The Finale

1

Welp, it appears we have reached the end… the conclusion of Freshman Seminar 50N: What is the Internet and what will it become? I have to say that I really enjoyed the class and learned a great deal!

This week, we discussed the blockchain and cryptocurrency. I remember, early this year, one of my best friends was talking about a thing called Ethereum. I remember thinking to myself “Ethereum..? What is that? Now that he stumped me, I knew that I had to go and look it up. As it turns out, ethereum is one form of cryptocurrency. I initially was a little skeptical, knowing a little bit about stock options trading, but I guess it has really worked out in his favor (to say the least!). It is truly remarkable how accessible these markets really are. My friends at home are buying Ethereum using an app called Coin Base, which makes the acquisition of cryptocurrency almost too efficient. I have also seen this in my time with options trading. The trading platforms that are out there these days are truly remarkable. I have instant access to a market where the difference between the bid and ask price is penny-wide. Unbelievable! For me, TastyTrade  https://www.tastytrade.com/tt/) and the influence of my father have really prodded me to learn more about the markets and various financial instruments. I have really learned a lot and have started to get my feet wet with trading. This year, though, has been miserable as a trader because the stock market has not been volatile at all due to the current upward surge. The platforms where the trading is carried out still to this day amaze me. The code and technology needed to gain access to instantaneous buyers and sellers is truly amazing.

I have really enjoyed my time in our class. I loved meeting and getting to know my classmates over the semester, and Professor Smith and Professor Waldo have taught me a great deal and have inspired me to learn more about the priceless tool that the internet provides us. Thank you all so much!

 

 

Friend or foe?

1

I really liked opening the discussion this past week about the question of the internet: is the internet our friend or our enemy? We each gave our initial thoughts, and I responded that the internet is indeed our friend. However, after reflecting further, I am second guessing my response. The week before last, we had the discussion about internet warfare and the implications of Russia’s actions on our most recent presidential election. Yes, the internet allows me to see what my best friend just tweeted, or to open that snap-group message,  but it also has lead to some pretty horrifying things. Ok… now that this consideration is over, I am still going to have to lean towards the internet being my friend. Even though it does bring some bad into society, I do not think that I could live without electronics and an internet connection. As I have told many people here at Harvard, I really miss my friends and family from home. Without the internet, I wouldn’t be able to frequently correspond with them in any fashion. A mere telegram or letter every once in a while would have to suffice. That doesn’t sound too good to me. I Facetime my parents at least once a day and the same goes for my best friend (they keep me sane during exam weeks!). Furthermore, the internet gives us immediate access to the latest news and holds reading material at our finger tips. Technology, I think, has allowed great advancement in our society, and I am excited to learn of what is to come.

Back in Business

1

Hooray! My blog site is back up and running… quite a scare we had there. Luckily, I am back to write about an interesting topic this week that we covered in 50N which was cyber warfare. This topic really got me thinking… especially with the recent events that occurred in the most recent presidential election. It is interesting to learn of the United States’s passive role in fighting this recent “attack.” How are we to set a strong precedent if we allow the Russians to conduct such activity without any repercussions? Truly mind boggling. I was asked in class about my stance on this issue, and now that I have had some time to reflect, I have come to a conclusion. I believe that the actions carried out by the Russians are a form of warfare (violence for that matter) against our country. An election is an extremely important process, and ANY kind of sabotage should not be tolerated. This makes me think of all the negative things that can be spread with one click of a mouse. The internet is now being used for much more than searching for one’s preferred clothing brand. An email chain, with a certain “bad” link can lead to destruction. My dad always told me when I was younger not to open any email from a person or company that you have never heard of. As it turns out, his warning was indeed rational. He instilled this in me about 6 years ago; good thing I got a head start on this prevention because this has become an increasingly detrimental issue.

I thought our conversation this week was quite stimulating, and I enjoyed hearing all of my classmates’ opinions on the issue with Russia. I am looking forward to our next discussion!

Open Government better government?

1

I had not been previously exposed to the idea of open government… I also had not realized that a simple web search of my legal name held lots of my information. I subsequently continued this fascination by searching up all of the credentials of some of my best friends. Same story. I find it intriguing that I, along with all of my other friends, have so many different accounts for so many different things. This wouldn’t be so striking if I had different login credentials for all of these services that I utilize; unfortunately, though, this is a lot to keep track of. As a result, many people use the same email, same password, and same security questions for all of their accounts. This fact, in today’s world, often makes for easy-pickings for those interested in identity theft: more often than not, if someone can hack your Facebook, they more than likely have the information needed to tamper with your bank account.

