This Kid Was Totally Brutal At The London Marathon And It’s Hilarious

1 month, 2 days ago

Most of us have nothing but respect for the people who manage to run a marathon. I mean, I’m not sure I could even walk 26 miles, never mind run themand look happy aboutit too.

This little rebel however, saw his chance to wreak havoc – and he grasped it with both hands. Well, technically just one hand. And there was definitely no grasping going on.

Definitely the most uninspiring spectator ever, he was called a ‘little sh*t’ by the person recording the video as he offers a hand out to runners for a high five but then retracts it and leaves them hanging. A move that brings back vivid memories from our days at primary school.

Hey, you snooze you lose, guys.

It’s the one guy who goes out of his way to come and get a high five, before getting rejected, that really makes your heart ache…

What do you think? Let us know in the comments

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Mobile dating apps spur HIV epidemic among AsiaaEUR( tm) s adolescents, says UN

1 month, 12 days ago

Smartphone technology has increased the opportunities for casual sex and led to a spike in HIV infections among teens in Asia, researchers find

United Nations research has observed the growing utilize of mobile dating apps by young gays men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among adolescents in Asia, the Guardian can reveal.

The report uncovered a upsurge of HIV infections among 10 -1 9 years olds in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than half of the worlds 1.2 billion teens live.

The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded possibilities for spontaneous casual sex as never before.

The epidemic is fastest growing amongst men who have sex with humen. Other groups include those who are sexually exploited by or engaged in sexuality work, people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.

Young lesbian men themselves has systematically told us that they are now utilizing mobile dating apps to meet up for sexuality, and are having more casual sex with more people as a result. We know that this kind of risky behaviour increases the spread of HIV, said Wing-Sie Cheng, HIV/ Aids consultant for Unicef in east Asia and the Pacific.

We are hence convinced that there is a connection, and that we need to work better with mobile app providers to share information about HIV and safeguard the health of adolescents.

The previously unreported epidemic threatens the UNs goal to end the global Aids crisis by 2030, which appeared achievable after a sharp drop in Africa during the past 15 years.

Adolescents are also more likely to die of Aids-related demises, researchers from Unicef and UNAIDS detected, as they are less inclined to seek therapy, dreading they will be stigmatised or forcing them to expose their sexuality to their family or the authorities concerned. In many countries in the region, under-1 8s cannot get an HIV test without parental consent.

Dating site visits

While global HIV infections are dropping, the number of teens aged 10 -1 9 officially living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific has grown to more than 220,000, with the unofficial number expected to be much higher, Unicef says. Fewer than half of them are receiving treatment and demises have risen nearly every year for a decade.

An HIV-positive Filipino man aged 30, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect himself from abuse, said it was hard to find sex for a gay teen, bullied at school and closed off from the adult-only lesbian bars.

At university, the introduction of internet dating chat rooms and online forums allowed him to find more sex partners his age. He would chat with men and agree to rent a room for a few hours in the capital.

If I write down all the people I had sexuality with in Manila, I can probably write one to five people for each stop of the metro, he said.

Smartphones and mobile dating revolutionised his sex life. Whereas internet dating involved a laborious process of arranging a session up, dating apps are location-based, allowing users to scan their surroundings for others.

Dating site visits

Even if youre still in school and “youre feeling” the need to have sex, you just open Grindr, he said. You dont even have to talk to them. People simply send you naked photos or photos of their cocks. If youre fine with them, you just go and have sex.

The immediacy of the sexuality, organised in minutes, attained condom utilize less likely, he said. I did use condoms. But it was not consistent. You dont want to lose the momentum.

Despite his promiscuous mobile dating years, the Filipino mans HIV test returned negative and he entered into a long-term relationship. But two years later he contracted the virus from his boyfriend who was secretly cheating on him by employing mobile dating apps.

In the Philippines, new HIV infections among teenagers have doubled in four years. In Bangkok, young gay humen now have a one in three opportunity of HIV infection.

