Month: April 2016

Hollywood & Biometrics

svHollywood has surely amazed its audience through its film varieties. The use of technology and effects has always been a USP of many Hollywood films. But we are not going to discuss all of it; rather we would touch the simple aspect, the use of biometric technology in films. Also, in this post we would discuss the privacy issues related to celebrities and biometrics.

Many crime, sci-fi, and action films use the technology to create visuals. But one fact that you shall know is that Hollywood always portrays Biometrics the wrong way, at least most of the time.

Here’s how:

Police want to find a terrorist/criminal on the loose. They get information that he/she is in a crowded market. So they quickly use facial recognition system over the market’s CCTV footage to identify the person. In reality, facial recognition doesn’t work that fast. It works based on some algorithms and could only be used to match separate pictures like passport, or ID card.

Secondly, identifying a dead person’s face through a photograph is not that easy as his/her eyes are usually shut. Many biometric systems won’t start monitoring without eyes. And for several other reasons like light conditions, moving angles, distances, hairstyles, etc. finding a match is tough.

Remember, James Bond or Jason Bourne using somebody else’s fake fingerprints to scan through the machine and gain access to whatever they seek? Well, in reality, such fakes could be easily identified by the machine. Getting access to a print or dismembered finger doesn’t let you gain entry as biometric machines are too smart for that. Plus, these agents do have a busy day in the field, with the possibility that their hands might be dirty or cut, such flaws, the machine could easily detect. If the authentication is wrong, the machine would ask for all finger-scanning, enough time for the crooks to catch our hero/heroine.

Iris recognition is superb and precise but its portrayal in films is not-so-accurate. The scanners are powerful enough to scan eyes within split seconds and from 5-feet away. But in films, the actors have to first stand, and then place their eye and then wait till the scanner scans the whole eye.

Secondly, many spies and agents carry an eyeball like Tom Cruise used to carry in Minority Report. Eyeballs are very tender and could easily lose shape thereby falsifying the authentication.

Privacy

As the entertainment and showbiz industry grows, celebrities’ privacy risks grow equally. Once face becomes utterly important. Apps could now scan a celebrity’s image from TV to give the celebrity’s name.

Insurance companies take actors body scans in case they die during production. Hence, studios could license the scanned face and paste it in a digital doll with another actor’s movement affecting the original actor’s privacy and confidence. This trend is hardly seen but we all know how fast technology spreads!

In conclusion, we all want to ignore the reality as we sit inside a theatre to enjoy our film? Things like technology, even though incorrect, appeals audience’s eyes thereby letting them not to think about the details which is fine. But our job’s to share information and so we did.

Government Is Allowed To Spy On You Without Your Knowledge – Why?

vIt seems that our government is allowed to spy on us citizens for nearly any reason they can come up with, and yet, we are not allowed to go behind their closed doors and see what our elected representatives are up to? Hmm, what about fairness I ask?

There was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal not long ago; “Judge Sides With Technology Firms in Case Over Justice Department’s Gag Orders – Judge denies 15 government applications for gag orders against service providers, ruling they lacked enough information,” written by Joe Palazzolo and Devlin Barrett – published on May 13, 2016 which stated:

“A Brooklyn magistrate judge has rejected the Justice Department’s practice of getting gag orders against technology companies, saying federal agents should have to give a specific reason why customers of Facebook and other firms shouldn’t be told when the government searches their data.”

Oh and it gets worse, consider this; if our government has all your information and shares it with other governments around the world, which it does, as we have international and inter-agency spy deals. Thus if these other governments and our government are routinely hacked – then anyone and everyone can potentially have your data. See that point? If everything you do in the world is now non-private as you are forced to surrender your information or they will just take it and give it away or leak it, then shouldn’t all governments and all leaders here and abroad be a totally open book for all to see?

After all, what’s fair is fair. And, this would get rid of any conspiracy theories too, as if all governments, political leaders and international groups were transparent then we’d have a level playing field where The People and the Government were equal, and in the USA since we are the government and we are supposed to be one, why not one set of rules for both? Yes, this is probably a mental masturbation philosophical conundrum, however, I dare to ask; What If?

That is to say, what if everything were out in the open for all sides?

Perhaps this is not such a silly question to pose as we move forward into the future?

What say you? Can you imagine such a future? Could it ever come to fruition? What would be the positives and negatives if it actually did?

Okay so, I will leave you with this thought today – please think on it.

