Day 11 Reflections

2

This past week in seminar, we talked about identity on the Internet. One thing that I found especially interesting was our discussion on how we portray ourselves online vs. how we are in real life. As teenagers we put so much time and thought into our online personas. We think hard before every snapchat we post, ever Facebook picture we add, and every tweet we send. Online our audience is everyone. When we post something online, it is usually not just seen by one person, or a group of people, but rather it is seen by everyone. Is what you put on your Facebook profile actually a representation of you? Or is it just how you want others to see you? As humans we act so different in so many different situations, as we adapt to each situation that we encounter. Yet, on Facebook, we have no time to adapt, for everything is visible to everyone. We try harder online to make sure that we look “cooler.” We always send the snapchats of our parties, but never send snapchats of us when we are crying because we have too much homework. So is the Internet an accurate representation of our identity?

This is also an issue when it comes snap judgements made from people when they are perusing online profiles. Although I pride myself in being a non-judgmental person, when I look at someones Facebook or Twitter profile, I immediately judge who they are. If their profile picture is of them playing basketball, instantly in my mind I make an assumption that they are a jock-type person. If their profile picture is them making a speech at a debate tournament, I immediately classify them as a nerdy-type person. Yet, that is often not the case. As much as an individual tries to portray their true self online, it is almost impossible that everyone viewing your profile will see you the same way. It is impossible to “please” everyone. With an audience larger than you even know, many assumption will be made about you, without you even knowing. For me, this makes online relationships shallow. Personally, I prefer talking in person, rather than online. I prefer meeting someone in person before I see their Facebook profile and make a quick snap judgment.

Lastly, people portray themselves differently on different social media sites. On Linked-In, I am not going to make my profile picture a picture of me partying with my friends. I will most likely make it a professional looking picture. In my profile, I will not harp on the fact that I am a diehard sports fan, and love the show Entourage. Although, those are two huge parts of who I am, they will be invisible to anyone who sees me on Linked-In. On Facebook, I may share dozens of posts about the Patriots, and many clips from funny/stupid TV shows. However, I would never post about my CS50 final project that I am so, so excited about working on. As you can see, I am a completely different person on different social media platforms. So how can one get an accurate representation of an individual online? In my opinion they can’t. What makes our generation so interesting and different is that we make so many judgments of people online before we meet them, and this affects how we become friends with them. The Internet is affecting our relationships more than we think, and to me that is a interesting thing to think about. Imagine going into college with no Facebook? Weird, huh?

 

That is all for this week! Stay tuned!

Day 10 Reflections

3

In seminar this week we again had an amazing special guest. This time, his name was Jonathan Zittrain, who talked to us about cyber crime, cyber security, and cyber warfare. I was enthralled with the conversation and thought that Professor Zittrain had answer to every question or hypothetical thrown at him, I was quite impressed. In a field with so much uncertainty, Professor Zittrain shared a lot of interesting information about crime online.

After the conversation and some thinking, I believe that the best way to stop cyber crime is the preventative method. Although it is quite difficult, I believe that cyber security must be improved. These attacks happen so frequently, and it makes me wonder why can’t we develop security good enough to stop these hackers? Are these hackers just too good, and no matter what security we have they will be able to break into? I believe that governments should focus more on cyber security as more and more stuff goes online and into technology, we must keep up with the security in these high-tech fields. Additionally, what surprised me was the amount of money that these hackers can make by doing these attacks. These hackers can make thousands and thousands of dollars for each attack they do, and since they are so detrimental to the users, the users are forced to pay these absurd sums of money.

One interesting hypothetical we talked about was the google email “scan” for terrorism. What this scan would do is go through everyone’s gmail account, and see if they have the exact match of a terrorist email. With this email, the government would then be able to know who is in on the act of terror. Is this okay? Does this invade privacy? Do you agree to this by signing up for google? I was very adament in our conversation that I would be okay with this scan. As long as no humans lay eyes on my emails, and it is simply an algorithm that checks through my emails, I am fine with that. But, Professor Zittrain compared it to many other hypotheticals, such as a robot taking pictures of your diary, would I be okay with that? To be honest, I was definitely a little more skeptical after each of Professor Zittrain’s comebacks. Still, with just an algorithmic check of my emails, I feel comfortable, but should I? Does google already have all my email data? Can a worker at google simply go in and look at my email? Although that is illegal, is there anything stopping that worker? It is all these questions that make this hypothetical very confusing, and not as  simple as one might thing.

