Startup & IT

All posts in the Startup & IT category

Artificial intelligence could fight a future coronavirus #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 22, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382623?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Artificial intelligence could fight a future coronavirus

Feb 22. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Amy Thomson, Suzi Ring · BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, HEALTH, ASIA-PACIFIC

Disease outbreaks like the coronavirus often unfold too quickly for scientists to find a cure. But in the future, artificial intelligence could help researchers do a better job.

While it’s probably too late for the fledgling technology to play a major role in the current epidemic, there’s hope for the next outbreaks. AI is good at combing through mounds of data to find connections that make it easier to determine what kinds of treatments could work or which experiments to pursue next.

The question is what Big Data will come up with when it only gets meager scraps of information on a newly emerged illness like Covid-19, which first emerged late last year in China and has sickened more than 75,000 people in about two months.

The fact that researchers managed to produce the gene sequencing of the new virus within weeks of the first reported cases is promising, since it shows there’s far more immediate data available now when outbreaks happen.

Andrew Hopkins, chief executive officer of Oxford, England-based startup Exscientia Ltd. is among those working to help train artificial intelligence for drug discovery. He figures new treatments could go from conception to clinical testing in as little as 18 to 24 months within the next decade, thanks to AI.

Exscientia designed a new compound for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder that’s ready to be tested in the lab after less than a year in the initial research phase. That’s about five times faster than average, according to the company.

Cambridge-based Healx has a similar approach, but it uses machine learning to find new uses for existing drugs. Both companies feed their algorithms with information — gleaned from sources such as journals, biomedical databases and clinical trials — to help suggest new treatments for diseases.

The two companies each use a team of human researchers to work alongside the AI to help guide the process. In Exscientia’s approach, dubbed the Centaur Chemist, drug designers help teach the algorithms strategies for searching for compounds. Healx puts the AI’s predictions to researchers who analyze the results and decide what to pursue.

Neil Thompson, Healx’s chief science officer, said the technique could be deployed against an outbreak like the coronavirus as long as it had enough data on the new disease. Healx isn’t working on tackling the coronavirus or tweaking its technology for outbreaks, but it wouldn’t be a stretch.

“We’re quite close,” Thompson said in an interview. “We wouldn’t need to change much about the AI algorithms we use. We look at matching drug properties to disease features.”

Artificial intelligence algorithms are already starting to churn out drugs for the diseases we know about. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said on Thursday that they’d used the method to identify a powerful new antibiotic compound that could kill an array of troublesome bacteria, even some that are currently resistant to other treatments.

One catch for all these technologies is clinical testing. Even drugs already safe for use to cure one ailment should be tested again before they’re prescribed for another. The process of showing they are safe and effective on a large number of people can take years before going to regulators for review.

To be effective, AI-based drug developers would have to plan ahead of time, picking out a virus genome likely to cause problems in the future and targeting it when there are few incentives to do so.

Another obstacle is finding qualified staff.

“It’s hard to find people who can operate at the intersection of AI and biology, and it’s difficult for big companies to make quick decisions on technology like this,” said Irina Haivas, a partner at venture capital firm Atomico and former surgeon who sits on the board of Healx. “It’s not enough to be an AI engineer, you have to understand and get into the applications of biology.”

Why are average students stuck in the dullest high school courses? #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 21, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382534?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Why are average students stuck in the dullest high school courses?

Feb 21. 2020
A classroom in the Kevin Durant Center in Suitland, Md., on Jan. 16, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Calla Kessler.

A classroom in the Kevin Durant Center in Suitland, Md., on Jan. 16, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Calla Kessler.
By The Washington Post · Jay Mathews · NATIONAL, EDUCATION 

I became an education reporter because I wanted to know why so few high schools were giving their average students challenging assignments. The best students were often allowed into Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. But college level work for the rest of the students was a no-no.

Putting “C” students into AP felt on those campuses like a cultural gaffe, the equivalent of holding the senior prom in March.

The situation has improved somewhat. About 12 percent of high schools have at least half of their 11th- and 12th-graders taking a least one AP or IB course. Still, the majority of average students are told to stick with easy stuff. I figured that must be because school leaders weren’t taking into account the needs of students to be ready for college or a job.

Craig Kesselheim is changing my mind about this. He is a senior associate at the Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit school-support organization based in Portland, Maine. He said the tendency to sort rather than teach is rooted in a specific high school administrative routine – producing the Program of Study, otherwise known as the course catalogue. It describes every subject at every level available at the school.

“Logistically, Program of Study documents are most often published midyear or early spring to assist school counselors with the course placement of entering ninth-graders,” Kesselheim said. “A frequent result of this deadline pressure is a hastily cobbled-together collection of paragraphs, submitted by teachers and department heads, comprised largely of last year’s text, and edited by no one.”

Middle school teachers are pressed into recommending which students going into high school should take honors courses and which should not. In many schools, “there is no science to these acts of judgment and no uniformity across teachers or across content areas,” Kesselheim said. “Placement recommendations are highly subject to departmental whims, teachers’ beliefs about ability and implicit bias.”

Kesselheim was once a middle school science teacher and administrator. For the past 16 years, he has been helping schools and districts ease themselves out of traditional course hierarchies that don’t make sense. “Highly engaged parents use the system to ensure their students rise to the top. America’s DNA for public education seems to be a zero sum game: In order to have winners, we must have losers,” he said.

I asked why so many schools, usually run by intelligent people who want the best for their students, let this go on. He blamed professional isolation, something I have seen often in the schools but never thought about much. Teachers must make their own decisions on a variety of matters, including grading. The same isolation is imposed on department heads, counselors and administrators.

Schools might have mission statements promising common goals, but hardly anyone pays attention. “One department, maybe social studies, provides an open door to any student wishing to embrace the challenge embedded in an honors-level class,” Kesselheim said. “The department down the hall or in another wing, perhaps English, requires an application essay.”

Unguided grading practices pave the way for mindless sorting. “School systems do a far better job of codifying dress codes, class-rank procedures and disciplinary ladders than they do in guiding and unifying teachers’ grading practices,” he said. Grades influence how students think about themselves and their futures, yet teachers often give grades as they like without much thought about the effect. There is little evidence that bad grades inspire improvement, while instruction that is challenging has been shown to work.

