Dorso shook his head. “But with light and solar power they never really turn off. So, it’s just the display and working circuitry that shut down. The internal workings, all the memory chips stay on all the time, so it can retain its programs."
Frank whistled. “That’s it—it makes sense..."
from: The Time Hackers
by Gary Paulsen
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2005
I first heard of The Internet of Things, IoT, a few years ago. Back then, I learned of a refrigerator that keeps track of how much milk you drink and sends a message to your smart phone or other devise when it is time to buy more. Or a devise on your dog's collar that dings on your phone to say it’s time for a walk. Or a timer or radio that lets you turn your lights on and off when you’re on vacation in another city.
But IoT has become more complex.. Nowadays, you can tell a Voice Controller your grocery list. The devise (Alexa or Google-dot) will connect through your phone to order your list at the Piggly Wiggly down the street. When the order is received, it’s filled at the store and delivered to you at the time you requested.
The end of last school year found me at my older daughter’s house, getting the kids off to school while she and my son-in-law attended a conference. There was still a little nip in the air, so I suggested to my granddaughters we check the outside temperature. I was on my way to the door to poke my head out when I heard my younger granddaughter say, “Alexa, what is the temperature?”
Alexa said something like “53 degrees and sunny.” The girls put on their jackets and we were on our way.
Well, that was different.
I started thinking about Alexa. She really knows a lot of stuff. You can ask her questions like how far away Pluto is from Mars, or what time will the Cleveland Browns play and where, or who won the Best Picture Oscar in 1977? She will play your music requests by different artists. And of course, things like telling time and temperature are simple tasks.
Is she always on? Does she hear stuff even when you don’t preface your comments with her name?
An IoT devise is a smart devise that connects to the Internet and to other devises. It communicates with them to grant remote access to the end user. That’s you. (Not me!)
I just looked at a longish list of IoT devises. https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/iot-devices/ I’m sure it’s just me, but why would anyone need these? With the built-in increase risk of privacy issues, I don’t get it. But maybe I just can’t think of enough cool things for them to do.
Artificial Intelligence is getting more sophisticated, too. I remember the old days when a movie was made in, say France or Italy. American voices were dubbed in to make it look like the actors were speaking English. What about Forrest Gump? Remember the scenes where he was interviewed and photographed with President Kennedy and President Johnson? They did that with a blue screen, reference markers, and historic footage; auditory and visual. It looked pretty real, but, well, lots of things are possible in Hollywood.
Now we have “alternative facts.” When Sean Spicer, Trump’s old press secretary, was questioned about his claim that the inauguration attracted record numbers of spectators, instead of calling Spicer’s comment a lie, or even, heck, a mistake, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s spokesperson, called it “alternative facts.”
Really, who cares how many people were there? But “alternative facts” caught on.
Move forward, a few years. With the help of Artificial Intelligence, (AI) we are becoming less and less able to discriminate between true facts and “alternative facts.”
A recent RadioLab discussion called “Breaking News” addressed this very issue. https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/breaking-news Technologists have invented ways to record a person’s voice and add it to person’s face after a computer has learned how to replicate his or her particular facial expressions. They call it facial reenactment. It’s not animation. It looks real.
The ability of technology to manipulate and alter reality through video and audio editing is growing at a breakneck speed. And the ability to disseminate that information is phenomenal.
Technology engineers can discover whether or not a photo or video has been distorted. But that’s not easy. And it will always be easier to create a fake than detect a fake.
I’m not sure there is a benign use for this technology. In the movie industry, actors may be put out of work by their own images.
And the geo-political implications are truly frightening.
For now, I’ll trust written journalism, listen carefully to established radio and TV personalities, and keep thinking for myself.
If something seems too good, or crazy, to be true, it probably is (too good or crazy to be true).
-—stay curious! (and wary)