The Appreciation for Data Mining.

By Emma Chu

‘Data mining has come to prominence over the last two decades as a discipline in its own right…’[1]

In light of my initial post into the questioning of whether we can truly consider, particularly in the future, machinery, technology and such devices as ‘emotionless.’

To put it in short, my subjective response would be ‘no’. With only an every ‘increasing ability of institutions to collect electronic data, facilitated by advanced computer processing, means that the desire to ‘mine’ data is likely to expend’. Technology is taking on a human form as it evolves on its own learning at the rate of all humans who have an online presence. With already a well established set of techniques, the processing of data is usually represented and demonstrated in the form of links, information, knowledge, infographics all of which when mistreated or placed in the wrong hands, can truly misinform, deceive and inhibit the ability of the public to trust sources.

A good example would be the origins of Wikipedia whose initial intentions were quite genuinely to spread and share information, however when people were able to edit the information freely this anonymous freewill created a platform for misinformation on a public archive. This is evidence for our future scenario in Project 2 where people can truly act deceptively simply because they have the ability to.

With the two platforms of people anonymous online versus physically identified, generations are becoming more and more receptive to the idea of multiple personas. One in which acts accordingly to societies rules and regulations and one who actively attempts to defy them. This brings further concern to the future of our social behaviours and what is considered both acceptable and normal, again another attribute that is further investigated throughout Project 2 and Project 3 of Interdiscplinary Lab A.

It is with almost a sadness that the future of data mining genuinely questions, alters and will potentially hang in the balance of the attitudes of their users. The environment and upbringings of said users can definitively alter the behavioural characteristics of their online persona, quod erat demonstrandum the case of Wikipedia. Data mining should be appreciated rather than used as a means to inhibit society as a quest for its ever prominent lust for knowledge.

[1] Coenen, F. 2011, “Data mining: past, present and future”, The Knowledge Engineering Review, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 25-29.

 

Primary Research

By Emma Chu

As a group we collaborated to come up with our scenario for project 2, a scenario that predicted the future based on informed knowledge on what we experience, understand and researched about our current Global STEEP (social, technological, environmental, economical and political) situation.

Responsible for the social aspects of what is predicted in 2050, I had presented the ever-increasing dependency on technology consequently the decline in physical human interaction. This obviously became a great concern, considering the leading five negative effects of technology[1] conclusively were:

  1. (Social) Isolation
  2. Lack of Social Skills
  3. Obesity
  4. Depression
  5. Poor Sleeping Habits.

With all five leading effects causing direct detrimental damages physically, mentally and emotionally it became evident that should we truly excel into this isolating future, designers would have to ultimately create ways to bring populations at the masses back to their interactions. Designers even today are already beginning to address these issues of technological dependencies even in the physical presence of another. A recent example would be German agency Fisher&Friends designing “The Offline Glass” for client, Salve Jorge Bar whose owners were aware of the changing nightlife environment, once bustling with conversation turning moreso towards isolated concentration on the mobile devices.

With even the promotional video, directed by Beto Rogoski and Sthefan Ko, who deliberately strung a series of global news discussing the growing issue of isolation. The issue is one that we as a population is aware of completely, however whether we are capable of admitting to the extent of its severity is yet to be determined.

With that being said, consider this, in what society 25 we grown into if we physically have to begin manipulating the design of our everyday objects to physically force us to simply make conversation, maintain eye contact and truly utilize the experience of having a physical presence of another human.

[1] , Hosale, S., 2013, 25 Negative Effects of Technology, http://roogirl.com/25-negative-effects-of-technology/, date viewed Friday, 17th of October 2014

The future of technology. Gen Y vs Gen X.

by Emma Chu

With predictions from futurists ranging from envisioning the machinery, science and technology either enhancing or completely replacing activities and products I decided to focus an interview reflecting on comparing two interviews conducted with interviewees from completely different backgrounds.

Interviewee A: Male, married father & well-informed businessman, 3 children, Australian Citizen, originally from QingDao, 50-60 years in age.

