Your TV might be Binge watching you!

VIZIO is reportedly paying fines for using users TVs to track their viewing patterns in significant detail as well as associating this with  IP address data including age, sex, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and home values.

Presumably this might have been avoided if VIZIO had presented the users with a “privacy statement” or “terms of use” when they installed their TV.  But failure to have obtained the appearance of consent put them in this situation.

It has been clear that all “free” media (and many paid channels), for TV, Cable, Radio, Internet streaming, etc. all want to track this information.  On one hand they can use it to provide “a better user experience” (show you the ads/suggested programs that match your demographics) … and of course the flip side is also true, selling your data to 3rd parties (a.k.a. ‘trusted business partners’)  so they can be more effective at interacting with you is part of the game.

Now lets step it up a notch.  Your TV (or remote controller) may use voice recognition, often using the “mother ship’ resources for the AI analysis if what you have requested. That is, your voice is sent back to servers that interpret and respond.  This leads to another level of monitoring … some of your characteristics might be infered from your voice, and others from background sounds or voices, and even more if the recording device just happens to track you all the time.  “Seri are you listening in again?” — and then add a camera … now the fun can really start.

IST-Africa Week 2017

IST-Africa Week 2017
8-11 May 2017, Windhoek, Namibia

Hosted by the government of Namibia through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission, and technically co-sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), IEEE Region 8 and IEEE South Africa Section, IST-Africa Week 2017 is the twelfth in an annual series of ministerial level technology research and innovation conferences.

Core thematic areas for IST-Africa 2017 include:

  • mHealth, eHealth and health information systems
  • Technology-enhanced learning and eskills
  • mAgriculture/eAgriculture and environmental sustainability
  • eInfrastructures and National Research and Education Networks (NREN)
  • Next generation computing: big data, cloud computing, future internet, Internet of Things
  • eGovernment-services to citizens and business
  • Content technologies: languages; digital preservation
  • Cyber security, privacy and trust
  • Collaborative open innovation and ICT-enabled entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship)
  • Sustainable development including ICT4D
  • Societal implications of technology

For more information, please visit our website.

Follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.

For further information, please email Secretariat@IST-Africa.org.

IEEE SSIT Newsletter – January 2017

SIT Newsletter header
month
In this issue: SSIT Board of Governors election results, awards and publications notices, and conference reminders.announcements header

Happy New Year!

2016 was an exciting year for IEEE SSIT, with especially impressive membership growth stats. In fact, the November IEEE Membership Report confirmed that SSIT maintains its status as the IEEE Society with the fastest membership growth rate. Its 5.3% growth is more than seven times higher than the overall IEEE (which comes in at 0.7%).

The Board of Governors looks forward to continuing recruitment efforts in 2017!


SSIT Board of Governors Election Results

The results are in, so please join us in welcoming the following three newly elected members to the SSIT Board of Governors:

Michael Cardinale Ramalatha Marimuthu Howard Wolfman

The Board of Governors would like to warmly acknowledge the contributions of John Impagliazzo, Ken Foster and Brad Kjell, whose terms as BoG members ended in 2016. In addition, the BoG would like to extend a special thanks to Laura Edelson and Greg Adamson for their dedication and contribution to SSIT. Laura has now completed her term as Past President, the role Greg will take over this year.

Several key SSIT leadership roles are changing hands in 2017, so stay tuned for additional updates about and introductions to the new roster in upcoming newsletters.

New issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine

The December 2016 issue of the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine is now available! Be sure to check out the special section on the “Unintended Consequences of Technology.” This is the second of two “installments” focused on “The Paradox of Technological Potential.” Part one of this subject is in the September/October 2016 issue of IEEE Potentials.


Prof. Pradeep Kumar Ray has been recognized as a Shanghai 1000 Talent Plan “Distinguished Professor.” He is one of four long-term international professors at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) to receive this award.

Congratulations!

The following upcoming conferences will be of interest to SSIT members:

IST-Africa Week 2017
8-11 May 2017, Windhoek, Namibia

Hosted by the government of Namibia through the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology, supported by the European Commission and African Union Commission, and technically co-sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), IEEE Region 8 and IEEE South Africa Section, IST-Africa Week 2017 is the twelfth in an annual series of ministerial level technology research and innovation conferences.