HIV rates in Bangkok

And eighteen countries across the Asia-Pacific region criminalise against same-sex relationships which UNAIDS says causes lesbian humen to avoid life-saving HIV services.

A separate study last year found that men who have sex with men utilizing dating apps are at greater hazard of contracting gonorrhoea and chlamydia than those who gratify in-person or on the internet.

Wing-Sie, the Unicef adviser, said that dating apps create networks of men, in which infections rapidly spread among users. Mobile dating apps essentially hook you up to a central network.

She said the study looked at observational trends around the region reported by United Nations policemen and local community workers who said their HIV strategy urgently needed to adapt to the explosion of mobile dating apps. HIV is a covert issue, it is very hidden. So data is not available.

She said researchers found that with the rise of these apps, the probability and risk of infection will increase multifold because it stimulates it so much easier for them to date other guys and hook up for sex, she said.

A spokesman from Grindr, used in 196 countries worldwide with 1 million active users every minute, said it has a minimum age requirement of 18. As the worlds largest homosexual platform, we take matters of sex health very seriously, the spokesman said, adding that Grindr runs in-app proclamations fostering testing at local clinics.

David S Novak, senior health strategist at Online Buddies, the mother company of the dating app Jackd, directed the Guardian to its ManHunt Cares project, which provides health resources to its users. In 2009, the company also set up a research institute focusing on lesbian sex health.

Other major dating app companies Tinder, Blued and Growlr did not respond to requests for comment.

The UN report says these apps can become vital conduits promoting sexual health, including HIV messaging and testing, and references a 2014 World Aids Day project by the Chinese gays dating app Blued where a red ribbon was added next to every users profile scene, linking to details of nearby testing centres.

Wing-Sie said Unicef will approach mobile dating app companies in the next month for a collaborative endeavor and so the world body might collect data to further investigate the impact of mobile dating.

Based in Bangkok, Jesse Krisintu has been working with charities trying to persuade young people to get tested for HIV through tactics such as pop-up advertisements on dating apps. He said the project did not work.

Dating site visitors by PC

Its their business. If they advertise too much about HIV/ Aids services there, do you think people are going to go online? he said.

He said that one project involving pop-ups offered discounts on HIV tests but that very few were claimed and that the analytics depicts most users instantly closed the pop-up advert.

The application is where the key population is but no one is going to read the pop-up because the purpose of people going to those apps to find sex , not to find knowledge. The results are not that favourable, he said. People merely close it.

The UN is now also advocating for comprehensive sex education beyond a simple explanation of the sex organ and for reducing the age at which adolescents can take an HIV test without parental consent.

AIDS is already the leading cause of demise for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among teens globally, tripling over the past 15 years and largely as a result of mother-to-child transmission. However, this new breed of epidemic found in Asia-Pacific could be replicated elsewhere, public health officials warn.

There is a risk of not being able to eliminate Aids at all, Wing-Sie said. This is the new frontier of Aids to tackle right now. The world can never end Aids if this matter is not controlled.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

This Guy Live Tweeted His Attempt To Get A Free Dessert, And It’s Hilarious

1 month, 15 days ago

Until today, we’d have thought that the best way to get a free dessert at a restaurant – well – would be to pretend that it’s your birthday.

Yes, you might have to endure the whole place singing “Happy Birthday” to you, but then you just blow out a few candles and wham, bam, thank you mam – a free ice-cream sundae.

Well, when Twitter user Elan Gale suggested a better way to get free pudding, one Kyle Baldinger decided that he’d try it out…

Amazing.

Image Credits: Imgur, Rev 967

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How A Meme Became A Currency And Paid For The Jamaican Bobsleigh Team

2 months, 15 days ago

You all know bitcoin, presumably. That internet currency that was big a while back and now isnt as big but is still quite big thats really the only way to describe it. Its secure, untraceable and drugtraffickers100% love it.

Well theres another online currency thats been growing from strength to strength recently that you might not have heard about. Dogecoin

To tell you about this, were going to have to go into its history. And we mean right to the beginning.

So we all know Doge. The jovial, yet slightly confused, shiba inu that took the internet by storm a couple of years back But who is Doge?

