Category Archives: Future

The Internet of Things

I think this video is an absolutely fascinating view of how we can maximize our internet usage. In the video, Dr. John Barrett explains how the internet has progressed from the very first public web servers in the late 80’s and early 90’s to the web today– which contains over 4000 exabytes of data. He explains how the internet now, or in the near future– the “internet of things”– is an internet in which the physical world is entirely connected and monitored by the internet. He talks about how some of our applications like traffic, news, travel agency, and restaurant apps can tell us exactly when things are available for us to use or not. For example, you can use a restaurant app to not only see how long the wait will be at a particular restaurant, but to book a table as well. In a similar manner, he says that the “internet of things” could be used in the future to improve the quality of life for everyone, especially those living in cities. For example, to send feedback from a patient’s heart monitor to a hospital, no matter where the patient is. He talks about how we can expand the use of green energy by limiting nonessential electricity use through the internet– your washing machine only turns on when there are enough clothes in it, and when energy levels are high enough to warrant it. This way, no one goes without energy, and no one has a surplus. Essentially, Dr. Barret talks about how far we’ve come, and how far we have the potential to go.

Barrett addresses the idea of “big brother” in the video as well. In order for his “internet of things” to work, basically everything important has to be monitored. But he says that he would hope that the benefits of such a system would outweigh the lack of privacy. He also addresses concerns about security risks, where one hack could bring down a vital system and cause loss of life or limb.

In any case, I think it’s good food for thought.


A New Front: Cyber Crime and Warfare in the Digital Age

This article, titled “Cybercrime, Cyberweapons, and Cyber Wars: Is There Too Much of It in the Air?” discusses how the capabilities of criminals and terrorists has evolved with the advent of increased online traffic. Criminals can produce and/or sell fake documents, malware, credit card and bank information, bulletproof web hosting, and hacking services such as DDoS attacks and bot spamming for a relatively low cost. And they still make a huge profit because the market for those things has expanded so greatly.

The use of malware and hacking techniques is not limited to the criminal underbelly of the internet. In fact, law enforcement and counter-terrorist forces have had to don the black hat in order to prevent so-called “cyber-terrorist” attacks. These attacks are easy to launch with very little skill in computer programming– in fact, according to the article, they can be waged with little more than the malware available on a petty cyber-criminal’s website. Even so, counter-cyber-terrorists seem to be one step behind their adversaries, and the effects of their efforts have been mostly negative for the general populace. Violations of privacy and freedom of information by intelligence agencies in its attempts to combat terrorism have become more and more popular in the news, especially following the Snowden leaks.

Catch Me if You Can

Go look up computer virus in google images, it’s hilarious.

You may or may not be surprised to know that viruses (and their cousins, including worms, Trojans, and malware) have existed for about as long as the internet itself. In this article by Gregory Benford, one of the first scientists to work with the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANet), Benford explains how the first virus came to be, and some of the consequences of its creation.

As Benford tells us, the very first computer virus was largely harmless but very, very annoying. It simply used a chain reaction to add bad/redundant/superfluous code to certain programs and sap the processing power on computers infected with the virus. Benford, who had created the virus himself, notified the appropriate authorities at the main ARPANet server and warned them of the potential for viruses to do actual damage to computers on the network. Nonetheless, new viruses were created, sparking an entire market for virus protection.

As technology and programming have become more and more advanced, more malicious bugs have been created to take out computing systems. Benford focuses on the famous (or perhaps infamous) worm called Stuxnet, which was used to infect and shut down an Iranian nuclear power plant in 2010. The worm used a false certificate to gain access to all computers on a network using Windows. Then it found its way into a program called Siemens Step7, which programmed many of the industrial processes of the plant. Next, it compromised the system that received input from those industrial processes and subsequently dictated changes to the output. By gaining access to the input, the creators of the worm could see exactly what processes were running in the plant and could change the output so that– essentially– the plant blew up. The worm could then replicate and spread to other computers on the network.

