in real time will work. This includes the Polar H7 chest band and the Zephyr HxM.

What data is personal to you?

Alex data ethics

On International data privacy day, BBC R&D has posted a video asking a bunch of smart people what data is personal to them?

As I have been working on the project for quite sometime, I can happily say there is a lot more to come. Including ways to feedback. Go check have a look and see if you agree with the opinions of our industry experts?

You might have seen the theme of the work in the blog post ethics of data and what we setup at Mozilla Festival. Expect more in the future…

 

Not long to propose a workshop for #Mozfest’s things on the web

Ravensbourne

This space could be yours!

Last month I talked about what we’re doing for Mozilla Fest 2014. Some people have mentioned how vague the whole call for participation thing sounds.

Its deliberately vague because we don’t want to be restrictive as this is a new area we’re exploring.

If somebody had to tie me down, I would describe like this…

Taking a humanistic and ethical approach to the new experiences and tension points of 6 billion people and 2^128 things on an open web.

There are massive challenges and drives to give access to everyone of the current 6 billion humans. But there equally a massive challenge for the 2 to the power of 128 potential things to also sit on the same web. Its not good enough to just sit on the web, they need to act and behave in ethical and humanistic  ways.

Its not really fair to just create things which talk to the web and not consider its place in the grand ecosystem of the web. It would be like unleashing a new parasite into our oceans, without consideration about whats it role, is it going to kill everything else off, feast on coral reef, increase the number of jelly fish in the ocean?

Yes its just a ardunio and some loose code but where does it fit? Whats its role? Whats its ethics?

When we built the Perceptive Radio, we thought long and hard about this and decided it was just the tip of something far bigger. The balance between what things can do in the real world crossed with what they can do online really is almost like magic. Magic which can and will be easily abused. For example can you imagine the incredible things we could do if there was a wifi sniffer on board. Can you imagine the incredible experiences we could create and the terrifying experiences others with far less ethics or concern could do without your consent.

Theres been a little news following Facebook messenger permissions and some people talking about the actual permission systems of Android vs iOS. This is a scratch of the surface again…

As somebody said to me, yeah yeah so what this has been a long running problem for 20 years! Yes I know but things we carry around with us, plus the reliance on the network and these things strikes myself as something Jonathan Zittrain was talking about over 10 years ago.Back to Mozilla Festival – Its not all about being negative, honestly! We want to get away from..

Hey cool man, here’s my 3D printed thing I created…

Oh right, where does that fit in the world? Have you thought about where?

How does this forward human potential? How does it empower somebody? Myself, Jon and Jasmine feel it should empower and if it doesn’t, why does it exist? Maybe to enslave?

We’re pass the stage of novelty, lets think about how these things exist and work along side us.

Agree or disagree, we want to hear it…

Sign up to do a workshop, session or special performance in our cafe/bar we’re planning for Mozfest. And to be clear it doesn’t matter where you live in the world, if its that good, Mozila will find a way to get you over to London on the weekend of the 24-26th October. Not sure how to get started… go to the live coaching or just get in touch to ask more questions… You got till the Friday 22nd August…

Where Storytelling and Internet of Things cross over

If you know anything about the kind of work I’ve been researching for R&D. You may know Perceptive Media is big deal in my world and as my motto seems to be, my world is not mainstream yet. However this world crosses over with a couple other areas. Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Object media are a few of the obvious ones, which come to mind.

Tomorrow I’m fortunate enough to take part in another one of the Future of Storytelling weekly hangouts. I took part in one a while ago but I regularly watch on Wednesdays (1730 GMT) before heading to Volleyball. Make sure you tune into the hangout

 join us this Wednesday, March 12, as we explore “the story of things” with Alexis Lloyd, the Creative Director of the New York Times’s Research and Development Lab. The “Internet of Things,” has ushered us into an age where physical objects have the potential to talk to us – and each other – in a way that rapidly transforms our most basic understanding of what gadgets are.  Llloyd, informed in part by her background designing immersive and exploratory experiences, believes these “enchanted objects” have within them a world of narrative and poetic potential: The R+D lab exists as a laboratory for the staff of the “Grey Lady” to study the implications of these emerging technologies and behaviors on news-media and print. In the hangout she, alongside an audience of industry experts, will explore the storytelling potential of tools and devices as unassuming as a simple bathroom mirror.

The video sums it up well and gets right into the depths of storytelling and the Internet of things. It begs the question, what would objects around you say if they could talk?

Love what Alexis is doing and who knows what might happen in the future? Sure Perceptive Publishing would be right up their avenue? And some of the guys from the NYtimes office came to Hackday and Mashed back in the day… I wonder what they would make of some more of the object things were up to?

The Internet of Things listed

Chris retweeted another directory trying to document all the Internet of things. I say another, but I’ve only seen two to date (Wolfram connected devices project and now iotlist).

I imagine there will be more to come soon, unless the likes of Amazon blow them all out the water?

I’ll be very interested to see how they categorise (taxonomy) and tag (folksomony) the data surrounding each thing.

Google buys a Nest

Well well, remember when Kevin Rose interviewed Matt Rogers from Nest… very telling indeed

It just hit and everyone on twitter is saying Google buying Nest for 3.2 Billion dollars is far too much.

I think its high but not insane.

Here’s why… Google has been a data service for a long while, they aimed to revolutionise the mobile market, kicked started the driverless car thing, recently bought Motorola’s manufacturing arm and now there making a real play for the internet of things by buying Nest. They also did this before Apple got there polished hands all over them. I’m actually surprised they didn’t do something in this area already.

The internet of things powered by the juggernaut of cloud based data and logic is something closer to the reality of the semantic web (or even the singularity dare I say it) than anything before it.

Can you even imagine the data, usage patterns and algorithms which will be built. And its all in the home! Trust me 3.2 Billion isn’t too bad.

Scary or exciting?

Who knows but like Google Now it will divide opinion. The best services always do.

As for the big price tag? Well like Youtube, I’m sure in years to come it will look like a total steal.