In October 2010, someone posted a picture of a corgi onto reddit with the caption LMBO LOOK AT THIS F*****N DOGE. That was the conception on the word. From then, people all over the web were posting pictures of dogs and calling them DOGES.

Meanwhile, a Japanese school teacher had a blog where she shared pictures of her shiba inu, Kabosu, which, for the most part, everyone ignored.

Until July 2013, when Shiba Inus had taken over the doge scene and someone dug up that famous picture of Kabosu and used it for their meme. So Kabosu become the face of doge.

So thats enough history on a meme. Now to the currency.

In December that year, a member of a Bitcoin forum, named Dogecoin, introduced his new e-currency, based on the meme, as a satirical take on Bitcoin.

No one took it seriously, obviously. Its money based on a funny picture of a dog, afterall. That is until there was a crowdfunding opportunity that the whole community jumped on. The Jamaican bobsleigh team looked set to qualify for the 2014 Socchi Winter Olympics but they couldnt afford all of the other stuff.

They need $40,000 for equipment and travel. 27,000,000 dogecoins were raised over 2-3 days (over $30,000) so the team could go.

Its like Cool Runnings without the inspirational montages and witty tte–ttes.

They also raised $7000 in a few hours to send an Indian Shiva K.P. Keshavan to the same Olympics to compete in the luge as his country couldnt afford it anymore.

Doge coin used to be dependant on bitcoin as you used to needed to buy doge through converting it from bitcoin. Now you can use actual real money and everything!

Its now the fifth biggest online currency and its growth is absolutely huge.

From something that started 100% as a joke, it’s pretty cool that they’ve managed to make a difference like they have. I mean it makes me feel totally useless but whatever…

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10 Cloverfield Lane Will Have You Writhing The Whole Way Through

3 months, 10 days ago
Nowadays the film industry seems tospend so much period building up the hype that by the time a movie makes the big screen weve insured a teaser, three trailers, and pretty much know exactly whats going to happen including spoilers .

10 Cloverfield Lane is a freshening change from that somewhat saturating tradition. It wasnt until January, merely two months prior to the opening of the films release, that we were even made aware that it existed.

Its not really a sequel to the alien attack movie Cloverfield, but more like a distant, less showy relative, with both having spawned from JJ Abrams production company Bad Robot. Whereas Cloverfield showed us the Statue of Libertys head crashing into the street as a whole city disintegrated, 10 Cloverfield Lane barely leaves the underground bunker in which most of the film is set.

Being less showy doesnt mean its any less entertaining, though. The movie will have you either writhe or jumping out of your seat from before the opening credits are over, right up until the very end. It’s director Dan Trachtenberg’s first feature length cinema, but he pulls ofthis spiraling thriller as though he’s done it a thousand times before.

The film starts out with Michelle( Mary Elizabeth Winstead) dismissing bellows from her fianc as she drives in her car. After being run off the road she wakes up in an empty room where she soon gratifies her captor or saviour Howard( John Goodman) who tells her that the world outside is a nuclear desert, and that they must live underground for at the least a year to remain safe. We live Michelles dread with her, questioning the legitimacy of Howards claims and motivations as she slowly tries to decipher exactly what “the hells going on”. Is Howard right? Does leaving the bunker entail certain demise? Or is something more sinister happening?

The third character in the mix is the jovial Emmett( John Gallagher Jr ), a local worker who has known Howard for some time. Emmett provides the only glimpses of light relief from the incredibly weird and intense Howard.

John Goodman plays Howard brilliantly, his huge frame and sketchy stance combining well to intimidate the whole way through. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr are equally as good, and its the three of them that elevate this film from a tight script and well thought out idea to something that really get under your skin.

The less you know before ensure it, the more you will enjoy the film, so we wont be revealing any spoilers here. What we will say is that if your heart rate and stress levels don’t go up during the course of its movie then you really are made of stone.

