Blog #20 What’s Next: Smart Homes

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For our final assignment we were to develop a vision/ argument on a digital technology using scholarly resources. My chosen technology is Amazon Alexa. I have chosen this as my digital technology because I believe it will be one of the most influential and monumental technologies in our lives. I envision Alexa as a stepping stone to the future smart home. Amazon may continue to recreate Alexa in generations to come or Alexa may be used as an inspiration to progress this Ai technology.

For what’s next with this technology I envision an Ai incorporated home that is completely interactive with the user. Alexa has the capability of ordering amazon items or playing your favorite music but what’s next is a technology that knows when to play music. When you get done from class at 2:45 pm on a Monday your home will play soothing jazz music because it will know that you are stressed out after your IDES studios Mondays and Wednesdays. Your home will read your texts out-loud to you from your mom but not your classmate, because it knows that you’d rather know about your mom’s message but maybe can read your classmate’s later. This home will make appointments and reminders in your calendar when it reads that your sister’s baby shower is on Tuesday and you said “yes” to going. My argument is that in order for this to happen next people must make sacrifices in privacy in order for this vision of technology to proceed.

I attached this voice recording to demonstrate how Alexa is already in the direction of this envisioned progress. If you listen you can tell that by learned experience she knows what kind of music I enjoy instead of requiring one to ask precisely what song or artist to play.

When reading an article by Gabriele Lobaccaro, Salvatore Carlucci, and Erica Löfström: “A Review of Systems and Technologies for Smart Homes and Smart Grids” the authors describe the smart home as a way to enable communication between home appliances and the home user. “People usually do everyday activities at home and numerous advantages would be gained if the environment could react to humans’ behavior and gestures” (pg. 2) Smart homes essentially are to make or eliminate everyday tasks. The problem with this is that in order for the technology to be “smart” they must gain information about us.

“Wherever there is opportunity, you can expect to find some unsavory actors, and if there is any chance your coffee maker knows your credit card number, you can expect someone will be trying to talk to it.” (Elliot, pg. 1) The problem with current technologies is hackers. Even if we trust our privacy we have the other issue of someone taking that away. But if the smart home is eventually smart enough it would have the capability to block these hackers. In an article I had read:  “Next List 2017: 20 People Who Are Creating the Future”, Parisa Tabriz describes her battle in eliminating human error. She is head of security for Google Chrome and says that her team is currently working to explore machine-learning tools to detect insecure network connections as well as ways our networks are hacked. (Pg. 2) The Internet of Things implies smart technology that is smarter than humans. The smart home would be able to detect hackers as well as glitches and be able to fix our protect the system in order to prevent these problems, eliminating human error as well as technological error.

This video is an excellent example of where this technology can go and further. It’s quite interesting that this technology which has been difficult to trust with our privacy, has been created by the person who created one of the most influential forms of social media. We trust social media with our messages because what people see is what we choose to post, but if we think about smart Ai technology as equal to the form of social media maybe we will be more comfortable. Beyond privacy we get to a further point of trust. Which is trusting the smart home with people other than you in your home, such as a child. This video shows Mark Zuckerberg’s Ai smart home he calls Jarvis. Some of Jarvis’ learned skills are meant to be funny but what caught my eye was when Jarvis acknowledges the child wake up and then begins to speak to her and entertain her. This technology requires us to trust this skill that has been learned and inputed, being in use without our supervision.

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When Reading “Next List 2017: 20 People Who Are Creating the Future” I learned about the three woman behind the Amazon Alexa.  When reading this my thoughts were really shaped on how Alexa has been used as a step to the future. These three creators were all liberal arts majors including: Farah Houston, A psychology grad specializing in personality science, Beth Holmes, a mathematician specializing in natural language, and Michelle Riggen-Ranson, who has an MFA in creative writing. “Alexa’s temperament can swing from practical and direct to whimsical and jokey,” says the authors. This gives an understanding of why Alexa is so successful. She makes tens of millions of consumers feel comfortable with having this technology in their home. As earlier shown in the Zuckerberg video, more enhanced technologies are already in progress but what Alexa gives is a step in that direction. We are capable of further technologies but Alexa is the tool used to get us there. Do we feel more comfortable with her because she lights up when she’s listening? There for giving the idea that the rest of the time we are mute to her?