Core thematic areas for IST-Africa 2017 include:

  • mHealth, eHealth and health information systems
  • Technology-enhanced learning and eskills
  • mAgriculture/eAgriculture and environmental sustainability
  • eInfrastructures and National Research and Education Networks (NREN)
  • Next generation computing: big data, cloud computing, future internet, Internet of Things
  • eGovernment-services to citizens and business
  • Content technologies: languages; digital preservation
  • Cyber security, privacy and trust
  • Collaborative open innovation and ICT-enabled entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship)
  • Sustainable development including ICT4D
  • Societal implications of technology

For more information, please visit our website.

Follow IST-Africa on Twitter to get regular updates.

For further information, please email Secretariat@IST-Africa.org.


IEEE 2017 International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 2017)
From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions

9-11 August, 2017, Sydney, Australia


The SSIT Board of Governors is pleased to announce that ISTAS 2017 will be held in Sydney, Australia. The date and location of ISTAS 2017 has been chosen to coincide with the annual IEEE Panel of Conference Organizers (IEEE POCO) event, which will be held in Sydney from 7-9 August, and the biennial IEEE Sections Congress, which will also be held in Sydney 11-13 August, 2017.

The theme for ISTAS 2017 is “From Good Ideas to Practical Solutions”, and is designed to focus on how we can identify a good technological idea and transition it into a practical solution that delivers real benefits to society. It will bring together scientists, engineers, technologists and scholars from multiple disciplines to hold a dialogue on many technological and societal issues, and collaborate on the co-creation of ideas to develop and utilize innovative solutions to address them.

Call for Papers
The ISTAS 2017 program structure provides for six keynote speakers, 72 oral and paper presentations, and 12 panels across three parallel tracks.

Paper proposals are solicited for oral presentations from industry, government and academia (including students) covering relevant research, technologies, methodologies, tools and case studies relevant to the conference theme and tracks. Papers on policy implications are also welcome. Full papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings. Papers accepted in the conference proceedings and presented during the conference will be submitted for inclusion in IEEE Xplore.

ISTAS 2017 Tracks:

  • Smart materials, smart buildings and smart cities
  • Climate, environment and sustainable technologies
  • Communications, security and privacy
  • Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems
  • e-Health, age care and assisted living
  • Internet of things and consumer electronics
  • Digital senses, virtual reality and augmentation
  • Web science and big data
  • Green ICT
  • Defense technologies for public good
  • Humanitarian and emergency management
  • Ethics, law and policy

Key Dates:

28 February 2017 – Submission deadline for paper abstracts
13 March 2017 – Notification of acceptance
15 May 2017 – Final manuscript submission deadline

For details including information for authors, please visit the conference website. General inquiries should be addressed to the ISTAS 2017 General Chair, Philip Hall at philip.hall@ieee.org.

SSIT complements the thematic focus of all other IEEE Societies and Technical Councils and is making a clear contribution in a variety of educational and policy contexts aligned with SSIT priority areas. SSIT would like to recruit volunteers to help scale and lead activities in the following areas:

  • Global development and humanitarian technology
  • Ethics, human values and technology
  • Technology benefits for all
  • Future societal impact of technology advances
  • Protecting the planet – sustainable technology

SSIT has also been invited to contribute to the work of two TAB Adhoc Committees during 2017:

    • 2017 IEEE TAB Ad-hoc Committee on Dig Once
      This Adhoc will focus on how IEEE can participate in and augment this policy initiative to couple the addition of broadband infrastructure with existing infrastructure improvements. This may include aspects such as technology (best practices), education (informing governments and utilities) and more. Previous relevant experience and/or civil engineering background are desirable.
  • 2017 IEEE TAB Adhoc Committee on North and South Poles
    The main focus of this adhoc Committee is to seek in which ways IEEE can efficiently contribute to the different ongoing and planned initiatives to study and address the changes that the North and South poles are experiencing from the environmental, communications, transportation, educational and outreach points of view.

