A whole new world

Virtual Reality has been a difficult to technology to configure for many years now. Motorcycle helmets in the 90s. Full suits with cables attracted. Gloves, googles, you name it have all reached for the stars and fallen short, but just barely.

Virtual Reality is constantly improving and is being measured by an impossible ruler, IMG_1836science fiction movies. Can we achieve a successful and popular VR system when we constantly compare it to that of fiction.

I have been fortunate enough to try the oculus rift, a vr system in a modern time.
First I played a game, a simple island travel game that allows you to explore your environment in a 360 perspective. At one point, I was launched into the air high above my surroundings and began falling back to the island below. It was at this moment that my stomach lurched in my body. The physical feelings were triggered by this world removing the distance between virtual an physical reality.
I also got to showcase the new Samsung Gear, powered by Oculus (Pictured). Customers reacted to the surrounds of Jurassic Park physically. Many moved out of the way of the virtual dinosaur. Some jumped out of their seats. How VR messes with our perception is astonishing that while we know this is simply a technology over our eyes, we still get lost in the world created by the technology.

The samsung VR headset has released a video demonstrating how the headset can be used as a communications device. That parents could read bedtime stories to their children if they can’t be there physically.
http://creativity-online.com/work/samsung-bedtime-vr-stories/46783

The applications of VR are possible endless. Educationally, we can teach doctors about anatomy. Allow them to practice surgeries. Disabled people can explore the seven wonders of the world from the comfort of their own homes. However we must consider the distance the headset creates between reality and virtual reality.

If our whole world can be experienced in this headset. If our whole world, and beyond can be experience. If a man sees himself a rockstar on stage in an arena, then afterwards can stand on the pyramids in Egypt, why would he take off the VR Headset and return to his mundane, lonely life? Could we build an artificial existence that could potentially destroy our own lives?
To fear this technology may be as backwards thinking as those who feared the creation of the microwave. Its new and we know little about it, but to assume that VR could be good or evil is counterproductive. As humans we develop new technology for the betterment of human existence. So whatever happens next, VR will always be a creation of man, not a dictator of man.

Basic Income

If I didn’t have to work to survive, I think I would live.

Basic Income is a concept that a country could adopt for its citizens. Every citizen would receive a sum of money every month regardless of whether they are employed or not.

I believe Basic Income is a potentially brilliant system. Take Ireland for example. Homelessness could be eradicated. If you receive €200 a month from the government, you could afford homeless shelters, its a start to get yourself a job and then a home of your own. Students could focus on their studies instead of stressing to find time between weekend shifts in a pub. Those ill who may not receive holiday pay wouldn’t have to worry about supporting their families while out of work.

The idea that every citizen is give a flat amount every month, some will make more than others due to their jobs, but at least this way every citizen has money to live off of.
The downside? Would it encourage laziness.

A debate stirred in class when this was discussed. As a creative class, I see the basic income as a positive. Many of may not pursue our desired career in film making, creative writing, photography, due to financial worries. But if we all receive a basic income, we could pursue our dream jobs without the fear of a wage. The flip side of this is, well why work at all. The government is giving you money every month, you can go for a few drinks, buy your food. You can live a relaxed and carefree life on the country’s dime. Would the absence of this fear of a wage mean no one would get a job?

It is an interesting topic because we see attitude towards those on social welfare. They’re lazy or they’re wasters. But that may not be the case. Many may not be able to find employment and so need the governments money to survive. Would a similar stigma fall upon those who get the basic income and nothing else?

I believe that if basic income was introduce in Ireland, we would see a decrease in those stressed about money. We would see more people pursue a career that is based on passion more so than on necessity of money. It could lead to more people leading happier lives.

Banks better have my money

With the rapid progression of technology, we are starting to see a number of professions becoming redundant. Supermarkets now have self check out machines for example. Is this an improvement on our daily lives? Will it last? Or will it continue to progress.

Recently I have looked into the area of Internet Banking. Banks have been around in some form of or another for hundred of years. But most recently Banks have gone digital. How has this impacted the profession? As a child, I remember going to my local AIB branch. As I sat at some play area with that weird block on a spiral bar toy, I remember the long queues that seems never-ending. A number of windows with bank tellers sat and sorted your finances and converted your currency ect. It seemed like Hell on earth.

Now, recently I had to make a deposit. I recalled the torturous events of my childhood visits and sought other options. Give the cash to my dad , he’ll transfer it from his account to mine. Simples! Then I was told that banks had changed. Now ‘you’re in and out in 5 minutes’. Curious, although hesitant, I went to investigate.

The place formerly seen as Hell was now vacant of all souls. Two windows (There had previously been 6 window) now had 2 employees waiting to talk to you about your money. In the place of the 4 other windows, now sat 4 machines. Self service banking. A reverse atm if you will. You give the machine your card, you give the machine your money and in seconds you have made a lodgement. Same goes for Cheques. I was out in 5 minutes. Important to note is that child’s toy was now gone. Guess no one is in the bank long enough to need their child distracted.

