These days I am amazed that no sooner have I searched online for a Buddha garden statue than I am subsequently inundated for weeks with all things remotely Buddha-‘ish’, from training videos by Deepak Chopra to Sanskrit tea towels, not to mention assorted Buddhas in a myriad shapes, sizes and materials. And it doesn’t stop there.
I have also been targeted for the sort of books, jewellery and sports gear Buddha idolaters are likely to want, even though that purchase was a gift. What technology has become really good at is tracking me from site to site, monitoring my actions and then compiling them into an algorithmic database. Armed with this information it assesses and categorises me accordingly and then engages with me by tempting me with specific advertisements, personalised content etc..
For some this may feel like the ultimate convenience – a free personal shopper to make your purchasing preferences for you, making you a shoppee rather than a shopper, but for others like me it does leave us with a creepy feeling that we are being watched (which we are) and that it’s not ok!
Talking about what is not ok, my soon-to-be four year old daughter vehemently refuses to wear certain outfits which I have bought. There is a gorgeous two-piece, trousers and top which I bought from the stylish, quality French children’s clothing brand, Sergeant Major, which I can’t get her to even try on. Regardless of what I tell her, she insists they are pyjamas and although she doesn’t express it verbally, I can tell by the look on her face that she would rather die than be seen in public wearing them.
I, on the other hand, think the outfit is adorable. In a sense I acted no better than the internet’s artificial intelligence by piecing together data on her and making a decision about what I think she should wear – doesn’t mean she will or that I should make her, but I failed to factor in her opinion.
What and when children start deciding for themselves is an interesting debate. When my twins were born, we had long discussion on whether we or others could post photographs of them on mediums like Facebook and anywhere else that may result in them having an internet presence.
We are in an age where many parents share almost everything online about their children. But how will these children feel when they are older? Will they love that their life has been publicly posted for them to cherish or will they be furious that all is laid bare (literally, as is often the case) for future employers, work colleagues and others to see?
I personally post very little online, privately at least. This is my choice regarding what I want to give of myself to others, especially those who don’t know me. I don’t post my feelings, daily activities or anything private because that’s how I want it to stay – private. I do put my shopping habits online and look what’s happening with that! Instead of reaching Nirvana, I‘m in the Buddhist equivalent of hell!
When a picture, status or piece of personal information is put up somewhere on the web, it is logged, archived and stored. If someone can legitimately find that information without compromising any user agreements, that is not a violation of your privacy on the internet because you are the one who put it out there in the first place – it is also why law enforcement can use your Facebook feed to track you down and apprehend you.
Same goes for corporate data mining – nothing you put up on a social network hosted by someone else truly belongs to you anymore. Social media has been legally classified as exactly that and any and all posts can be held to the same standards as legitimate journalism.
It’s no secret that employers now carry out online searches on potential employees to check their history and get an angle on character etc. hoping that they will get some insight which will help them decide on their suitability for the organisation, how they will get on with other staff members etc.
Employers want to know as much as they can about you, and the trail of activity you leave behind you on the Internet gives them a much more detailed view into your life than a carefully-worded CV does. Not much you can do about that as an applicant but as an employee you have some rights when it comes to private information being given to your employer.
There are employee privacy rights which are the rules that limit how extensively an employer can search an employee’s possessions or person; monitor their actions, speech, or correspondence; and know about their personal lives, especially but not exclusively in the workplace, though they vary from country to country.
But the extent and nature of these protections have become a growing concern recently because of the increase in the use of social media and the internet. You may think that many of these means of communication are private, but in truth, there is hardly any real privacy to be had with them. You have effectively published them and thereby given authorisation to any Tom, Dick and Harriet to access them.
Within an organisation, employers can usually search through anything that appears on company computers, and they can conduct wider searches of social media and the internet as well. Going ‘off-grid’ is almost impossible in our digital world but remember that what you put out can be grist to anyone’s mill, including your potential future employer.
Bottom line – your internet footprint is written in indelible ink. In my case I could return the statue if it didn’t suit but I’m forever a marked man in marketing terms. And in the meantime, in case anyone’s looking for a cute trouser suit for a little girl, please don’t contact me online!
In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.
It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.
… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan
With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.
Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.
If I say the word ‘robot’ to you, I can guess what would immediately spring to mind – a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and tv shows. Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name, Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama, Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…
Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, Box in Logan’s Run, Police robots in Elysium and Otomo in Robocop.
And that’s to name but a few. As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves. And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of robotics in the workplace.
ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.
A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles. It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.
DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,
AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.
INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour
These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.
This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count! For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars. It’s a theory, at any rate.
Already,customers at the South-Korean fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic. The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners. Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.
‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP.
Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions.
Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders. Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.
These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.
And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth. Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.
But there may be more redundancies on the way as well. Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable? So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid? Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!