It usually takes an order from above to change practices at high schools that keep average students out of AP and IB classes. The Fairfax County School Board’s decision to open AP and IB classes to all students in 1998 brought much change and spread through the rest of Northern Virginia. Sadly, few other states and districts have made that move.

Kesselheim said he thinks schools can fix this on their own. They can launch course reviews, seek community engagement and get isolated teachers and counselors to talk to one another.

Average students often have much potential, but how can they show it if they are always assigned to the slowest and dullest courses?

Apple weighs letting users switch default iPhone apps to rivals #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 21, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382527?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Apple weighs letting users switch default iPhone apps to rivals

Feb 20. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Mark Gurman · BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY 

Apple is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products.

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

The web browser and mail are two of the most-used apps on the iPhone and iPad. To date, rival browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox and mail apps like Gmail and Microsoft Outlook have lacked the status of Apple’s products. For instance, if a user clicks a web link sent to them on an iPhone, it will automatically open in Safari. Similarly, if a user taps an email address — say, from a text message or a website — they’ll be sent to the Apple Mail app with no option to switch to another email program.

The Cupertino, California-based company also is considering loosening restrictions on third-party music apps, including its top streaming rival Spotify Technology SA, on HomePods, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal company deliberations.

Apple’s closed system to prohibit users from setting third-party apps as defaults was questioned last year during a hearing of a U.S. House of Representatives antitrust panel. Lawmakers pressed the issue of whether iPhone users can make non-Apple apps their defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email and music.

Being a default app on the world’s best-selling smartphone is valuable because consumers are subtly coaxed and prodded into using this more-established software rather than alternatives. Keeping users tethered to Apple’s services is important to the company as the growth of smartphone demand slows and sales of music, video, cloud storage and other subscriptions make up a greater share of the iPhone maker’s total revenue.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

The company currently pre-installs 38 default apps on iPhones and iPads, Bloomberg News has reported, including the Safari web browser, Maps, Messages and Mail.

Last year, Stockholm-based Spotify submitted an antitrust complaint to the European Union, saying Apple squeezes rival services by imposing a 30% cut for subscriptions made via the App Store. Apple responded that Spotify wants the benefits of the App Store without paying for them. As part of its complaint, Spotify singled out the inability to run on the HomePod and become the default music player in Siri, Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant.

Now, Apple is working to allow third-party music services to run directly on the HomePod, said the people. Spotify and other third-party music apps can stream from an iPhone or iPad to the HomePod via Apple’s AirPlay technology. That’s a much more cumbersome experience than streaming directly from the speaker.

Opening the HomePod to additional music service may be a boon for the product. The speaker has lagged behind rivals like the Amazon Echo in functionality since being introduced in 2018 and owns less than 5% of the smart-speaker market, according to an estimate last week from Strategy Analytics.

Also under discussion at Apple is whether to let users set competing music services as the default with Siri on iPhones and iPads, the people said. Currently, Apple Music is the default music app. If the company changes the arrangement, a user would be able to play music from Spotify or Pandora automatically when asking Siri for a song.

The potential changes to third-party apps on Apple’s devices and the HomePod are still under discussion or early development, and final decisions haven’t been made, the people said. If Apple chooses to go forward with the moves, they could appear as soon as later this year via the upcoming iOS 14 software update and a corresponding HomePod software update, the people said.

Apple typically announces major new iPhone and iPad software versions in June, and releases them in September around the launch of new iPhone models. For this year’s update, Apple is also planning to focus on performance and quality because the current version, iOS 13, has been riddled with bugs that upset some users.

Korean chipmakers start to worry about COVID-19 #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 21, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382518?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Korean chipmakers start to worry about COVID-19

Feb 20. 2020
V1 line in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province (Samsung Electronics)

V1 line in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province (Samsung Electronics)
By The Korea Herald/ANN

South Korean chipmakers have started to be concerned about a looming slowdown in demand for chips and impact on production in the wake of an unexpected spike in the number of COVID-19 infections across the country, according to industry sources on Thursday.

“So far, the company is not facing any difficulty in running the production lines as usual, but it is worrisome that signs of demand slowdown from set makers are looming as the situation gets worse and longer,” said an official at Samsung Electronics.

The comment came as Samsung announced the world’s top memory provider has kick-started a new production line in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday, dedicated to producing chips using 7-nanometer process node and below on the strength of extreme ultraviolet lithography technology.

Samsung said the V1 line, which broke ground in February 2018, began test wafer production last year and is scheduled to ship out its first products in the first quarter.

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong visited the facility to mark its kickoff, according to the company.

It was expected that the impact of COVID-19 would be limited to chip production due to the industry’s mid- and long-term preparations to ensure stable material procurement and supplies.

Even during the extended Lunar New Year holidays in China, the memory plants by Samsung and SK hynix there operated without interruption.

Rather, there were positive forecasts suggesting that the outbreak would limit chip supply in the long run and therefore help raise chip prices.

But as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to worsen both in China and Korea, affecting the chipmakers’ workforces, the companies have grown uneasy about its potential impact on the industry.

SK hynix said about 800 workers at its headquarters in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, have been self-quarantined as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus within the workplace.

The chipmaker discovered on Wednesday that an entry-level recruit who was being trained on the job in Icheon had been in close contact with the country’s 31st COVID-19 patient in Daegu.

SK hynix also said it had closed the company’s education center and sent about 280 new recruits home.

The company, however, said those measures were not affecting its factory operations.

Some raised questions about Samsung’s ramp-up at its NAND flash plant in Xian, China.

Due to withdrawals of semiconductor equipment engineers for the second NAND flash line at Samsung’s Xian factory, the new line’s operations would be hampered, which would affect its overall supply, said a report by KTB Securities report.

Samsung denied the claim, saying: “The ramp-up process itself is on its way as scheduled, although there are some difficulties with the local workforce. The ramp-up amount wouldn’t affect overall supply anyhow.”