Interviewee B: Female, in a relationship & 2nd year student at UTS, only child, Australian Citizen, originally from the United Kingdom, 20-30 years in age.

When confronted with the question of their personal opinions in regards to technology in the near future, Interviewee B was capable of responding with the ideology of technology evolving around social means, whether in the future it like, so many other forms of communication, become obsolete or thrives to excel even further in deepening the connection. As opposed to Interview A whose response evolved strongly around their new found interest with the upcoming 3D Printing, however this conversation quickly led to Interview A’s concern on the inevitable excess of waste due to the lack of knowledge and understanding in exactly how to create the CAD models for the 3D printers.

It became evident that the generation, lifestyle and blatant character difference brought forth exactly a platform to discuss and focus two aspects of the future of technology. As a reoccurring theme throughout this semester in particular, we found that Interviewee B, a representative for Gen Y evidently drawn to technology used for communication as opposed to the older Interviewee A, a representative for Gen X, whose interests focus around upcoming and trending technologies.

However, both parties were both capable to confidently discuss the positives, and yet even more so the negatives of each situation. For Interviewee A, the concerns of the undeniable growth in waste, the environmental impact this would have on our already suffering planet, whilst Interviewee B voiced concerns on the complete disintegration of genuine physical communication, where we sit down, embrace, maintain eye contact, establish real connections to be replaced by the growth of technologies that replicate such situations so well it becomes borderline identical.

Whether this is a psychological result of the generically somber attitude of realists, or genuinely the direction of our future where the negatives almost always outway the positives with hidden motives, environmental damages and/or disintegration of lifestyle attributes near and dear to us, it should undoubtedly cause us to question exactly how we wish to see our future. How are we able to ensure the best for the future generations? Why it is ever so important to ensure the physical, social and mental connection between humans are maintained? What preventably environmental disasters are not only present but on the rise to this day and exactly how can our actions reduce our environmental footprint?

Visions of the future

While researching our now overwhelming effect on the environment around us and the technologies we have created, I have been drawn to the way different social groups view possibilities for the future and ways that they plan we will get there. To get examples of these ideas first hand, I asked a number of my friends to draw what they thought the world would look like in the next 50 to 200 years. Some responses I got were humourously predictable: flying cars, zombie apocalypses, visions created by the prophetic fictional narratives we often see in media. Most were rooted in a reality that came directly from the individual’s own sense of the world, and what they thought was likely to come from the parts of it that were important to them.

One thing that was common to all the scenarios drawn were that they were inevitably ones that our society was responsible for creating.

Another thing they shared was that none of them were particularly optimistic, and nearly all of them exclusively showed the worst parts of an imagined, yet presently informed, future.

lily1      lily2

Lilwen Steube’s drawings of the future first show a scenario of the future urban environment. The words included add dimension to an otherwise seemingly innocuous scenario. People are shown alone in the sky scrapers while flying vehicles act as surveillance from all sides. The words “technology”, “fear”, and “isolation” are side by side to show a world in which technology isolates us rather than connects us.

It is worth noting here that Steube is the oldest of the participants and has travelled extensively, and her second drawing opens up from the city to an overall view of the world and the gap between the rich and poor in the future. Steube has seen this divide exist in third world and developed countries and imagines that it will only get worse as our environment deteriorates and resources become limited to those who can afford them.

What makes these scenarios particularly interesting is the context they gain once you know a part of the background of the person drawing them. This brings me to the next two examples drawn by Beth Grose:

beth1     beth2

Grose is a young primary teaching student who works with young children almost everyday. Her scenarios do not feature technology as a main downside, but rather a more general view of conflict and environmental hazards in the first example. After this more general vision, Grose created a much more personal vision of what she considered the near future. Children six years young are shown in despair as they are forced to work harder and gain more responsibility. The adult in the situation is shown as having no understanding of what they need and forcing them to work hard at a young age. This comes directly from Grose’s experiences with children and toddlers, who she sees having to pass increasingly complicated tests and workloads just to gain access to primary school.

