Scott Dewing

Jefferson Journal Contributor

Scott Dewing is a technologist, teacher, and writer. He writes the technology focused column "Inside the Box" for the Jefferson JournalScott lives on a low-tech farm in the State of Jefferson. He was born in the same year the Internet was invented and 3 days before men first landed on the moon. This does not make him special--just old.

Wikipedia | geograph.org.uk

 The phrase “tragedy of the commons” was coined in 1833 by the British economist William Forster Lloyd. He used the term to describe the negative outcome of a hypothetical example of overgrazing by cattle on common land, “the commons”.

In 1965, futurist and writer Alvin Toffler coined the term “future shock” to describe the “shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”.

In 1970, Toffler published Future Shock in which he went in-depth about the many ways in which rapid technological and social change were leaving people disconnected and disoriented, severed from the past but not fully belonging to the future that was arriving too quickly to process.

The sexbots are coming. Well, not literally, not yet anyway—but that’ll happen soon enough with further advances in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence to the point that you would no longer be able to distinguish whether or not your sexbot was just faking it.

For those of you who haven’t made it past first base in the world of sexual machines and are asking, “Sexbot? What is this sexbot?” let me explain as clearly and couthly as possible.

Forged deep in a crucible of earth and brought toward the surface in a river of magma, diamonds are the hardest known naturally occurring substance. Their scarcity creates value and value often leads to conflict. 

Game Of Drones

Sep 1, 2018

The attempted assassination of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last month using a pair of drones armed with explosives made international headlines and is a harbinger of future high-profile attacks using common drones.

Of course drones have been being used to kill people for many years now. Since 9/11, the US government has carried out hundreds of drone strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen.

You want to have privacy online? Then get offline. Don’t want Google, Facebook, the government, or Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon knowing what websites you’re browsing? Don’t browse anything. Shut it all down, disconnect your Internet service, throw away your stupid smart phone, go off the grid just to be safe.

Sound far-fetched? Perhaps. Impossible? Probably. Lean in close, I have something to tell you dear reader: no one cares about your privacy online, not the government, not your Internet Service Provider (ISP), not Google, not Facebook, not Trump. 

America invented the Internet.

The first iteration of what became “the Internet” that you use everyday, was built in the 1960s. It was called ARPANET and was one the first packet-switching networks that transmitted data using TCP/IP. Packet-switching is a method by which data is transmitted in chunks or “packets” that can be retransmitted if there is a disruption. TCP/IP are the protocols that manage and control the communications process.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

—T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

Ah, Lost In Venice

Apr 28, 2016

I'm lost somewhere within the tangle of narrow streets in Venice, Italy. There are signs high up on the walls of the crowded buildings looming claustrophobically above where the only clear direction is straight up into a bright slit of blue sky. But signs are of no use when you don’t know precisely where you are nor where, exactly, you are going.

I was recently reminded of the old proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” when the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) was passed quietly in the night as an amendment slipped into the trillion dollar omnibus bill that prevented our federal government from running out of money and shutting down.

The stated purpose of CISA is somewhat vague: “To improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.”

wikimedia.org

Dear Santa,  I know it’s been awhile since I last wrote. Probably like 40 years or so. Sorry man, I’ve been real busy with growing up and life and stuff. Anyway, this past year has been a pretty good year in which I’ve been more nice than I’ve been naughty. To be completely honest with you, I had every intention of being a bit more naughty this past year but I was too busy doing nice things for other people to follow through on those intentions. It feels a bit strange confessing all of this to someone I’m pretty certain doesn’t exist.

Anyone who has spent a sufficient amount of time on the Internet, especially in the realms of social media, has had something mean and hurtful said directly to them or about them. I’ve been called things that can’t be put into print here.

Sometimes I shot back in anger. Other times I simply left the conversation while chanting “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” The choice was mine. I had the power to walk away from the keyboard. No one was forcing me to interact with the people who were saying things that I felt were offensive and inappropriate.

Imagine the milk is running low—or, if you live in a home similar to mine, one of your kids drank the last of it and put the empty container back in the refrigerator as a decoy—but rather than reaching for that near-empty (or completely empty) container the next morning, your refrigerator already updated a grocery list on your phone the day before and your phone instructed you to stop at the grocery store on the way home and purchase more milk. Or, even better, your phone alerted a grocery delivery service like AmazonFresh and the milk was automatically delivered to your doorstep.

For the most part, we go about our daily lives unaware that we are information storage devices. We store all sorts of information in our brains. Some of this information is quite useful, but most of it could probably be deemed trivial in the big picture. But no matter what specific information we individually store in our brains, each and every one of us carry inside us the key information for creating life.

Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time, about a 1,000 years ago in Internet years, people who wanted to use a computer had to invest some time into learning the fundamentals. These were in the ancient times before the Graphical User Interface, or GUI (pronounced “gooey”), which enabled users to use a mouse-pointer or a stylus or their finger to click on colorful icons and drop-down menu items.

The Quantum Race

Jun 1, 2015
IBM

All the big tech companies (and at least one U.S. government agency with the acronym NSA) are in a race to be the first to capture computing’s Holy Grail—the qubit. A qubit, or quantum bit, is the basic unit of information in a quantum computer. A qubit is different from a classical bit in computing, which can only exist in one state or another.

I’ve been writing about technology for just over a decade now. I’ve worked in the field of information technology for twice as long as that now and, most recently, had the distinguished title of “Director of Technology” bestowed upon me by my current employer. What I find most fascinating (and perhaps a bit disturbing) about this is that I still don’t know exactly what “technology” is. 

Here are some things that I learned on the Internet recently:

    

Wikimedia Commons

A “bit” is the smallest unit of digital information. Put 8 bits together and you get a “byte”. Amass a billion bytes and you have a “gigabyte”. A thousand gigabytes is a “terabyte” (TB), which is the storage capacity of the hard drive in an average desktop computer today. Now imagine a billion 1TB hard drives. Together, all of those hard drives have the storage capacity of 1 zetabyte. 

“Britney Spears Instagrams Selfie With New Boyfriend”

That was the headline that caught my eye recently while scrolling through my Twitter feed. No, I’m not a fan of Britney Spears. I don’t follow her on Twitter (but I do follow The Huffington Post, which posted the story). I dislike her music. I find her stage apparel distasteful. I hate that we live in a world in which she has become wealthy and famous for being a solipsistic attention whore.

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