10 Cloverfield Lane is out in cinemas this Friday .

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Hundreds Of Loved Up Irish Fans Serenade A Beautiful French Girl

4 months, 7 days ago
Have you ever seen person in public so beautiful that you’ve wanted to stop and sing to them until they eventually and inevitably get off with you? No, me neither- we don’t live in High School Musical … still, it’s fun to find hot people .

That’s what happened in Bordeaux when, after a 3-0 loss to Belgium, Ireland fans, still in high spirits, spotted a lovely blonde French girl and took it upon themselves to serenade her.

If ever you’ve wanted to see a video that compounds Irish stereotypes, this is it. Never have you heard so much slurred singing and the mumbled, incorrect terms of two ballads that are pretty easy to recollect … funny though.

One guy managed to sneak a cheeky kiss at the end; albeit one on the cheek but, you know … she’s hot so it all counts.

Odds on that he thought there’d be some sort of Richard Curtis style holiday romance after that, though … Seems like Ireland are pretty much out of the Euros so he requires something to cheer him up!

What do you think? Let us know in the comments !

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16 Hilarious Reasons That Kids Are Crying

4 months, 21 days ago
The reasons that children scream aren’t always logical, and no one knows that better than dadGreg Pembroke . After noticing that sure, his son cried when he was hurt, or angry, but that he also get upset when he was, tell, frustrated about not being allowed to drown in a pond, Greg started a blog, collecting from other parents the more hilarious reasons that kids wept 😛 TAGEND

You can check out some of our favourites here 😛 TAGEND 1. Bitterly disappointing ..

2. But he’s missing out on so much !

3. The worst .

4. I entail fair enough ..

5. No !

6. How could you ?!

7. Try and say no to that face !

8. So unfair !

9. The horror !

10. Terrible parenting right there …

11. But he seemed like such a nice fellow !

12. Still though ..

13. We’ve all been there ..

14. A travesty .

15. Horrifying .

16. I believe I’ve spotted it …

For more adorable reasons that kids are crying, head over to Bored Panda to consider the full collection, or Greg’s blog, Reasons My Son Is Crying .

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Vogue Brazil’s Paralympics Photoshoot Is Unbelievably Offensive

5 months, 12 days ago
The Paralympics is an inspiration. Each athlete that takes part is overcoming a disability to compete and show us that with the right attitude, anything is possible .

People such as Tanni Grey-Thompson, who has won 16 Paralympic medals, show their fans across the globe that you can combat against adversity and still be a win, still be proud of yourself.

That’s why Vogue Brazil’s decision touse able bodied performers in their campaignis so disappointing. Instead of featuring Paralympic athletes, they chose to photoshop Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena, actors and Paralympic ambassadors, to appear as though they havedisabilities. It went with the caption “we are all Paralympians.”

The campaign is aimed to tie in with the upcoming Paralympics in Rio and increase ticket sales. The shoot wasactually based on two Paralympians, Bruna Alexandre and Renato Leite, but for some bizarre reason the athletes were not featured on the main pages.

Pessoal, Venho esclarecer que estou super orgulhosa de fazer parte desta campanha que a revista #Vogue comeou a divulgar as primeiras imagens desse lindo trabalho. Nossos Embaixadores Paralmpicos Cleo Pires e Paulo Vilhena , nos ajudaram a intensificar e a propagar a campanha com intuito de gerar visibilidade ao Movimento Paralmpico e convocar a torcida brasileira para marcar presena nos Jogos Paralmpicos Rio 2016. Gostaria, de enfatizar que #SomosTodosIguais e por isso a Cleo Pires me representa. Nos prximos dias, vocs tero acesso completo da campanha. #VemComAGenteBrasil e espero contar com toda a torcida brasileira nas arenas assim torcendo, vibrando, cantando e comemorando conosco! #CarregoNoPeito o #CoraoParalmpico. @cleopires_oficial @vilhenap @ocpboficial

A photo posted by Bruninha Alexandre (@ bruninha_alexandre) on Aug 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm PDT

Criticism has been widespread . Vogue Brazil have distanced themselves from the campaign, saying that the idea came from Pires.Speaking to HuffPostUK, they said 😛 TAGEND

“Vogue respects the opinions of readers who disagreed with the campaign format, but reiterates its commitment to promote the importance of Paralympic games. We will continue to support all of the Paralympic committee initiatives that can increase the number of attendees at the Paralympic games.”