Benford warns in his conclusion that Stuxnet is proof that digital viruses can be used to affect the analog world. As our society becomes increasingly “connected” to computing systems, we must be vigilant and protect our networks from such viruses. The damage that potent viruses can do could be catastrophic.

If you’re interested in the Stuxnet virus and its effects, I’d recommend this article (complete with pictures!)

And here is a timeline of how viruses have evolved over time, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Web Information Retrieval

Web Information Retrieval Authors:  Stefano Ceri,  Alessandro Bozzon,  Marco Brambilla,  Emanuele Della Valle,  Piero Fraternali,  Silvia Quarteroni Call Number SpringerLink   Year 2013 Online Online Access Series Data-centric systems and applications Subject Information retrieval.   World Wide Web.   From University of Mary Washington Libraries   In this book you will find and understand the principals of information retrieval. […]

Mapping the Internet


Image credit to Nicolas Rapp for Fortune Magazine

This article by Andrew Blum provides a terse but relatively complete description of how “the internet” makes it from your friendly neighborhood ISP to that little box on your desk– or pad, if you’re into the whole tablet thing. He tells us about the infrastructure of the global fiber-optic cable network that oh-so-speedily transmits all of your favorite cat videos (if you’re still confused on how that works, I recommend this video from the discovery channel). He talks about the “middle-mile” and “last-mile” problems that plagued internet providers in the 90′s and 00′s– which is essentially when ISP’s asked themselves “How are we going to quickly and cost-effectively convert digital information to analog information to digital information while also moving it from Point A to Point B?”

One thing that I frequently find myself forgetting is that “free Wi-Fi” isn’t actually free. Blum explains that the cost for this magical, invisible thing we call “the internet” varies with direct proportion to the distance of Point B from Point A, i.e. the farther you are from an internet exchange point, the more you have to pay to instagram your blueberry overnight oats complete with recipe.

You’re probably thinking “Well yeah, that’s pretty obvious and totally logically sound, so why is it important and/or relevant?”

Good question, Friend! The implications of this distance to cost proportion mean that companies who can afford to purchase spaces that are physically closer to internet hubs immediately have an advantage over their competitors, who have to wait longer to receive their information. Not to mention that fast internet equals less waiting for your page to load equals more time to actually get things done, and we all know that time equals money. Q.E.D., fast internet equals money. In the grand scheme of things, this means that the speed of the internet literally has some power to dictate which companies will be successful. Spooky thought, right?

That’s not all, either! As Blum states in his article, “‘Internet exchange points’ [...] for the most part, follow geography and population,” meaning that where there are people there is internet, and vice versa. This means that “boom towns” tend to crop up around new internet hubs, giving the nigh-omnipotent internet the power to physically shape our world around itself. Forget ghosts and goblins, I’m being the internet for Halloween. 

Week 5: Final Video – Virtual Reality

So we all know that virtual reality has long been a technology associated with the future. Examples of it have been popping up movies, television shows, and more for years. We’ve even had attempts at making virtual reality, reality, with tech like the Virtual Boy, or now with the Oculus Rift. In this video I’ll show you a few examples of how virtual reality has been depicted in film, and how it may relate to our reality. The TV series and movies included in this video are as follows: Space Adventure Cobra, Megazone 23, The Matrix, Summer Wars, and Avatar.

Virtual Reality from James Dawson on Vimeo.


Wearable technology is something that has a lot of potential for human usage. Wearable technology is already present in much of the current and even dated media, which is indicative of its potential for use. Some examples of wearable technology are jetpacks, glasses, and watches. This video provides a visual representation of wearable technology. The clips I chose all show examples of wearable technology. My favorite clip would have to be the fake Nazi propaganda video. The video is different due to the fact that it shows the United States being invaded by flying Nazis, which is intense to say the least.

Artificial Intellingence

What is AI? Well, it stands for artificial intelligence, but what does it really represent? For some, it represents hope. Could AI provide better challenges, manual labor, or even friendship? For others, it represents fear. Will AI surpass us, challenge us, or even enslave us? Many different writers have come up with their own interpretations of AI and answers to these questions. Let’s look at a few of them.