But I will always listen to what my dad told me when I first got email:

“Make sure before you send any email, that you would be comfortable reading this email in front of the whole world, because once it is online the whole world can see it.” That stuck with me.

That is all for this week. Stay tuned for my last few blog posts!!!

Day 9 Reflections

1

This was another special week as we had Scott Bradner come in and speak to us about Internet Governance. Scott Bradner has been on the forefront of Internet regulation for many years now, and it was an honor to have him speak to us in such a small group. The main thesis of his talk was the fact the there actually is no Internet governance, especially in the United States. Some countries (China for example) have had some sort of Internet governance, but there is no global  governance, and definitely not any governance currently in the United States.

One thing from the presentation that I found exceptionally striking was the slide that depicted different Internet “plans” that providers might supply. Imagine if you could only buy 100 websites from a provider. What would happen to all these small websites developed by normal people like you and I. Would we not be able to visit them unless we bought the unlimited plan? I think that that is just completely wrong. What is so special about the Internet is its scope, and its endless amount of nooks and crannies that are loved by different people. TV, Phone, and Radio are all localized and more easily regulated. But what makes the Internet the Internet is that it is not regulated. A regulated Internet would ruin all the values that the Internet has. Once described as a bumble-bee that was not able to fly, the Internet has flown with flying colors, and there should be nothing that should stop it. The only regulations that should be on the Internet is that all members on the Internet should play fairly and should “do what is right.” There should be no overarching regulations that should limit what individuals should be able to access online. To be completely honest, seeing those Internet plans scared me, and scared me a lot.

Another thing I found interesting about Internet Governance was its lack of consistency across the globe. For example the European Union’s (EU) right to be forgotten, is only a law in the European Union. Let’s say I lived in France, and wanted to forget some of my history on google. Would that information also be forgotten on google in the United States. How does one deal with these laws that span only specific parts of the world, but can be seen on the Internet all over the world?

Another thing I find interesting is how governments can influence an individuals ideology by filtering what they see online. For example, if a governement is in charge of the Internet, it can block anything that is anti that government, and suppress any sort of rebellion, unrest or protest. I believe that should not happen. The Internet can be an incredible tool to help bring masses together and elicit social change. Yet, if the government is regulating everything that is going on the Internet, it will limit the power of one of humanities best tools that it can use to unite masses.

As of now there is no Internet Governance in the United States, and there hasn’t been since the Internet was invented. The main question is: Will this last? In my opinion, it will last, but not to the extent that it is at currently. As the Internet continues to advance, I believe there will be more of a need to implement laws that keep play on the Internet fair and just. I do not think that there will ever be governance like AT&T offering you Internet plans, but I do believe that more and more laws will have to be created to ensure that fair play is ensured on the Internet and that the Internet remains a safe place.

 

That is all for Hollenberg’s Thoughts this week. Stay tuned!!!

 

Brady for MVP?!?

 

Day 8 Reflections

2

This week was a special as we had David Eaves come in and talk to us about how the government is using technology to try to enhance its citizens lives. Professor Eaves was very knowledgable on the topic, and it was a topic that I never really had thought about. When he first introduced himself, I thought he would be a computer science guy that was working on the software and hardware for these governments. In fact, he was the opposite and he argued that empathy was the most important factor in the technological advances that governments make to improve the lives of their citizens. He made the metaphor that the fastest runner in the world will not win the race if he does not know where he is going, and therefore it is not the runner that is the most important, but rather the individual that is telling the runner where the run. He compared the runner to the coder, and the empathetic individual to the man that knew the route. Personally, I disagree with this statement. Professor Eaves was arguing that we do not need more high level coders, but rather need more people that are willing to solve the problems and direct the coders in the correct direction. Yet, I believe that the runner (the coder) is just as or even more important as the man who is telling the runner where to go. Sure, this individual might know the route of the race, but there is no possible way to win the race without the fastest runner. Additionally, to be the best runner, one of the skills would be to know where you are going, and the one of the main skills of a coder is to attack problems and come up with solutions. I agree with Professor Eaves with the fact that there must be more people that are willing to solve these technological issues, but who says it can’t be the runners (coders) themselves. I really did not like how he downplayed the importance of the coder, as without these coders, there would be no technological advances.

