This Week in Tech
I have been a fan of the Black Mirror series since its debut. I have wondered whether to post about it on this blog - its musings and insights into possible technologically dystopian futures are disturbing but thought and conversation provoking. I can see how watching an episode can be very useful in the classroom - for debate and follow up exercises around which current technologies will develop to make the depicted future possible. Seeing a review of Black Mirror in The Daily Maverick prompted me to include it in this post.
I would highly recommend that if you have not seen Black Mirror you take the time and effort to do so. Even if you don’t include it in your classroom it will arm you with ammunition to pull out when you need to talk about possible future trends and social implications of the technology that you are teaching...
Malware, hacks, Etc...
AR & VR
Social & privacy
That’s it for this week - really do try to watch Black Mirror (Netflix). Ciao
At least that's what it feels like. There's been a lot of articles on Google this last week. From DRMing your email - to record setting fines from the EU - to winning a contract to supply internet to rural Kenya with its balloons, Google has been in the spotlight. Besides Google: Facebook melted down its stock, Amazon made a lot of money from its Bit Barns (data centres) and the internet proved once again that it never forgets anything!
This is about Google insisting that phone makers can only license Android and use it on their phones if they meet certain conditions - like making Google the default search engine. The EU thinks this is unfair and monopolistic behaviour and has fined Google $5 Billion for the practice. Despite the fine Google still made more than $3 Billion in profit in the last 3 months.
Email is tricky. Once you hit the send button anything you have written is kinda beyond your control. The receiver can forward the mail, print it, do what they like with it. Businesses especially would like more control overt what happens to the email they send. Google has added 'Confidential Mode' to Gmail, giving users some kind of control over their mail. The article explains the concept, the flaws in the solution and how it can be abused.
Its 85 000 + employees have a physical USB dongle key. Result: They haven't been phished in a year!
The internet's long long memory
Copyright and IP
Blockchain. It's the new buzzword in tech. Everybody is talking about it. Everybody wants to use it. In some ways it feels like a solution in need of a problem. But boy, when that problem is identified... we might see block chain add some order and accountability to the otherwise unruly wild-wild west of cyberspace.
What is blockchain?
When you hear the word blockchain you probably immediately think about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Whilst blockchain is part of the technology that makes these currencies possible - it is not a currency itself. It is easier to understand what blockchain is if you get the idea of cryptocurrencies out of your head when trying to understand it.
Blockchain is a public distributed way of tracking transactions secured by cryptography. Let's break this down:
Other resources and explanations:
The blockchain stuff in the news this week:
|In 2014, Maersk followed a refrigerated container filled with roses and avocados from Kenya to the Netherlands. The company found that almost 30 people and organisations were involved in processing the box on its journey to Europe. The shipment took about 34 days to get from the farm to the retailers, including 10 days waiting for documents to be processed. One of the critical documents went missing, only to be found later amid a pile of paper.|
A dose of reality amidst the hype:
Blockchain is designed to record transactions. That is all.
More data added to each transaction (e.g. note, images, other fields in the record) makes the calculation of the secure hash far more complicated and requires additional computing resources. Also, each transaction is only valid when 'accepted' by more than 50% of the network, which can make validating a transaction much slower. As the list of transactions or 'blocks' grows, so does the computing power needed to manage the blockchain. It also makes each transaction slower to process. What incentive is there for people to keep on running their part of the distributed network with no reward but considerable cost?
|"...last year it was claimed that the computing power required to keep the [Bitcoin} network running consumes as much energy as was used by 159 of the world’s nations"|
Here are some people raining on the parade...
|“Right now, Ethereum can process 17 transactions per second. Facebook can handle 175,000 requests per second. Visa, 44,000 transactions per second. So, if we really want to use cryptocurrencies as currencies, it would not be possible as of this moment.”|
|Justas Pikelis, co-founder of blockchain Ecommerce platform, Monetha|
|As of late 2016, it [Bitcoin] can only process about seven transactions per second, and each transaction costs about $0.20 and can only store 80 bytes of data.|
Hacks and Cracks
Robots and Robotics
Social media & social implications
That's it for this week. Hope you have a much better understanding of blockchain and are no longer stymied when the learners ask tricky questions about it!
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