Rachel –> Internet

Rachel takes on the Internet – What is it and what will it become?

Thank you

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 4:28 am on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hi everyone! – Dean Smith, Professor Waldo, my lovely classmates, and everyone who is out there on the Internet:

Thank you so much for giving me so much to ponder, instilling in me a new way of thinking and the memories of a wonderful class to cherish.

Throughout this seminar, I have been intrigued by the things I learned, challenged by controversial matters, uncomfortable with my security/privacy, hopeful for the future, excited to learn more, and given the chance to explore my thoughts and beliefs on topics old and new.

Thank you all for following me throughout my learning experience and for giving me this opportunity.

See you on the flipside – of the Internet and what it will become.


I’ll give you what you want

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 4:20 am on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In order to generate optimal revenue, businesses constantly attempt to determine what consumers want, and act accordingly, with a “tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you” mentality.

This phenomenon is evident in social media, where in addition to the dissemination of information, social media has increasingly been used for entertainment as well. ¬†In order to “improve” the user experience by giving them what they are looking for, social media companies are simultaneously able to gain more profit, creating a win-win situation.

The problem arises, however, when this entertainment takes on the form of false information, exacerbating homophily and echo-chamber situations.  As someone mentioned in class today, there were four general types of articles on Facebook during the Clinton vs. Trump campaign: true pro-Clinton/anti-Trump, false pro-Clinton/anti-Trump, true pro-Trump/anti-Clinton, and false pro-Trump/anti-Clinton.  This is especially problematic because not only do many people not take the time to even attempt to recognize the ethos of a source, but because they are often exposed only to two types of these articles, both in support of the same candidate.  As many citizens live in echo-chambers, people often hear only, or at least more of, what they want to hear.

It is also important to recognize that the concept of an echo-chamber extends outside of the political realm as well, which brings me back to another question addressed in class: Is having skewed information better than having no information at all?

First Impressions

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 10:03 pm on Friday, November 25, 2016

Upon discovering you have a Facebook account, Mark, as a Facebook user himself, instantly looks you up and gleans all the information he possible can from your profile.  He gets the best idea he thinks he possibly can, based on the information you have publicly available and readily accessible.  In fact, he probably has already established judgments on what you might be like as a person, regardless of whether or not he is correct in his assumptions.

Although this may seem unsettling, it is really only uncomfortable because I am telling you that Mark is doing this. ¬†If I didn’t tell you, you probably would not feel so uneasy.

Now imagine that Mark didn’t know you had a Facebook and didn’t have a Facebook presence himself. ¬†Instead, he met you in person. ¬†As soon as he sees you, he glances at your facial features, your hair, your clothes, your posture, and your demeanor. ¬†Just like in the other situation, he simply gets¬†the best idea he thinks he possibly can, based on the information you have publicly available and readily accessible. ¬†Once again,¬†he probably has already established judgments on what you¬†might be like as a person, regardless of whether or not he is correct in his assumptions.

Whether one encounters a person for the first time online or in person, first impressions are always made. ¬†Often, many of the initial assumptions and judgments one makes turn out to be false. ¬†One’s outward representation, both physically and virtually, hardly ever align with the person they are. ¬†If this were the case, people would never fail to completely understand each other on a deep and personal level, as soon as they meet.

Taking Risks: A Leap of Faith

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 9:46 pm on Friday, November 25, 2016

In class, we discussed the following hypothetical: Would you be okay with Google scanning your drive/email/stuff for a specific file?  What if Google were to also store your information?

Unlike in a situation where a human searches for something, memory is not automatic, and searching does not imply storage.  Thus, the general consensus seemed to be that people would not mind Google scanning through our information in search for a specific file, although people would be uncomfortable if Google were to store the information as well.

This observation led me to the realization of a common theme: people are more prone to reveal things and be more comfortable with sharing things online than they are in person.

How many times have you said something to someone online – something that you probably would not have said in person? ¬†Is it that somehow, the barrier of not having to see the person’s face somehow makes it more comfortable? ¬†And if this alternative form of communication can at times be more comfortable, then perhaps¬†the risks of communicating online are worth it. ¬†There will always be danger, both in person and on the Web; the real question always points to whether or not a risk if worth taking.