Another point that Mr. Eaves made that was shocking was the 3rd degree “rule of thumb” or idea he shared with us. If you are within 3 degrees of a suspicious/wanted individual, the FBI is most likely collecting tons more data on you than if you weren’t three degrees separated from a suspicious/wanted individual. Since I am in email contact with Professor Waldo, and he is in contact with an individual that was in contact with Snowden, then according to this rule I am being watched more than the average person. What? What did I do? To me, that is completely shocking and eye-opening.

This made me think of all the times that there is data collected about you by the government. For example, the sidewalk labs collect data about you every time that you check in to one of them. Cell phone towers interact with your phone every time you pass into their range. The amount of data that the government has about you is astounding. It is true we are all digital citizens of our nation.

Also, what horrified me the most was at the Baltimore protests police were able to use image recognition technology to identify those who had a warrant, and were able to single them out of the crowd and arrest them. What? How? Does that mean that one day if I am walking down that street, and I have not paid a parking ticket, a police officer will be able to see that and get me in trouble right then and there? Will we ever have privacy on our sidewalks? Scary stuff

A few big questions I have are:

What does the government do with this information?

Is this ethical? Did we ever vote on this?

 

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. More to come next week.

 

No surprise Brady is incredible

Day 7 Reflections

0

This week in seminar, we discussed the Internet and its implications on the upcoming election and prior elections as well. From the readings, the first thing that surprised me was how much power Facebook has compared to its user. Facebook can basically control your entire newsfeed whenever it wants, and therefore can have a huge impact on the elections. Facebook has all the power in this situation, while you have no power to control what is on your newsfeed. Let’s say in the weeks before the election, Facebook filters your newsfeed to show you all anti-Clinton posts, and anti-Clinton shares from your friends. By the mere-exposure effect (a little psych terminology), you will see Clinton in a poorer light, and to some people this could convince them to change their vote. This is only the beginning of the power that Facebook can have on voting. Additionally, Facebook can convince non-politically active individuals to vote by including an “I voted” or “I’m voting” button on your Facebook feed.  One study had this to say on the impact of Facebook: “It is possible,” the Facebook team wrote in Nature, “that more of the 0.6 percent growth in turnout between 2006 and 2010 might have been caused by a single message on Facebook.” By barely putting something on Facebook, it is possible that voter turn out grew by 0.6%. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot of people, but let’s say Facebook actively tried to increase voter turn out, and used a lot of their resources to influence their users to vote.

How big a difference could they make?

Some questions to ponder:

What other social media platforms increase voter turnout? What effect does snapchat have on voter turnout? Does social media even effect voter turnout?

Feel free to answer in the comments!!!

Another aspect of our conversation that I found interesting was the prospect of voting moving online. There are definitely pros and cons for this movement. To begin, one huge benefit of online voting would be how easy it is to count the votes, and for people to vote. I think it would also increase voter turnout if you could simply vote from your smart phone. But would it be beneficial for those who really are uninterested and uneducated about the election to cast a vote? That starts another conversation of should voting be mandatory, which is a conversation for another time and place. Lastly, it would be much easier to analyze the voting data if it was done online. Trends would be easier to see, and much more data on the elections would become available if voting was done online.

However, I still believe that online voting would never be secure enough, and would ruin the voting experience. For me, voting was such a thrill when I went to the polling station, and was able to cast my vote by hand. It truly made me feel accomplished and that my vote counted. If it was just a simple tap of a button on a smart phone, would people take it as seriously? Additionally, the lack of security with online elections is frightening. Hackers all over the country and all over the world would spend years targeting this online voting system, and in my opinion one way or another would hack the system and rig our elections. It is too risky unless someone develops the PERFECT, PERFECT model. To me, all voting should be done by hand at polling stations!!!! That is how it should be!

