Cerebral Security & Big Big Data

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Not a day goes by without news of a compromised website, a leakage of passwords, a loss of credit-card data, or a concern that someone has taken control of an online account. Cyber security and the associated issue of personal privacy are a scourge of modern times brought on by us humans relying on the connected world to live our lives; whether that’s to manage our finances, do the shopping, communicate with friends, or grow a business. Pretty much everything we do, and even more so for the younger generation, involves digital data that can be leaked, eaves-dropped, harvested, or sold.

I suspect, however, things may be about to get a whole lot worse over the next decade! At the moment our brains are off-limits; they host our private memories, thoughts and intentions without others being able to interfere. The only clues are what we display with our emotions and choose to disseminate with our words and actions. And within each of our brains is a lot of data; this is big big data, typically a memory of about a million gigabytes each!

How different the world will be when we can interface directly with our brain, controlling things telepathically by merely thinking of the action. As with all innovations, there will be plenty of benefits; people with disabilities and illness will gain more control over their lives and daily tasks could be completed hands-free and efficiently from a distance. There is plenty of research going on at the moment to this end; already it is possible to control external objects with brainwaves, its just that that the range of commands is rather limited and requires a fair bit of training and concentration to do repeatedly and accurately.

This will change, and one day it will be possible to download memories as both stills (like photographs) and sequences (like videos). It will be possible to back-up our personal memory bank so that learned facts, figures and insights are not forgotten over time, and then eventually it will be possible to upload data to augment your memory with new catalogues of information.

Soon we’ll be into the realms of cerebral security. People around you may try to access your brain to see what you are really thinking about them, the police and security services will want to monitor your past actions and future intentions, criminals will want to know things with which to blackmail you or second-guess you, and terrorists may try to gain control of you so that you can perform actions on their behalf. Suddenly, the brain will be susceptible to new forms of viruses; hybrids of the biological and the computational.

Somehow we’ll have to rush to develop the equivalent of passwords, firewalls and anti-virus scans for our brain. There will be a need for memory back-up and data recovery (read personality recovery). This will be a whole new and exciting industry bridging the gap between biochemistry, neurology and the IT industry.

The difference between a neurone and a silicon transistor will be greyed, the keyboard and mouse will be no more, and things like smart phones, monitors and televisions will be replaced by direct interfaces to the retinal receptors of our brains.  You will be both a source and a sink for direct data transfer. Google will collect street views from your own eyes, Amazon will ship on one-blink orders, and Facebook will become Brainbook as your timeline is thought-after-thought-after thought…

Deep breath.

On Friday 9th October 2015 we discuss cyber security and big data at the Malvern Festival of Innovation. Will we be considering cerebral security and big big data at the same Festival in October 2025? Probably, and there will be no need for you to attend; we’ll just beam it all straight to you whilst you are sleeping and extract a quick user survey to see what you thought of it all afterwards!

Adrian Burden, Festival Founder

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Social Media or Social Tedia?

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As we race towards the next edition of the Malvern Festival of Innovation, we are stepping up our social media engagement to help market the event as widely as possible. Today this activity is a necessary part any campaign, and as all business owners will know, the spectrum of platforms available is daunting. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger, What’s App, Instagram, Flickr, MailChimp, to name but a few of the more well known ones.  Each has its nuances, each its own demographic, and each its own acceptable (n)etiquette.

Moreover, campaigns are no longer the monologue of a billboard or flier. They are two-way conversations in which the target audience responds, interacts and engages.  This is a 24-7 activity requiring the stamina of a marathon runner to stay the course, the agility of a sprinter to respond quickly, and frankly the skills of a decathlete to navigate across all the platforms.

Just last week Facebook reported that it had over 1 billion users on line in a single day.  That’s a significant proportion of the world’s population; especially when you remember that the global population must include some people who are very young, some who are very old, and some who are living in really quite remote and undeveloped areas of our planet.

Is it therefore all getting too much? Has innovation in this space finally surpassed the human brain’s ability to cope with all this activity? And as was indicated in a BBC news piece this week, its not so much that we are just overloaded, but rather that we are addicted to all the stimulation and won’t switch off.

The good news is that at some point someone will come up with a new idea that eases the situation again for us all. Until that happens, your sanity may only be saved by pressing the off button and relishing the short-lived silence before switching it all back on again so you don’t miss something important.

Adrian Burden, Festival Founder