On Kinect, Face Recognition, Gaming, the war on Privacy and Tomorrow’s Tech Today!

So there is typically method to my madness.

Not always, but typically.

All laptops and tablets come with handy dandy cameras, pointed at your face. With Flash and Javascript and now the new html5 turned on, there are sites you can browse to, that without user intervention can turn on your camera and start snapping pics.

Any number of sites you can go to and see fools, without the good sense to cover their camera when not in use, undressing in sight of the laptop or webcam or hear their conversations when they are off camera, and they think the computer is asleep.

If that just scared you, even a little, it shows only… that you are still sane.

What I have just described, that’s the technology of yesterday. Not only have hackers been using it for years but so have ‘legitimate’ companies, that sell software that does just that, turn on the cameras and mics of a laptop remotely, without the user being aware. Ostensibly the idea for most companies is to use this in laptop retrieval, should the laptop be stolen. But any technology is more often used in salacious ways before constructive.

Example being, the first widespread use of pictures and video on the Internet was the female form.


Denise Milani pic courtesy of Tlcoldiesbutgoodies

For obvious reasons. Sex as they say… sells.

And all new forms of communication, to achieve widespread adoption… use sex to sell themselves to an un-trusting population. Whether it’s men in the wilds of Wyoming, being able to pick up this new fangled device called a phone, and hear a woman’s voice, an operator, speak to them for the first time, or the still common practice of draping a beautiful woman across a new car or motorcycle… it’s the allure of that oldest of motivations that drives new things.

So while the purpose of such technology may have been theft retrieval, by taking pictures of the person in possession of the laptop, then using a combination of GPS and IP address to determine their location, then notifying law enforcement; the truth is… that technology is in more widespread use, to invade privacy.

And as I said, that… is yesterday’s technology.

It’s got nothing on the technology of today, and tomorrow.

Ah, the joys of always on technology.

You know we have a whole generation raised on the idea of giving everything to the Internet, and not questioning or requesting safe-guards on individual liberties.

There’s a reason why we have (had much stronger) wiretapping laws, because there is the assumption that privacy is a central right of man. But what happens, generally through entertainment, through ease of use, is we give away rights, we relinquish the assumption that men have rights.

Take CANDID CAMERA, a show which began in syndication in 1948, before its most popular CBS run from 1960 to 1966… made it a national sensation. The show,virtually single-handedly shaped consent-less video recording as something harmless.

This show, funny, watched by everyone, often not in the best taste, but still had America laughing, was a show about video-taping people when they were not aware of it, and had more than anything to do with defining that as something innocuous. And suddenly in the pursuit of entertainment, a right you had with audio recordings, namely ‘a recording without your knowledge is against the law’, became lost with video recordings.


“Most audio recordings without consent of one or all parties are illegal…. Most video recordings are legal with or without consent.” — UVU

Yes, after the fact they still have to get you to sign a waiver to broadcast the video, but as far as taking the video of you without your permission (through a TV show, through pursuit of ‘fun’ and ‘social media’) that has became a defacto standard.

By not questioning the rights and boundaries being overstepped, those rights became lost. and that’s why we have the surveillance heavy society we have today, because in the pursuit of ease of use, and fun, and jokes, the masses gave up a fundamental expectation of privacy. And things like Face-book and You-tube and reality television are the 21st century extensions of the axiom: ease of use = deterioration of rights.

So we have a whole generation growing up with a pretty invasive technology in, of, and around them at all times. And what begins as entertainment today, that you have a choice in: Kinect, Siri, Face recognition; becomes obtrusive corporate policies and laws of the land tomorrow, that you don’t have rights to dispute, to adjudicate, to deny.

If you don’t care about your computer potentially having the mic and camera turned on remotely, without your knowledge or intervention, than this post isn’t for you.

But it is for those of us who want to have the right to disseminate our information, data, video, audio; when and to whom we choose. Or to have the right to not disseminate that info if we so choose.