 

Business Process Management Vs Value Creation Automation

sAutomation has become the next big thing in the information technology sector. Businesses all over are implementing automation models to manage workflow processes and increase efficiency. Among some of the leading automation structures, Business Process Management (BPM) has emerged as a popular choice by vendors. The discipline comprises of a unique combination of automation modelling, execution and control which are geared towards enabling a company to run more effectively.

But the road to success for BPM models has been far from easy. In fact, the rise of Business Process Management is nearing an end. According to a research conducted by Aberdeen Group in 2007, Business Process Management solutions have been a tough challenge for most companies. Some of the reasons behind the unpopularity of BPM solutions have been listed below:

Gap between BPM and People

To make any technology succeed in an organization, the right mind-set and organizational culture is required. One of the top challenges faced by executives implementing Business Process Management models was the inability to bring people on board with the new idea. The report stated that companies lacked a clear vision and roadmap for attaining business goals. Organizational members felt disconnected with the system and were unwilling to take control.

BPM limits innovation

Business Process Management programs can be harmful in some business structures where innovation is necessary. The idea of business evolution has gained momentum in recent decades due to increasing market competition. Businesses must be able to innovate and evolve with rapidly changing market trends in order to succeed. Business Process Management solutions tend to limit the amount of change a business can make in its processes. A research conducted by Brenner and Tushman revealed that a business with a BPM structure is more likely to fail if it does not innovate as compared to a business functioning without a BPM model.

Gap between process execution and process design

The Business Process Management lifecycle is diversely fragmented and lacks standards. Typically, a process will be broken down into different steps which require the usage of multiple BPM tools. To explain this further in simple words, it would be correct to state that the tools required for designing the process cannot be used to execute the process which can create a costly gap.

Lack of technical support

Many organizations have complained of the lack of technical support available for BPM models. Many vendors are unable to provide tools needed to address issues of the system. Since Business Process Management has become a broad area of recurring development, the lack of tool support has generated issues regarding inflexibility and process visualization.

Value Creation Automation: The New Approach

While the market for BPM solutions is in decline, Value Creation Automation is gaining momentum with its unique approach. Value Creation Automation is targeting a diverse set of industries, promising business leaders the key to unleashing maximum potential with technology.

Value Creation Automation is not a mixture of automated tools or components, rather it is single-structured technological framework which optimize business processes in a holistic manner. Superior interconnectivity and enhanced value delivery are key functioning aspects of this automation solution which enable businesses to scale robustly.

But all these fancy words have been used to promote BPMs, ERPs and other automation programs. So what truly makes Value Creation Automation different?

Integration management

The solution integrates all aspects of business functioning into a single holistic framework. Every activity and process is interconnected with each other to ensure maximum control.

Cost and Time Management

All activities and processes are measured against strict time and cost parameters by Value Creation Automation. Once a process is initiated, managers do not have to worry about measuring the time or the budget allocated. All process parameters and targets are displayed in real-time on screens for viewing purposes.

Value chain

“Value” is founding concept of Value Creation Automation. The primary purpose of VCA is to implement a value generating process flow which eliminates any non-value adding activity.

Lean and Six Sigma approach

The implementation of lean and six sigma has revolutionized industries to a whole new level. However, automated implementation of these principles is yet to materialize. Value Creation Automation instills Lean and Six Sigma at process and managerial level for maximum waste removal and increased productivity.

These are just a few of the reasons why Value Creation Automation is making its mark on the industry and moving ahead of competitors. If you don’t automate your business processes now, you will be left behind.

For more detail about Value Creation Automation, visit the official web page of Cordis Technology.

 

Impacts of Information Technology on Society in the New Century

cIn the past few decades there has been a revolution in computing and communications, and all indications are that technological progress and use of information technology will continue at a rapid pace. Accompanying and supporting the dramatic increases in the power and use of new information technologies has been the declining cost of communications as a result of both technological improvements and increased competition. According to Moore’s law the processing power of microchips is doubling every 18 months. These advances present many significant opportunities but also pose major challenges. Today, innovations in information technology are having wide-ranging effects across numerous domains of society, and policy makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual property rights, privacy protection, and affordability of and access to information. Choices made now will have long lasting consequences, and attention must be paid to their social and economic impacts.

One of the most significant outcomes of the progress of information technology is probably electronic commerce over the Internet, a new way of conducting business. Though only a few years old, it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment. Already, it affects such large sectors as communications, finance and retail trade and might expand to areas such as education and health services. It implies the seamless application of information and communication technology along the entire value chain of a business that is conducted electronically.

The impacts of information technology and electronic commerce on business models, commerce, market structure, workplace, labour market, education, private life and society as a whole.

