Are domestic Robots Spying on You?

Back in 2012 an article featured widely in the press, quoting the CIA Director David Petraeus saying “We’ll spy on you through your fridge”.  The article talked about the Internet of Things, which effectively meant that various devices in our homes would be connected to the Internet. The result of this would be that organisations like the CIA could potentially get a wealth of information about what is going on in people’s homes and workplaces, without having to break and enter in order to install cameras and other ‘spy’ technology.

Most people weren’t even aware at the time that they were actively and publicly investing in  hi-tech start-ups and developers through their investment company In-Q-Tel. Great that they are though, because it offers the opportunity for a lot of new technology to be developed for all to benefit from. A huge number of the technologies that we ‘enjoy’ today were the result of World War II and the space race. For example IBM built a computer in 1944 funded by the US military which needed a large scale automatic calculator that could rapidly perform an enormous number of ballistic calculations. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if it weren’t for the transformation of the world brought about through computing and communications technologies.

domestic-robot-lawn-mowerToday we have technology in the home that talks to our mobiles and allows us to automatically replenish our pantries, control the home climate, see who is on our doorstep and if appropriate let them in, even if we aren’t home.

I used to hate lawn mowing, but now it is a breeze.

VacuumThe vacuum cleaning is now done while we are out of the house so I don’t have to listen to that horrible sound and it even empties itself.

Many people in Korea and Japan  have had domestic robots doing their chores for many years and countries like the US are following at a rapid pace.

Most of these devices are manufactured in Asia and there are now concerns that these devices, which use cameras to understand their surroundings in order to be able to function, are transmitting this data to sources other than those required in order to ensure they are functioning correctly and have the latest firmware updates. Stories have started to come out in recent times that not only are our domestic agencies able to see what is going on in our homes, it may be that foreign powers from the countries where they are being manufactured also have that capability.

Have countries like Korea and China created Trojan Horses that we have joyfully invited into our homes? What are the implications of this? I’d welcome your comments? I’ve always been into gadgets and I love my connected home which allows me to focus my time on things that I want to do, rather than have to do and I doubt I am of interest to anyone. But what about the homes of politicians, industry leaders and those who may have something to hide?

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Vodafone Phases Out Telephone Numbers

Vodafone has announced that phone numbers will no longer be necessary for mobile subscribers in New Zealand. New and existing subscribers who do not run POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) landlines will from next week have the option of not having a phone number, they will be able to use their own name or a pseudonym username.

7aselectorA spokesperson for Vodafone explained in a brief media Telephony 101 presentation that the concept of phone numbers has evolved from the early days when telephone exchange operators used to manually connect phones. Exchanges automated this process with rotary exchanges with technology such as in this image which is the technology that many New Zealand exchanges such as Wellesley Street in Auckland, where a relay tripped to select each number, then routed the call through to exchanges where typically the first two numbers represented the exchange area. For example Ponsonby numbers all started with 76 and Howick numbers with 83. Over the years this technology became computerised and with number portability the number no longer had to relate to a specific location in the country.

Over the last few years the majority of people communicate with VoIP and numbers have largely become irrelevant. Emergency numbers will remain indefinitely for a number of reasons, but with most people having Unified Communications across their various mobile devices and appliances there just is no reason to maintain an antiquated system. People may continue to use a number if they wish, according to a spokesperson from TUANZ, in support of the baby boomers who are still a large number of people who may no longer have copper wires fed into telephone exchanges, but are more comfortable with the analogue concept of a number.