What’s next is a smart home that is smarter than we are. In Zuckerberg’s video Jarvis reminds him of what meetings he has that day. Eventually our home will turn off our stove when we forget to and turn it on when we’re hungry.  These devices will be able to learn from us and to continue their intelligence. In order to get to what’s next we must trust what we ourselves are creating. And in order to do this it must take an educated understanding of these technologies.



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Blog #19 The End

This blog will cover chapter 5 & 6 of Neff & Nafus’ book which will be the end of Self -Tracking. The authors use these chapters to focus on how self tracking is impacting the health industry.  This industry is one of the most impacted with wearable technology. When I wear my fit bit or apple watch I’m constantly checking my progress. But this can go further into the industry of helping people monitor themselves. What if we can prevent ourselves from having a high blood pressure? We have had machines to measure this already but often times these are used at home after one finds out that their blood pressure is already high. With wearable technology you can bring matters into your own hands.

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The authors also to a great job of highlighting other industries these technologies can affect such as business, education, etc. The book talks about what may this future look like? The authors also touch on how in order to progress in technology we must endure the fight of privacy. Which is a great segway to my next blog: Whats Next? This blog will pull further into what Neff and Nafus were talking about in this future world of ours and what it will take to get there.


Does wearable technology have to the possibility of creating a healthier human?

How smart do we want our technologies, and what is too smart?

Blog # 18 Self Tracking appeal

These couple days our class read chapters 3 &4 in Neff and Nafus’ books. These chapters start by speaking about what is appealing about self tracking. The authors talk about one woman who gave herself a gold star for her runs. This reminds me of when I reach my goal on my fit bit. When I reach 10,500 steps my fit bit vibrates and graphics of fireworks light up. The third chapter also talks about what all goes in to tracking and how difficult it can be to accurately track your fitness. With the fit bit you can get a fit bit scale, a fit bit water bottle, (on top of your fit bit band) and in order to really track you have to input your eating data, this all becomes very meticulous in order to really track you health. This is all in order to track data that we ourselves are already doing. Then, the authors bring up an important point: this is creating more money for industries. We have talked in class how the internet of things has the potential to create more unemployment but what if it’s just the opposite. In order for individuals to obtain these jobs would they need to learn a new understanding of technology, which would require additional education, or could this somehow be integrated in our base education just as much as algebra is in k-12th grade.



Can smart technology have the potential to improve or health?

Does wearable technology give the potential of more job and employment opportunities, to a larger population?

Blog #17 Self Tracking

This weekend our class started a new book called Self Tracking by Gina Neff and and Dawn Nafus. This blog will be an overview of chapters 1 & 2.

This book begins to talk about how we use self tracking devices to record our self data and how this allows us to become part of certain communities. The authors believe that wearable technology is social and a way of self reflection as a mirror.

I wear my fitbit everyday and I haven’t really thought about this as a community but I will say it has became social. You can invite friends to challenges and I also find myself in conversations of how much sleep each other got or how many steps were at etc. And I do agree that this is a self mirror. All this data is already happening but I’m wearing a device that tracts it. As far as security I don’t find myself worrying about it maybe as much as I should be. I always justify that I have nothing to hide so why would I care if it was stored somewhere. But, if I were the president I would worry. The fit bit and apple watch navigate as well as carry personal messages. But how is this different than our phones? Our phones can now track steps, can navigate us, as well as the obvious of carrying our messages. It’s a very grey area when it comes to security and I wonder if this will ever change, meaning will we ever be completely certain that we’re the only ones allowed to access or own data?

