Let there be WiFi! Life in the age of connectivity

Can’t sleep?

Maybe you’re watching Netflix too late into the night. The mild out of your pill can maintain you awake.

So can the glow from smartphones, which many of you refuse to place away, even at bedtime.

Some kind of digital machine is probably going accountable. We’ve entered the age of connectivity, a wi-fi wonderland that by no means closes. We’re linked to virtually everybody and the whole lot, whether or not its our cellphone or a child cam or a espresso maker at work that may be managed with an app.

The historic convergence of the Internet, smartphones, tablets, apps, WiFi, cameras, sensors and social media means we no lengthy must be unaided, out of contact alone or bored — ever.

“The evolution of computer systems, the Internet and telephones is transferring at a frenetic tempo,” mentioned Taner Halicioglu, who helped flip Facebook right into a social-media large earlier than changing into a pc science lecturer at UC San Diego. “I can’t assume of any technological change that’s been this impactful, this rapidly, in human historical past.”

A couple of numbers trace at the depth of our digital obsessions.

People devour about 1 billion hours of video a day on YouTube, an organization that’s barely 12 years outdated. The web site’s international viewership might surpass TV viewership later this 12 months.

Facebook customers put up upwards of 350 million pictures a day. And Amazon makes use of greater than 15,000 robots to fill digital orders for the whole lot from doorbell safety cameras to books which are printed on demand.

We dive into this digital area though it might be unhealthy for us. Consumers are pressured to sacrifice their privateness in a spread of methods. Cyber bullying is rampant. Fake information is in every single place.

And hackers are a rising menace, particularly in terms of penetrating the mash of Internet-connected gadgets which are changing into widespread in our properties, from “good” toothbrushes to the sensors that textual content you when your crops want watering.

It’s tough to make sense of what’s occurring as a result of a lot is going on. And it’s unfolding at nice velocity, in methods that may be exhausting to see and interpret.

But we’ve taken a shot at placing issues into perspective.

Welcome to “Our Connected Lives,” a 24 page-special part that examines how the convergence of digital applied sciences is altering the manner we stay, work and play.

Over the previous 4 months, the Union-Tribune has spoken to everybody from technologists, musicians and docs to philosophers, futurists and FBI brokers to study how wi-fi connectivity is affecting society.

We talked to greater than 100 individuals, some of whom wrote articles for this bundle. Two authors gave us permission to excerpt thrilling new books, together with a creepy sci-fi story involving contact lenses and social media.

We cowl lots of floor. Here’s a pattern of what you’ll discover inside.

Statistics. We stuffed a web page with stats that can assist offer you a way of how many individuals are utilizing varied sorts of digital gadgets, apps and social media. You’ll discover some actual eye-openers.

Take Netflix, for instance. The firm used to mail you motion pictures on a CD. Netflix has since became a streaming large that performs about 125 million hours of motion pictures and TV reveals every day for its international viewers. The firm’s attraction was summed up on Twitter by a person who mentioned, “I went outdoors as soon as. That was earlier than Netflix.”

Words and language: You in all probability know what sexting means. And phablet. But what about meatspace, dox and blockchain? Don’t despair. We’ve offered a glossary.

How we obtained right here: We put collectively an illustrated timeline that highlights some of the key individuals, advances, and firms that led to the age of connectivity. As you’d anticipate, Steve Jobs is on the checklist. But so is Meg Ryan. Think about it.

Who’s watching you, and why?: Your actions are recorded by the whole lot from site visitors cameras to the GPS system in your smartphone. Some of this happens voluntarily. But a lot of it’s involuntary, or hidden. All of this impacts your privateness in a spread of methods, mentioned Andreas Weigend, a Stanford social information skilled who previously served as chief scientist at Amazon.

Weigand dissects the challenge in, “Data for the People: How to Make Our Post-Privacy Economy Work for You.” He’s allowed us to excerpt the introduction.

Internet of Things (IoT): The time period refers to widespread family home equipment and gadgets which are related to the Internet. We’re speaking about the whole lot from thermostats to fridges to safety cameras.

