Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina


Recent Hacking Experiment Displays Cybersecurity Dangers of Robots and IoT

Over the past year, cybersecurity firm IOActive successfully conducted a ransomware experiment on a popular humanoid robot created by SoftBank Robotics. This robot, titled NAO, is equipped with microphones and cameras and is typically used in classrooms, retail stores, and offices for customer assistance. NAO is capable of connecting to wireless networks and other IoT devices, and leverages artificial intelligence.

In this experiment, IOActive was able to steal stored data, completely control its audio and visual features, and was essentially able to hold the device ransom until the firm received bitcoin. This is alarming for a multitude of reasons, but primarily due to the increasing use of Internet of Things. As individuals and businesses are starting to create more  of these networks in their everyday lives, the more prone they are to these dangerous attacks. These attacks have the ability to devastate a business financially and even halt business operations for smaller companies. Although this research didn’t actually cause harm, it displays the potential dangers that arise with the use of robots and connected devices. Cesar Currdo, CTO of IOActive, believes that the impact of ransomware on robots is “much bigger” than any other type of device and can “directly affects business production and services.”

Do you believe that the security dangers associated with robots and IoT are almost understated? Do you find yourself hesitant at all to implement these technologies in your everyday lives?

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Facebook Robots Could Become a Household Norm

Facebook just filed a patent for a self balancing robot last week. The current use of the robot is speculative with endless possibilites. The robot could follow you around your home while video calling, automatically take pictures for social media, carry around objects in the house, or televise local or pro events. The current market for robots of this sort is extremely expensive, with most robots costing a couple thousand. If Facebook is able to drive down the costs and complete their vision of household robots, could this revolutionize the robot industry? Do you think this patent has the ability to be a disruptive innovation like the mobile phone was for the computer/phone industry?

facebook robot 1

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VR: The New Standard for Training Healthcare Professionals?

We are often told that “practice makes perfect”. If this is the case, then our historical reliance on textbooks and manuals to properly educate and prepare people to do real jobs is ineffective and unfounded. Luckily, the rapid development of VR (virtual reality) technologies has created many opportunities for industries to ditch theory, discussion and textbooks while training professionals, and instead adopt VR video games as creative alternatives to traditional training methods. For example, Isobar’s Common Ground VR game simulates what it is like to live with visual disabilities such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. By allowing people without these disabilities to experience the effects that the disability has on them, Isobar expects healthcare professionals gain a better understanding of the conditions with VR assistance than without it. As a result of this newfound understanding, professionals will create better ways of accommodating and treating individuals with the condition.

VR can also help aspiring healthcare professionals practice interactions with patients, and increase the effectiveness of these interactions in the workplace. For example, Kognito’s simulation game allows users to discuss substance abuse with a virtual patient, help a student who suffers from psychological distress navigate their issues, and even allows users to practice responding to patients who doesn’t comply with medication instructions.

VR has many obstacles to overcome before it can achieve rapid mainstream adoption, but it is well on its way. Do you feel that it is only a matter of time before VR takes over as the standard for training all professionals?

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The New Lost and Found

New technology will be able to track all of your items not just electronics in case of misplacement. Ping GPS was created by Josh Lippiner after he could not find his daughter during a game of hide and seek. Ping GPS is a small device that you could attach to your child’s shoes or your wallet. Other companies are trying to adopt this technology into their products as well. This tracking technology could be in your keys, luggage, glasses and any other item.
Would you want all of your items to be tracked online? Do you find this item useful or a breach of privacy? Do you think other companies or the government be able to access this information?

Babel-Fish Earbuds

Google has created a pair of earbuds called Pixel Buds that allow users to get instant translations for the language they speak. They work by one user wearing the earbuds while the person speaking has the Google pixel smartphone. The user with the earbuds simply speaks their language and an application translates the voice which is then played out loud on the phone. When the person with the phone responds, their response is translated, which is heard through the earbuds. An advancement on this type technology could open many doors in terms on communicating in different languages.

How do you see these headphones being used todays society? How do you see these headphones playing out in foreign affairs?  Do you think they pose as a benefit or a burden to, being that now consumers might ignore learning a new language?

Can cryptocurrencies kill you?