 

This leads into the idea of “unique” identification. As most people have probably seen, Apple has instituted TouchID in their devices. The technology reads your finger print, and grants you access if you are who you say you are. It’s funny because I began to see this technology about 5-6 years ago when my local 24 Hour Fitness started using this technology. When you approached the desk to sign in, you had to enter your PIN number and then scan your finger.

 

I am intrigued to learn more about facial recognition and even iris testing. I think this is the best way to eliminate identity theft and other horrors that are out there in today’s world. No one has figured out a way to get beyond these kinds of tests… yet.

 

Is Artificial Intelligence more intelligent?

2

The meeting this week really piqued my interest in 50N, but I was most surprised about the discussion regarding the potential of artificial intelligence. Yes, there are sectors in the world that soon could be run completely by this technology, but is this really going to be the case? Personally, I believe that the value of human contact in many sectors will outweigh the possible benefits presented by AI. People have done things a certain way for so long, and I cannot image that changing. Even though I am saying this, something must be given up to pave the way for innovation… only time will tell. Will AI’s influence in the “store” world make the overall shopping experience more efficient? Probably, but it will also take away from the human touch that can be seen in so many stores.

Another topic that was discussed this week was AI’s potential scope. How smart can it actually become? I personally hold the opinion that technology can only be as smart as its developers made it. I do not think that computers themselves will be able to make themselves more intelligent. So don’t worry, I do not believe that robots will be taking over the world anytime soon.

It was great to reconvene with the seminar this week; I enjoyed getting back into the swing of things with our readings, especially after a tough, monotonous period loaded with midterms. I am looking forward to our discussion about technology’s implications in the government sector. To be continued…

Tracking or Stalking?

1

This week’s discussion really hit home with me, especially with regard to Alexa’s recording system, Apple’s location tracking system, and even a network driven salt dispenser. I did not know that Alexa had a system that kept a record of all inputs and responses. I found it funny to hear Sarah’s story about accessing the information inputted by her brother… I often have a similar problem with my family iCloud account. I will often get texts, while in class, from my father asking “Who is so and so, and why are they texting you during class?” “I don’t know, Dad!” If Alexa keeps a record of all correspondences, it definitely learns how to adapt to the user (start to answer questions or commands in a fairly consistent manner that the user is familiar with). I wonder, though, if Alexa keeps a record of ALL the things that were said in the vicinity of the device….. that would be creepy.

Every morning, as I got into my car to commute to school during my senior year, Apple would say to me “15 minutes to Davie.” I was always so intrigued by this, and I am glad that I now know how it works! I really am fascinated  by the fact that the technology recognizes when you enter your car, and tracks your common destinations on certain days and at certain times.

This week, we also came across a salt dispenser that responds to commands inputted from one’s mobile device. I really do not see the appeal of such a product,even despite all of its bells and whistles, since dispensing salt is not an onerous task. However, I am sure that there are some people out there that have this device implemented into their home.

It was another great week in 50N. I am looking forward to our next discussion!

What’s at stake?

2

This week, we delved into the ever increasing presence of AI technologies. More specifically, we discussed the professions that we think are at risk because of AI’s capabilities. We spend lots of time talking about its potential influence on transportation, fashion and even accounting. I, though, brought up the idea of the use of technology in the world of professional sports… more specifically, officiating. In the game of baseball, it is commonly known that one cannot argue calls regarding balls and strikes. To eliminate this problem, many individuals have argued for an automated system (as seen by many of the major sport networks) that can track where the ball crosses home plate. This seems like a great idea for outsiders, but as someone who is so close to the game, I can say that I am not in favor of the implementation of this new technology. Fortunately for me, there are no current plans to expand the game’s technology in this respect. Baseball and other sports, though, have implemented reviewable plays (balls and strikes do not qualify). This allows important plays in the game to be evaluated correctly. I think this is a great step forward in the world of sports, without taking away from the true nature of the game (with officials).

 

Some of the readings really had me thinking over the weekend, more specifically To Do With the Price of Fish and $1 Billion for Dollar Shave Club. I was beyond surprise to learn of the monumental role that the institution of a phone played on the fishing economy in India. The phone allowed the fishermen to decipher which markets were more suitable to sell to in order to maximize profit without wasting any of the product. If a telephone can make such a stark impact on this industry, are there any inventions that can influence our economy in the same way? Only time will tell… also, the release of a video can completely revolutionize the razor industry. Even a jocular video such as the one presented from Dollar Shave Club gets the company’s name out there, and allowed the company to take over the industry.