Why not just feature the real people that inspired the campaign?

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Mix Nerdy Jokes And Underwear And You Get PUNDERWEAR

6 months, 4 days ago
Underwear. When you think about it, it’s more of a means to an end, really. No one genuinely want’s to have to wear it .

It’s not without it’s sub-genres, all as pointless as each other- Boxers, briefs, thongs, boy shorts, etc etc … Even sexy underwear isn’t as sexy as no underwear. So what’s the incentive to wear it?( other than social constructs that we really should follow in this case …)

Puns. Plainly. Nerd puns. Nerd puns with the prospect of sexupon the removal of saidunderwear. That’s the stuff. Have a look…

Shut up. I always sit with a pillow on my lap.

The last one took us longer to work out than we care to admit…

What do you think? Let us know in the comments !

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Rise of the machines: who is the’ internet of things’ good for?

6 months, 9 days ago

The long read: Interconnected technology is now an inescapable reality ordering our shopping, monitoring our cities and sucking up vast amounts of data along the way. The promise is that it will benefit us all but how is possible to?

In San Francisco, a young engineer hopes to optimise his life through sensors that track his heart rate, respiration and sleep cycle. In Copenhagen, a bus operating two minutes behind schedule transmits its locating and passenger count to the municipal traffic signal network, which extends the time of the green light at each of the next three intersections long enough for its driver to make up some time. In Davao City in the Philippines, an unsecured webcam overlooks the storeroom of a fast food stand, allowing anyone to peer in on all its comings and goings.

What links these wildly different circumstances is a vision of connected devices now being sold to us as the internet of things. The technologist Mike Kuniavsky, a innovator of this idea, characterises it as a state of being in which computation and data communication[ are] embedded in, and distributed through, our entire environment. I prefer to see it for what it is: the colonisation of everyday life by information processing.

Though it can often feeling as if this colonisation proceeds of its own momentum, distinct ambitions are being served wherever and however the internet of things seems. The internet of things isnt a single technology. About all that connects the various devices, services, vendors and efforts involved is the end goal they serve: capture data that can then be used to measure and control the world around us.

Whenever a project has such imperial designs on our everyday lives, it is vital that we ask just what ideas underpin it and whose interests it serves. Although the internet of things retains a certain sprawling and formless quality, we can get a far more concrete sense of what it involves by looking at how it seems at each of three scales: that of our bodies( where the effort is referred to as the quantified ego ), our homes( the smart-alecky home) and our public spaces( the smart-alecky city ). Each of these instances illuminates a further aspect of current challenges presented to us by the internet of things, and each has something distinct to teach us.


At the most intimate scale, the internet of things is visible in the form of wearable biometric sensors. The simplest of these are little more than networked digital pedometers, which count steps, measure the distance a person has traversed, and furnish an estimate of the calories burned in the course of this activity. More elaborated models measure heart rate, breathing, skin temperature and even perspiration.

If wearable biometric devices such as Fitbits and Apple Watches are, in theory, aimed at rigorous self-mastery, the colonisation of the domestic surrounding by similarly networked products and services is intended to deliver a very different experience: convenience. The intent of such smart home attempts is to short-circuit the process of reflection that stands between having a desire and fulfil that longing by buying something.

Right now, the perfect example of this is a gadget being sold by Amazon, known as the Dash Button. Many internet-of-things devices are little more than some conventional object with networked connectivity tacked on. The Dash Button is the precise opposite, a thing in the world that could not have existed without the internet. I cannot improve on Amazons own description of this curious object and how it runs, so Ill repeat it here: Amazon Dash Button is a Wi-Fi-connected device that reorders your favourite item with the press of a button. To use Dash Button, simply download the Amazon app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Then, sign into your Amazon Prime account, connect Dash Button to Wi-Fi, and select the product you want to reorder. Once connected, a single press on Dash Button automatically places your order.