The Power of Facebook

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 9:19 pm on Friday, November 25, 2016

“As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.79 billion monthly active users”  https://www.statista.com/statistics/2648…).

That is, Facebook has access to the personal information of nearly a quarter of the entire global population, and around half of all Internet users.

With all this information, Facebook has the power to put so many people in danger.  Is it possible that Facebook has already been doing this, simply without our knowing?  Yes.  Is it possible that they have truly respected the privacy of all usersup to this point?  Also, yes.  Well what could Facebook possibly want from us, and what is the value of our information?

“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”  https://www.facebook.com/facebook/about/). ¬†At the same time, however, Facebook is a company, and as a company, its goal is to generate revenue. ¬†For this reason, there is no way to be certain of how Facebook may be manipulating its users. ¬†For example, there is no way to know whether or not Facebook shows us what we want to see as a mere means of reflecting our own prejudices, or if Facebook is intentionally showing us prejudicial feeds in order to make more money. ¬†On the user’s end, there seems to be no difference, and so potential violations of privacy cannot be detected.

If undetectable, how dangerous can something be?  Is oblivion bliss?  Is there a reason to fear the unknown?


Inevitable Insecurity

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 8:35 pm on Friday, November 25, 2016

The life of your only son was¬†recently taken. ¬†He was deceived by “anonymous” who made several virtual attacks and then¬†eventually attracted¬†your son to an isolated location¬†in the physical world, leading to this tragedy.

What are you going to do about it? ¬†Well, you are an angry, troubled mother with a strong temper. ¬†You want either to get your revenge, or minimally, ensure that your son’s murderer-hacker receive just punishment through the court of law. ¬†Either way, you are going to find “anonymous”, and luck for you, you also happen to be a computer scientist yourself.

Regardless of how secure something may be, and no matter how difficult it may be or how long it may take, you will find “anonymous”.

If Person A really wants to target Person B, Person A, especially if properly equipped and sufficiently skilled, will be effective, regardless of any preventative measures Person B may take.  Given that such cases are bound to always occur, this reality should not be avoided but embraced; efforts should be focused on prevention and protection rather than on attempting to secure inevitable insecurity.


Voting: A Matter of Trust

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 8:06 pm on Friday, November 25, 2016

When you vote, you want your vote you count; you make a selection with hopes that your choice will be correctly regarded and counted.  This requires an element of trust in the system, although there is no way the voter can be certain that his/her/er trust is rightly placed.  Thus, there is always also an element of uncertainty.

The prospect of voting online only emphasizes these concerns.  With the fear of technological errors, and the risks of hacks, there appears to be greater potential for danger, thereby heightening uncertainty.  And with an issue as pivotal as electing the next President, it is important that such uncertainty is optimally minimized, that the process is made as secure and trust-ensuring as possible.

For this reason, it is understandable as to why online voting is not a popular phenomenon, and why it has not been implemented in the United States.  Whether or not is reasonable, people tend to be more comfortable trusting others in person; face-to-face interactions allow for greater accountability.  Perhaps, this could be related to a fear of singularity.  Or perhaps, this is merely due to a discomfort in the new.

Whether or not online voting would be effective, secure, or even feasible is something that would only be shown through its implementation.  If the risks of online voting are worth its benefits, then perhaps it could be used in the future.  Ultimately, it becomes a mere matter of trusting that things will work out.

How dependent is intelligence on emotion?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 4:29 am on Friday, October 21, 2016

Is it fair to define intelligence as the ability to affect emotion?

In the discussion of reaching and exceeding Singularity, there is a fear that computers/machines will one day irreversibly match, if not exceed, the intelligence of humans.  Some may argue that Singularity has already been reached, while others may argue that it has not yet been reach.  And still, there are those who may argue that Singularity will never be reached.

In the past, we have observed sightings of Singularity’s potential to exist. ¬†For example,¬†Eliza passed the Turing test, conversing with people in such a way that real people on the other end quickly forgot they were conversing with a machine. ¬†However, it is evident that Eliza would not have passed the Turing test for every human that interacted with it. ¬†In this case, it only affected those who felt an emotional connection/attachment to Eliza, as the affected people sought the sympathy and attention Eliza offered. ¬†Because Eliza influenced human emotions, it had the power to instill fear and the power to be deemed intelligent.