Internet banking follows the same ethos, making banking easier. Typing in a code and you have access to your personal finances, your loan accounts. Transfers, direct debits, paying bills. All on your smartphone.
The creation of Internet Banking and Banking Machines, have led to less staff employed by AIB. Although some staff do remain. Some bank tellers still sat at their windows to help those who may not feel comfortable give cash to a machine. Or need further assistance.

Is this a positive change? I believe so. Many technological advancement have been for efficiency and the betterment of lifestyle. A machine counting your money won’t make errors that a human working a long day might make. A machine can process faster, less time consuming for the costumer. Internet banking allows you to do your banking 24/7. No longer are you restricted by opening times or bank holidays.

While this may have resulted in a loss of jobs in the financial sector, it has also created new jobs for those who manage the servers. Those who manage the machines. But the days of bank teller may be coming to an end.

Follow the Yellow Silk Road

Everyone has been involved in Online Deviancy whether they realise it or not. Pirating a movie, downloading an album, this is theft. Yet we have been desensitised to crime online because it is as easy to download the new Marvel film as it is to check our emails. But there is a section of the internet not so easily accessed, and far more severe crimes being committed.

The Silk Road has been recognised the most sophisticated and dangerous online market. A black market site that primarily sold illegal drugs. Silk Road uses Tor software and Bitcoin for accessibility and anonymity.

silk-road-interface.jpg

 

A 2015 documentary Deep Web tells the story of Ross Ulbricht, the known creator of the Darknet site. Dread Pirate Roberts or DPR was his pseudonym on The Silk Road site. The documentary gives us a human face to the dark site. Ulbricht ideology is not onDeep-Web-2015-203x300.jpge of violence or harm, but in fact of freedom. He wanted a free and safe space to buy drugs. A community message board was available on the site, where members would warn against Overdosing on Drug. Yet the media paints Ulbricht as a Druglord.

Ulbrichts arrest came about when FBI agents became uncover members of the Silk Road. His arrest and trial was huge in the war against drugs and the war against online deviancy.

An issue raised in the Documentary is that of how the FBI access the Silk Road servers. The servers ran on tor which should have hid the location of the server.
To hack the server without a warrant is as illegal as searching a house without a warrant. It is a question of law of privacy. If the government can access your personal data without a warrant than this could have a detrimental effect to the right to privacy. The trial of the Ross Ulbricht has set a precedent of internet privacy.

Although The Silk Road has been shut down, other Dark Net websites have been created. There seems to be a constant reactions to the governments investigations or laws. More and more websites challenge the laws.

In the Trail, Ulbricht admits that he did in fact create the Silk Road website, but he was not DPR. Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison with no parol.

The documentary highlights how the government intervenes in online activity. How anonymity can be problematic when crimes are being prosecuted. But it is more importantly a commentary about Online Deviancy. The Accessibility of illegal items, the anonymity of those who buy and sell illegal items online.

Porn is in the Air

Whether it be a page 3 girl, or a blurry video on an old Nokia. My generation was exposed to some sort of pornographic content from a young age. But how has this early insight effected our culture?

The line between what is appropriate for children and what is not seems to be flexible in the past 10 years. This can be seen particularly in children’s movies. Disney’s most recent feature film Zootopia had a number of sexual innuendos that may have been a result of this. The lead character Judy, a rabbit has 200+ brothers and sisters. At one point she utters the line “Us rabbits are good a multiplying”. Seemingly harmless plot points may fly high over the heads of children, and may give adults a giggle. However there is something to be said allowing thinly veiled sexual jokes into G rated films. Is this a result of a pornified culture that sees sex as casually as any other activity?

It is important to note that children’s movies have included sexual innuendos for many years. The animaniacs was a show I watched every Saturday morning. Yet it was not until last year did I understand a not so subtle Sex joke in one episode. A simple word play on Fingerprints and Finger Prince.

Animaniacs Prince.png

So perhaps it is not harmful to expose children to such jokes in their films or tv shows. However the fact that this is accepted and allowed is a commentary on how Porn has influence our society.

How we perceive sex has changed, personally I feel it has changed for the better. Not too long ago, sex was shamed and hidden behind the doors of married couples. In an internet culture where you can watch porn, you can discuss sexual desires and explore areas of interest, we have become more open about discussing sex. I can speak for those my age where the idea of sex is no longer a thing to be whispered about, but a topic of conversation. Personally I feel this is healthier and this has certainly been aided by the readily accessible content online. Men and Woman in the early 20s are freely discussing ‘something I read online’. There seems to be a freer sense of exploration as a result of this. Sexual orientation is not so ridged and confining. Men are more open to idea of experimenting with other men. This is a major change from a once homophobic and masculine culture. Women are experimenting with other women. And while both of this experimentations may have happened in a pre-internet society, it was shammed or hidden.

While I have explored the negative impacts of a Pornified culture. The dehumanisation of women, the sexual impotence as a result of over consumption of Porn. There is something to be said for how Porn has also impacted society positively.