But here’s the thing, increasingly pursuit of social media and ease of use and gaming is, by the very nature of the technology being used, incompatible with concepts such as privacy.

So a young generation, going by the mandate ‘I don’t have nothing to hide! I want my fun!’ is going for the immediate pleasure, seeing any technology infiltration as harmless. Here’s the thing it’s not about ‘having nothing to hide’ it’s about ‘having the right to choose who you share with, and where your boundaries begin, and where they end’.

That is a part of socialization that is being lost in this mad rush of always on technology, and ‘trusted’ computing and ‘cloud’ computing, and strangers as ‘friends’.

Who we are as people, who we become, is a lot about developing for ourselves our boundaries, and more importantly the people we let into and out of those boundaries. It’s about developing judgment and values and trust. And what is happening in a post Face-book, You-tube, Kinect world is a society where, like the 1950s audience for CANDID CAMERA, you have relinquished the right to boundaries… even in your home.

The Microsoft Kinect Device controller, is not just about motion detection, the underlying principles of it, which have not yet been scratched; is more than a face recognition machine, dressed as a game sitting in your living room recording your family.

It is a head to toe biometric unit, that is capable of mapping you, and identifying you from your brother or sister or father. It’s a wonderfully advanced whole body scanner… and database.

That’s the part that’s lost on people… Database. It’s a database with a map of your family that can phone home, and store detailed data about you and yours on remote servers. And call Microsoft what you will, but short-sighted and stupid is not among their sins. Kinect is an experiment, taking place in the consumers home, that has so many more profitable applications, beyond gaming.

So it’s more than a controller to create more accurate avatars to interact in 3D games. Its potential is to create a biometric representation of you, as unique as a fingerprint.

Why? Because it’s the holy grail of a new age of on-line transactions and commerce.

Think of the potential of Kinect, really think of it. A society that is becoming increasingly wired, and increasingly house bound, can shop virtually in immersive 3D environments. Banking done like you are playing the most stunning 3D game ever, but done with a unique, and for the purposes of commerce and law, legally binding avatar. An avatar that in terms of how your body moves and how it reacts (eventually incorporating heat ranges, and electromagnetic patterns), can tell potential advertisers more about you then you can tell about yourself.

I can see a day when Kinect biometric pattens are sold to advertisers just like home addresses and email addresses are sold today. So advertisers can tailor directly to you based on the things the pattern tells them, whether you’re balding or having menstruation issues or skin issues or an unhealed limp. Or how about Kinect used in the future to do on-line job applications, and submit a bio-metric pattern, like a signature with your application. Or perhaps even used as a rudimentary polygraph test.

You open the door for motion detection, body mapping, facial recognition, probability analysis in the comfort of your home, for the benefit of ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’ and like that CANDID CAMERA audience of the 50s, you’ve relinquished the assumption that privacy in your home, or of your person, is in any way… a right of man. But you haven’t just relinquished it for yourselves, you’ve relinquished it for future generations, and that may be a path… worth pausing on.

So am I telling you not to buy Kinect, or to surf without Javascript and Flash and with HTML5 disabled? And to put a sponge bob sticky on that camera when not in use? Or to be wary of the technologies you bring into your home?

Nope, I’m not telling you any of that.

I’m only telling you there are no rights of man, without the effort of men to preserve those rights.

Every man, every woman, every child, the rights they would ensure, must be jealously, fanatically even, guarded… from even the seemingly most innocuous intrusion or, they will, in the fullness of time, be taken from you. They must be guarded even from yourself and such easy answers as ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’.

I’m saying Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and I would hate to think a whole generation was playing games on Kinect while, things far more valuable… burned away.

For more on conect, both pro and con, see the following links:

123Kinect
Popsi

Those are just parts of the argument, research it for yourself… and decide.

As far as checking out your camera:

Here’s a pretty simple, and straightforward way to see how accessible your camera is (it is NOT one of the hacking sites I was mentioning earlier. At, least I don’t think it is :)) without your express permission.