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Do we find the issue of security worth it in order to gather this data?

When will wearable technology/ or has it already contributed to scientific data experiments.

Blog #16 Human Error

This blog will cover chapter 7 which is the ending of this book.

At the beginning of this chapter Greengard begins the discussion of how self driving cars will eliminate human error which are the majority of crashes that currently occur. Greengard states that human error accounts for 70-80 percent of crash collision.  The problem I have with this statistic is, how many other reasons can their be behind accidents? There’s animals, weather, and the car error. With self driving cars I’m afraid that we’ll increase the percentage in mechanical error and lower the precent in human error. How do we know that this will decrease the collision rate? Also, until the day comes that self driving cars become affordable, we still have human error and how does the self driving car account for that? Can a self driving car detect a drunk driver and gain knowledge on how to avoid that driver? Eventually yes I believe the self driving car may gain the human knowledge that we have attained, but how will we get to that point without sacrificing along the way?

Greengard then jumps into how the IoT will improve healthcare, meaning 3-D printing organs, etc. This is a technology that isn’t far from today. With these technologies we are enhancing the human life. In conclusion, this book does a great job on addressing how the IoT of things will address basically every industry used in the human life. Before reading this book I believed that these technologies were just fancy objects people believed they wanted (me included) but weren’t really necessities, after reading this book I question that.


When it comes to healthcare, and saving lives when does the IoT change from an accessory to a necessity?

In what ways can the IoT still challenge our lives?

Blog #15 Connecting the Dots

Chapters 5 & 6.

These chapters bring up the “plumbing” of the Internet of Things. What are the ramifications? One concern Greengard talks about is navigating the boundaries. The author states it’s hard for companies to evolve if each one requires a different technology to connect. This is making business start to understand the need for standards in this technological connectivity world. This begins to evolve into security standards. “Without these common standards and clear policies for managing data governance and other issues- the vast economic and practical potential of the IoT will never be realized.” (Greengard, 118)

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Another problem that stems to the fluid connecting of the Internet of things is money, time and resources. Theres the base cost of manufacturing the technology as well as purchasing. After this cost comes upgrades and replacements. When thinking about the Internet of Things in the large picture, if were using the same devices so that everything is connected like smart homes all using the same technology so our families and friends houses are connected then what happens when we replace the technology, then does every house have to upgrade? Or can we create a solid device that will only ever need software upgrades?

Greengard also talk about consumer preference. Some prefer google home over amazon Alexa. When a household has multiple Alexas they’re able to connect to one another but what if the mom wanted one in her office and the dad wanted the other in his, could we create standards to allow this connectivity?


At any point will we reach a limit of technological advances? Such as the cell phone, at what point will the upgrade stand still?

At one point is the human life not worth the risk? Such as self driving cars or aircraft?




Blog #14 Recording

Today’s reading covers chapter 3 & 4. This section of the book begins with the ways technology is advancing our possibilities. In the way we record and track, we are learning more than was ever possible. We’re tapping into big data in order to gain information.

Greengard explains a day where we are able to connect to our smart devices in order to create a shopping list ect. But I feel as if this day has came and may not be where he envisions it to eventually be, but I don’ think we are far from it. I feel that I never stop to think about these as upcoming and challenging technologies. I think of them as a next step but not to the degree in which their affecting our life. In class our group discussed whether these technologies are dumbing us down. I store my own personal information with the trust of my phone, I know longer need to know my doctor’s contact info because my phone contains that information for me… is this eliminating my own memory? Do we have less of the memory capability generations before us had?

Greengard’s take on storing information and our security connect to the discussion we had in class. This discussion was on the Universities that require students to wear a Fitbit in replace of  the P.E. requirement. Is this an invasion of privacy? I believe it may be. The fact that it is required instead of an option is what is the deciding factor for me. The Fitbit is somewhat private. I wouldn’t want my teacher learning how lazy I was on a Sunday afternoon, or where I was Friday. That’s my personal information.