By Song Su-hyun (song@heraldcorp.com)

Ransomware shuts gas compressor for days in latest attack #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382464?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Ransomware shuts gas compressor for days in latest attack

Feb 20. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Christine Buurma, Alyza Sebenius · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, COURTSLAW, NATIONAL-SECURITY 

A recent ransomware attack caused a U.S. natural gas compressor facility to shut for two days, the latest in a string of attacks targeting the country’s energy infrastructure over the past few years.

Hackers sent emails with a malicious link, known as a phishing attack, to gain control of the facility’s information technology system, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday in an alert. The agency didn’t say which facility was targeted, when the attack occurred or who was behind it.

It appears likely that the attacker explored the facility’s network to “identify critical assets” before executing the ransomware attack, according to Nathan Brubaker, a senior manager at the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. This tactic — which has become increasingly popular among hackers — makes it “possible for the attacker to disable security processes that would normally be enough to detect known ransomware indicators,” he said.

The DHS alert comes amid increased concern about whether aging U.S. energy facilities are equipped to ward off cyber-attacks that could result in power failures and disruptions to oil and natural gas supply. In 2018, several pipeline companies saw their electronic systems for communicating with customers shut down after being targeted by hackers.

Regulators have urged better oversight for pipeline cybersecurity, which is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration. DHS announced in 2018 that it was working with the TSA and the Department of Energy on a pipeline cybersecurity initiative.

Operations at the facility have been restored, according to an official the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who requested anonymity speaking about the matter. The official said the incident illustrates the risk that ransomware poses to industrial control systems.

Though the hackers didn’t gain control of the gas compression facility, the operator decided to perform a controlled shutdown after being unable to read and aggregate real-time operational data from certain devices.

While ransomware is usually designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid, the DHS notice didn’t specify what the hackers were demanding in the gas compressor cyber-attack. The facility’s emergency response plan didn’t specifically address the risk of cyber-attacks, DHS said.

The industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos Inc. assessed with “high confidence” that the DHS alert likely referred to an attack reported in 2019 by the U.S. Coast Guard in December, according to a Wednesday blog post. In that incident, a type of ransomware known as Ryuk — which has targeted organizations across the globe — hit a maritime facility, causing “primary operations” to shut down for more than 30 hours. Dragos didn’t identify the facility.

Joe Slowik, an analyst at Dragos, wrote in the blog post that the ransomware attack didn’t appear specifically focused on targeting industrial control systems. He added that phishing, the mechanism by which the hacker gained access to the facility’s networks, is a common “social engineering mechanism” that attackers use for both ransomware and infrastructure hacking.

Europe takes on China, U.S with plan to regulate global tech #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382459?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Europe takes on China, U.S with plan to regulate global tech

Feb 20. 2020
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Natalia Drozdiak · BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, EUROPE

U.S. and Chinese firms hoping to deploy artificial intelligence and other technology in Europe would have to submit to a slew of new rules and tests under a set of plans unveiled by the European Union to boost the bloc’s digital economy.

The legislative plans, outlined Wednesday by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, are designed to help Europe compete with the U.S. and China’s technological power while championing EU rights. The move is the latest attempt by the bloc to leverage the power of its vast, developed market to set global standards that companies around the world are forced to follow.

Big U.S. companies such as Facebook and Google won’t get any reprieve from the commission, which in its Digital Services Act plans to overhaul rules regarding legal liability for tech firms and is exploring legislation for “gate-keeping” platforms that control their ecosystems.

“It’s not us that need to adapt to today’s platforms. It’s the platforms that need to adapt to Europe,” European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said at a news conference in Brussels. If they can’t find a way adapt to the bloc’s standards, “then we will have to regulate, and we are ready to do this in the Digital Services Act at the end of this year.”

On artificial intelligence, users and developers of AI systems used in high-risk fields, such as health, policing or transportation, would face legal requirements, including tests by authorities, which could also certify the data used by algorithms, the Commission said. High-risk AI could also face sanctions, while lower-risk applications should abide by a voluntary labeling program, the body said.

Facial recognition, which falls under the high-risk category, generally can’t be used for remotely identifying people under current EU rules – with some exceptions. The bloc is planning to start a debate on the topic to determine where European citizens would accept those exceptions.

The EU also said it would propose plans to encourage data sharing among businesses and with governments, with the aim of pooling large sets of high-quality industrial data. The AI plans will be open for public consultation until late May and will aim to propose legislation based on the feedback as soon as the end of year.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios encouraged the EU to “pursue an innovation friendly” approach that doesn’t overly burden companies, in a statement reacting to the EU’s announcement. “The best way to counter authoritarian uses of AI is to ensure the U.S. and its allies remain leaders in innovation,” he said.

As part of its Digital Services Act, the EU said it was considering rules for large powerful platforms that act as gate-keepers to ensure their markets remain fair and contestable. The possible legislation is seen as a way to complement antitrust law, which some have criticized for being to slow to restore balance in markets harmed by dominant firms’ behavior.

“Some platforms have acquired significant scale,” the commission said in its document. “We must ensure that the systemic role of certain online platforms and the market power they acquire will not put in danger the fairness and openness of our markets.”

In a statement, Edima, the platform association that represents platforms like Facebook and Google, said it “is committed to working with the European Commission to clarify roles and responsibilities within the online ecosystem.”

The EU’s package will also take aim at platforms’ liability as a global debate continues to simmer around who’s legally responsible for content on social media sites, amid the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and violent content.

Under current EU rules, tech companies aren’t responsible for what users post on their sites unless illegal content has been flagged to them. The rules were drafted almost 20 years ago in an effort to encourage tech firms to grow and innovate, and companies worry that axing the provision could potentially force them to censor posts.

“We ask the commission to tread carefully as they look at how to tackle issues that will ultimately determine the future of tech,” said Raegan MacDonald, head of EU public policy at Mozilla. “Instead of seeing tech as all the same – which it is not – the EU needs to be clear which companies and what practices and processes should be the focus of intervention.”

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg met with EU officials in Brussels on Monday as he called on governments to devise a different liability system for platforms – somewhere between newspaper publishers, who can be sued for what journalists write in their pages, and telecommunications companies, who aren’t liable for customer conversations.