Once on the site, on a less secure system, you may see your face if you click the button (on some really insecure systems you’ll see your face whether you click on the button or not). I’m not responsible for any pop-ups or hacking or viruses that may invade your system. or anything that occurs should you visit the site.

It appears to be an innocuous site, but I don’t own it, and am not affiliated with it, so I can’t vouch for it; beyond saying my system, which is pretty secure, was unaffected by the site. Your mileage however, may vary. Responsibility for your security, like anything on the Internet… is yours.

As it should be.

If anything you see on that site disturbs you, like your face staring back at you, look again at the paragraph where I mention javascript, flash, html5, and a sponge-bob sticker. 🙂

Daily Booth

I hope you’ve found this article of help. If you have, please toss some likes and comments this way; as well as using the button on your left to purchase the snazzy pdf/epub article I have for sale. Also go to the WEDNESDAY WORDS column and purchase nifty books, using the showcased links. Thanks!

WARNER BROTHERS, CASABLANCA, PIRATES, and The Rights of MAN?!

You know, after a hellacious week of giving people what for, nothing relaxes me more than curling up with a nice nature DVD. Attenborough’s LIFE, or in this case the documentary SHARKWATER.

So here I go, I put in this DVD to relax, while planning the latest update for the blog, and more mundane things like bills, when what the heck should come on the screen than one of those pirate warnings. You’ve seen these idiotic videos, that if anything only makes me want to do the exact opposite just to give it to them for interrupting my damn movie.

However I had not seen this one before.

This one used scenes from CASABLANCA to make an anti-pirating commercial. Excuse me? WTF?

You’re going to use one of the greatest movies ever made like a 2bit whore to sell your political or corporate viewpoint?!!

(And it is worth noting that the FBI warning on these DVDs, having very little to do with any sane legal system. A sane system would say to the studios “It’s not our business to ensure your corporate profits or protect your corporate losses. That’s a civil case… at best.”. Instead in the corrupt America we live in, the FBI warning is a product of studios making their commercial and corporate whims into laws. Using a system, not designed for corporations, to pass corporate whims and lunacy as Federal laws. Such a thing can not be looked at, by anyone rationally, and not see it as something… obscene)

You want to show violating rights is wrong, by using a commercial where you violate artistic rights?

Is the paradox lost on the studios?

Where do we draw the line? Next we use Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s images to praise one candidate for President and put down another? Where do we draw the line?

Both Bogart and Berman were deeply humanistic and activistic people, Bogart stood up against the McCarthy Witch-hunts. Bergman spent her days, after the lights of Hollywood, feeding and fighting for the poor.

I don’t think either one would have signed on in life to do a commercial for some companies new generation witch-hunt. And I don’t think they sign over those rights in death.

Because they did a popular movie, and you own the movie, should not then translate into you re-purposing their images to sell either your political agenda, your new vacuum cleaner, or your poorly made or counter-productive pirating campaign.

Those actors didn’t sign off on that, and weren’t paid for that. And this push to extend ownership beyond the exact product they created… to ownership of their likenesses… reeks. It is immoral. That, if anything, is true pirating.

They purpose not this end, when they purpose their services.

It sets an ugly an abhorrent precedent, an argument that flies in the face of Warner Brothers Anti-Piracy message. Warner violating with impunity the artistic integrity of their own film, and the rights of the actors.

Unless you’re paying them, their images, not their likenesses but their actual images, should not be re-purposed to create a new item, inherently different from the item they signed on to produce.

In many ways it’s like rewriting someone’s autobiography or a writer’s novel. For an actor all they have is the work, the images they leave behind. So to then insert them convincingly in a commercial, is just as wrong as inserting them into a porno.

It’s a violation.

And to not understand that, is to be very young, or very stupid. Or an executive.