Back to the Future: Cyborgs (2)

Cyborgs!Interesting topic. I’m glad I had a chance to dig into it, do some research, and imagine what the future holds. The interesting things I found is that cyborgs are not just a thing that we see in old comic books, of sci fi movies, the technology is actually here today. I was shocked to find out about a man, First Human Cyborgwho had a chip implanted into his arm.The youtube video goes into how he is able to control a robotic arm, turn on lightbulbs, and other technology all with only his mind. Fascinating. That not only implies amazing breakthroughs for the medical field but for all humans in general. If future years, don’t be surprised if you see fully functioning prostetic limbs, controlled solely by the individual’s mind. Also people may be able to communicate with technology and control lights, appliances, their televisions with nothing but the power of their minds. Cyborgs and this evolving technology leads to something of a superhuman race, which is amplified by technology.

The video I put together on the cyborg shows a lot of different examples of cyborgs. I used five different film productions to make my point. They are Star Trek, Elysium, Robocop, Spiderman, and Ironman. The video editing was an interesting experience for me because I used Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker on Windows 7. Next time I will most likely use iMovie, just because it is a much better software for editing. Although the movie turned out pretty good, and I think it shows what a cyborg is in many forms, and presents many different ideas as to what impact it could have on our world. In Elysium we see this machine, connected to Max’s brain. When I saw that I immediately thought about the possibilities that this could imply. Imagine being able to download any sort of data straight into your brain, or have instant access to the internet. Elysium also paints an awesome scenario of how cyborgs can be useful in battle. Cyborgs may very well be used for the military in the future, giving us a more efficient and a much more effective way to fight our enemy. Interestingly enough as today I actually had the pleasure of watching Robocop (2014). IT made me think a little different about the subject. In the movie the Alex Murphy was blown up by a car bomb and woke up as a cyborg. The only parts that were left of him were his brain, his lungs and his hand. In the movie, the doctors who made his cyborg body, were able to manage his chemistry, his data and seemingly everything else. They could even turn him off. He being a Detroit city police officer was able to have the entire Detroit police database in his head, have video image of each case, and have ability to control his surrounding technology. He was like a supercop. The movie really made me question how much technology is too much, and can such enhancements take humanity away. During the film, Robocop had certain programs installed, certain protocols that were written into his modified brain, and the human part of him was overriding them. It did a fantastic job hitting the “human vs machine” point. The movie was also set in the future where robots fight wars for us, cyborgs are used as prosthetic limbs, weapons, and Alex Murphy became the first full human robocop with capabilities like no other . Very interesting movie, I recommend anyone watch it if you are interested.
To move on, spiderman 2 really did a great job with Dr. Octopus and his mechanical tentacles. It made me think about the bionic eye, and how this technology may impact the blind community. Also it really makes you think about the kind of impact cyborgs might have on the world if it got into the wrong hands. And Iron Man, one of my favorite movies of all time, certainly did a fantastic job of presenting the interface. J.A.R.V.I.S., this high tech artificial intelligence, personal intelligence computer was like siri, but with big data and the internet of things all put together. Could that also be something that we might see in the future. Super smart computers that enhance every level of our every day lives, with whom we could interact with. Iron man also has that future military potential, wouldn’t you think so?

In modern movies cyborgs are often presented as this fusing of human and machine, often to make the human more powerful through technology. When you think about it, our culture today is obsessed about self improvement. Cyborgs in my opinion is something that will definitely have a big impact on the world. The medical field, our military, and eventually into everybody’s homes. We are already obsessed and unable to live without the internet. People are constantly being connected to the web, always communicating, and sharing lives with other. Its obvious that there is already a movement to mend the human with the internet, the question is where is it going to be in lets say 30 years from now? I think the reason Hollywood has such a love for cyborgs is that they really see a possible future of us living with cyborgs, if not becoming one. Definitely an interesting though when you think about how far we have come in the past 10 years, and the massive impact the internet has had on our future.