Breton, the commissioner, dismissed Zuckerberg’s framing, saying his comparison to telecom companies was “not relevant.” The comment suggests that the EU could lean toward much more onerous requirements on liability for platforms.

Axon rolls out the next level of police technology: Live-streaming body cameras #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 20, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382439?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Axon rolls out the next level of police technology: Live-streaming body cameras

Feb 19. 2020
Rick Smith, founder and CEO of Axon, which makes most of the wearable cameras used by U.S. police departments, demonstrates the new Axon Body 3 camera. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tom Jackman

Rick Smith, founder and CEO of Axon, which makes most of the wearable cameras used by U.S. police departments, demonstrates the new Axon Body 3 camera. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Tom Jackman
By The Washington Post · Tom Jackman · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY, COURTSLAW

The term that keeps coming up is “game changer.”

Axon, the largest supplier of body-worn cameras for police in the United States, on Tuesday rolled out 1,000 new cameras for the Cincinnati Police Department that have live-streaming capability. This will enable officers on the street to show dispatchers or commanders a crisis situation in real time and allow rescuers to find an officer who is down or lost.

The new Axon Body 3 body camera for police uses 1080p technology to produce a higher-resolution still image, right, than the previous model, left. MUST CREDIT: Axon

The new Axon Body 3 body camera for police uses 1080p technology to produce a higher-resolution still image, right, than the previous model, left. MUST CREDIT: Axon

The system will automatically activate the camera as soon as a gun is drawn, a shot is heard or a Taser is powered on.

The cameras will not have facial-recognition capability, Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said in an interview, and access to both the live-streamed video and the archived footage will be tightly controlled. To solve the problem of massive amounts of data piling up, the footage will be stored in a computing cloud maintained by Axon and Microsoft, Smith said.

The software accompanying the cameras will enable officers to receive transcripts of the audio in the footage, and the cameras will film in 1080p, greatly improving the quality of still images often used by police in investigations.

Police officers are typically the first on the scene of a crime in progress or a structural collapse. “To have the ability to access that camera in real time, and live-stream what the officer is seeing, that’s amazing,” said Lt. Stephen Saunders of the Cincinnati police. “That will be a tactical advantage in high-stress situations like an active shooter. Or maybe the officer can’t get to their radio. The dispatch center can access it and see what’s going on there. That’s a game changer.”

Smith added that “your commanders and support staff can have a much greater sense of what’s really happening” at an unfolding crisis. He envisioned officers turning on their cameras and saying “watch my back” or “I need help” to a dispatcher.

“The person in dispatch can watch and can deploy other officers,” Smith said. “We think that’s going to be a game changer.”

Though body cameras have spread widely among police departments in recent years, both as a means of improving transparency and also for documenting potentially controversial encounters, suspicions that they may be used for more-aggressive police monitoring have not abated. “The centralized live-streaming of body cameras would instantly super-charge the surveillance powers of the authorities,” the American Civil Liberties Union’s Jay Stanley wrote in 2016. “It raises the prospect of abuse, and will create significant chilling effects.”

But Smith says he does not want to create the conditions for “creepy surveillance stuff.” Besides securing the cloud and expecting that police departments will tightly limit access to both live and archived footage, Smith created an AI and Policing Technology Ethics Board to review Axon’s proposed uses of artificial intelligence and new technology. Among the members are Barry Friedman, a New York University law professor and founder of the Policing Project, which explores thorny issues and focuses on police accountability. He credited Axon for being “incredibly attuned to ethical considerations,” and his board has produced papers on facial recognition and automated license plate readers.

Live-streaming police video “has pluses and minuses,” Friedman said. “On the plus side, it’s possible being able to stream video can make policing more effective and more safe. If someone is contemplating use of force, it might help to have a supervisor in his or her ear. On the other hand, body cameras go into sensitive places. With streaming, it won’t just be the officer, but somebody else. There have to be serious limits as to whom the video is streamed.”

Putting another set of eyes and ears in a tense situation is a possibly groundbreaking option for police. “Part of the problem in policing, we’ve got individuals out there by themselves who have a lot of discretion,” Friedman said. “Part of the reason they have discretion is there are no alternatives. In serious situations, they might prefer to have better guidance, and we might reach better resolutions.”

With facial recognition, Smith said, “I came to realize there are Fourth Amendment issues. Should we be scanning the face of everybody who walks in front of a police officer? I don’t know yet.”

The cameras can be turned on remotely if needed in an emergency, Smith said, but officers will be able to turn them off at their discretion. Police will be able to seek video from the public through an Axon portal, and the new FirstNet dedicated wireless network for first responders should provide the bandwidth for police to use all this new technology without glitches.

The Axon software will have AI for face detection, not facial recognition, Smith said. This will enable officers to quickly find parts of video that have people in them and also to more quickly redact faces when footage is needed for wider dissemination. Smith said this will cut officers’ search times by up to 80 percent. The AI also will allow the transcription of audio portions of a stream, and the AI may be able to incorporate license plate recognition or driver’s license scans to increase chances of solving crimes. The cameras have 4G LTE connectivity to cell networks and a GPS.

Smith said one key goal is to greatly reduce the time officers spend writing reports, to get them back on patrol. “It makes it easier to create your records,” Smith said. “Over time, we can mine more insights from that data” to study the effectiveness of the camera.

The impact of body cameras, before live-streaming, is unclear. A recent review of body-worn camera research by the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University found that the cameras “have not had statistically significant or consistent effects on most measures of officer and citizen behavior or citizens’ views of police.” But Smith cited one 2016 study that said complaints about police behavior dropped 93 percent in six jurisdictions in Europe and the United States after the cameras were introduced.

Axon is not the first to offer live-streaming to police. Visual Labs, a newer Silicon Valley start-up, offers body-camera software for smartphones using Android operating systems but does not have some of Axon’s features.

Axon is packaging its new body camera as part of an “Officer Safety Plan” for $200 per officer per month, Smith said. The bundle includes the camera, equipped with four microphones for greatly improved audio, the software for the camera and its footage, unlimited storage space in the Axon cloud, a Taser weapon and unlimited Taser cartridges. Axon also makes Tasers, the electronic weapon that launches two darts connected to the Taser and uses the electrical circuit to temporarily disable a person.

