Monthly Archives: July 2015

Signs of the Times – The Mark of the Beast

 Revelation 13:16-17 – “He required everyone–small and great, rich and poor, free and slave–to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.” 

The ability to track every move we make is already here!

‘Smart Cities’ Will Know Everything About You

From Boston to Beijing, municipalities and governments across the world are pledging billions to create “smart cities”—urban areas covered with Internet-connected devices that control citywide systems, such as transit, and collect data. Although the details can vary, the basic goal is to create super-efficient infrastructure, aid urban planning and improve the well-being of the populace.

A byproduct of a tech utopia will be a prodigious amount of data collected on the inhabitants. For instance, at the company I head, we recently undertook an experiment in which some staff volunteered to wear devices around the clock for 10 days. We monitored more than 170 metrics reflecting their daily habits and preferences—including how they slept, where they traveled and how they felt (a fast heart rate and no movement can indicate excitement or stress).

If the Internet age has taught us anything, it’s that where there is information, there is money to be made. With so much personal information available and countless ways to use it, businesses and authorities will be faced with a number of ethical questions.

In a fully “smart” city, every movement an individual makes can be tracked. The data will reveal where she works, how she commutes, her shopping habits, places she visits and her proximity to other people. You could argue that this sort of tracking already exists via various apps and on social-media platforms, or is held by public-transport companies and e-commerce sites. The difference is that with a smart city this data will be centralized and easy to access. Given the value of this data, it’s conceivable that municipalities or private businesses that pay to create a smart city will seek to recoup their expenses by selling it.

By analyzing this information using data-science techniques, a company could learn not only the day-to-day routine of an individual but also his preferences, behavior and emotional state. Private companies could know more about people than they know about themselves.

For marketers, this is a dream come true. Imagine the scenario: A beverage company knows a particular individual’s Friday or Saturday night routine. The company knows what he drinks, when he drinks, who he drinks with and where he goes. It also knows how the weather affects what beverage the individual chooses and how changes in work patterns influence how much alcohol he consumes. By combining this information with the individual’s social-media profile, the company could send marketing messages to the person when he is most susceptible to the suggestion to buy a drink.

Businesses could market divorce services to couples who, through data analysis, are shown to exhibit behavior that indicates that their relationship could be in trouble—things like unusual travel patterns, and changes in work-life balance, such as a rapid increase in the amount of time both individuals spend at work or in separate bars. Individuals who are shown to lead very unhealthy lifestyles could be deliberately targeted by brands selling fatty foods.

The scenarios are endless, ranging from the genuinely useful to the potentially terrifying. But what will moderate how a smart city works and how brands can use data?

Recent history—issues of privacy and security on social networks and chatting apps, and questions about how intellectual-property regulations apply online—has shown that the law has been slow to catch up with digital innovations. So businesses that can purchase smart-city data will be presented with many strategic and ethical concerns.

What degree of targeting is too specific and violates privacy? Should businesses limit the types of goods or services they offer to certain individuals? Is it ethical for data—on an employee’s eating habits, for instance—to be sold to employers or to insurance companies to help them assess claims? Do individuals own their own personal data once it enters the smart-city system?

With or without stringent controlling legislation, businesses in a smart city will need to craft their own policies and procedures regarding the use of data. A large-scale misuse of personal data could provoke a consumer backlash that could cripple a company’s reputation and lead to monster lawsuits. An additional problem is that businesses won’t know which individuals might welcome the convenience of targeted advertising and which will find it creepy—although data science could solve this equation eventually by predicting where each individual’s privacy line is.

A smart city doesn’t have to be as Orwellian as it sounds. If businesses act responsibly, there is no reason why what sounds intrusive in the abstract can’t revolutionize the way people live for the better by offering services that anticipates their needs; by designing ultraefficient infrastructure that makes commuting a (relative) dream; or with a revolutionary approach to how energy is generated and used by businesses and the populace at large.

Mr. Weston is the CEO of the London- and Dubai-baseddata-science consultancy Profusion

Signs of the Times – The Mark of the Beast is much closer than you think!

Revelation 13:16 – “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, AND NO MAN MIGHT BUY OR SELL, SAVE HE THAT HAD THE MARK, OR THE NAME OF THE BEAST, OR THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME!

Very interesting interview with Jim Rickards. Think about the things he says at the beginning and ending of the interview. Money is already digital. With one executive order, access to money can be limited. How long would you be able to make it should the government shut down or limit the amount of money  you can access from the atm or bank? How much cash do you have on hand? What if a cyber attack shuts down the banking system? What if cyber attack collapses the stock market? In this day and age all of these things are not possibilities but probabilities. It is only a matter of time before a game changing event affects the entire monetary system! Everything we do is already being tracked via smart phones, computers and government surveillance systems, etc… Remember the movie, “Enemy of the State”? Those days are here! The technology for a chip or some other identifying mark being used to pay bills, access money, shop, or attend an event is already available. What would you do if you wake up one day and are told that the only way you will be able to access your money, shop, pay bills or receive medical treatment is by taking a chip? Could it happen? Would you take it?