I hope you enjoyed this weeks version of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. Stay tuned for next week.

 

Brady is too good!!!!

Day 6 Reflections

1

In seminar yesterday we talked about the Singularity, which to me is…FREAKY! The Singularity is a hypothesis that at some point Artificial Intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and computers will be smarter than humans. To me, this is a horribly terrifying concept. Personally, I do not believe that the Singularity is near. Actually, I don’t believe that machine intelligence will ever surpass human intelligence, but more on that later.  Paul Allen in his 2011 article “The Singularity Isn’t Near” explains that the Singularity isn’t near because not only will we need the necessary hardware to create such intelligence, but also we must create more complex software programs that are smarter and more capable than the human brain. He argues that “Creating this kind of advanced software requires a prior scientific understanding of the foundations of human cognition, and we are just scraping the surface of this.” If we barely understand the human brain, how can we expect to write software that is smarter than it?

Back to my earlier statement that the Singularity will not happen. I know this is an unpopular opinion, and deep down it could just be what I hope, but for now I truly believe that the singularity will never happen. EVENTUALLY, (according to Moore’s Law, the exponential growth of our computing power, and many other hypotheses etc.) I believe that we will have the necessary software and hardware to create a machine that can surpass all human intelligence. But will humans allow that to happen? Personally, I do not think so. Humans thrive so much from being at the top, from being the “smartest” creatures on the planet. Why would humans ever want to create something that would overpower them, that would be above them on the intelligence chain? As inherently selfish as we are, and how much we thrive from being on top,  human beings will never create a machine that will outsmart them. They might create a machine that is very, very smart (perhaps even smarter than they are), but humans will still be able to control this machine somehow. We LOVE being in control, and I can’t see humanity losing their control to machines.

Yet, what if the Singularity happens?…………..

Just take a moment and think about it. Imagine computers dating, marrying, and reproducing new, smarter machines when they get old. Imagine humans being like pets to these machines. Can anything stop these super-intelligent machines from making smarter and smarter machines? Will there be a limit to the intelligence these machines have?

Personally, I get lost just thinking about it.

I have a pessimistic view on the Singularity. If humans lose control, it will be chaos. We will not know what these machines are capable of. If humans are “inherently bad”, what will machines be? To me, the Singularity is too absurd of a concept for it to be beneficial to us.

Overall, the Singularity was definitely the most interesting topic of discussion so far. We could talk about the Singularity for weeks on end, coming up with new arguments to why it will happen or why it wont; to why it will be beneficial, to why it will ruin humanity. There is so much to talk about with the Singularity. I really hope I can study this topic further in my college career.

I hope you enjoyed Hollenberg’s Thoughts. More to come next week.

Brady is back and better than ever. Watch out!

Day 5 Reflection

1

The Internet of Things (IOT) is a fascinating concept that seems so futuristic, but is truly right around the corner. The IOT will begin to control our lives, as all of our objects will be communicating with each other and create one network that will almost control our lives. There are many positives for the IOT as it will make our lives much more convenient, save us time and money, and increase our safety (will it? I will get to that later)? Yet, there are also many things that concern me about the IOT. First, I believe the IOT will make us very one dimensional people. Our lives will be so programmed that we will have a very difficult time straying away from our regular routine to try anything new. No longer will we have ample opportunity for our unique human experiences, such as a long drive on the countryside, or a camping trip without having little machines do everything for us. I mean it is pretty cool that a sensor can turn on your workstation after you park your car so that you are ready for work upon arrival. But is it so cool that these sensors and this networks knows your whereabouts all the time? Do you feel like a person still? Or do you feel controlled?

Is there a point in which we will lose our uniqueness as humans if machines continue to take over our entire lives?

I believe that will be a part of our discussion next week, and I cannot wait to see what ideas our classroom has on this topic. To me, it is quite scary and I am excited to discuss the future.