The fact that the camera activates when a weapon is drawn or when a sound is received through the Shot Spotter gunshot-detection technology should cause more shootings to be recorded. Saunders said officers sometimes don’t have time to reach for their body-camera button during a fast-moving incident, but now it will turn on automatically.

“I think it will bring officers great comfort,” Saunders said. “If they’re out on the beat, they know that someone can find them if they need to. Having that sense of safety is not a no-brainer, it’s a cost, but the cost of not doing it can be even greater.”

New technology allows pet owners to spy on every sniff and shredded slipper #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382375?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

New technology allows pet owners to spy on every sniff and shredded slipper

Feb 19. 2020
German Shepherd Lola listens to the PetChaz device and waits for a treat at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020, while owner Andrea Sosias demonstrates how to communicate through the device. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

German Shepherd Lola listens to the PetChaz device and waits for a treat at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020, while owner Andrea Sosias demonstrates how to communicate through the device. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein
By The Washington Post · Michael S. Rosenwald · BUSINESS, FEATURES

In the prehistoric days before high-speed WiFi and smart home devices, dog owners had to open the front door to discover whether their canine companions had spent the day lounging on the couch or eating it.

Now, thanks to robotic cameras designed specifically for humans to remotely surveil and communicate with dogs, they no longer have to wonder. Every sniff, nap or destructive moment can be watched live on a mobile device. Dog parents can even remotely launch treats.

“It’s definitely entertaining,” said Cristin Bratt, a Fairfax County (Virginia) Park Authority official who watches Jackson, her Boston terrier, on an iPad at her desk. “It was a new concept for our family to have another living creature in our home, so installing a camera gave us peace of mind.”

Alex and Andrea Sosias with dogs Amino, left, and Lola at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

Alex and Andrea Sosias with dogs Amino, left, and Lola at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

Bratt, whose family owns several smart speakers, surveils Jackson with a Furbo Dog Camera, a cylinder device slightly larger than an Amazon Echo that has a one-way camera, a two-way speaker and a launching mechanism that tosses bite-size treats several feet.

PetChatz, one of several competing products, has a two-way camera that allows dogs and dog parents to see each other. In addition to treats, it dispenses aromatherapy. And the devices, which cost between $180 and $450, generate big bucks for their manufacturers.

Amino, left, and Lola relax at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

Amino, left, and Lola relax at home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

Consumers spent almost $50 million on dog cameras in 2018, according to Grand View Research. Amazon, whose CEO and founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, said Furbo was one of its top-selling smart home devices this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.

The cameras are just the latest form of human technology to crossover into the pet world. In the past decade, pet owners have outfitted their animals with activity trackers, swabbed their gums for DNA, and bought plenty of I-this, I-that products, such as the iFetch ball launcher.

What’s driving dog camera sales?

For one thing, it’s anxiety – for dogs and humans.

Up to 17 percent of dogs experience separation anxiety, and it’s not pretty.

“Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “When the guardian returns home, the dog acts as though it’s been years since he’s seen his mom or dad!”

A key holder for the Sosias family at their home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

A key holder for the Sosias family at their home in Gaithersburg, Md., on Jan. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn Hockstein

That’s the primary reason Bratt uses a Furbo. Jackson is cute, but when his parents and human siblings go AWOL for too long, things can go south real fast. He once ate a down jacket hanging on a chair, turning the kitchen into a winter wonderland. He has been known to find boxes of treats and consume them all.

Bratt has attempted to dissuade Jackson from this behavior by speaking with him sternly through her Furbo.

“It seems to make him a little confused,” Bratt said, though the mysterious appearance of her voice distracts him enough to reframe his activities. Usually.

Then there’s the dog owner anxiety.

“It’s been our experience from day one that there is mutual separation anxiety,” said Lisa Lavin, a Minnesota veterinarian and PetChatz CEO and founder. “People treat their pets as part of the family. They are pet parents, especially with dogs. So it’s like leaving their kids at home. They worry about them. They have more separation anxiety than the dog or that cat does.”

Lavin is not being hyperbolic. A 2019 study in the journal “Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience” reported “hormonal synchrony” between dogs and humans during extended periods of separation.

“The relationship between humans and domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) has undergone thousands of years of shared evolutionary history, likely tapping into similar neurobiological substrates for attachment,” the study said. “It is not surprising that domesticated dogs are able to elicit human caregiving responses.”

Especially in millennials.

“Aren’t we the ones who don’t have kids but we all have dogs that we treat like kids?” asked Andrea Sosias, 28, a teacher in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Yes.

“We are seeing this a lot,” Lavin said. “So pets are becoming an even bigger part of our family lives.”

Sosias was standing in the kitchen of her condo with her husband, Alex, 29, a strength coach, and their two enormous dogs, Lola and Amino, who were competing for attention with voracious sniffing and kisses. In the corner, near a tray table of liquor, a PetChatz was installed against the wall.

Andrea and her husband use it to check in on Lola and Amino when they aren’t home. As soon as the device dings that mommy or daddy has pressed a button on the smartphone app to check in, Lola and Amino go racing to the PetChatz.

“I guess they are like Pavlov’s dogs,” Alex said.

Yes.

In the couple’s previous home, a townhouse, the dogs were kept mostly crated. After moving to the condo, a friend bought them the PetChatz as a gift, and it gave them the comfort to try allowing Lola and Amino to roam free when they weren’t home.

“This was a pivotal transition for them accepting not having to be crated,” Alex said.

“And it was new location,” Andrea replied. “They were very anxious being here because they had only lived at the townhouse.”

Amino would pace. Every noise scared him.

“With the PetChatz, we could check in on them, see if they were OK,” Andrea said.

Alex’s opinion: “I honestly think a lot of it is that they realize they aren’t being ignored.”

Not only are Lola and Amino not being ignored, but they and other dogs under surveillance are becoming stars on social media, with dog-camera owners posting funny videos of their animals climbing on kitchen tables, rearranging pillows, running in circles, jumping out of playpens and chasing their tails (sometimes for hours).