1. Business Models, Commerce and Market Structure

One important way in which information technology is affecting work is by reducing the importance of distance. In many industries, the geographic distribution of work is changing significantly. For instance, some software firms have found that they can overcome the tight local market for software engineers by sending projects to India or other nations where the wages are much lower. Furthermore, such arrangements can take advantage of the time differences so that critical projects can be worked on nearly around the clock. Firms can outsource their manufacturing to other nations and rely on telecommunications to keep marketing, R&D, and distribution teams in close contact with the manufacturing groups. Thus the technology can enable a finer division of labour among countries, which in turn affects the relative demand for various skills in each nation. The technology enables various types of work and employment to be decoupled from one another. Firms have greater freedom to locate their economic activities, creating greater competition among regions in infrastructure, labour, capital, and other resource markets. It also opens the door for regulatory arbitrage: firms can increasingly choose which tax authority and other regulations apply.

Computers and communication technologies also promote more market-like forms of production and distribution. An infrastructure of computing and communication technology, providing 24-hour access at low cost to almost any kind of price and product information desired by buyers, will reduce the informational barriers to efficient market operation. This infrastructure might also provide the means for effecting real-time transactions and make intermediaries such as sales clerks, stock brokers and travel agents, whose function is to provide an essential information link between buyers and sellers, redundant. Removal of intermediaries would reduce the costs in the production and distribution value chain. The information technologies have facilitated the evolution of enhanced mail order retailing, in which goods can be ordered quickly by using telephones or computer networks and then dispatched by suppliers through integrated transport companies that rely extensively on computers and communication technologies to control their operations. Nonphysical goods, such as software, can be shipped electronically, eliminating the entire transport channel. Payments can be done in new ways. The result is disintermediation throughout the distribution channel, with cost reduction, lower end-consumer prices, and higher profit margins.

The impact of information technology on the firms’ cost structure can be best illustrated on the electronic commerce example. The key areas of cost reduction when carrying out a sale via electronic commerce rather than in a traditional store involve physical establishment, order placement and execution, customer support, strong, inventory carrying, and distribution. Although setting up and maintaining an e-commerce web site might be expensive, it is certainly less expensive to maintain such a storefront than a physical one because it is always open, can be accessed by millions around the globe, and has few variable costs, so that it can scale up to meet the demand. By maintaining one ‘store’ instead of several, duplicate inventory costs are eliminated. In addition, e-commerce is very effective at reducing the costs of attracting new customers, because advertising is typically cheaper than for other media and more targeted. Moreover, the electronic interface allows e-commerce merchants to check that an order is internally consistent and that the order, receipt, and invoice match. Through e-commerce, firms are able to move much of their customer support on line so that customers can access databases or manuals directly. This significantly cuts costs while generally improving the quality of service. E-commerce shops require far fewer, but high-skilled, employees. E-commerce also permits savings in inventory carrying costs. The faster the input can be ordered and delivered, the less the need for a large inventory. The impact on costs associated with decreased inventories is most pronounced in industries where the product has a limited shelf life (e.g. bananas), is subject to fast technological obsolescence or price declines (e.g. computers), or where there is a rapid flow of new products (e.g. books, music). Although shipping costs can increase the cost of many products purchased via electronic commerce and add substantially to the final price, distribution costs are significantly reduced for digital products such as financial services, software, and travel, which are important e-commerce segments.

Although electronic commerce causes the disintermediation of some intermediaries, it creates greater dependency on others and also some entirely new intermediary functions. Among the intermediary services that could add costs to e-commerce transactions are advertising, secure online payment, and delivery. The relative ease of becoming an e-commerce merchant and setting up stores results in such a huge number of offerings that consumers can easily be overwhelmed. This increases the importance of using advertising to establish a brand name and thus generate consumer familiarity and trust. For new e-commerce start-ups, this process can be expensive and represents a significant transaction cost. The openness, global reach, and lack of physical clues that are inherent characteristics of e-commerce also make it vulnerable to fraud and thus increase certain costs for e-commerce merchants as compared to traditional stores. New techniques are being developed to protect the use of credit cards in e-commerce transactions, but the need for greater security and user verification leads to increased costs. A key feature of e-commerce is the convenience of having purchases delivered directly. In the case of tangibles, such as books, this incurs delivery costs, which cause prices to rise in most cases, thereby negating many of the savings associated with e-commerce and substantially adding to transaction costs.