As I discussed earlier safety and security is a huge controversy in the IOT. One thought I shared in discussion was the safety of our information on the web currently. Personally, I am never worried that Venmo will steal my credit card information, or that Charles Schwab will steal all the money that I have invested in the market, or that some hacker will hack my online banking at Bank of America. Now that I think about it….why aren’t I scared? Why aren’t I scared that someone will steal my identity online after I type in my social security number to apply for a job? My answer was simple: It is because I trust these online sources and I trust them with my information. But still, why do I trust them? For that, I have no answer.

As technology improves and these sensors start to pick up even more information about us, should we start to fear even more about our privacy, and furthermore our safety. How can we trust that the camera in our house will not be hacked? How can we trust that entire network of sensors that is tracking our every movement and planning our every activity won’t be hacked? As technology improves, so will the technology of hackers, and to me that is scary. I already feel like the Internet knows way too much about me with targeted adds, and all the information that I have posted on the web. With my new understanding of the Internet of things, I have realized that this is only the beginning. Soon, so much of our information will be on networks supposedly for our benefit. But will it be beneficial. To that I say: Only time will tell.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks version of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. Stay tuned for more!

One more thing….BRADY IS BACK!!!!!!!!

Day 4 Reflections

1

By the end of the discussion yesterday, I was amazed at how many industries have been changed/destroyed by the Internet. To begin, the newspaper industry and news as a whole has completely been reshaped by the Internet. I began to think, and realized that I really only see my parents or grandparents reading the newspaper. Will there even be newspapers when I graduate college? Newspapers are just one industry that has been completely changed by the Internet. Taxis have been replaced by Uber; CDs and records have been replaced by online streaming services; DVDs have been replaced by Netflix; and so many more. The Internet, which was initially created to be a way for computers to  communicate, is now at the heart of our economy. I can manage all my stocks on the Internet; I can pay all my bills online; do all my shopping; and even manage my bank accounts all from the Internet on my computer.

One aspect of our economy on the Internet that I am curious about is the rise of Venmo. For years, the use of Credit Cards, Apple Pay, and other ways of electronically paying for things has minimized the use of cash. Now, with Venmo, I personally never even worry about carrying cash, because for me cash is useless. Venmo is a simple money-transferring social network where I link my phone to my bank account and can simply push a few buttons to send my friend or acquaintance any type of money. Now, people are using Venmo to pay their rent and pay their bills. Personally, I predict that with the rise of Venmo and other similar technology, cash will be seldom used by anyone.

What are your thoughts on the rise of Venmo and its affects on cash?

Growing up in the generation of the Internet, I take for granted how easily it is to shop. I literally could never leave my house, and buy everything I could ever need to live a happy and plentiful life from the web. All the entertainment I could ever need is also available right on the Internet.

Will our lives eventually become completely dependent on the Internet? What will the Internet and the economy look like in 10 years?

Another few questions I have:

Does the United States have seperate economic policies now that so much our economy is based on the Internet? In other words, how is United States and the worlds economic policy shaped by the Internet.

Has the Internet actually made our economy stronger, or just more convenient?

The topic I quickly want to brush on are targeted ads. Targeted ads are some of the creepiest things if you don’t know what they are. Basically, many websites access your browsing history, and advertise based on what you have been looking at. After shopping for basketball shoes online the other day, I noticed that my Facebook page was full of basketball shoe and clothes ads. To be completely honest, these ads made me more inclined to purchase a new Celtics jersey with my new shoes. The world of targeted ads will only get stronger as more of your data is on the Internet, and these companies will be able to follow all of an individuals tendencies to serve them the perfect ad.

Some overarching questions to ponder:

Are targeted ads an infringement on our privacy? Will they prevent us from branching out in our shopping, and make us one dimensional shoppers? What is the actual effect of targeted ads on our shopping?

I hope you enjoyed this version of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. More to come next week. Stay tuned.

Day 3 Reflection

1

The Internet is finally complete! Where the Wizards Stay Up Late was a fascinating read for me as I finally understood how the Internet was created. I feel that the Internet is taken for granted, as we are constantly complaining about poor connection, and having to download the new adobe flash plug-in to view this video. After reading this book, I have a newfound respect for the Internet. What started as just an idea from a view ambitious computer scientists, grew to be arguably the most important tool humans have at their disposal today.