And because dog parents can set their devices to notify them when their dog barks, Andrew Bleiman, Furbo’s general manager, said his company’s device had alerted parents to fires and burglaries.

“If you have a dog that doesn’t bark a lot and you’re getting a bunch of alerts about barks, you might want to check that out,” Bleiman said. “It’s almost like a tech advancement for a dog’s original purpose.”

Yes.

PetChatz has introduced interactive games that dogs can play with their owners simply by the dog pressing a paw-shaped button attached to the camera. Lavin said dogs motivated by food are highly motivated players.

The companies are also working to integrate the cameras with other smart home devices, so that, for instance, if the dog jingles a bell a smart door could open so they can let themselves out.

“And then we’d would record the whole thing,” Bleiman said.

The day might soon come when dogs could bark up their own music playlists.

Earlier this year, Spotify launched a website allowing users to create playlists for their animals based on mood, energy and personality. The goal: “a pawfect algorithmically generated playlist.”

Get it?

Pawfect.

Apple’s outlook cut revives questions about China over-reliance #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382367?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Apple’s outlook cut revives questions about China over-reliance

Feb 18. 2020
An Apple inc. logo is displayed at their store at Yorkdale mall in Toronto on Aug. 22, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Brent Lewin.

An Apple inc. logo is displayed at their store at Yorkdale mall in Toronto on Aug. 22, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Brent Lewin.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Mark Gurman, Debby Wu, Gao Yuan · BUSINESS, WORLD, TECHNOLOGY, US-GLOBAL-MARKETS, ASIA-PACIFIC

For the second time in as many years, Apple has had to temper its sales outlook because of unexpected shifts in China, the country that’s served as the engine of its growth and success.

First a trade war with the U.S. and now the outbreak of a novel coronavirus have called into question China’s role as a reliable market and supply chain partner for the world’s most valuable maker of consumer electronics.

The coronavirus that’s stifled China’s meticulously orchestrated production and logistics has hit both Apple’s supply and demand — factories are resuming work slower than expected, the company announced, and most of its 42 stores in the country lie dormant — illustrating how heavily exposed its business is to disruptions in the world’s most populous country. A fall in sales within China is likely to be the most immediate impact this quarter, while widespread production bottlenecks there risk hurting global iPhone revenue in subsequent months.

Amid its coronavirus troubles, Apple has been preparing to launch a new low-cost iPhone at around $400, Bloomberg News has reported. The model is still on track to launch in March, though the plans are still fluid, according to people familiar with the matter. Apple has also been preparing updated iPad Pro models with a new camera system for the first half of 2020 and the virus may yet impose delays or constraints on those plans.

Upon joining the company in the late 1990s, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook transformed Apple’s supply chain into the efficient juggernaut that’s been the longtime envy of the industry. Products are manufactured in China with the help of low-cost, but skilled, labor and shipped around the world in a matter of days. Relying on Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group to run on-the-ground operations and China’s abundant investment in transport to ensure logistics, Apple has become a trillion-dollar company largely by selling made-in-China iPhones, iPads, Macs and accessories.

Responsible for millions of jobs in the country, Cook’s Apple has also garnered enough goodwill with the Chinese government to gain access to its market that is unmatched among U.S. tech heavyweights. Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are looking in from the outside, whereas Apple can sell all of its gadgets there. The Cupertino, California firm brings in more than $40 billion per year from Greater China, shy only of its takings from the U.S. and Europe. This strength is also the source of Apple’s vulnerability.

On Monday, Apple cut its earnings guidance for the quarter ending Mar. 31, which was already wider than usual because of the unpredictability of the coronavirus fallout. U.S. stock index futures and shares in Apple suppliers from Japan to Hong Kong fell after the outlook warning kindled concerns about the damage the epidemic is causing global corporations and the Apple ecosystem. Last year, the company adjusted earnings because of a shortfall in iPhone demand in China, which it blamed in part on the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Production snarls at Apple’s main iPhone-making base of Zhengzhou may extend well into the June quarter and possibly beyond. Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. only started seasonal recruitment on Monday, weeks behind schedule, and it’s been severely hindered by new policies intended to curb the spread of Covid-19 on campus. One recruiter, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Bloomberg News that the company was only hiring new workers from the local Zhengzhou area, tightening restrictions and eliminating the vast majority of available labor pool.

Implementing a rolling quarantine of up to 14 days for returning workers from more distant provinces, Foxconn faces additional challenges in managing the movement of untold numbers of staff. In Shenzhen, as many as 10 workers are packed in each dorm room as they endure their assigned sequester period. The available beds are running short as a growing number of workers travel back, according to one person who helped arrange the program.

Virus contagion has shuttered plants across China for weeks longer than anticipated after the Lunar New Year break, and the nightmare scenario feared by Foxconn and its ilk is the infection spreading across factory floors, which could potentially freeze parts of the supply chain and trigger cascading shortages. Apple’s facilities have all reopened, said the U.S. firm, but evidence on the ground suggests they’re still far from fully operational.

Existing iPhone inventories at retailers will soften the immediate blow of slower manufacturing, but analysts anticipate worldwide shortages will follow, extending the impact of the present disruption.

“I expect we’re going to start seeing iPhone shortages outside of China, which plays into the guidance,” said Apple analyst Shannon Cross from Cross Research. “In theory, it shouldn’t be demand destructive. It should just mean there should be a larger backlog of demand when these issues are resolved.”

The immediate reaction to Apple’s forecast cut has been a drag on Asian tech shares, especially those of suppliers to the company. But some impact on Apple was already widely anticipated.

“We’ve been getting nothing but headlines about the virus for weeks. Starbucks is closing its stores, Caterpillar is shutting its facilities. Company after company has been saying this,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group, said by phone, expressing investor optimism for a fast turnaround. “We have been expecting bad sales headlines, this isn’t good, but it’s not surprising.”

Moving entirely out of China would be practically impossible for Apple in the short term, given the scale of its established network and the country’s incomparable ability to mobilize a workforce of millions. Similarly strong disruption threats to its supply chain arose in 2018 and 2019, largely spurred by trade war conflagrations, but Cook’s team has held steadfast in its commitment to the region and hasn’t shown any significant momentum toward a major move out.

