Improving industrial efficiency using #InternetOfThings #Iot sensor technology

Reno startup Filament is gearing up for high-scale production. The startup recently closed a $15 million round of new venture financing. The capital will allow Filament to scale manufacturing

[Their tech is designed to upgrade legacy industrial systems]

First, the device can physically connect to the machine if it has a diagnostic port. Second, the technology can monitor the environment around the infrastructure. Their devices can monitor temperature, humidity, light, sound pressure level and accelerometer movement. Lastly, the devices can provide a large-scale network in areas where there is little or no cellular service or WiFi.

Source: Reno-based tech startup Filament secures $15M in venture financing | nnbw.com

This is a great area of opportunity – enabling the monitoring of legacy equipment. Some times, just knowing the variation in temperature and humidity can be an important piece of information on a manufacturing line, or in an HVAC system or what ever your system process is.

How #IoT extends the product life cycle for manufacturers. #InternetOfThings

Once products ship, the manufacturer is unlikely to see the product again, except for a few returns. They have only a general idea of how the product is used, based on market surveys, or on product returns.

IoT technology enables manufacturers to monitor products after they are in use at a customer site as the product can conduct self checks and monitor product wear and tear – and send that information back to the manufacturer to identify weaknesses in the product.

Other manufacturers see benefits to monitoring their product usage too:

As prices of communication equipment and sensors continue to drop, smart manufacturers will be able to gather information from a wide range of devices. With connectivity enabled via IoT, these devices will be able to send valuable information back to the seller or manufacturer. For example, a refrigerator could send a signal to the manufacturer indicating a detected malfunction. With this data, the manufacturer would be able to put in measures to prevent the problem in other products in the line. In another example, an air conditioner might be able to detect when it needs maintenance and send a message to the manufacturer, which can then initiate remote maintenance service. As a result, the customer will be happier and the manufacturer can save on the cost of doing business.

Source: How the Internet of Things Makes Manufacturers Smart and Connected | Automation World

On the flip side, some products like Windows 10, collect a very large volume of data and “share” that with Microsoft. Such data can include, for example, the list of applications you have installed on your computer.

Workplace surveillance common, invasive and intense

Employers are monitoring employees activities across a broad spectrum of functions – including your health, your physical activity, even attempting to measure your mood.  At least one company required employees to have an app on their smart phone – which was then used to track the employee’s whereabouts and activities 24 x 7, including when they were not on the job.

In the case of health tracking, comply or the company effectively makes your health insurance benefits cost more.

Stop and think and make a note of all the places your are monitored.  Start making a list – you may be quite surprised at how much your activities are monitored.

Source: Workplace Surveillance Is The New Office ‘Perk’ – Vocativ

Google spies on you, recording your voice when you are not expecting it to

CCTV surveillance monitoring

Android devices have an “Ok, Google” voice activation feature. This enables voice input of search and other functions on your Android device.

Google also records a copy of the audio when it does this. Google also occasionally records incidental audio having nothing to do with a search. It certainly has for me.

You can manually delete the records, one by one, which is very time consuming. You need to go to this Google page and log in, and then click on Manage Activity and go through Google’s cloud-based storage of your conversations in the past.

Google also records your location as you travel about, and even identifies what businesses or properties you have entered. Google’s Chrome logs every web site and page you visit in to the Google cloud.

In the past couple of weeks, Microsoft has come under fire for its Windows 10 keystroke logger, that when enabled, records you keystrokes and sends those to Microsoft. That means account names, passwords, personal search requests (even if using Tor) and so forth. You can disable their keystroke spying logger by going to Settings | Privacy and switch off the item labeled “Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future”.

Whenever someone else wants your personal data, you need to ask:

  • who has access to this data?
  • how will this data be stored securely?
  • how long will this data be stored?
  • how will the data being disposed of when it is no longer being stored?

If you do not know the answer to those questions, then you must be leery of donating your personal data to others. This also applies to non-computer world. When you are asked to fill out a paper form with lots of personal data, say to make a credit purchase, you should ask them how they will use the data, keep it secure, and how will they dispose of it?

Similarly, Microsoft’s docs.com web site for publishing and sharing your files makes all files public, by default. The result is that the docs.com search function readily unearths a lot of private data files that users probably do not even realize are posted online. These include school transcripts, medical records, passwords, credit card and other account data, banking statements and more.

THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE INTERNET IS TO SPY ON EVERYONE.

 

 

Social media, confirmation bias and its use in marketing #FakeNews #Propaganda #SocialMedia

(I originally posted this on May 24, 2014, about 2 1/2 years before “fake news” became a popular meme. Since then, social media has become a friction-less platform for the spread of propaganda, fake news, and worse. I run an entire blog on the topic of social media propaganda at Occupy Propaganda – the title being a spoof on a whole bunch of “Occupy” titled propaganda and fake news web sites on Facebook.)

Confirmation bias occurs when we tend to give weight to information that supports our beliefs and to ignore or discard information that opposes our beliefs.

