Sunday, June 29, 2014

Google I/O: Seamless Integration: Watch, Tablet, PC, Glass, Smart Home, Smart Car

Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference this week had many interesting announcements. The key point is the concept of the multi-device ecosystem, with the smart watch at the center for notifications, and seamless communication and content-sharing between all platforms: watch, PC, tablet, Glass, TV, smart home, and smart car (eCar).

The statistics are impressive, and have long surpassed Apple: Google Android has 1 billion active monthly users. One company initiative is Android One, a sub-$100 platform for roll-out to the world’s 5 billion currently without smartphones. The major new change with Android is the next version of the operating system, now having progressed up to the letter ‘L’ but whose candy-name like Kit-Kat for ‘K’ has not yet been announced (Lollipop? Licorice? Laffy-taffy?). L’s look and feel, and “material design” concept is different. It is much more like Windows with moving, self-resizing squares per priority and current activity, and 3D layers so some on-screen objects persist.

Some of the most innovative announcements pertained to Android Wear, wearable computing platforms like the smart watch and Glass. Android Wear feature notifications from the phone and tablet directly bridged to watch, and novel glanceable contextual apps developed specifically for wearables, for example being able to tap your phone to order a pizza or a Lyft ride. Android Auto is another expected announcement, with 40 partners in the Open Auto Alliance, and 5 car manufacturers planning to launch vehicles with Android Auto in 2015.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Neural Data Privacy Rights

A worry that is not yet on the scientific or cultural agenda is neural data privacy rights. Not even biometric data privacy rights (beyond genomics) are in purview yet which is surprising given the personal data streams that are amassing from wearable computing, Internet-of-Things biosensors, and quantified self-tracking activities. Neural data privacy rights is the notion of considering the privacy and security issues regarding personalized data flows that arise from the brain.

There are several reasons why neural data privacy rights could become an important concern. First, personalized health data is already a contentious personal data issue, and anything regarding the mind, and mental performance and potential pathology has even more sensitivity and taboo attached to it.

Second, neural data privacy rights could be an issue because it is not difficult to measure some level of the electrical and other activity of the brain, and ever-ratcheting price-performance technology improvements could make it possible to capture and process the neural activity of vast numbers of people simultaneously in real-time. There are already many consumer-available devices that measure neural activity such as EEGs, PPGs, and tMS systems, augmented headsets like Google Glass, Oculus Rift, and, and other emotion and cognitive state analysis applications using eye-tracking, mental state identification, and affect analysis. 
Does Google Glass come with a Faraday cage?

Third, at some point, big data machine learning algorithms may be able to establish the validity and utility of neural data with correlation to a variety of human health and physical and mental performance states.

Fourth, despite the sensitivity of neural data streams, like any other form of personal data (where two data elements start to constitute an identification), privacy, security, and anonymity may be practically impossible. At worst, there could be malicious hacking, viruses, and spam targeting neural data streams.

Detailed Essay: "Neural Data Privacy Rights: An Invitation For Progress In The Guise Of An Approaching Worry"

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Over 70 Google Glass Apps Available

As of June 2014, there were just over 70 Glass Apps available in a wide range of areas (Table 1). Some of the current applications for Glass include picture-taking, video, maps, directions, search, and hangouts; also points-of-interest ‘near me’ like parking, hotels, and restaurants, gestures, notifications, news, cooking (SousChef for Glass), and sports (scores and also augmented reality apps that overlay information to live events like baseball pitch speed and player statistics).

As one sign of the times, the first market ticker app for Glass is bitcoin quotes not stock market data. So far there are 13 gaming apps for Glass, including Ping (an analog to Pong, one of the first video games ever developed), MineSweeper, Space Invaders, Blackjack, Spelling, augmented reality gaming, and others.

Table 1. Google Glass App Categories (crosslisted) (Source). 

Monday, June 09, 2014

What is Big Data and when will it be Smart Data?

Big data is cell phone users having an average of 100 interactions with their phone per day, all of which generate computerized records (100s of trillions of records). Big data is every financial market transaction, every passenger on every airplane flight, every shipped container, every transportation conveyance, every tweet, and every Internet post (all in the 100s of billions or trillions of records). Every transaction for all time.

One area of long-standing data interest is mortgage statistics since mis-estimating prepayments can cost investors billions of dollars. This raises the question of how prepayment risk is still being mis-estimated. Irrespective, mortgage data is one of the fastest growing kinds of data, both by row and column of tracked data, growing at more than 2x Moore’s law on a log chart (Moore’s law reflects the hardware on which the data is stored and manipulated (algorithms somewhat fill the gap)). This begs the question of smart data rather than big data.

There is much talk about all types of data growing (and data scientists being the biggest category of job growth), but the size of big data should surely be one of its most basic attributes. What is much more relevant is the value that big data provides through its use. For example, how has having more rows and columns in mortgage-tracking spreadsheets improved (if at all) prepayment prediction?

Like genomics, many big data problems are in the early stages of ‘the diffs,’ not knowing which part of the data is salient to keep out of the 99% that may be useless. ‘The diffs’ are the differences, the differences between a sample data set and the reference/normal data set that constitute salience and allow the rest of the data to be discarded.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

EmergingTechs Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, and Geoengineering in the Governance Eye

The second annual Governance of Emerging Technologies conference held in Phoenix AZ May 27-29, 2014 discussed a variety of governance (regulation), legal, and ethical aspects of three areas of emerging technology: nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering (climate management).

The prevailing attitude in nanotechnology is much like that in artificial intelligence, “no new news” and some degree of weariness after having experienced a few hype-bust cycles, coupled with the invisibility frontier. The invisibility frontier is when an exciting emerging technology becomes so pervasive and widely-deployed that it becomes invisible. There are numerous nanotechnology implementations in a range of fields including materials, computing, structures, nanoparticles, and new methods, similar to the way artificial intelligence deployments are also widely in use but ‘invisible’ in fraud detection, ATM machine operation, data management algorithms, and traffic coordination.

Perhaps the biggest moment of clarity was that different groups of people with different value systems, cultures, and ideals are coming together with more frequency than historically to solve problems. The locus of international interaction is no longer primarily geopolitics, but shifting to be much more one of collaboration between smaller groups in specific contexts who are inventing models for sharing knowledge that simultaneously reconfigure and extend it to different perspectives and value systems.