“Apple’s supply chain in China is so tight and large, it would be difficult to replicate outside the region,” Cross said. “I think you’ll continue to see small expansions into India, but the vast majority of production will remain in China.”

Apple has indicated that its overall business is still strong, saying that it remained on track revenue-wise in regions outside of China for both products and services. The company is engaged in a long-term diversification shift that’s seen it pour billions of dollars into creating its own streaming content for Apple TV+ and building out subscription services like Apple Music and Apple Arcade. Its strongest step to reduce its China dependence to date has been this move to be less reliant on pure hardware sales for the bulk of its revenue.

Addressing the wider smartphone industry in China, Strategy Analytics this month projected a significant hit to shipments in the first half of 2020, to be followed by a recovery and a slight increase in shipments in the closing months of the year. If Apple follows a similar trajectory, it could see iPhone demand shift into later quarters rather than vanishing entirely.

“I think Apple remains in a very good position long-term,” Cross said. “I would assume there would be some pressure on the stock, but assuming this is a short term bump in the road, investors will look through it.”

Ring and Nest helped normalize American surveillance and turned us into a nation of voyeurs #ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย

Published February 19, 2020 by SoClaimon

#ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

https://www.nationthailand.com/edandtech/30382360?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral

Ring and Nest helped normalize American surveillance and turned us into a nation of voyeurs

Feb 18. 2020
By The Washington Post · Drew Harwell · BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY 

CAMERAS-PRIVACY : Margaret Cudia thought her Ring doorbell camera was “the best thing since sliced bread.” She loved watching the world pass by through her suburban New Jersey neighborhood, guarding vigilantly for suspicious strangers and porch pirates from the comfort of her phone.

She hadn’t expected the camera also might capture awkward moments closer to home, like the time it caught her daughter grabbing a beer and talking about how controlling her mother was. “I never told her about that one,” she said with a laugh.

Amazon’s Ring, Google’s Nest and other Internet-connected cameras – some selling for as little as $59 – have given Americans the tools they need to become a personal security force, and millions of people now seeing what’s happening around their home every second – what Ring calls the “new neighborhood watch.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

But the allure of monitoring people silently from afar has also proved more tempting than many expected. Customers who bought the cameras in hopes of not becoming victims joke that instead they’ve become voyeurs.

The Washington Post surveyed more than 50 owners of in-home and outdoor camera systems across the United States about how the recording devices had reshaped their daily lives. Most of those who responded to online solicitations about their camera use said they had bought the cameras to check on package deliveries and their pets, and many talked glowingly about what they got in return: security, entertainment, peace of mind. Some said they worried about hackers, snoops or spies.

But in the unscientific survey, most people also replied that they were fine with intimate new levels of surveillance – as long as they were the ones who got to watch.

They analyzed their neighbors. They monitored their kids and house guests. And they judged the performance of housekeepers, babysitters and other domestic workers, often without letting them know they were being recorded. “I know maybe I should” tell them, one woman explained, “but they won’t be as candid.”

Ring and Nest representatives said they had recently implemented new privacy and security measures to help protect customers’ accounts and that they encourage new users to make it clear that the cameras can record at any time. Ring’s installation guide suggests customers use stickers or signs to “let visitors know that your home is under audio/video surveillance by a Ring device.”

But the cameras’ offering of secretive observation, some customers told The Post, often felt too enticing to ignore. Mari Gianati, whose Nest cameras watch over her waterfront home in Puerto Rico, said she uses the cameras to examine the housekeepers, the pool guy, the fumigator, the people who feed her birds and any strangers who pass by her private road, most of whom she said don’t know the cameras are there.

“I have to admit: Sometimes I just watch,” she said. Once she looked on for hours as her sister argued with workers over a delivery of damaged furniture. “Thank goodness I had WiFi!” she said.

All that added vigilance has come at a cost. Hackers have peered into children’s bedrooms. Police officers have asked homeowners for video of their neighbors. And families have had to reckon with the delicate new bounds of home privacy – including one woman who didn’t realize that her lovemaking with her husband had been caught on camera until it was too late.

But most people said those concerns weren’t enough to persuade them to turn off their cameras. Device sales have surged in recent years amid falling prices and rising public acceptance: The companies won’t give full sales figures, but they say millions of cameras now are online nationwide. Ring said in November that its doorbell cameras were dinged more than 15 million times on Halloween, nearly double the previous year.

Matthew Guariglia, an analyst for the online-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the rush of new home cameras threatened to make the problems of widespread surveillance – the chilling of free speech, the erosion of privacy – that much more intimate and inescapable.

“Who hasn’t looked out and watched other people through their peephole? There’s a kind of morbid fascination to it,” he said. “The problem is when it’s not just you behind a peephole but a camera that’s on at all times, saving to a cloud you don’t control.”

No gadget since the smartphone has so quickly normalized personal surveillance. The motion-detecting cameras can be bought for as little as $59 and come in a range of styles, from outdoor units with sirens and floodlights to battery-powered “stick-up cams” that can be placed virtually anywhere. Owners can watch the cameras live or save the videos for a few dollars a month.

Some cities offer rebate and voucher programs for the cameras in hopes that more surveillance footage will make crimes easier to solve. The cameras have also become popular Christmas gifts, and Google and Amazon have advertised them around the holidays with hashtags like #CaughtOnNestCam and #AlwaysHome. (In December, Ring also sold festive holiday camera faceplates.)

The extra eyes have been a huge gift to American law enforcement. Ring lets police officers use a special tool to ask customers for videos captured in and around their houses, and the number of police agencies with access has more than doubled since September, to nearly 900 agencies across 44 states, a Post analysis found. “Ring believes when communities and local police work together, safer neighborhoods can become a reality,” Ring spokeswoman Yassi Shahmiri said in a statement.

Privacy advocates have called the Ring-police partnerships an unnerving escalation of criminal surveillance powers. But nearly every Ring owner contacted by The Post said they would have no problem providing video to law enforcement if it could help solve a crime. Police and prosecutors last month pushed to use Ring doorbell footage in a Texas murder investigation and a New Hampshire assault trial.