There are several studies finding social media reinforces confirmation bias. All the studies I found address this in the context of politics and liberal or conservative bias.  However, the issue is much more widespread than political topics.

For example, many people share stories about contemporary topics – without bothering to check if the story is accurate or is provided with full or appropriate context. In some cases, bogus news reports become viral as they are quickly shared. “Untruths” are spread wide but corrections rarely follow.

Worse,

“When it comes to new information, people are heavily influenced by the first information that they’re exposed to. Combating an existing bias is much harder than influencing people on a subject that they have never been exposed to. Sometimes it is more important to be first”

Thus posting something that is unchecked, and possibly wrong, has great influence on others.

First, we tend to share things with friends, who are friends, in part, because they already share similar views.

Second, when a “friend” posts something that is wrong, who wants to tell a “friend” they are wrong and risk losing a “friend”? We may think social media encourages self correction of those items that are wrong, but there is a bias against causing hurt to friends. Many such posts are based on an “appeal to authority” by quoting an “expert” (who often suffers from confirmation bias).  Arguments based on “appeal to authority” are the weakest of arguments but provide a quick way to shut down skeptical responses: “How dare you question X!

I have noted that many items shared on social media typically rest on the “appeal to authority” because the method is very effective:

“…it was found that high-status individuals create a stronger likelihood of a subject agreeing with an obviously false conclusion, despite the subject normally being able to clearly see that the answer was incorrect.”

The result is that social media is a highly effective platform for spreading false information, intentionally or unntentionally. Here is a classic example: a widely shared list of celebrities with high IQs, allegedly provided by Mensa, giving it the appeal to authority – except it was a hoax.

In the case of intentionally spreading false or incomplete information, social media becomes an idealized platform for propaganda. Falsity is not confined to celebrity rumors but includes alleged scientific facts and statements about government policy.

The Pew Research Center did a survey regarding social media and confirmation bias within the realm of political thinking where confirmation bias, they found, is very much alive and well. They found that the more extreme the views (very conservative or very liberal), the more “they agree with their friends’ comments most of the time or always” suggesting (but not stated in the report) that the more strongly held the views, the more likely you have built a “friends” group of matching beliefs who exchange information further reinforcing their confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias within social media is a powerful force for sales and marketing activities and there are at least two ways it can be used.

One, and the positive one, is to “develop a reputation for accuracy” and to “cite your sources”. The goal is to be a trusted source of accurate information.

The other approach is to use confirmation bias for manipulating your audience into taking actions. That’s the sleazy option which is commonly used in political activities and emotional marketing appeals.  It is used, though, because it works. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, discusses how decision making is often based on emotional responses, not on hard data. People have evolved to use emotional responses as a rapid heuristic to quickly arrive at decisions, versus the tedious and time consuming use of hard data. A side effect is that we can be easily fooled into making decisions based on emotions and confirmation bias – even if the information is wrong.

If you want to manipulate others, create or pass along stories attributable to “experts”. Few will question the “wisdom” imparted, whether right or wrong!

The upshot of this is that social media has degenerated into a platform for propaganda. Propaganda is a method of influencing entire populations towards a specific outcome. As written at Wikipedia,

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. Propaganda can be used as a form of ideological or commercial warfare

The root of propaganda is the same as the root of propagate – or the spreading of something.  As described above, social media is the ideal platform for the use of propaganda to achieve desired outcomes. Here, the vector is our “friends”, who we may not wish to challenge. In fact, a perilous group think sets in: we pass things along without checking them ourselves. Besides, as noted above, who wants to cause a rift and point out their friends are wrong for passing the item along?

A consequence seems to be less thinking and an increase in gullibility. We pass along anything. We do not question. Skeptical questioning is discouraged. We became dumber as we accumulate “knowledge” of things that are not true or are misinterpreted and misquoted out of context.

Our best response might be to recognize and ignore posts based on appeals to authority, and to consider how we use social media ourselves and to be willing to dig deeper into the details. Details matter. A lot. But who has time to fact check every item posted on Facebook? No one, so the process continues and we become dumber, day by day. And as we become dumber, we become easier to manipulate … and the cycle goes on and on.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” 
― Daniel J. BoorstinThe Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself

Source for the quote is here.

 

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Tech’s other problem – arrogance

In Silicon Valley:

“Suddenly the mind-set became that if you’re a young kid who’s arrogant and disrespectful and doesn’t have the right social skills, that’s the mark of a good entrepreneur.”

Source: Uber CEO’s admission he needs to ‘grow up’ highlights perils of being a young leader – MarketWatch

There’s been much news coverage over sexism, and less coverage about age-ism, in the tech sector. This article highlights another problem – the culture of arrogance and the tolerance of immature behaviors as long as results are delivered. Or, as one Yale psychiatry professor suggested years ago, about one-third of executives exhibit psychopathic behaviors that would not normally be tolerated in the general population – but we tolerate them in executives who deliver results.