What these drawings infallibly show is how an individual’s concerns and life experiences influence what we care about in terms of future development. It also shows how people focus on the overwhelmingly bad parts of society, and how envisioning the future shows present shortcomings as even more exaggerated. What is important to gain from this, however, is that an individual’s voice and concerns for the future help make us aware of what needs to be concern for the present. When it comes to the future, our visions are inescapably versions of narratives we tell ourselves now. This means that the parts of these narratives that are based in real life and from real experiences are the stories that are among the most worthy of listening to.

Perhaps we should reserve our worries for the more plausible scenarios.
Perhaps we should reserve our worries for the more plausible scenarios.

References:

J. Elms (2014, pers. comm, 22nd October).

B. Grose (2014, pers. comm, 22nd October).

L. Steube (2014, pers. comm, 22nd October).

All drawings and information provided with the direct consent of their creators.

My social (media) life

“When we created computers and we created gameplay with computers, we did something that is against human nature. We told people it was okay to play alone. We told people it was okay to be solitary, that it was okay to use a computer as a surrogate for human interaction, when it goes against the very nature of what it means to be human. We want to discover more about our world…once we opened up the platform for connection it made it easy for people to do this. 

  • Mark DeLoura – The Evolution of Video Games: The Future

her

These past few weeks my group and I have been looking closely at the possibilities human-technology relations hold for us in the future. Many of our speculations lead to depressing, solitary visions of humanity – people physically detached from each other, whole societies that rarely go outside and apathy towards others that is bred from a lack of social interaction. This is not to say we do not believe in the incredible potential of technology and social media, but I feel that a lot of this generation’s visions of ourselves lean towards fearing the unknown consequences of inescapable, technological binds.

This is why narratives about our futures that are complex and plausible rather than black and white –in the vein of “utopia or dystopia, pick one” – are important. They influence our feelings towards our future and as a result, influence our attitudes and actions in the present.

Spike Jonze’s Her is an example of a future narrative that is not too far removed from where we are at present in terms of technology and web-based social interactions. The premise of a man falling in love with his “operating system” is somewhat ironically filled with deep yet subtle connections, both real and artificial. The film sets up a future in which people walk around with ear pieces, constantly connected to media and technology and all the information and connection it provides. Yet it shows the main character not as a complete loner or social outcast dependent on technology to fulfill his need for interaction, but more so as a relatively normal individual at a particularly lonely and confused part of his life. It is here that the artificial intelligence of the operating system fills this gap – the main character’s previous attempts at connecting and maintaining relationships are turmulous and unfruitful, while this relationship with artificial intelligence is the one that seems to allow him to reconnect. The operating system is shown in many ways as an actual person who grows and develops to the point where she outgrows the humans around her. When she “leaves” at the end of the film, there is a subtle change in the main character. He is forced to reach out and in doing so, finds connection with another human being he would not have if the operating system had not connected to him on a social level and left him at a high point of what he considered a real relationship.

Here we see an example of vision of the future that is still deeply rooted in social connections and relationships while being interspersed with technology and artificial intelligence. What is most interesting about this relationship between human and artificiality is that both are seen as legitimate. The main character’s relationship with the AI does not exclude him from broader physical interaction, but rather helps him rediscover it.

References:

The Art of Video Games – Evolution of Video Games: The Future, 2012, video recording, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Her, 2013, motion picture, Annapurna Pictures, United States.

Future-proofing – analogue isn’t dead.

Speculative design is a form of design that revolves around designing something for a time that as of yet doesn’t exist. this kind of design is important to human society, as it allows us to prepare for the many surprises that the future may hold. It is impossible for a person to know exactly what the future will be like ten or twenty years from now, but future-proofing has become a very mainstream term.

According to Wikipedia, “Future-proofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects of shocks and stresses of future events.”

Cambridge Dictionaries has an altogether different definition. Its definition refers more to designing a specific thing so that it can still be used in the future, taking into account for technological change. However, it is impossible to say which definition is more correct. One is simply more specific than the other.

An article entitled Future‐proofing: the academic library’s role in e‐research support details the way that the library of the Queensland University of Technology has begun turning itself into an e-resource provider for the purpose of future-proofing itself. The author, Jennifer Thomas, is a staff member who was integral part of the modernisation of the library.