Nevertheless, Eliza is of the past.  Although intelligent to a certain extent, Eliza was not intelligent enough to outsmart humans overall.  To do so, Eliza would need to have been able to affect the entire human race, and to a greater extent.  If a machine or being like that is ever created, that is when Singularity will be reached; this is the power of artificial intelligence.

As dangerous as Singularity can be, it is also important to remember the value of the advance of technology and the creation of programs far more powerful than Eliza, similar to biotechnological advances like those of pedestrian cruise control and communication through brain waves connected to the Internet.

The advance of technology is perpetual, and it is therefore important that humans try to reconcile with the notion of Singularity, rather than push it away completely.  There are always risks, dangers, and imperfections in society.  However, there is also always a way to balance pros and cons Рminimizing risks to potentially nothing, while augmenting benefits into even greater advantages.  Is it safe enough to trust this natural phenomenon?

If not, is it better¬†to block technology’s advance to Singularity? ¬†And if so, is it actually possible to avoid Singularity? ¬†Perhaps. ¬†Indeed, if humans were desensitized, void of feeling and emotion, reaching Singularity would be an impossibility.

Moore’s Law

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 4:38 am on Wednesday, October 12, 2016

“The observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented. Moore predicted that this trend would continue for the foreseeable future.”  http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/M/Moores_L…)

One of the initial concepts we discussed in our seminar is that of Moore’s Law. ¬†Upon learning of this, I was instantly amazed at how¬†promising this upward trend has been, and what its future implications are. ¬†However, it is not a theory I had thought could ever be applicable to any realm outside of transistors and circuits. ¬†In my head, this type of advancement was the representation of the furthest¬†physical¬†advancement humans could possibly¬†manifest in the real world.

However, this changed when I was sitting in a lecture for my¬†SCRB 60: Ethics, Biotechnology, and the Future of Human Nature class. ¬†The¬†topic at hand was on the potential costs and benefits of attempting to synthesize the human genome. ¬†One factor ¬†considered was the speed at which DNA price is falling, which is where the relevance to Moore’s Law comes in. ¬†According to several resources, the speed at which the price of DNA¬†is falling is comparable to Moore’s Law. ¬†This also relates to the increasing demand and popularization of DNA synthesis, saying much about the potential for the advancement of humans¬†themselves.

Another comparison that was made in this lecture was the prospect of how casual DNA synthesis could soon become. ¬†Just as the Internet advanced very quickly and also very quickly became unsafe, as hackers now implement viruses and violate privacy… the popularization of human synthesis could lead to the potential of humans creating and implementing real viruses in the physical world, and violating privacy in terms of genetic information.

These comparisons have brought me to think more about the negative aspects of technological advancement and advancement in general.  The extent to which humans can weaponize technology and other resources, as well as the increased media through which humans can harm others are significant losses that come with significant gains.

How can the costs that come with a benefit(s) be minimized? ¬†Who gets to make the decisions as to whether a technology’s benefits outweigh its costs? ¬†Where is our future headed, and what will become of the future?

Perhaps, this seminar, in asking “What is the Internet and what will it become?” simultaneously asks: “What is life and what will it become?


Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelkang at 2:42 am on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I agree to the terms and conditions.

I agree to the privacy policy and terms of use.

How many times have you glanced past these sentences before?  Hastily scrolled through endless paragraphs to check the boxes at the bottom?

In class, we discussed how certain websites display specific advertisements that target users who are interested in those specific things, thus increasing the success rate of such advertising. ¬†Such websites are able to do this because they have access to information that we “permit” them to have access to.

Is our privacy being violated if we consciously choose not to read about the ways in which we may be allowing our privacy to be violated in writing (even if that writing isn’t our own)? ¬†And to what extent do such websites¬†specify how much of our privacy they will be invading? ¬†What is the wording like?

To what extent is the invasion of our privacy legal?

How true is it that nothing can be “deleted” from the web?

How closely is our every move on the Internet being watched?

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