In other words: single-purpose electronic devices, each dedicated to an individual branded item, that you press when youre running low. Pressing a Dash Button specific to your preferred pet food, washing powder or bottled water automatically composes an order request to Amazon for that one product.

An
An Amazon Dash button

I dont for a second wishes to downplay the value of such a product for people who have ageing mothers to look after, or kids to drop off at daycare, or for whom simply getting in the car to pick up some cat food may take an hour or more out of their day. But the benefit to the individual client is tiny compared with what Amazon gains. Sure, “youve never” run out of cat food. But Amazon gets data on the time and place of your need, as well as its frequency and intensity, and that data has value. It is an asset, and you can be sure that Amazon will exploit it in every way its terms and conditions permit including by employing it to develop behavioural models that map our desires in high resolve, so as to target them with even greater efficiency in the future.

Again, the aim of devices such as the Dash Button is to permit the user to accomplish commercial transactions with as little conscious believed as is practicable not even the few moments it takes to tap out commands on the touchscreen of a phone or tablet. The data on what the industry calls conversion is as clear because this is unremitting: with every box to tick or form to fill, percentages per of users that make it all the way to checkout tumbles. The fewer steps there are in a transaction, the more likely people are to expend their money.

Manufacturers, seduced by the revenue potential of subduing the domestic surrounding, keep trying to eliminate these steps, in the hope that one of their connected products will become as essential to everyday life as the smartphone. The recent industry push towards the smart home is simply the latest version of this.

For the moment, this strategy is centred on so-called smart speakers, a first generation of which have now reached the market. These products include the Amazon Echo and Google Home, each of which is supposed to function as the command hub of a connected domestic environment. Amazons Echo is a simple cylinder, while the Google Home is a bevelled ovoid. But the physical kind of such speakers is all but irrelevant, as their primary task is to function as a branded virtual deputy, a simple, integrated way to access the numerous digital controls scattered throughout the contemporary home from lighting and entertainment to security, heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple each offer their own such assistant, based on natural-language speech recognition. Most are given female names, voices and personalities, presumably based on research indicating that users of all genders prefer to interact with women. Apples is called Siri and will, according to reports, soon be get its own device, Amazons Alexa, and Microsofts Cortana, while one simply addresses Googles Home offering as Google.


At first, such devices seem harmless enough. They sit patiently and quietly at the periphery of our awareness, and we only speak to them when we need them. But when we consider them more carefully, a more problematic picture emerges.

This is how Googles assistant works: you mention to it that youre in the mood for Italian food, and then, in the words of one New York Times article, it will then respond with some suggestions for tables to reserve at Italian restaurants utilizing, for example, the OpenTable app.

This example showsthat though the choices these deputies offer us are presented as neutral, they are based on numerous inbuilt premises that many of us would question if we were to truly scrutinise them.

Ask restaurateurs and front-of-house workers what they think of OpenTable, for example, and you are able to swiftly learn that one persons convenience is anothers accelerated pace of run, or worse. Youll learn that restaurants offering reservations via the service are, according to the website Serious Eats, required to use the companys proprietary floor-management system, which means leasing hardware and using OpenTable-specific software, and that OpenTable retains ownership of all the data generated in this style. Youll also learn that OpenTable takes a cut on reservations per seated diner, which obviously adds up to a significant amount on a busy night.

Conscientious diners have therefore been known to bypass the ostensible convenience of OpenTable, and build whatever reservations they have to by phone. By contrast, Google Homes frictionless default to inducing reservations via OpenTable normalises the choice to use that service.

This is not accidental. It reflects the largely preconscious valuations, priorities and internalised beliefs of the people who devised Google Home. As throughout the industry, that is a remarkably homogeneous cohort of young designers and technologists. But more important than the degree of similarity they bear to one another is how different they are from everyone else.