Additionally, I was quite amazed (and confused) by the IP address discussion we had, and our classes attempt to find the IP address for our website. I had never heard of a name server, but the fact that our computer has to go through many name servers to find the IP address of a website is ridiculous if you think about it. When I type in any website, it is only a matter of seconds (even milliseconds) before my web page is loaded. The computer’s protocol to find the IP address of the site sounds like it would take at least some time happens almost instantly, which is remarkable in my opinion. There is so much going on under the hood of the computer that the average user really has no idea is going on. Discussing these issues gives me so much more appreciation for these incredible machines.

I still have a couple of questions regarding what was discussed in class:

Does each website have it’s own host machine? What about it you make a site through GoDaddy or a similar platform?

How does WiFi work in relation to the network technology we have discussed?

What exactly is an end-to-end argument explained simply? Why are they so revolutionary?

Now that I understand what the Internet is and its foundation, I can’t help but think of its importance now and in the future.The future of the Internet is something that I cannot even grasp. To put it in to perspective, just 40 years ago, e-mail barely existed, there was no thing as google, WiFi was not created, computers were still bigger than humans, and even ethernet was barely even a thought. I can’t even begin to imagine what the Internet will be like 40 years from now. Is there room for improvement? Is there even more we can do, or have we reached a relative peak? I know Internet speeds can keep improving, but to what point? I know we can create more complex networks, but to what point? Will be there be a point at which our development of the Internet reaches a plateau, or will humanity continue to outdo itself and continue to grow and develop the Internet.

Overall, these weeks have made me curious and excited for what the future of the Internet has to hold. Seeing the Internet develop so quickly makes me believe that in the next decade we will be seeing a huge development somewhere in the world of computing.

I hope you enjoyed Hollenberg’s thoughts (more like Hollenberg’s questions and curiosity). More to come next week!

Day 2 Reflection

1

Play. Everyone loves to play. Whether it is playing with your friends, your pets, or your video games, everyone enjoys to play. It is fun, isn’t it? The fact that the founders of the Internet created some of its most distinct features from just “playing around” with the code astonishes me. Normally, when I think of inventing something new involving a computer or a Network, I think of hours and hours of arduous, planned work that might create an initially satisfactory solution, but a solution that undergo myriad changes until it is good enough to apply to the machine/network. Do I think of men just “playing around” and inventing e-mail, or the IMP language? What fascinated me from week 2’s reading and conversation was the fact that these computer scientists (the best in the world) that founded the Internet (initially the ARPANET) really had no idea what they were doing (Check the RFC 1!). These individuals were just going with the flow as they invented what I believe is one of the most powerful tools that humans have created. Just the freedom and this “Spirit of Play” that the founders of the Internet had when founding the Net is so fascinating to me. Additionally, this made me think of a few questions:

Would students and professors be more successful if they were given less structure?

Would the Internet be what it is today if the founders did not operate with this level of relative freedom?

****Another topic we covered in week 2’s discussion was the concept of flaming. I never had the chance to ask the professors, but what exactly is flaming?

Another thing that continues to fascinate me about the Internet and computers in the binary. In both this seminar and in CS50 I have learned that deep down in the machine code, computers only read 1’s and 0’s. If you were to tell any ordinary man on the street that had not studied computers, that computers basically just run on 1’s and 0’s I’m sure that they would not believe you. As I keep studying the Internet and computers, I always believe that we will stray away from this binary and dive into more complexities. But will we?

Do computers (with all their incredible functions) solely just work with 1’s and 0’s? If so, how does it do everything it does so fast just dealing with 2 numbers?

Thinking about these networks and computers made me think about the concept of simplicity. So often as human beings we get so worked up over a problem and overthink it. We always create complexities, which take our attention away from the simple answer. If only we as humans could think of our problems as simple as 1’s and 0’s (like computers), I believe we could solve many more problems way more efficiently. A question for readers:

Should humans think more like computers (which they created) to solve their problems? Would this help or hurt our problem solving ability?

I hope you enjoyed the 2nd edition of Hollenberg’s Thoughts. More to come.

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