Is piracy wrong? First I think it is an idiotic term, unless you’re at sea. Now if you’re talking about the copying of copyrighted DVDs, I think it’s a tempest in a teapot. If Warner Bros and other studios embraced their customers rather than criminalizing them all in advance (which is what me having to sit through an FBI warning or one of those stupid commercials on a DVD I just bought or rented… is doing. It’s saying to the consumer we’re going to treat you all as guilty until proven innocent) they would realize most people are happy to pay and own, a quality and reasonably priced product.

But there’s the rub, quality and reasonable prices. All companies want to do today is give you the least they can, for the most they can.

I’ll tell you what is wrong… Warner Brothers and all the studios like them are wrong, they are dinosaurs trying to survive in a changing technological society where big studios are increasingly superfluous. Rather than try and survive by being better and winning customers through innovation and great products, they instead want to survive by removing from you… choice. By scaring, suing, legislating, themselves as a law that we must fear, and bow down to, and pay tribute to because they are using the FBI and the courts like their personal thugs,

Warner Brothers should be glad people think enough of their work to desire it. Because the alternative is… people stop wanting… ANYTHING from them.

The consumer may start saying “You know what, there’s a lot of choice out there, despite Warner Brothers attempt to eradicate choice, why don’t we just stop buying or supporting anything Warner Brothers?”

Can you imagine that. People just get fed up of being treated like dogs by Warner Brothers, and just say to them, ‘you’re that worried about your intellectual property? Well you keep it then. You keep it all. We already have the memories of all the decent movies, keep anything new. Keep your DVDs, keep your games, keep your movies, keep your books.’

And after a few months of them not having to worry about patron or pirate, I’d love to see how their effing tune changes. They’d be crying for someone to think enough of their movies to sell bootlegs on the streets of Nepal.

It’s about perspective. And the perspective the studios and record companies and media oligarchies must come to, is that of earning customer business and customer goodwill… rather than attempting to lock in customers through terror.

Because here from these subtle fights, do great things grow.

And they are things the studios will not like at all.

As simple a thing, seemingly insignificant a thing as a tax on tea changed the face of the world, Today’s corporate atmosphere of pushing and prodding, with every move a crime, and in every hand a club… cannot do less.

There is a war of terror coming, that much the media ‘talking heads’ have right. But it’s not one of religions. It’s one between the mindless stupidity and greed of corporations… and the very rights of man.

And it is a war, that in the waging the rich will lose. And the poor, who have only lives to lose…and pushed to it… can only win.

So a wise man would say to the rich… ‘now may be a good time to stop pushing’.

Something to think about. :).

Enemies of the State, Young Alexanders and Multi National Corporations

Ohhhh

theres got to be more
on this
road of life
there’s got to be more
than this
horror and strife
oh hhhh
there’s got to be more
On the
Road of Life

oh
there’s got to be more
than this
horror and strife

oh
there’s got to be more
than this
horror and strife

Ohhh
there’s got to be
Mooooore
on a
Road called life

–copyright 2011 HT & this blog

So I lit into Microsoft a post or so back, and deservedly so. But, while they are one of the more egregious examples of power corrupting, there is culpability enough to go around,

President Obama and the FBI- earn my unhappy face for an administration that unfortunately differed from his predecessor’s only in eloquence. In the real nuts and bolts of what he signed into law, he continued the rape of the American citizen in the interest of big business, and the expansion of both the domestic and global police state, and the dismantling of civil liberties.

Sweeping into office on the dreams and quotations of better men, men who fought FOR civil liberties, his administration, as I feared (go back to my pre-election posts) has been a staggering betrayal of every election promise, and every election speech.

But even I, am surprised to the degree, that he has utterly sold out the American people.

He is the living, walking embodiment of the talking android from Ishmael Reed’s seminal MUMBO JUMBO (get the audio book, it reorders the text and is actually an improvement). Something designed to speak the words, and have the appearance of the common man and liberty, but underneath serves those who would see the bulk of men in chains.

His latest betrayal, not just of America, but the world, is signing into law Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Which basically gives media empires sweeping, unmitigated powers to shut down anything or anyone, anywhere in the world, with the full military might of Herr Sam backing them. It’s a blank check for tyranny.

