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Technology Creating Dangerous Overload of Unfiltered Data

Messages beamed to the neural centres in our brains will be easily received by most people without questioning

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Technology, Unfiltered, Data
As we stop using our intellect, intelligence levels will plateau and peak at a suboptimal levels. Pixabay

Today, we are driven by a strange phenomenon called ‘Fear of Missing Out’. We walk around like zombies glued to the hyperactive feed on our smart phones, sometime even waking up during the night to check the messages being forwarded from one group to the other in a constant running loop. Technology is accelerating the process by creating a dangerous overload of unfiltered data where it’s easy to pass off unverified messages as facts. Every time we see a message repeated in our feed it starts gaining credibility. Our intellects that were once the natural filters and gatekeepers of the reasoning voice are being dumbed down. If this seems uncomfortable, get prepared for future shock. This could be just the beginning of a dangerous cycle.

We seem to be rapidly heading into a future where all thinking humans could be controlled, either directly or remotely from a centralised command post. As we stop using our intellect, intelligence levels will plateau and peak at a suboptimal levels. Messages beamed to the neural centres in our brains will be easily received by most people without questioning. We will see more intellectuals speaking the same uniform language, repeating top-line messages without dissecting, analysing and questioning facts. There will be some exceptions and outliers but fewer and fewer. Either these outliers will control technology, or technology will then begin to overtake us. We have read of this in sci-fi but imagine if this could already be happening. The world is rapidly progressing towards an AI augmented automated society. While on the one hand it presents a fascinating picture of a stress free world, it is also a frightening thought. It opens up the possibility of humans being controlled by these pre-programmed algorithms that will dictate what we can do or say.

Some people might rubbish the thought but it is starting to become a scary reality. The only difference is that machines have not taken over yet. The messaging is still being controlled by humans who are able to manipulate the neural centres in the human brain intelligently and skilfully. It is communication strategy at its best. Once the objective is defined, messages are curated and pushed into a network that accepts the information without questioning and propagates it in the conversation around us. This is visible in strange ways.

Friends are increasingly getting narrow minded in their responses, especially on social media. They tend to be threatening, aggressive and unreasonable when the discussion starts to scratch the surface. Their comments are derisive of posts that they do not agree with and openly scorn others who ask uncomfortable questions. The personal experiences shared by different people are often exactly the same – word to word, including the punctuation. It is almost as if there are controllers spreading the curated content so swiftly that it appears as a natural and spontaneous response to a situation. There is clearly a method to the madness in the communication that we are witnessing around us everyday. We do not engage anymore. We only propagate. We are facing a threat of slavery to communicated ideology, instead of intellectual communications because we have stopped using our intellect. Society is at risk.

Technology, Unfiltered, Data
We seem to be rapidly heading into a future where all thinking humans could be controlled, either directly or remotely from a centralised command post. Pixabay

Today, when the economy is going through an economic downturn we should be witnessing the fiercest debates amongst economists about what needs to be done to scaffold the economy and what should be the economic strategy going forward. Yet, we see little of that. Perhaps we have become escapists and are content. Perhaps we rely on faith and do not believe in reasoning any more. Somewhere along the way many of us, including several independent thinkers and sharp minds, have resigned ourselves.

We have been so overwhelmed by the wear and tear in our own lives that we have either become cynical or lack the will to even look ahead. We have stopped thinking. We are willing to sit back and believe that this too shall pass and are reluctant to engage. This stage of evolution of our society is worrying. It seems to be the beginning of the dumbing down of our own reasoning and intellect. We are reluctant to analyse or question. We are becoming robots and relay posts that can only transmit or relay messages. As a society, we are becoming intellectually bankrupt and as individuals we are unwittingly becoming propaganda machines.

If this is what is happening today, imagine what could happen when programmed AI and pre-coded algorithms take over. Algorithms observe, experiment, learn and evolve. The algorithms can use advanced computer science techniques such as machine learning and neural networking to create new and improved algorithms that are based on observed results. Society needs to wake up to this reality and start thinking again. Society cannot allow itself to be dumbed down. We need to sustain a society that is vibrant and intellectually alive and not a slave to technology.