This is the way that organisations have needed to evolve to future-proof themselves; the phrase “moving with the times” is uttered throughout the work. Thomas explains the drastic difference between how the library was seen in the past and was being seen now, as a futuristic provider of information much more reliable than the internet.

A clear line of similarity can be drawn to the scenario we are facing in assessment task 2 for this semester; we are dealing with people who have evolved faster than technology has been able to keep up with. The ways that people in our scenario are interacting with the world mirrors how libraries are seen nowadays; as something that should be taken advantage of, rather than exploited for the better education of human society as a whole. It needs to be understood that many people condemn technology that can’t be seen as current-generation. Libraries are seen these days as “old fashioned”, and their usefulness is not appreciated.

During an assignment last semester I discovered how truly useful libraries can be. The Powerhouse Museum archive, a public centre for historic information and records than anyone can access for free, was home to more information about my topic than any internet website.

Digital has indeed taken the throne of society, but I personally believe that there is and will always be a space for analogue, even as our society moves towards technological revolution. But the ultimatum is that analogue has to learn to evolve.

Mitchell Anson

Jennifer Thomas, (2011) “Future‐proofing: the academic library’s role in e‐research support”, Library Management, Vol. 32 Iss: 1/2, pp.37 – 47

Data Security: Are We In Good Hands?

by Matilda Clarke

Anyone with a device connected to the internet has information that people want, from personal info, credit card transactions, E-commerce, ID theft, it’s all valuable to those who want to do bad stuff” (Miller 2014)

A chilling thought, but very real and prevalent in today’s society.

For this post I interviewed Andrew Miller, an internet security expert at a leading corporation, who had some interesting opinions and insights into the topic of data security.

Technology already plays an important role in society and pop culture is full of predictions, both feasible and wildly ambitious, about where it is headed. However, the common theme is that it will be playing a larger role in the day to day life of the human race in the years to come.  As with all things there are negatives, the question on the lips of many is whether humans are beginning to rely too much on technology. I asked this question to Mr Miller, to which he replied “No, we need technology to evolve ourselves, as technology itself comes from thoughts and ideas from us as humans. Perhaps we try and compartmentalize technology too much as being a thing we need, as opposed to being a result of a thought process”. He believes that on a personal level we need to continue to create new, innovative ideas and tools in order to facilitate our day to day lives. Whereas governments and corporations  need to invest in up and coming technologies in order to survive in future climates.

As a result of debates about the morality of metadata collection being the subject of recent media attention, it has now become a controversial topic on the forefront of peoples thoughts. Miller stated that metadata surveillance has been happening for years by both countries and companies and that it is an important practice from a security perspective. He also pointed towards articles from security expert Bruce Schneier as providing interesting perspectives and insights into cybercrime. In his article ‘Jumping Air Gaps with All-in-One Printers’ Schneier describes how cyber criminals are attempting to transmit commands to malicious programs on computers through the multifunction printers linked to them. This illustrates just how creative, adept and determined cyber criminals are becoming in today’s society.

As a internet security expert I asked Miller about current criminal cyber activity and how he imagines it will evolve in the future. He suggested that pop culture, such as movies, is an excellent marker on which to base future threats. Thought provokingly he offered; “Don’t restrict your mind is the main thing, if you’ve thought about it you can be sure the bad guys have already”.

So what are we to do? How are we to protect ourselves? According to the expert we need to not be complacent, security experts are experts for a reason and should be used for advice and protection services. If you’re concerned about where data security is headed in the future, you need to take responsibility for how you conduct yourself online and actively protect yourself.

So it turns out, the hands are our own… and how safe are they?

References:

Schneier, B. 2014, ‘Jumping Air Gaps with All-in-One Printers’, Schneier on Security, weblog, viewed 22 October 2014, <https://www.schneier.com>.

Image:

Maksim Kabakou n.d, Lock Your System, Akademie, viewed 22 October 2014, <http://akademie.dw.de/digitalsafety/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Lock-your-system.jpg>.