Tag Archives: Big Connectivity

New Novel: ‘Conscious’ by Vic Grout

What makes something sentient?  What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord?  Is it a gift from God or hard science?  Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size?  There are many models, of course.  But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!

Oh, wait …!

The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel: http://tinyurl.com/VicGroutConscious

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Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future.  The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before.  People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated.  But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why.  What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!

A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer.  But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true.  And that’s only the start.  Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it.  And not everyone is on their side!

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The ‘Prof on a Train’ Game

The Shazam for People discussion revisited as an article, ‘Identity Voyeurism‘, in September 2015’s British Computer Society (BCS) IT Now Magazine, made all the more relevant by recent breaches of personal privacy

Grout BCS IT Now Identity Voyeurism 1

There’s more than one type of identity ‘crisis’.  Conventional identity ‘theft’ is one thing but what of identity ‘voyeurism’?  How much of ‘us’ is ‘in the shop window’ anyway?  Are we in control?  What are the risks?  And where’s it heading?

The next time you’re on public transport, try playing the ‘Prof on a Train’ (PoaT) game.  (It doesn’t really have to be a train or an academic but it’s a good example to work with.)  Take a look at the person opposite you.  Armed only with your senses, intelligence, intuition and an Internet connection, how much can you find out about them?

Well, if they’re quietly dozing in the corner, unremarkably dressed, with no distinguishing features whatsoever, you’ll probably lose.  However, any activity at all or any visible clues might give you a chance.  Are they doing, reading, saying or wearing anything?  Who’s with them?  Are they easier to identify?  Where did they get on and do you know where they’re going?  Anything odd?  Here’s the basic strategy, on which PoaT is based:

They’re reading an academic paper on a certain subject (X) and you know where they got on (Y).  A quick look at the photos on the ‘Department of X’ webpage for the ‘University of Y’ might be enough.

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Shazam for People?

When Shazam first arrived on the scene, it was pretty amazing stuff; now, we rather take it for granted.  But could the same idea soon work for people?

We know the scenario … You’re in a bar or a shop or listening to the radio or TV … or … just about anything really … and you hear a song that you either like or think you recognise or both … but you don’t know what it is.  Frustrating, isn’t it?  At least it was until music identification services such as Shazam first appeared.  After that, no worries; simply allow your mobile to listen to the music for a few seconds, search the central database and, after a few more seconds, it reports back to you with full details of the name, artist and origin.  It might even link you to a central library where you can find more of the same or possibly buy it.

Simple enough; but, might the same principle one day work for people?  It’s really not that hard to imagine …

Picture1Accessible text version of photo

Then: “Ah, but this is only the free stuff.  If you’re prepared to pay, I can tell you a lot more about him … “

It sounds like a science fiction ‘Big Brother for Everyone’ nightmare scenario.  But could it happen?  If so, how soon? Continue reading


‘Things’ Ain’t What They Used to Be

(or “Is ‘Everything’ Going to be OK?”)

A very brief note, this one, along the lines of, “Why do we always over-hype ideas?  Even the good ones?”

So is it the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) or the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE)?  Or are they different things?  If so, what’s the difference?

Well, we’ve been talking about the IoT for some time now.  And it certainly seems to some that the IoE is just a better-sounding name for it.  Cisco though seem to have other ideas.  Here, “Cisco Senior Vice President Rob Soderbery explains how technology transitions like the Internet of Things are enabling the Internet of Everything to revolutionize industries and create value.”  Any idea what that actually means?  Nope, thought not. Continue reading