If you believe you or a respected colleague can make a substantial contribution in any of these areas, please contact Paul Cunningham, 2017 SSIT President, at pcunningham@ieee.org by 31 January 2017, describing the contribution the nominee can make and provide a short supporting CV highlighting previous relevant experience.

Stay Up-to-Date with IEEE SSIT Happenings

Visit the SSIT Blog for news items and the latest Society updates.


Newsletter Submission Guidelines

If you would like to submit a news item, SSIT-related update, volunteer opportunity, Call For Papers, award notice, or idea for a “Feature Article” for a future issue of the SSIT newsletter, please contact the editor Dr. Heather Love at Heather.Love@usd.edu.

Submissions for the February 2017 newsletter are due 26 January 2017.

Tele-Kiss … hmmm

London haptic researchers have developed a device to add to a cell phone that will allow remote persons kiss. As described in an IEEE Spectrum article. And since “a picture is worth a thousand words”:

A woman kisses a plastic pad attached to her smartphone to send a virtual kiss to the person she's video chatting with.

No doubt a wider range of haptic appliances will follow. A major US phone company used to have the slogan “reach out and touch someone”, perhaps our mobile devices are headed that way.

Online physical attack

It should be noted that an early, if not first, instance of a physical attack on a person has been carried out by the use of online means, in particular social media used to trigger an epileptic seizure.  This concept has surfaced in science fiction, notably in Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash (which also inspired the creation of Google Earth).  In that case, persons are exposed to an attack while in virtual reality that causes them to become comatose.

With the Internet of Things, and the potential for projecting “force” (or at least damage causing light/sound ) over the network a new level of abuse and need for protection is emerging.  One key in this particular case, and into the future, might be to have true identity disclosed, or as a criteria for accepting content over the net.

2017 Board of Governors

President Paul Cunningham

Secretary   Michael Cardinale

Treasurer Howard Wolfman  

  • Lumispec Consulting
  • Adjunct Professor University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Northbrook, IL, USA
  • h.wolfman@ieee.org
Director, Division VI Rob Reilly

(Dir. Elect:  John Y. Hung)

Past President

 

Continue reading

Alexa called as witness?

“Alexa, tell me, in your own words, what happened on the night in question.” … actually the request is more like “Alexa, please replay the dialog that was recorded at 9:05PM for the jury”.  The case is in Bentonville Arkansas, and the charge is murder. Since an Echo unit was present, Amazon has been asked to disclose whatever information might have been captured at the time of the crime.

Amazon indicates that “Echo” keeps less than sixty seconds of recorded sound, it may not have that level of details, but presumably a larger database exists of requests and responses for the night in question as well.  Amazon has provided some data about purchase history, but is waiting for a formal court document to release any additional information.

Which begs the issue of how they might respond to apparent sounds of a crime in progress. “Alexa call 911!” is pretty clear, but “Don’t Shoot!” (or other phrases that might be ‘real’ or ‘overheard’ from a movie in the background …)  An interesting future awaits us.

Big Brother/Data 2016

The power of big data, AI/analytics, and subtle data collection are converging to a future only hinted at in Orwell’s 1984.  With the rapid developments on many fronts, it is not surprising that those of us who are only moderately paranoid have not been tracking it all. So here’s an update on some of the recent information on who is watching you and why:

Facebook (no surprise here) has been running personality quizzes that evaluate how your OCEAN score lines up.  That is Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.  These “Free” evaluations are provided by Cambridge Analytica. The applications of this data to political election influence is documented by the NY Times (subscription required) and quoted in part by others.  The short take is that your Facebook profile (name, etc.) is combined with your personality data, and “onboarding” data from other sources such as age, income, debt, purchases, health concerns, car, gun  and home ownership and more.  Cambridge Analytica is reported to have records with 3 to 5 thousand data points on each of 230 million adult Americans. — which is most of us.

How to they use this data?  Psycho-graphic micro-targeted advertising is the recent target, seeking to influence voting in the U.S. Election.  They only support Republican candidates, so other parties will have to develop their own doomsday books.  There is no requirement that the use of the quizzes be disclosed, nor that the “ads” be identified as political or approved by any candidate.  The ads might not appear to have any specific political agenda, they might just point out news (or fake news) stories that play to your specific personality and have been test-marketed to validate the influence they will have on the targeted voter(s).  This may inspire you to get out and vote, or to stay-home and not bother — depending on what candidate(s) you support (based on social media streams, or more generalize characteristics if you personally have not declared your preferences.)  — Impact — quite possibly the U.S. Presidency.

