Author Archives: Jeremy

Google vs. Uber. The one with the most maps wins

So says Forbes:

two interesting developments this week showed that the two tech companies may be heading toward competition rather than cooperation.

These developments could be the initial signs of a rift between two interconnected tech giants out to change personal transportation by pursuing very similar but potentially conflicting paths. To predict which company could prevail if it becomes an all-out battle to provide driverless transportation, just consider who controls the mapping technology that’s the key to such services.

Google, of course, and this gives the company a huge head start in the robo-taxi race.

More here.

Big Data in your clothes

NYT on “navigation clothing”:

The Navigate Jacket created by Ms. Whitehouse provides haptic feedback — basically, an electronic device in the garment that gives a light tap on one shoulder or the other to steer a person, not unlike a phone vibrating to announce a call.

“Wearable technology should be invisible,” she said. “And you’ll be able to see things around you with your own eyes, instead of looking at the world through a screen.”

At the moment, this is part of an exhibition in Brooklyn (where else?) rather than something for sale. Does it solve the problem of people walking around with their noses in their devices? Or simply exacerbate the problem?

Here’s the Big Data part:

The introduction of technology into garments has also introduced a new layer of monitoring and tracking into the human experience. “It has gotten more intimate,” Ms. Johnson said. “It’s not just your hand on a computer; it’s your clothing talking to the computer.”

Similar to the fitness monitoring devices worn on the wrists, a Hexoskin smart shirt, for instance, monitors breathing, heart rate and other vital signs. The information cannot be read directly from the shirt, but communicates by Bluetooth to a smartphone.

Via Julia Angwin:

WaPo: Chinese firewall & US surveillance both weaken Internet security

That is the takeaway from a new piece in the Washington Post. After discussing how Chinese Internet stipulations, including insisting on access to source code in products such as iPhones, Yahoo and LinkedIn personal data, threaten security and privacy (an easy call), the piece continues by observing that:

To be fair, the Chinese is not the only government your browser probably trusts. Despite reports that the U.S. National Security Administration is engaged in a similarly massive effort to spy on its own citizens’ communications, certificates issued by the U.S. Department of Defense are also widely trusted.

What that means, according to Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at the cyber security firm Venafi in San Francisco,is that the Internet’s own immune system is capable of being turned against users anywhere in the world, giving governments the ability to “take control of our browsers and our smartphones.”

The metaphor of the Internet being “infected” by a virus, back-door or malware is often-used. But here it’s being used as push-back against the cited need for back-doors or weakened encryption, not just in China but as a cyberwarfare retaliation to China. “Browser trust” (or certificate trust) as the new frontier in cyberwar.

World Economic Forum: privacy is not dead

A post on the World Economic Forum by someone from the SAS Best Practices team says the following five beliefs are wrong:

  • “I’ve got nothing to hide.”
  • Privacy policies apply to data, not users.
  • A single privacy policy will suffice for all your data.
  • Anonymized data keeps my personal identity private.
  • Privacy is dead.

The last one is particularly interesting since it is heard all the time. While there isn’t a true rebuttal on the site, the following comment is offered:

Hence, a more accurate statement would be: Privacy is not dead. Yet. The focus on big data privacy issues is escalating rapidly – and as more people begin to understand what’s at stake, things will change and are beginning to change.

More here.

Introducing the Databox to protect your personal data

Interesting concept, described in the Guardian:

The basic concept is a Databox, a piece of software that collects personal data and then manages how that information is made available to third parties. In essence, it’s “a networked service that collates personal information from all of your devices and can also make that data available to organisations that the owner allows”.

Continues here.

Science special issue on privacy

Science has published a special issue on privacy.

At birth, your data trail began. You were given a name, your height and weight were recorded, and probably a few pictures were taken. A few years later, you were enrolled in day care, you received your first birthday party invitation, and you were recorded in a census. Today, you have a Social Security or national ID number, bank accounts and credit cards, and a smart phone that always knows where you are. Perhaps you post family pictures on Facebook; tweet about politics; and reveal your changing interests, worries, and desires in thousands of Google searches. Sometimes you share data intentionally, with friends, strangers, companies, and governments. But vast amounts of information about you are collected with only perfunctory consent—or none at all. Soon, your entire genome may be sequenced and shared by researchers around the world along with your medical records, flying cameras may hover over your neighborhood, and sophisticated software may recognize your face as you enter a store or an airport.

There’s already been a story on it at NPR about the power of metadata.

Get the whole special issue here.

Did the CIA’s failed torture program have its roots in Big Data thinking?

Did the CIA’s failed torture program have its roots in Big Data thinking?

That is the provocative question asked in a new piece by Jer Thorp “The Three Vs of Enhanced Interrogation.” (The “three Vs” are a common way of describing Big Data: volume, velocity, variety.)

I’ve discussed this connection between intelligence and Big Data previously in a paper here.