You can remotely management or question this stuff with smartphone apps, or your voice. In some instances, the gadgets ship you texts or emails with messages like, “You’re low on milk” or “Your crops want watering.”

We visited Bob Miller in La Mesa to find out how the IoT gadgets in his house and in his spouse’s automotive are altering his life.

Hey, Echo: The IoT is elevating privateness considerations together with making life extra handy. There’s specific concern about Amazon’s Echo (with its Alexa system) and Google’s One, new voice-activated private digital assistants.

These house electronics can “take heed to us, and presumably document us, with out our express permission,” mentioned Stephen Cobb, a senior researcher at the San Diego workplace of ESET, a safety firm.

Cobb is aware of the topic so nicely, we requested him to jot down a evaluate. It’s entertaining, creepy and humorous.

Your smartphone will see you now: Two years in the past, Dr. Robin Cook — the doctor and best-selling writer — instructed us that he thinks that our smartphones will quickly develop into the tough equal of our household doctor.

“Cellphones can already do all of the monitoring that you simply’d discover in an intensive-care unit,” mentioned Cook, who wrote such thrillers as “Coma” and “Cell.”

His opinion hasn’t modified. So we determined to republish the interview we did with him in 2015, when he was making ready to go to La Jolla.

The interview seems subsequent to a column by La Jolla heart specialist Dr. Eric Topol and federal prosecutor Kathryn Haun, who ask, “Why do cyber-criminals have simpler entry to your digital medical information than you do?”

The sound of music: On a special observe, Union-Tribune music author George Varga explains how the digital revolution and the push for connectivity has totally modified the music enterprise. You’ll learn a companion piece from Union-Tribune digital life author Jennifer Van Grove, who talks about how we’re migrating away from the tv, and making the smartphone and pill our personal private leisure programs.

Age issues: We spoke individually to teams of youngsters, middle-aged of us, and senior residents to study how they use digital gadgets and social media.

Some of what we heard was shocking. For instance, most of the youngsters mentioned that they don’t sleep with their telephones close by. National surveys counsel in any other case.

The seniors we spoke with had been humorous and blunt, particularly Royce Weiss, 86, of Solana Beach. We requested her whether or not digital gadgets assist stave off loneliness.

“I don’t assume (it does),” Weiss mentioned. “And I don’t see why everyone has to be entertained each minute, like a toddler.”

Hack assault: Readers will be taught lots about hacking in this particular part. And the tales include lots of recommendation about what you are able to do to keep away from getting hit on-line.

We’re reprinting a narrative we printed in January about ransomware. It struck a nerve as a result of many readers have clicked on e-mail or web sites that launched a chunk of malicious software program that froze the working system of their computer systems. The victims then obtained a message from a hacker that knowledgeable them that their screens would stay frozen till they paid a ransom that always exceeded $200.

It’s a worldwide drawback.

Special Agent Chris Christopherson, who investigates cyber crimes out of the FBI’s area workplace in San Diego, instructed us that victims paid as a lot as $1 billion worldwide in ransom in 2016.

San Diego has the success to be house to 3 non-profit businesses that combat and address hacking and cybercrime: The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the Securing Our eCity Foundation, and the Identity Theft Resource Center.

All three businesses offered us with tons of sensible recommendation for thwarting hackers, and defending your loved ones from the whole lot from id theft to cyber bullying.

The close to future: We shut out “Connected Lives” by publishing “Eyejacked,” a brief story that seems in “Chasing Shadows,” a brand new anthology edited by Carlsbad author and futurist David Brin.

Eyejacked is a sci-fi story by David Walton, who introduces us to a mom who makes use of the tiny cameras in her contact lenses to broadcast her life stay on social media. Her objective is to get as many followers as doable. In the course of, she places her younger daughter’s life in danger.

It’s a cautionary story a few type of expertise that isn’t merely doable, it’s inevitable. Sony and Google are engaged on it now.

Twitter: @grobbins

gary.robbins@sduniontribune.com