Issues round-up: accessible keyboards, ethics of spying, small business infosec and the Turing test?

Kia ora koutou,
Here’s our thoughts on some of the access, use and security stories that caught our eye over the last week.

Keyboard for the blind acquired AND open source'ing?

Fleksy is a mobile device keyboard which has some components designed to make using mobile devices easier for people with visual impairments. The Fleksy team has just been acquired by Pintrest and they’re planning to release some of the components designed for blind users. As they put it: As a tribute to our incredible community of users we have made the decision to open-source some of the Fleksy components that the blind and visually impaired community grew to love. We trust you’ll do great things with it.
I think it’s excellent that tech for people with visual impairments will be opened up for others to use and integrate. 

Ethical implications of spying on our kids

As the parent of a toddler, I don’t have to worry too much about my young daughters Internet access (yet), except for some mild judgement of her obsession with Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor and Katy Perry music videos (I blame her mum). BUT, “kids these days” grow up with the Internet, unlike my generation that grew up as the Internet did. Parental controls on devices to tailor or, dare I say it, filter what websites children can access is not new, and is often seen as generally acceptable and desired. 

But what about parents spying (or monitoring) their children’s use of the Internet? There are apps for that, but the ethics are…murky. There are conflicting rights and concerns here about security, safety and children’s rights to privacy so they can become the person they want to be. 
This is a topic that I don’t have a really good answer for. But in discussing it in the team we did ask some rather familiar questions. 

  • Is it right to have a spying capability? 
  • If you do, how and when should you use it? 
  • What will you do with the information you gain? 
  • Should you tell the people you use that capability on when and how you do? 

Wow, sounds like I just described some of the tensions in our intelligence and security review right? Only moved from a societal scale, to a household. Big Brother is sometimes mum and dad? Some people are going to be okay with that, some won’t. Me, I’m on the bench until my kid is old enough that I’m forced to take a position. 

Small business has 99 problems, and infosec IS one

A recent study of british small-to-medium businesses (SMEs) found that 48% were victims of cybercrime. Ouch. SMEs are busy doing actual work, and often trying to grab time to spend with family and friends. Updating their computers and understanding the latest vulnerability research is, funnily enough, not high on the priority list.

Thankfully, New Zealand’s cyber security strategy includes a new cyber credentials certification, aimed at SMEs, which should help our SMEs be better protected and more secure than their British counterparts. Which is good because it turns out the average cost of a data breach in 2015 rose to US$4 million!

Blade Runner and the Turing test

And from the "OMG" file (yes, that is actually a filter we have in our trello automations) an AI’s auto-reconstruction of the classic film Blade Runner was so good it got issued with a DMCA takedown order. Or, as Vox put it, Warner issued a takedown notice on:

“an artificial reconstruction of a film about artificial intelligence being indistinguishable from humans, because it couldn't distinguish between the simulation and the real thing.”

Kinda scary huh? At least take the time to see the gifs in the Vox piece, they’re pretty impressive, but if you really want to have your mind blown - watch the video that the AI created just from watching Blade Runner.

Have a great week!