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Is Technology taking over our lives?

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Who is playing with whom – and how?
By Malcolm Savage

There are three main sets of players in this operation. First up in no particular order is Apple and their primary business partner Cisco, a partnership that has put Apple into the commercial market place from where Cisco already has a strong foothold. Cisco now looks into the domestic market place in which again Apple has the same type of foothold.

Next are Google with Samsung along with various companies using the Android platform developed by Google as their operating system and various hardware solutions. Finally, Microsoft now with Win10, 10mobile and again matching hardware.

They all offer similar devices: a small smart phone; a large smart phone; a small tablet; a large tablet; a “telephone” or similar device for your desk / bedside table with a touchscreen incorporating a camera, microphone and speakers. Then large screens for your desk or in the domestic environment the kitchen for example with the same built in communications devices. Finally, various large screen displays for meeting rooms, workspaces, at home in the lounge or entertainment area again with all the built-in communications devices.

The office and home spaces become interchangeable with the ability to work from home; all these devices are setup with a built in PC or dedicated micro-processor, a camera, microphone and speakers. They are all about two-way communications – audio and video as displaying information and streaming entertainment. Built in digital signage players and web browsers are now being included as standard options in most of these devices.

They all deliver their services through custom versions of the same software packages with proprietary versions of a browser and search engine – Goodge with Chrome; Apple with Safari; and Edge from Microsoft. Then you have communications software – Skype/Outlook from Microsoft; Cisco – Spark & Apple – iMessage; Google – Gmail, G+ and the comms in Chrome.

With Entertainment and streaming you have Google Play, iTunes with Apple iTV, Microsoft Stream as well as the major entertainment streaming apps – Netflix, Stan, all the Local TV stations as well as Foxtel on Line.

Everything comes down to the data stream (Internet connection); the ability of you to connect to it and the speed that it is available to you. Once you are connected you become a potential money-making unit for your solutions provider. This connection allows them to control how and when anyone else (including companies) gets to find you, track you, then send you custom advertising. Google have specialised in selling this service. They all want you to have a phone number and an email address from them; and of course, all have the ability to giving you the “best” connection anywhere in the world.

What comes next is a multipronged attack.

In no particular order: Interfacing with your environment – giving you control over it – lighting, sound, air conditioning, equipment on and off, booking and scheduling a room for a meeting or an event, viewing the location via local video cameras – the ability to do this from anywhere in the world and modifying any of these on the fly.

Most radical of all is Direct Connect. All these players now have or plan to launch low earth orbiting satellites, allowing them to bypass the Telcos and “Direct Connect” to you; for a smoother, faster connection anywhere in the world. Facebook plan to do this too.

Tracking (stalking?) These companies through their hardware and software solutions are continually tracking you in various ways and of course they will be the first to deny it. Physical tracking, with their hardware GPS tracking is built into most devices allowing them to know your exact physical location on the planet at any point in time. When using a browser, they are also keeping track of what web sites you are viewing and what web searches you are preforming. This information is no doubt keep in a “cloud” somewhere for them to make available to various clients as well as security agencies to access at any time.

While driving in a car or traveling on public transport they are then able to sell your location to local businesses who will then in turn send advertainments into your browsers or as SMS messages advertising their services to you as you travel through that area. Visual tracking, especially in shopping centres are now using their security camera systems as tracking devices as well, with facial recognition software. As you move around the centre their cameras are able to track you, determining your profile – sex, age, ethnicity and then direct that information to stores you are coming up to, who are them able to change the digital signage on the window displays to be more conducive to encouraging you to enter their store.

Taking control – with driverless cars, buses, trains and trams: recently while visiting on of these technology giants I heard in one of the development engineers say they had to put a steering wheel back in their cars even though it wasn’t actually connected, just to give the passengers confidence to get in the car. Tests are now being carried out with various solutions for public and private transport around the world, offering controlled and therefore safer travel together with preprogramed routes and addressable pick up and drop off points.

Block-Chain / Bit-Coin – The control of information and the money exchange. Block chain is a software solution to encrypt and distribute various forms of information, ensuring its safe storage and transport around the world.  Bit- Coin money exchange is the refinement of this solution for a currency alternative. There are over 500 companies now developing Bit coin and the newer format Ethereum. This gives you the ability to exchange, store and transfer “Money” anywhere in the world online through secure transfer networks and applications without banks being involved.

Because of this, governments cannot control track and of course in the end tax these transactions, opening up a whole new world of pain for them.

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