Internet
Illustration: Getty/ Guardian Design

Internet-of-things devices are generally conceived by people who have entirely assimilated services such as Uber, Airbnb and Apple Pay into their daily lives, at a time when figures from the Washington DC-based Pew Research Center suggest that a significant percentage of the population has never use or even heard of them. For the people who design these products, these services are normal, and so, over period, they become normalised for everyone else.

There are other challenges presented by this way of interacting with networked information. Its difficult, for example, for a user to determine whether the options they are being offered by a virtual assistant result from what the industry calls an organic return something that legitimately came up as the result of a search process or from paid placement. But the main problem with the virtual assistant is that it fosters an approach to the world that is literally thoughtless, leaving users disinclined to sit out any prolonged frustration of passion, and ever less critical about the processes that result in gratification.

Virtual deputies are listening to everything that transpires in their presence, and are doing so at all times. As voice-activated interfaces, they must be constantly attentive in order to detect when the aftermath word that rouses them is spoken. In this style, they are able to harvest data that might be used to refine targeted advertising, or for other commercial purposes that are only disclosed deep in the terms and conditions that govern their use. The logic operating here is that of preemptive capture: the notion that companies such as Amazon and Google might as well trawl up all they can, because no one knows what value might be derived from it in the future.

This leads to situations that might be comical, were it not for what they connote about the networking of our domestic environments. These narratives circulate as cautionary narratives: one of the best-known was the time the US National Public Radio network aired a narrative about the Amazon Echo, and various cues spoken on the broadcast were interpreted as commands by Echos belonging to members of the audience, causing domestic chaos.

Put aside for one moment the question of disproportionate benefit the idea that you as the user derive a little convenience from your embracing of a virtual assistant, while its provider gets everything all the data about your life and all its value. Lets simply consider what gets lost in the ideology of convenience that underlies this conception of the internet of things. Are such constraints presented to us by life in the non-connected world truly so onerous? Is it genuinely so difficult to wait until you get home before you preheat the oven? And is it worth giving away so much, just to be able to do so remotely?


Most of us are by now awarethat our mobile phones are constantly harvesting information about our whereabouts and activities. But we tend to be relatively ignorant of the degree to which the contemporary streetscape has furthermore been enabled to collect information. This developing is often called the smart city. If the aspiration beneath the instrumentation of the body is ostensible self-mastery, and that of the home is convenience, the aspiration at the heart of the smart city is nothing other than control the desire to achieve a more efficient use of space, energy and other resources.

A broad range of networked information-gathering devices are increasingly being deployed in public space, including CCTV cameras; advertisements and vending machines equipped with biometric sensors; and the indoor micropositioning systems known as beacons that, when combined with a smartphone app, send signals providing information about nearby products and services.

The picture we are left with is that of our surroundings furiously vacuuming up info, every square metre of seemingly banal pavement yielding so much data about its its utilization and its users that nobody yet knows what to do with it all. And it is at this scale of activity that the guiding ideology of the internet of things comes into clearest focus.

The strongest and most explicit articulation of this ideology in the definition of a smart city has been offered by the house periodical of the engineering company Siemens: Several decades from now, cities will have countless autonomous, intelligently functioning IT systems that will have perfect knowledge of users habits and energy consumption, and provide optimum service … The goal of such a city is to optimally govern and control resources by means of autonomous IT systems.

There is a clear philosophical position, even a worldview, behind all of this: that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in a technical system, without bias or distortion. As applied to the affairs of cities, this is effectively an argument that there is one and only one correct solution to each identified need; that this solution can be arrived at algorithmically, via the operations of a technical system furnished with the proper inputs; and that this solution is something that can be encoded in public policy, without aberration.( Left unstated, but strongly implicit, is the presumption that whatever policies are arrived at in this way will be applied transparently, dispassionately and in a manner free from politics .)

Every aspect of this argument is questionable. Perhaps most obviously, the claim that anything at all is perfectly knowable is perverse. However thoroughly sensors might be deployed in a city, they will merely ever capture what is amenable to being captured. In other terms, they will not be able to pick up every single piece of information necessary to the formulation of sound civic policy.

