Aussies loose $1.6 billion to cyber crime
A report out earlier this year suggested that over half of Australians are now using mobile computing. The widespread uptake of mobile and tablets for everyday business is something to be praised, however it does raise a number of serious concerns.
Yes, that perennial thorn-in-the-side for internet and communication technologies; security. Web security experts Norton have issued a report stating that the rapid expansion of wireless computing in the country has left many vulnerable to the activities of cyber criminals.
With so many people conducting everyday transactions on wireless platforms, tech-savvy Australians have suffered losses to the tune of $1.65 billion as of year end 2011. This is a significant proportion of the total global figure. A colossal US$110 billion was pilfered by digital Dick Turpin’s from victims around the world last year.
It is estimated that about eight out of 10 Australians rely mostly on mobile devices to log on to the web, ranging from checking emails, getting Facebook updates and shopping online.
The latter, Norton said, opens up windows for web criminals to conduct their 'business', well-aware that cash flows almost incessantly through mobile computing.
Norton security expert Adam Palmer said: “People are targeting these devices because that's where the money is.”
Fans of mobile computing should be duly-informed that “criminals are moving away from traditional laptops and forms and moving into social network and mobile and tablet forms,” Mr Palmer added.
The reported number of cyber-crime victims rose significantly in the last year as more widespread illegal operations take traction. This could be in part due to the prolonged global economic downturn, in conjunction with the proliferation of mobile devices.
It is inevitable that people's lives will become increasingly governed by wireless technology and services offered via downloadable apps, however a culture of awareness needs to be promoted. Apps can be very damaging, with hackers constantly working to create new and ingenious ways of harvesting sensitive information.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.