Researchers can now send secret audio instructions undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, a New York Times report says (180511). Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, send money electronically or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.
Police in Florida USA have crept in to a funeral home to enlist the help of a corpse they created to unlock the man’s mobile phone. Avoiding the man’s fiancee, who was at the funeral home at the time, they have tried to use the dead man’s fingers to gain access to information. So far, the phone has stayed mute. Meanwhile investigations continue over how fellow police came to shoot the man dead in the first place, over the ‘crime’ of having illegal tinted windows on his car.
DNA testing has reached a level of popularity that ensures that many of us have parts of our genome available online, even if we’ve never spit into a test tube ourselves. And the decisions on who gets access to that data may be in the hands of family members we’ve never spoken to – or didn’t even know existed.
Police have a national photo ID database – and then there’s ASIO – but who else has you under surveillance? Apparently, poker machine sites keep tight track on patrons and their habits.
As technology intrudes increasingly into our lives in future, we need to be wary of allowing mindless surveillance and killing devices to have robotic control over life and death. 23 Feb 2017
Control of science and research in Australia now vests in the Department of Defence, which has a veto over communication and collaboration by Australian scientists with their overseas counterparts. 4 April 2016
A bad law, due to start in April, will see the work of Australian scientists severely curtailed…or they risk $400,000 fines and 10 years in jail, Kevin Korb writes. 1 Mar 2016
Why does a first-rate – in terms of bounty and beauty – nation like Australia have second-class liberties when it comes to police, privacy and the personal values we should cherish? 24 Feb 2016
In a last-minute plea to the PM, top researchers urgently want reconsideration of a law that would do ‘irreparable damage’ to Australianscience. You too can sign the petition. 22 Feb 16
Growth of the surveillance state has produced a worldwide movement of fraught people who claimed they are being stalked, or gaslighted, 24/7. Read all about one Australian man’s claim. 31 May 2015
Glaring examples of the counter-productive over-reach of the Defence Trade Controls Act are coming to light: here’s another one, as explained by Dr Daniel Mathews of Monash. 20 May 2015