In a recent Reddit discussion, Bill Gates made it clear that he does not support cryptocurrencies. He believes they have had a very direct affect on certain criminal activity. From money laundering to illicit drug purchases on the dark web, the anonymity of cryptocurrencies have allowed criminals to hide in the shadows. Gates suggests that it is in our best interest to allow the government insight into transactions, as this can deter illegal and unwanted behavior.

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On the contrary, the CEO of a “digital currency information firm”, Charles Hayter, argued that Gates’ assertions were slightly naive. Hayter suggested that more and more legitimate business is being processed with digital currencies. Hayter also pointed at the paper dollar, and believes that any new money or currency will be involved with deaths to a certain extent at their inception.

So my question is how much anonymity do we want and how much is good for society? Total anonymity may not be in our best interest, but how much insight are we willing to give to the government?

Is there still room for “dumb stuff”?

With technology growing at it’s rapid pace and more people adopting it can analog items such as simple alarm clocks or watches keep their place in peoples lives? Technological equipment allows for users to interconnect everything in their lives i.e. Alexa can be used to turn on the lights in your house or things such as the Apple watch allows for many different kinds of functionality compared to a regular watch but many people still choose to use traditional items, for example with the apple watch it “wakes up” when the user tilts their wrist (allowing for maximum battery life efficiency) but many times users simply want to know the time without a wrist tilt; thus resulting in the usage of a traditional watch.

Do you think that one day technology will replace all traditional items i.e. watches or do you think there will always be a draw to simple, non-interconnected items?

A Humanoid Robot Could Come to Your Rescue During a Disaster

The Italian Institute of Technology has been developing a humanoid disaster robot called the WALK-MAN. The main purpose of the robot is to help humans in disaster situations, and after years of development it’s is one step closer to fulfilling that as it’s in the final validation phase. Though the robot WALK-MAN isn’t fully autonomous, it functions by a human wearing a suit equipped with sensors which controls about 80 percent of its actions. The robot is put through series of tests as it navigates a disaster scenario designed to mimic an industrial plant following an earthquake, moving debris and putting out a hypothetical fire. With technology continuing to evolve the robot could eventually be helping in future disasters.

With the things we see from Boston Dynamics and their robots, to Sophia the robot with its advanced artificial intelligence it’s scary to think about how these things can evolve when eventually they come as one. Similar to the movie iRobot where artificially intelligent humanoid robots are serving humanity, this could be something in the foreseeable future. What do you guys think? Does having humanoid robots working alongside humanity is a good thing or not? How far should we go in giving them a mind of their own?

A Six-Foot Tall Humanoid Robot

Paying with Your Face

There is technology available now in China that authorizes payments, provide access to facilities and tracks down criminals. The AI described is the Chinese startup titled “Face++“. This AI is so effective for image recognition because “it makes a computer zero in on the facial features that will most reliably identify a person”. According to the article, security is very important in China and they believe this facial recognition technology can be a very efficient to not only make purchases, but protect humans as well.

Do you guys think its a possibility that facial recognition can become the new norm here in America and would you feel safe knowing that this is the norm? Why? Why not?

I feel like we as a society are already on our way there. With Apple implementing face recognition on the iPhone X, it is only a matter of time for its majority users to buy into the trend which will eventually make it common among everyone. Also, with cryptocurrency on the rise, there eventually would be no need to bring a wallet. What would be a better currency/ID than a scan of your own face? Thoughts?



Self-driving buses is on the road

Shenzheng is a very young  city, the average age of population in the city is 32, and this city has passion to try new things.

A self-driving bus route was set in the end of 2017. It was servicing a three-stop, 1.2-kilometer route with actual passengers, and the price of whole trip is 0.16 US dollar. The buses can carry up 19 passengers and hit max speed of 40 kilometers per hour. The buses were by Shenzhen Haylion Technologies at a cost of about $76,0000 per vehicle.

Capable of avoiding pedestrians, speeding up, slowing down, making emergency stops, changing lanes, and navigating traffic lights, the buses are steered automatically along a designated route. For safety’s sake, there is a driver on board, though ideally he should never need to touch the wheel.

The buses were still under the real road testing. If they continue to pass all of their tests, they could one day enter regular operation in the city.