US company gives glimpse into future of government surveillance

A SMALL private firm in the US has developed a surveillance system of Orwellian proportions that could very well be the future of big brother.

Thirty kilometres above a chosen city, a plane hangs out of sight of the thousands of people scurrying below — continuously circling the metropolis underneath. Every second, the plane takes a photo of the entire city and all the happenings within a 64sq km radius. The images are beamed down to a control centre where they create what is akin to a real-time Google map of everything taking place.

When a crime occurs, teams of analysts simply scroll back in time to the scene of the incident and identify those involved. From that point, they can follow the target by clicking forward through the images to the present moment and pinpoint their location.

Ostensibly, surveillance is about preventing and prosecuting crimes — and while it’s only been used in a handful of cities, Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) are designed to do just that.

The times it has been used on US soil, the tool has allowed authorities to solve crimes in a matter of minutes.

According to PPS founder Ross McNutt, the concept was conceived over a few beers at the pub, with the initial plans drawn up on the back of a napkin.

“We developed the system quickly to get an initial capability (within) about 18 months. We have since spent the last eight years perfecting it, lowering the cost, and increasing the effectiveness,” he told news.com.au.

It was thought up in an attempt to help the war effort in Iraq, which wasn’t looking good for the US in 2004.

“The IEDs (improvised explosive device) were killing many of our troops and our commander asked that we see what we could do to help,” he said.

Ross McNutt was teaching at the Airforce Institute of Technology at the time and the desire to aid US troops against the guerilla tactics used by those loyal to Saddam Hussein was felt strongly among faculty and students.

“We developed an idea that would allow us to track bombers back to the place they came from so we could then address the source of the bombs,” he said.

The idea proved immensely useful in capturing those planting IEDs and the air force has since spent more than $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) to improve and enhance the system.

In fact, the results proved so compelling that it wasn’t long before the US military looked closer to home with thoughts of putting an eye in the sky over some of its own cities.

With the success of the technology in Iraq, the US government has since used Persistent Surveillance Systems to address high crime rates in cities such as Dayton, Ohio.

For Mr McNutt, it’s simply an economic argument.

According to the National Institute of Justice, Dayton Ohio has 27,000 reported crimes per year, 70 to 80 per day and nearly 10,000 serious crimes, such as rape, murder and assault, which amount to a cost of $US3400 per person each year.

“PSS believes we will contribute to reducing the crime in Dayton by 20 per cent to 30 per cent,” Mr McNutt said. He said this would amount to a yearly saving of $US96 million to $US144 million.

After a five-day trial in June of 2012, the results proved exciting to law enforcement and the police chief recommended a permanent expansion of the services.

However the city decided to hold a public forum to debate the idea and only about 75 people turned up. Due to the high rates of crime, many were supportive of having the surveillance plane overhead. But others, a slightly smaller but very vocal group, were opposed and ultimately dissuaded the city from adopting the service. At least for the time being.

The company says it has about $US150 million in proposals and is waiting to hear if its services will be enlisted. It has negotiated with the cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Moscow and London.

The company has also carried out a contract for a classified client to combat cartel violence in Mexico.

As with all forms of surveillance, PSS ignites a debate about the trade off between civil freedoms and the lengths we should be willing to go to prevent crime. But Mr McNutt said they had made assurances to allay such concerns.  Continue reading

Signs of the Times – Is this vision now coming to pass? Watch video and read article

Russia claims to have super weapon that disables western satellites and long range arms

Russia is boasting a major advance in electronic warfare technology enablingVladimir Putin’s armed forces to zap foreign military satellites, and “switch off” enemy weapons.

The new system will muzzle the guidance systems of Western cruise missiles and other high-precision arms, it is claimed.

Its Russian makers say it is a “fundamentally new electronic warfare system” which can be mounted on ground-based as well as air- and sea-borne carriers.

Russia’s Radio-Electronic Technologies Group (KRET) deputy chief Yuri Mayevsky said: “The system will target the enemy’s deck-based, tactical, long-range and strategic aircraft, electronic means and suppress foreign military satellites’ radio-electronic equipment.”

“It will not be based on satellites as this is prohibited by international rules and we comply with this rule.”

The Russian hailing of its new super weapon comes as relations with the West are at their lowest ebb since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with fears of a new Cold War.

President Vladimir Putin has invested heavily in rebuilding his country’s military might, which has lagged behind the West since the end of the Soviet era.

The new technology “will fully suppress communications, navigation and target location, and the use of high-precision weapons”, said Mikheyev, who did not give further details of the claimed military breakthrough.

“The system will be used against cruise missiles and will suppress satellite-based radio location systems.

“It will actually switch off enemy weapons.”

The system is due to be fully tested in the near future.

“Ground tests are now going on in workshops,” he said.

“At the end of the year, the system’s component will leave the factory gates for trials at testing ranges.”

Signs of the Times – Pray for America – Pray for Awakening

My heart weeps for America.

And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. (Isaiah 59:14, K.J.V.)

Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. (Isaiah 59:14, N.L.T.)

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20, N.A.S. B.)