Some homeowners said they had already tried be police informants, logging in several times a day to Ring’s companion app, Neighbors, in which people can share video of break-ins, lost dogs and seemingly unsavory characters.

By tallying up neighborhood reports of suspicion and uncertainty, the social network can also turn harmless moments – the kind most people would have been blissfully ignorant of – into signs of danger or sources of dread.

That heightened level of suburban surveillance has also triggered some false alarms. One man labeled a “Suspicious Male” on Neighbors because he stepped onto a Boston porch later defended himself by saying he had been reminiscing about his old house. “I used to play with my dog in the backyard,” he said, according to a Boston Magazine story. (Perhaps to lighten the mood, Ring this month unveiled a new category for Neighbors app users wanting to share recorded acts of kindness: “Neighborly Moments.”)

Some customers said the cameras had sparked conversations within their families about trust and privacy in a new surveillance age, often with answers they would rather have gone unsaid. After Rik Eberhardt set up a Nest camera inside his home in the Boston suburbs, he found it increasingly awkward being reminded of every late-night trip he or his wife took to the kitchen. “I started feeling like: What am I even using this for?” he said. (He has since aimed the camera at his cats’ food bowls.)

Others said they were growing exhausted from the hyper-vigilance the cameras seemed to demand. The motion-activated devices can send alerts whenever someone walks by and also can be triggered by the movement of cars, dogs, squirrels and windblown trees, leading some customers to feel startled or under siege.

Several customers offered tales of strange noises, bizarre whispers and ghostly apparitions: One mother said she worried her toddler’s nightmares might have been caused by the unblinking camera in his room. The mortal realm has not always appreciated being recorded, either. One apartment dweller who said he used his Ring camera to record people littering at the community mailbox was told by his landlords to knock it off.

Molly Snyder, an education blogger and mother of three in the suburbs outside Columbus, Ohio, said videos from Ring doorbells and other home cameras had become the biggest source of conversation and outrage in her neighborhood Facebook group.

“There’s never video of porch pirates or criminals. It’s all what we’re doing to each other, or what the mailman is doing to frustrate our day,” she said. The postal worker’s biggest transgression, she said, is not pulling all the way to the side of the road when delivering packages: “People capture that on video, and there’s always a lot of rage commenting, with everybody dumping on the mailman,” she said.

Her neighbors, she said, regularly post videos of children walking down the street alongside comments like, “Whose kids are these?” They don’t look like they’re doing anything wrong – a typical breach involves taking a shortcut through someone’s lawn – but her children told her they knew of kids who had gotten in trouble after video was posted of them hitting a tree with a stick.

“We’re not a neighborhood that’s unsafe. We’re also not a neighborhood where people spend a lot of time outside, interacting with each other,” she said. “So we turn our Rings on and start dissecting all the children. Shouldn’t we be encouraging each other to go outside, say hello and not just get alerts that you’re walking past?”

This ability to see into homes has already been weaponized: Hackers have used the camera systems to shout racist slurs at an 8-year-old girl in Mississippi and a 15-year-old boy in Florida; spew sexual expletives and kidnapping threats at a 4-month-old baby in Texas; and broadcast pornography into the bedroom of a 2-year-old girl in California.

Tania Amador, a teacher’s aide in Texas who used her Ring camera to coo at her cancer-stricken bulldog, shared video with The Post showing a hacker laughing as he blasted a deafening siren through her living room while she and her boyfriend hid just out of view. She is suing the company, arguing its lax security controls left her open to abuse.

Shahmiri, the Ring spokeswoman, declined to comment on the ongoing case but said Ring’s network had not been compromised. In some cases, Ring has argued that hackers used log-in details stolen from other sites; Amador said she had used a unique, 14-character password and had no idea how her cameras had been breached.

“It felt like a nightmare,” she said. “Even now, it’s tough to deal with the fact that we may have been watched for a while without knowing. What if the hacker (was) smart enough just to be quiet and watch?”

Beyond outright hacks, the systems’ technical errors have reminded users of how creepy the glitches can be. The owner of a Google Nest video screen saw footage recorded inside other people’s homes, including a close-up of a baby sleeping in a crib. Google said the issue was the fault of the camera maker, the Chinese tech firm Xiaomi, and temporarily disabled some links to the devices.

The potential for mayhem has led some camera lovers to rethink their everyday use. Keith Keber said he liked using the cameras around his home in suburban Washington state to watch the hummingbirds and talk to his cats. But after his cameras’ maker, Wyze Labs, announced in December that it had suffered a data breach, he has been unplugging his cameras and leaving them in a drawer. “All these Internet-of-things devices, they’re portals,” he said, “not just to look out but to look in.”

Some customers also voiced anxiety over who might have access to their in-home feeds. An Amazon executive told senators last month that Ring had fired employees following four complaints that they had abused access to customers’ video data; the company has declined to provide further detail. Criticism of the systems has also come from inside the companies: Amazon software engineer Max Eliaser wrote last month that the mass deployment of Internet-connected cameras was “simply not compatible with a free society.”

“Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back,” he wrote. “The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation, and there is no balance that can be struck.”

Despite privacy concerns, some customers said the cameras are a unique way to keep track of their families. One woman said she had installed cameras from Nest and the Chinese tech company Yi Technology to monitor her three children, ages 3 and younger, when they are alone in their rooms.

But other camera owners said they would never dream of installing the systems inside. Catherine, a 58-year-old Florida snowbird who uses Blink cameras to watch her home in Minnesota and who requested to use only her first name, said the cameras have become so easy to turn on that many people don’t really think about what’s at stake. Parents who installed cameras in kids’ rooms, she said, might end up depriving them of the privacy they need to grow into independent adults.

“We’re all getting too paranoid. Everybody thinks they’re going to be the next victim. And it’s set into us this mentality that we have to watch everything and everybody,” she said. “They think, ‘If I put all these cameras up, I’ll be safe.’ Safe from what? . . . It’s only making them more afraid.”

%d bloggers like this: