Blake Dowling: Invisible Technique

Uber was hacked last week.

Did you even flinch when you saw the headline or heard the news? I scrolled to see if any credit cards or passwords had been leaked and moved on (it seems they weren’t).

Hacks like this happen every day, every month, every week, and someone else gets brought down.

We hardly take notice of violations anymore because they are so common.

Guess how Uber got hacked? Uber, a company with cyber defense protocols in line with the Department of Defense, was breached because a hacker allegedly pretended to be the “IT department.” convinced an Uber employee to give them their testimonials.

It’s called social engineering, and we’ve entered what I can only call the “Real Era”. For real? Someone calls or texts you to give them your password and you do this? For real?

Will we stay hacking Defcon 1 for the rest of our lives – on alert for the next cyber incident?

What will they really call this era in the years to come? The hacking years? Not very catchy like my “really” era, but we/they/somebody always produce a name for an era after the fact.

Naming trends in technology is trending, so let’s move from hacking to the latest era in technology. I heard a new one the other day and it’s called Ambient Computing.

Ambient Computing is a technology concept in which computers should appear anytime and anywhere. In contrast to desktop computing, ambient computing (also called ubiquitous computing) can be done with any device, anywhere and in any form.

What does that mean? In other words, it means not sitting in front of a computer, but still immersed in technology; but the technology that surrounds you acts on its own in most cases.

Think of things like the Nest home thermostat or a self-driving car, an Apple Watch that monitors the condition, or a Ring video doorbell that can respond to the doorbell ringing without its owner being present.

This technology relies on sensors and artificial intelligence to get the job done.

If you work in tech, you might think it’s all great, but what happens when you’re feeling down?

Let’s say you have a robot vacuum that automatically cleans your tile floors when you leave the house. What happens when your dog Max – who you didn’t take before work – does his business on the floor and the robot vacuum cleaner cruises over it and redecorate your tiles for you?

They also have public trust issues as these sensors and AI tools collect a monstrous amount of data and (if controlled by the tech giants) guess who is getting the data? Thanks, Ambient Technology says Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc.

Our state government also uses this technology.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has nearly 200 monitors statewide to monitor air quality. This extensive program is called the Florida Ambient Air Monitoring Network Plan and it covers almost 90% of our state. This program helps to find and track long-term and short-term risks while ensuring that our state is compliant with national standards.

You’re in luck if you want more details All 86 pages are on the DEPs website.

This technology is very cool, I just want to point out that it’s not perfect.

I love it when our video camera in the conference room follows everyone who is speaking in the room instead of having someone to move it. Or chat support calls on a website that aren’t actually human, that is, artificial intelligence that gives you the answers you’re looking for; provided they are in their knowledge base.

I also love our automatic indoor pet water dispenser, another notable example of using ambient technology.

What’s next? Smarter cities, smarter homes, smarter offices? But as you know humanity, someone is waiting to screw things up by giving their credentials to a hacker.

For real? Yes.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at [email protected] and this column is dedicated to the memory and legacy of one of our company’s founders, Mr. Brad Mitchell. Brad died peacefully at his home on September 18. Brad loved technology and he will be missed by all who served him. Rest in peace sir.

Brad enjoys wine with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

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