 

I am excited to read and discuss more about the role that technology plays on our society and others… stay tuned, to be continued…

The End…. of History

1

This week, we finished up the discussion of the history of the internet and its creation. I found the readings and conversations about the evolution of the original ARPAnet to be quite interesting; however, I am more intrigued about the current uses of the internet and how it can be used to progress society. With that being said, I am greatly looking forward to the coming discussions.

Someone brought up the decline of Uber in the conversation this week; I had heard of this recently, but I was excited to learn the reasons why the seemingly successful company is failing. If you did not watch the news or was around anyone that does, I don’t think that you would realize that Uber is losing money at a rapid rate.

I was also interested to learn about top-level domains. TLDs are the end of any given URL. For example, in www.harvard.edu, .edu would be the top-level domain. I had always wondered why the .(insert TLD here) protocol was a thing. I also have had experiences where I was asked to go to a particular website, and I inputted the incorrect TLD, leading me to a completely unrelated website. The example given in class, about www.whitehouse.gov, has a completely weird agenda. I can imagine the reactions of those who inputted the incorrect TLD, when trying to look up some information about the White House.

In the first few weeks of class, I have learned a great deal about computers and how primitive networks were established. I have been reflecting on these things, and wonder what the future of computer science holds. I am beyond excited to start delving into the everyday uses of the internet that most of us probably take for granted… to be continued!

Should we really be this advanced?

2

It has been a crazy week in the life of Buddy Hayward… mainly because of the ever looming Hurricane Irma. I was thinking of my hometown, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, all week, as it was initially projected to be right in the heart of the ‘destruction zone’. Despite all the panic, South Florida remained relatively intact. I found it interesting how Jim followed the storm by viewing the live streams online, only when the power was up and running. I was simply on Facetime with my mom, watching the events unfold. It is funny that I say simply, because that is definitely not the right term considering what I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks. After the readings and this week’s discussion, I am amazed that the technology that we take for granted even exists. It took so much time and effort just to develop a system in which two giant computers could transmit information from each other. Now, I can just pick up my iPhone and see what is going 1,473 miles away in my hometown… truly crazy!

 

Another concept that jumped out at me was the use of the “Finger” technology. This allowed a user to see when any particular user was on the network recently… talk about a lack of privacy! In today’s world, we have new technologies that serve a similar purpose. Apple has its own feature called “Find my Friends” which allows the user to request a mutual sharing of location with any individual. This makes it much less invasive than the finger technology, since you have to accept the request to actually start sharing your location… it is interesting to see, though, that this sort of technology has been around since the early days of the ARPAnet. Even though I use this technology frequently, after our discussion, I’ve been thinking that it might not be such a great thing to have… I have to 100% trust those whom I am sharing my location with.

 

Week 2 of Seminar 50N is in the books. I have learned a great deal, and I’m excited to move on to some of the Internet’s purposes in a few weeks.

 

I look forward to next week’s meeting… to be continued!

50N First Discussion

1

My first day attending “What is the Internet, and what will it become?” really opened my eyes to some new and intriguing ideas. The seminar opened with a discussion about the team-up of Cortana and Alexa, from Microsoft and Amazon, respectively. When I first heard this, I remember thinking that it would be a quite unusual pairing, as both Alexa and Cortana serve a similar purpose. However, after hearing what others had to say, and reflecting after class, I am now thinking that Microsoft and Amazon joined forces in this area to both improve the technology and potentially overtake the more popular AI systems, such as Apple’s Siri and Google Home. Just like most technologies, some devices handle certain things better than others… same goes for Cortana and Alexa. The integration of both technologies will allow the user to utilize the strengths of both devices, without having to do any extra work.

Over the course of the meeting, we also discussed the history and evolution of the internet. It was very interesting to learn of its initial purpose and how it was developed. It is crazy to think about how much time and effort it took to assemble a machine that produced 3 functions per second… now we have devices that can spit out billions per second. This really got me thinking… if all this progress can be made in a little over a half of a century, what is in store for the future? Devices that can read our minds and surf the web based on our thoughts? Only time will tell.

I left the first meeting a little overwhelmed by the complexity of some of the topics, but I can clearly see the importance of the Internet in our lives today. I am excited to learn more and to make my contribution next week… to be continued.

Log in