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Do we have any control over our personal security while still using our devices?

Should this security control be connected to social media and ads? At one point is this storing capability too far?



Blog #13 A Brief Understanding

This week our class started a new book. This book is by Samuel Greengard called The internet of Things. Prior to this book I haven’t had much knowledge on what The Internet of Things consists of. This is also called IOT for short. We had learned a little bit about this in class. From the Introduction through the second chapter I learned that the Internet of Things is really a broad term used to express the relationship we have to technology and the internet.

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In class we talked about how we gain trust through experience. This is why apple products don’t change too much each generation because we have instilled trust into our previous model and how it worked. Alexa is kind of like the first apple phone in my eyes. Eventually this technology will have far stronger capabilities. At some point Alexa will not only be able to open the door for your dog but at some point it will know that your Dog Jake usually eats around 2 pm meaning that by 2:30 if you throw a ball outside your dog will then go outside and go to the bathroom. The beginning of this book has given be a pretty good understanding of the term Internet of Things but I’m excited to learn more on what Greengard has discovered about the transformation in history.


At what point does AI technology completely eliminate human assistance?

Does Amazon Alexa have a possible purpose in a classroom setting, as a teaching device?

Blog #12 Rhetoric and the Media

This chapter and conclusion gives an interesting perspective on how rhetoric has changed for the media. As the author states, even in president Lincolns time, his speeches were published in newspapers around the world. Now with the web, radio, and TVs rhetoric has changed in the way we view and receive it. While when first reading this I thought of the political speeches and how long politicians must take to prepare them, and use multiple professionals to read over these speeches before the speech is delivered. But, then I think about how today we have politicians that use twitter, and how fast without even rethinking, they give rhetorical comments, and views on our society,  to our whole country.

In conclusion the author gives a very well written introduction into rhetoric. Especially, for me who didn’t have much prior knowledge. Although, written in a historical perspective I enjoyed the light brought to rhetorical strategy as a whole. The fact that it isn’t always negative but a way an idea is presented.

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-Are the tactics behind rhetoric different when it is received differently? A newspaper article vs. television

-Do speakers deliver their rhetorical speeches with the intent of their audience being the physical one, or the large audience over media? How is this different in various settings?

Blog #11 Analyzing Rhetoric

Todays blog will cover chapters 2 & 3. In these chapters Toye discusses what Winston Churchill describes as “The scaffolding of rhetoric” which is methods of rhetoric and the third chapter discusses the methods to rhetoric.

The author begins by breaking down the three types of oratory. The first being forensic or judicial rhetoric which can be found in a courtroom or legal setting. The second being epideictic or display rhetoric which is rhetoric that involves praise or blame. An the third rhetoric being deliberative rhetoric which aims towards a group of people, like voters or legislators towards a course of action. The author then talks about how rhetoric sometimes doesn’t fall with the limitations of these 3 categories. Toye refers to a speech by Nelson Mandala which he presented to the South African Authorities. This speech was about Peace, democracy and opportunities, he concludes the speech with the quote, “But if needs be, it is an ideal which I am prepared to die”. This statement provides a rhetoric steering a group outside of the South African Authorities towards a course of action, so although it may seem to be of the first oratory it is actually the deliberative on.

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I find this view of breaking the rhetoric down, interesting to think about. This is the way the art of rhetoric is made successful. Many politicians may speak in a neutral way in a judicial setting, but there words are mean to persuade an audience in a certain direction. The author also describes the tool box. When we have knowledge of rhetoric and can break statements down to what the speaker is trying to claim, we are able to acknowledge the facts and then decide for ourselves what to think of it.


How does rhetoric in the media reflect on our knowledge and opinion on news and events?

If the analysis of rhetoric was taught in High School instead of college how would that shape generations to come?