Friday April 26, 2019
Home Science & Technology World-Wide-We...

World-Wide-Web: Rise of technology needs to be balanced with vigilance

0
//

internet

By Gaurav Sharma

The world-wide-web (www), a revolutionary technology that defines our present-day-life, celebrates its silver jubilee today.

Whether we are at home or on the move, at work or on vacation, the Internet has become our new family friend. From easing communication, providing interactive education, speedy and efficient public administration, to increasing our visibility in social circles, the wings of Internet’s penetrating power span across every sphere of life.

Birth

Tim Berners Lee, an English computer scientist, invented the Internet as World Wide Web on 6th August 1991 while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as an independent contractor.

Berners-Lee devised a project based on a hypertext wherein physicists could share information across the globe without using hardware or software. The first proposal having failed, Lee’s proposal for a Hypertext Project succeeded in grabbing the assent of the researchers.

After battling titles such ‘The Information mesh’ and the ‘Mine of Information’, the proposal was christened World Wide Web. In 1990, while working for NeXT Computers (the company where Steve Jobs worked after being thrown out of Apple), Berners-Lee developed the web browser software whose prototype would be run on the CERN server a year later.

Since the users were largely unaware and therefore inept at using the new technology, a user manual was issued to educate them on its proper use.

tim
Tim-Berners Lee, the father of the Internet

Evolution

The novel technology soon started taking giant strides towards growth. In 1992, Berners-Lee uploaded the first picture on the World Wide Web, an image of Les Horribles Cernettes (a French parodic rock group).

A year later, an epic announcement — that of making the Internet free for everyone to use and develop — was made. This emancipating feature has led to a sea change in the way we look at the world today.

In line with the free availability and accessibility of the World Wide Web, a number of free commercial browsers were also developed, the first one being Netscape Navigator. However, it was Mosaic which brought the non-scientist population on to the web through the launch of Internet Explorer (Compuserve also performed a similar job).

While the web initially consisted of a network of static HTML pages, it has now evolved into a dynamic system wherein media and pages can be streamed real-time.

microsoft-discloses-zero-day-in-all-versions-of-internet-explorer
Internet Explorer, previously one of the most popular web-browsers

Future

The internet is a constantly evolving organism which is exceeding its expectations (if it had one) every day. IT technology is undergoing a sea change with information rapidly moving onto the cloud. The transforming digital environment implies that companies have to be abreast with newer technologies such as the cloud, mobile automation, and the Internet of Things.

Internet of things basically means connecting daily-use appliances and systems digitally. By enabling physical objects to transfer information from the real world to the digital plane, the Internet of things has brought Artificial Intelligence a step closer to reality.

Trains are able to tell their arrival and departure time to our smartphone, imaging has become more precise, and traffic data can be accessed by our smartphones at the click of a button or through vocal instructions. Semantic Web wherein metadata is read by machines rather than by humans will also become a reality.

Indeed, life has become comfortable and convenient because of the internet. Still, the developments do not give a complete picture of the stupendous power the Internet exercises over our lives.

Like a shadow of the bright side, we are becoming precariously dependent on the internet for simple activities. Music, movies, adventure, and travel, among a host of other outdoor activities have become an online entertaining online experience. People read on Kindle, date on Tinder, and marry on Shaddi.com. One’s rise to the corporate ladder is determined by how glossy his profile is on Linkedin.

Networking no longer involves personal physical contact but an exchange of photo-shopped copies of one’s scarred existence. Language itself has become an abbreviated caricature of slangs and acronyms. Interpersonal aesthetics have radically altered.

One wonders if human relationships will now become an online rendezvous whereby gentle gestures such as shaking hands and a warm hug will now take a back-seat to exchange of mechanical whatsup’s. And then there is the ‘extraordinary’ chance of a young child experiencing the entire cosmos in his iPad. By the time he turns 20, there is hardly anything exciting to look forward to. Boredom becomes his companion. Psychological problems are also bound to spiral-up when the number of likes on Facebook start determining our self-esteem.

Not ones to leave behind the dark-side of internet, criminals have also begun working in novel fashions. Social media scams are increasingly being utilized maliciously by cyber-criminals to use people’s inherent trust in the content that friends share on Facebook and other social networking sites.

According to the Symantec Intelligence Report, India is the second most targeted country in the world for social media scams and the highest in Asia-Pacific region. In ransomware, a criminal act wherein a victim’s photos, files, and digital content is hijacked without revealing the attacker’s intention, India records an overwhelming 7 attacks per hour.

Attackers have surely changed the stealthy way of deceiving and duping netizens. As the Internet gets more sophisticated, newer possibilities will open-up, bringing forth both positive and negative consequences. Vigilance is the price we will have to pay for becoming more tech-savvy.

Next Story

Microsoft Rejects California Law Enforcement Agency’s Request To Install Facial Recognition in Officers’ Cars

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

0
microsoft
Brad Smith of Microsoft takes part in a panel discussion "Cyber, big data and new technologies. Current Internet Governance Challenges: What's Next?" at the United Nations in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2017. VOA

Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras because of human rights concerns, company President Brad Smith said Tuesday.

Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures.

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.”

microsoft
Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police. Pixabay

Prison contract accepted

Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse.

‘Race to the bottom’

Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

AI
AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found. Pixabay

He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.

Also Read: ‘Dirty Cops’ Ahead of Mueller Report Release, U.S. President Donald Trump Takes Stand

“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to name the prospective customers the company turned down. (VOA)