With the Internet, e-commerce is rapidly expanding into a fast-moving, open global market with an ever-increasing number of participants. The open and global nature of e-commerce is likely to increase market size and change market structure, both in terms of the number and size of players and the way in which players compete on international markets. Digitized products can cross the border in real time, consumers can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and firms are increasingly faced with international online competition. The Internet is helping to enlarge existing markets by cutting through many of the distribution and marketing barriers that can prevent firms from gaining access to foreign markets. E-commerce lowers information and transaction costs for operating on overseas markets and provides a cheap and efficient way to strengthen customer-supplier relations. It also encourages companies to develop innovative ways of advertising, delivering and supporting their product and services. While e-commerce on the Internet offers the potential for global markets, certain factors, such as language, transport costs, local reputation, as well as differences in the cost and ease of access to networks, attenuate this potential to a greater or lesser extent.

2. Workplace and Labour Market

Computers and communication technologies allow individuals to communicate with one another in ways complementary to traditional face-to-face, telephonic, and written modes. They enable collaborative work involving distributed communities of actors who seldom, if ever, meet physically. These technologies utilize communication infrastructures that are both global and always up, thus enabling 24-hour activity and asynchronous as well as synchronous interactions among individuals, groups, and organizations. Social interaction in organizations will be affected by use of computers and communication technologies. Peer-to-peer relations across department lines will be enhanced through sharing of information and coordination of activities. Interaction between superiors and subordinates will become more tense because of social control issues raised by the use of computerized monitoring systems, but on the other hand, the use of e-mail will lower the barriers to communications across different status levels, resulting in more uninhibited communications between supervisor and subordinates.

That the importance of distance will be reduced by computers and communication technology also favours telecommuting, and thus, has implications for the residence patterns of the citizens. As workers find that they can do most of their work at home rather than in a centralized workplace, the demand for homes in climatically and physically attractive regions would increase. The consequences of such a shift in employment from the suburbs to more remote areas would be profound. Property values would rise in the favoured destinations and fall in the suburbs. Rural, historical, or charming aspects of life and the environment in the newly attractive areas would be threatened. Since most telecommuters would be among the better educated and higher paid, the demand in these areas for high-income and high-status services like gourmet restaurants and clothing boutiques would increase. Also would there be an expansion of services of all types, creating and expanding job opportunities for the local population.

By reducing the fixed cost of employment, widespread telecommuting should make it easier for individuals to work on flexible schedules, to work part time, to share jobs, or to hold two or more jobs simultaneously. Since changing employers would not necessarily require changing one’s place of residence, telecommuting should increase job mobility and speed career advancement. This increased flexibility might also reduce job stress and increase job satisfaction. Since job stress is a major factor governing health there may be additional benefits in the form of reduced health costs and mortality rates. On the other hand one might also argue that technologies, by expanding the number of different tasks that are expected of workers and the array of skills needed to perform these tasks, might speed up work and increase the level of stress and time pressure on workers.

A question that is more difficult to be answered is about the impacts that computers and communications might have on employment. The ability of computers and communications to perform routine tasks such as bookkeeping more rapidly than humans leads to concern that people will be replaced by computers and communications. The response to this argument is that even if computers and communications lead to the elimination of some workers, other jobs will be created, particularly for computer professionals, and that growth in output will increase overall employment. It is more likely that computers and communications will lead to changes in the types of workers needed for different occupations rather than to changes in total employment.

A number of industries are affected by electronic commerce. The distribution sector is directly affected, as e-commerce is a way of supplying and delivering goods and services. Other industries, indirectly affected, are those related to information and communication technology (the infrastructure that enables e-commerce), content-related industries (entertainment, software), transactions-related industries (financial sector, advertising, travel, transport). eCommerce might also create new markets or extend market reach beyond traditional borders. Enlarging the market will have a positive effect on jobs. Another important issue relates to inter linkages among activities affected by e-commerce. Expenditure for e-commerce-related intermediate goods and services will create jobs indirectly, on the basis of the volume of electronic transactions and their effect on prices, costs and productivity. The convergence of media, telecommunication and computing technologies is creating a new integrated supply chain for the production and delivery of multimedia and information content. Most of the employment related to e-commerce around the content industries and communication infrastructure such as the Internet.