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It is not too late to course-correct and reverse the damage. We need to activate our intellects. We need to start thinking again. Let us change the game and analyse facts and data before streaming any narrative. Let us unlock our minds and move away from blind subservience to faith and looped communications. Our generation could be the tipping point and we cannot afford to abrogate our responsibility. It is time to sound the alert. Either we start thinking again or we prepare for future shock. (IANS)

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Google Maps Allows Android Users to Share Locations Using Plus Codes

The update aims at easy sharing of locations using Plus Codes

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Plus Codes
Android users can now share their location using Plus Codes in Google Maps. Pixabay

Google Maps app for Android has received a new update where users can share their locations using Plus Codes.

Google Maps has the option to show Plus Codes since August 2015. The new change, however, is aimed to expand Plus Codes usage by allowing users to easily share their locations.

A Plus Code is essentially a digital address and it’s derived from latitude and longitude coordinates. It can be generated for any location.

“The technology to generate Plus Codes is also open source, which means the technology is easy and free to use, so anyone can see how the technology works and develop their own applications for any use case,” David Martin, Director of Program Management, Google Maps, said in a statement on Friday.

Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it.

Plus Code
Users will be able to tap on the blue dot representing their current location and get a Plus Code for it. Wikimedia Commons

Alternatively, they can long tap on a spot to put a pin on it and get a code for that.

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Alongside the Plus Code, the application will also show other options including options to see nearby places, share your location and save your parking.

Once the app shows the Plus Code on the screen, one will be able to copy it just by tapping on it. Now, one will be able to share it among contacts by pasting it on apps like WhatsApp, Messages and more. (IANS)

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80% Maharashtra School Students Don’t Report Cybercrimes: Survey

It is also reportes that 33% students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes

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cybercrimes
37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sorts of cybercrimes. Pixabay

At least 80 per cent of school students in Maharashtra aged between 10-17 do not report cybercrimes they face online to their parents, teachers and the police, a new survey revealed on Thursday.

The study done with 1,148 children studying in the 6th-9th standard across 18 schools in Maharashtra, found that 33 per cent students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes, while 31 per cent informed their friends about it.

The survey by a non-profit startup Responsible Netism and Cyber Peace Foundation, Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT) was conducted between October 2019 to February 2020 to understand internet usage trends of children across Maharashtra.

The research found that 37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sort of cybercrime including their accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, being threatened online, harassment by strangers and even receiving pornographic content.

“Millions of kids in Maharastra today are being exposed to cybercrimes owing to the ease of access and anonymity that internet offers,” Sonali Patankar, Founder President, Responsible Netism, said in a statement.

Cybercrimes
60 per cent of students faced other Cybercrimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, etc. Pixabay

“Our research points to the fact that technology companies are not stringently safeguarding the interests of children towards ensuring their cyber wellbeing,” Patankar added.

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The findings showed that at least 60 per cent of students faced other crimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, body shaming, added to inappropriate groups online, threatened online, etc.

According to the study, 46 per cent of the students revealed that they were dependent addicted to their devices (phones, tablets, computers) and it affected their studies. The report also revealed that Whatsapp and Tiktok are the two most-used apps by children in the state while PUBG and GTA are the most popular online games amongst children. (IANS)

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Truecaller Denies Breach as Indian Users’ Data Goes on Sale

ruecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on web for just about Rs 75,000

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TrueCaller
Records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on the dark web for Rs. 75,000. Wikimedia Commons

After an online intelligence firm flagged that a cybercriminal was selling Truecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians on dark web for just about Rs 75,000, the Swedish caller identification app on Wednesday denied any breach of its database.

“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure. We take the privacy of our users and the integrity of our services extremely seriously and we are continuously monitoring for suspicious activities,” a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement.

“We were informed about a similar sale of data in May 2019. What they have here is likely the same dataset as before. It’s easy for bad actors to compile multiple phone number databases and put a Truecaller stamp on it.

“By doing that, it lends some credibility to the data and makes it easier for them to sell. We urge the public and users not to fall prey to such bad actors whose primary motive is to swindle the people of their money,” the spokesperson said.

Truecaller
“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure.”, a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement. Wikimedia Commons

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Online intelligence firm Cyble in a blog on Tuesday said that its researchers have “identified a reputable seller, who is selling 47.5 Million Indians Truecaller records for $1000. The data is from 2019.”

“Looking at the information itself, it has over 47.5 million records, and it includes interesting information such as phone number, carrier, name, gender, city, email, Facebook ID and others,” said the blog post.

On Wednesday, Cyble updated the blog to say that the same hacker has dropped another 600 million records for sale. (IANS)