But wait, that’s not all.

The U.K is expanding their surveillance powers, requiring Internet Companies to retain interactions/transactions for a year, including every web site you have accessed. This apparently is partially in response to the assertions by France that similar powers had foiled an ISIS attack in France. The range of use (abuse) that might be applied by the UK government and their allies remains to be seen (or more likely will remain hidden.)

But, consider what China is doing to encourage residents to be “sincere”. [Here is a serious limitation of my linguistic and cultural skills — no doubt there is a Mandarin word that is being used and translated to “sincere”, and that it carries cultural implications that may not be evident in translation.]  Data collected to determine your “social credibility rating”. includes: tax, loan, bill, and other payments (on time?), adherence to traffic rules, family planning limits, academic record, purchasing, online interactions, nature of information you post online, volunteer activity, and even “filial piety” (respect for elders/ancestors). And the applications of such data?  So far 4.9 million airline tickets have been refused. Your promotion, or even job opportunities can be limited with “sensitive” jobs being subject to review — judges, teachers, accountants, etc. A high score will open doors — possible faster access to government services.  By letting citizens see their score, they can be encouraged to ‘behave themselves better’.  By not disclosing all of the data collected, nor all of the implications the state can bully citizens into far greater sincerity than they might adopt if they were just trying to not break the law.

Your comments, thoughts and responses are encouraged, but remember — they are being recorded by others for reasons you may never know.  … Sincerely yours, Jim

Who do you want listening in at your home?

The Wall St. Journal has a note today comparing Amazon’s Echo and Google Home as voice activated, in-home assistants.   This space is fraught with impacts on technology and society — from services that can benefit house-bound individuals, to serious opportunities for abuse by hacking, for commercial purposes, or governmental ones. To put it in a simple form: you are being asked to “bug your house” with a device that listens to every noise in the house.  Of course you may have already bugged your pocket with  a device that is listening for the magic words “hey, Siri” (or the person next to you in the office, train, or restaurant may be carrying that “wire”.)  Robots that respond to “OK Google” or “Alexa” are expanding into our monitored domains. (What to folks named Alexa or Siri have to look forward to in this world?) (Would you name your child “OK Google”?)

The immediate use cases seem to be a cross between control of the “Internet of Things”, and the specific business models of the suppliers; online sales for Amazon Alexa, and more invasive advertising for Google. Not only can these devices turn on and off your lights, they can order new bulbs …ones that blink subliminal advertising messages (uh oh, now I’ve given someone a bad idea.)

From our technology and society perspective we need to look forward to the pros and cons of these devices. What high benefit services might be offered?  What risks do we run?  Are there policy or other guidelines that should be established? …. Please add your thoughts to the list …

Meanwhile I’m trying to find out why my new car’s navigation system keeps trying to take me to Scotland when I ask “Find McDonald’s”.

 

IEEE World Forum on Internet of Things

12-14 December 2016 ; Reston, VA, USA
http://wfiot2016.ieee-wf-iot.org/

IoT: Smart Innovation for Vibrant Ecosystems
“We are literally moving this global work on IoT forward in our collaboration on emerging technologies such as 5G, software-defined IoT, and networked control for cyber-physical systems, as well as the unique applications of the IoT, including the Social Internet of Things, and the IoT as the driver for the co-created smart city. Hot button issues including standards, user-centric security and privacy, and ethics also figure prominently in the WF-IoT program.”
– Geoff Mulligan, WF-IoT 2016 General Chair

The time is now to register to attend the 3rd Annual World Forum on Internet of Things (WF-IoT) to experience industry leading keynote speakers, in-depth technical sessions, industry forum panels, workshops and tutorials, and a Doctoral Symposium. The forum will again convene industry leaders, academics and decision-making government officials from around the world to investigate and discuss aspects of this year’s conference theme, IoT: Smart Innovation for Vibrant Ecosystems.