Jobs are both created and destroyed by technology, trade, and organizational change. These processes also underlie changes in the skill composition of employment. Beyond the net employment gains or losses brought about by these factors, it is apparent that workers with different skill levels will be affected differently. E-commerce is certainly driving the demand for IT professionals but it also requires IT expertise to be coupled with strong business application skills, thereby generating demand for a flexible, multi-skilled work force. There is a growing need for increased integration of Internet front-end applications with enterprise operations, applications and back-end databases. Many of the IT skill requirements needed for Internet support can be met by low-paid IT workers who can deal with the organizational services needed for basic web page programming. However, wide area networks, competitive web sites, and complex network applications require much more skill than a platform-specific IT job. Since the skills required for e-commerce are rare and in high demand, e-commerce might accelerate the up skilling trend in many countries by requiring high-skilled computer scientists to replace low-skilled information clerks, cashiers and market salespersons.

3. Education

Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects. Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects.

Although distance learning has existed for some time, the Internet makes possible a large expansion in coverage and better delivery of instruction. Text can be combined with audio/ video, and students can interact in real time via e-mail and discussion groups. Such technical improvements coincide with a general demand for retraining by those who, due to work and family demands, cannot attend traditional courses. Distance learning via the Internet is likely to complement existing schools for children and university students, but it could have more of a substitution effect for continuing education programmes. For some degree programmes, high-prestige institutions could use their reputation to attract students who would otherwise attend a local facility. Owing to the Internet’s ease of access and convenience for distance learning, overall demand for such programmes will probably expand, leading to growth in this segment of e-commerce.

As shown in the previous section, high level skills are vital in a technology-based and knowledge intensive economy. Changes associated with rapid technological advances in industry have made continual upgrading of professional skills an economic necessity. The goal of lifelong learning can only be accomplished by reinforcing and adapting existing systems of learning, both in public and private sectors. The demand for education and training concerns the full range of modern technology. Information technologies are uniquely capable of providing ways to meet this demand. Online training via the Internet ranges from accessing self-study courses to complete electronic classrooms. These computer-based training programmes provide flexibility in skills acquisition and are more affordable and relevant than more traditional seminars and courses.

4. Private Life and Society

Increasing representation of a wide variety of content in digital form results in easier and cheaper duplication and distribution of information. This has a mixed effect on the provision of content. On the one hand, content can be distributed at a lower unit cost. On the other hand, distribution of content outside of channels that respect intellectual property rights can reduce the incentives of creators and distributors to produce and make content available in the first place. Information technology raises a host of questions about intellectual property protection and new tools and regulations have to be developed in order to solve this problem.

Many issues also surround free speech and regulation of content on the Internet, and there continue to be calls for mechanisms to control objectionable content. However it is very difficult to find a sensible solution. Dealing with indecent material involves understanding not only the views on such topics but also their evolution over time. Furthermore, the same technology that allows for content altering with respect to decency can be used to filter political speech and to restrict access to political material. Thus, if censorship does not appear to be an option, a possible solution might be labelling. The idea is that consumers will be better informed in their decisions to avoid objectionable content.

The rapid increase in computing and communications power has raised considerable concern about privacy both in the public and private sector. Decreases in the cost of data storage and information processing make it likely that it will become practicable for both government and private data-mining enterprises to collect detailed dossiers on all citizens. Nobody knows who currently collects data about individuals, how this data is used and shared or how this data might be misused. These concerns lower the consumers’ trust in online institutions and communication and, thus, inhibit the development of electronic commerce. A technological approach to protecting privacy might by cryptography although it might be claimed that cryptography presents a serious barrier to criminal investigations.

It is popular wisdom that people today suffer information overload. A lot of the information available on the Internet is incomplete and even incorrect. People spend more and more of their time absorbing irrelevant information just because it is available and they think they should know about it. Therefore, it must be studied how people assign credibility to the information they collect in order to invent and develop new credibility systems to help consumers to manage the information overload.

Technological progress inevitably creates dependence on technology. Indeed the creation of vital infrastructure ensures dependence on that infrastructure. As surely as the world is now dependent on its transport, telephone, and other infrastructures, it will be dependent on the emerging information infrastructure. Dependence on technology can bring risks. Failures in the technological infrastructure can cause the collapse of economic and social functionality. Blackouts of long-distance telephone service, credit data systems, and electronic funds transfer systems, and other such vital communications and information processing services would undoubtedly cause widespread economic disruption. However, it is probably impossible to avoid technological dependence. Therefore, what must be considered is the exposure brought from dependence on technologies with a recognizable probability of failure, no workable substitute at hand, and high costs as a result of failure.

The ongoing computing and communications revolution has numerous economic and social impacts on modern society and requires serious social science investigation in order to manage its risks and dangers. Such work would be valuable for both social policy and technology design. Decisions have to be taken carefully. Many choices being made now will be costly or difficult to modify in the future.