Other, all-too-human distortions unavoidably colour the data collected. For instance, people may consciously adapt to produce metrics favourable to them. A police officer under pressure to make quota may focus on misdemeanours that she would ordinarily overlook, while conversely, her precinct commandant, under pressure to present the city as ever-safer, may downwardly categorize a felony assault as a simple misdemeanour. This is the phenomenon known to spectators of The Wire as juking the stats, and it is particularly likely to occur when financial or other incentives depend on achieving a performance threshold.

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Illustration: Getty/ Guardian Design

There is also the question of interpreting. Advocates of smart cities often seem to proceed as if it is self-evident that each of our acts has a single, salient meaning, which can be recognised, attained sense of and acted upon remotely by an automated system, without any possibility of fault. The more prominent advocates of this approach appear to believe that no particular act of interpretation actively participate in making employ of any data retrieved from the world in this way.

But data is never just data, and to assert otherwise is to give inherently political and interested decisions an unmerited gloss of scientific objectivity. The truth is that data is easily skewed, depending on how it is collected.Different values for air pollution in a given location can be produced by differing the height at which a sensor is mounted by a few metres. Perceptions of hazard in a neighbourhood can be transformed by somewhat altering the taxonomy used to categorize reported crimes. And anyone who has ever run in opinion polling knows how sensitive the results are to the precise wording of a survey.

The bold assert of perfect knowledge appears incompatible with the messy reality of all known information-processing systems, the human individuals and organizations that make use of them and, more broadly, with the world as we experience it. In fact, it is astonishing that any experienced technologist would ever be so unwary as to claim perfection on behalf of the members of any computational system , no matter how powerful.

The notion that there is one and only one solution to urban problems is also deeply puzzling. Cities are made up of individuals and communities who often have vying preferences, and it is impossible to fully satisfy all of them at the same time.

That such a solution, if it even existed, could be arrived at algorithmically is also implausible. Assume, to the purposes of argument, that there did exist a master formula capable of balancing the needs of all of a citys competing constituencies. It surely would be convenient if this golden mean could be determined automatically and consistently. But the wholesale surrender of municipal management to an algorithmic toolset seems to place an undue sum of trust in the party responsible for authoring the algorithm.

If the formulas behind this vision of future cities turn out to be anything like the ones being implemented in the present generation of computational models, life-altering decisions will hinge on the interaction of poorly defined and subjective values. The output generated by this procedure may turn on half-clever abstractions, in which complex situations resistant to direct measuring are reduced to more easily ascertained proxy values: median walking velocity stands in for the pace of urban life, while the number of patent applications constitutes an indicator of invention, and so on.

Quite simply, we need to understand that creating an algorithm intended to guide the distribution of civic resources is itself a political act. And, at the least for now , nowhere in the current smart-city literature is there any suggestion that either algorithm or their designers would be subject to the ordinary processes of democratic accountability.

And ultimately, it is difficult to believe that any such findings would ever be translated into public policy in accordance with the arrangements free from politics. Policy recommendations derived from computational models are only rarely applied to questions as politically sensitive as resource apportioning without some intermediate tuning taking place. Inconvenient results is a possibility repressed, arbitrarily overruled by more heavily weighted decision factors, or simply ignored.

As matters now stand, the claim of perfect proficiency that is implicit in most smart-city rhetoric is incommensurate with everything we are all familiar with the route technological systems run. It also flies in the face of everything we are all familiar with how cities work. The designers of the smart city have failed to reckon with current realities of power, and the capacities of elites to suppress policy directions that dont serve their interests. At best, the technocratic notion that the analysis of sensor-derived data would ever be permitted to drive municipal policy is naive. At worst, though, it dismisses the lessons of history.

So, yes: the internet of things presents many new potentials, and it would be foolish to reject those possibilities out of hand. But we would also be wise to approach the entire domain with scepticism, and in particular to resist the attempts of companies to gather ever more data about our lives no matter how much ease, convenience and self-mastery we are told they are offering us.

This is an adapted extract from Radical Technology: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield, published this week by Verso .

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