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Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Article 6 - Internet gaming

I remember programming my first game using a teletype and punch tape for storage around 1977. It was a computer version of the then popular Mastermind game and ran on a computer that filled a large room and required a dedicated staff of people to keep it going. Today, a hand held smart phone has more power and significantly more memory capacity than this venerable relic. A few years later, as I carried out post-graduate study into the uses of Artificial Intelligence, the height of research included developing software versions of the game of chess. One interesting program, called ELIZA, sought to simulate a Rogerian psychotherapist. ELIZA mostly rephrased the user's statements as questions and posed those to the ‘patient’. For example, ELIZA might respond to "My head hurts" with "Why do you say your head hurts?" The response to "My mother hates me" would be "Who else in your family hates you?"

Ping Pong

In the mid 70s, games started appearing for the home, the most memorable of which was the game of PONG, a computer version of ping-pong. Things developed rapidly and were spurred along with advances such as the Sinclair ZX80 and later the Spectrum computers. By the mid 80s, games were gaining a real entry into people’s homes with some 20,000 titles (mostly games) having been released for the Spectrum. Some concern was already being expressed about the time that children were spending playing computer games, though, at the time, other non computer games such as Dungeon and Dragons were still just as popular, and no less controversial. The concern was not only with the depiction of witchcraft in such games, but also with role-playing described as games “in which the protagonists create and control the actions of a cast of characters”[2].

30 years later, gaming technology has progressed beyond recognition...

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Part 5 - Google knows everything

You may have heard the saying that ‘Google knows everything’. What this generally means is that using the Google search engine, almost all knowledge is accessible on the Internet. But have you ever considered how companies use the Internet to market and sell products, including dubious practices such as ‘viral marketing’. You will be surprised by how much they know about you. Not only does Google (and other search engines) know a great deal about the Internet, they also know a lot about you...
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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Part 4 - Pornography

In the last 3 articles, we have considered aspects of the Internet that can have both positive and negative ramifications. Sadly, there is no escaping the subject that we now need to consider. There are no positive benefits, only sinful, dark, negative and life destroying ones. No one who has an email account or browsed the Internet for more than a few minutes can have escaped the intrusive darkness that this sin and money driven industry has cast.

Pornography ruins lives
Let’s make no mistake about it, this evil is all about money. The online pornography industry generates some $10B (roughly £6B) per year. It is a vicious and deeply addictive industry, taking advantage of our sinful desires, preying on the weak, and destroying lives. 
‘J’, a 26 year old man addicted to Internet pornography says:
“I go to work, I go to school, and I spend time with my family.  The people around me don’t know that I’m a shell of a person.  They don’t have a clue that I don’t feel my life is worth living… I grew more and more consumed by looking at pornography on the internet for hours on end… I grew more and more angry at the world… There’s no way to undo it now.  The only thing that numbs the pain digs me that much deeper into the hole… I have ruined my life, and I did it one day at a time as I sat down in front of my computer yet again.” 
Responding to ‘J’, Max says:
“What a sad story. I can feel his pain right now. I was a porn addict myself. I know how destructive this thing is. It doesn't let you think of anything, it breaks you slowly mentally and physically. Porn addicts find no interest in anything, they don't even like to be social, the world becomes a hell for them. This feeling takes them to depression - you stop believing in yourself, you feel like a criminal all of the time. In short it just destroys your life.”
Pornographic is easily found on the Internet. Here are a few statistics:
  • There are 4.2 million websites (12% of total websites). 
  • Every day, 1 in 4 search requests (68 million) and 2.5 billion emails (8% of total emails or 4.5 for every Internet user) are about pornography. 
  • The average age of first exposure to Internet porn is 11.
  • 90% of 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online mostly while doing homework...
...Click here to read complete article...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Part 3 - The Social Network revolution

In Feb 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that Kimberly Swann, a 16 year old from Clacton, posted on Facebook that she thought her job was boring. She was called into her manager's office and handed a letter that cited her Facebook comments as the reason for dismissal:

"Following your comments made on Facebook about your job and the company we feel it is better that, as you are not happy and do not enjoy your work we end your employment with immediate effect."
Unbecoming Behaviour

Stacy Snyder wanted to be a teacher. By the spring of 2006, the 25-year old single mother had completed her course and was looking forward to her future career. Then her dream died. Summoned by university officials, she was told she would not be a teacher, because she had posted a photo on the Internet showing her in costume wearing a pirate’s hat and drinking from a plastic cup. This was deemed to be behaviour unbecoming of a teacher. Stacy considered taking the photo offline. But the damage was done. Her web page had been catalogued by search engines, and her photo archived by web crawlers. The Internet remembered what Stacy wanted to have forgotten.

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Friday, 12 February 2010

Part 2 - Communicating with Internet technology

In this article we consider the whole issue of communication, from email to text, Twitter and Skype. This is an area that is fraught with real and deeply troubling dangers but, when used wisely, can bring about immense benefits to individuals and organizations.
Driving while intexticated…
In 2007 Brandi Terry, a 17-year old schoolgirl who lives in the US state of Utah, was on her way to visit her grandfather when she drove through a red light and crashed. In a radio interview [i] she recalls what happened: "I woke up to a bright light -- I could barely open my eyes -- and paramedics. This man was saying 'Brandi, Brandi,' and I just started crying. I didn't know what had happened". Terry had shattered her right ankle and broken her upper right arm in half. She couldn't walk for six months. When police checked her phone they discovered that she had sent a text within seconds of the accident. Even after recovery, she went on to say of her habit of texting while driving: "I tried really, really hard not to. Then it got to the point where I would do it only once every 5 minutes" she says. "I don't know -- it's just so addicting, I just can't put it down." So why did she do it?

Part 1 - Overview

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Internet has become an indispensible part of modern business life. Not only is it a business tool, it also reaches many homes both in the UK and across the world. In Europe 390 million people have access to the Internet in their homes – roughly half of the population. In the UK that number rises to nearly 71% of households, and 74% in North America. Across the world, an estimated 1 billion people now have access to the Internet. Put differently, something close to one sixth of the world’s population potentially have access to anything that is posted on a web page.
What’s the problem?
So what’s the problem you may ask?
In March 2008, British psychologist Dr Tanya Byron published the result of a government commissioned study (the Byron Report) that was tasked to “undertake a review of the evidence on risks to children’s safety and wellbeing of exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the internet … and to make recommendations for improvements or additional action”. The report concluded that “the Internet cannot be made completely safe”.