Another one.

God, seriously, I get the idea of money, I even get the idea of power, and I know Obama, and the various acronym-ed agencies, distant step-children of the Nazi SS, are but pawns for massive multi-nationals, but I don’t get the pawn part.

I mean, I don’t get the trade-off of power and money for liberty and justice.

I don’t see the value of much, if you have to give up those last two things to get it. I don’t see what good money and power does you, after you’ve betrayed every single thing and every single one.

I don’t know how you look anyone in the eye, your children, your family, when they ask you how your day was… and you have to dodge around the fact that you spent the day eliminating liberties.

Not seeing the upside to that.

To surrender one freedom, to back pedal on one liberty, to erase one right, is to spit on the sacrifice, and blood, and suffering of countless people. It is to make a mockery of every war fought, and every life lost, if the purpose of all that blood, is but more efficient tyranny.

Is that really the job you signed up for?

More efficient tyranny?

Be it warrantless wiretaps, warrantless isp, email, vehicle and cell phone monitoring. Even usage of social networks, such as the whole Cops twittering fiasco. Any liberty you think you have online, law enforcement is using as a weapon.

Every single one.

How is Nazi Germany wrong, if a Patriot Act America and an Apartheid Israel can be right?

How? What did we fight for, if we surrender everyone of our liberties to people who live and die, by every tide, and every atrocity, we fought to stem.

We fought Nazis, only to become Nazis? And we fought slavery, only to become enslaved?

Not acceptable.

Not if you wrap it in the red, white, and blue, not if you have trumpets blaring, not if you sanctify it in tales of Holocaust.

It is not acceptable.

If you came out of a Holocaust, only to become a holocaust, then you are not acceptable.

And you can call yourself the FBI, and you can call yourself America, and you can yourself patriots.

But what you are, are your grandparents betrayers, and your Grandchildrens slavers. What you are… is the problem.

Money, Power?

For this you sell your past and your future?

Money,Power?

But how much of either do you see?

You young recruit, I’m asking you. Hired to bark on command, hired to put down protestors, and spy on citizens, and kill enemies.

Is the money good? Is the power good?

Not good enough I think.

Because I think even paying lip service to liberty, and justice, you begin to know those words. And in some part of you, you seek more of the American Dream, then the tatters they are using you to make of it.

They are old. And scared. These tired dragons of Woodrow’s New World Order dream, that hire you to protect their money and their power.

But you are young, and somewhere not quite dulled by the programming, is the idea… that we can all be more, than pawns in an old game.

Money and Power.

Those are old ideas for old men. They are illusions of paper and pen. And Alexanders would have laughed at them, and put all these foolish old men to the sword.

All of them.

All the captains of Industry. The plotters of wars. The hoarders of wealth.

Alexanders would have laughed at them, and put them all to the sword.

Liberty and justice.

THESE are words to put air in your lungs, these are words to make your chin rise, and your heart swell. These are words to raise children on. These are the causes you were put here for young Alexanders.

You are not here to be a simpering old man’s dog, protecting his ip and movie rights, and his numerous illusions, you are here young Alexander, in this place, in this time, in this position… to make right the things that are wrong.

To make right, the things that are wrong.

And I so charge you, by a right and a duty that transcends multi-nationals and war machines and orbital weapons, I charge you by a higher duty, your own decency…. look at all this blood… and be moved.

And how you pleaseth God, whatever God you bend your knee to… how you pleaseth God, dispose the day.

This is why old men love wars, because it is a meat grinder for the young, so you can not rise against them, so you learn your place… in the game. Their game.

Be better than that my young Alexanders.

Be better… than them.

They speak of evolution as if it’s a dead thing.

It is not.

You are evolution.

Which is why they are in such a hurry to kill or corrupt you.

Evolve past them, and past their sad little dreams of power and money.

The day is coming, some would say it is upon us, when you will have to choose young Alexanders… what masters you follow and what masters, like rotting oaks, you fell.

Choose well, my lords.

Choose well.