Sunday, May 24, 2015

So what are the measures of Agency?

In my role as Leading Edge Forum research associate I had been pondering the implications of this question when I saw this link. I will be honest I am no-where near answering the question yet...

At first sight it might not be obvious that the Netflix link, (Yes; you should have read the link to make sense of this post!) relates to Agency. Closer inspection shows that Netflix is working to eliminate friction and delay in the process of their viewers getting to, or back to, exactly where they want to be in Netflix on different TV sets. They are measuring Agency, with the goal of increasing it! Of course this is very much in the interest of Netflix, as well as their viewers

Consideration of the activity will show that if Netflix succeeds, the Agency of BOTH Netflix AND their customers can be increased.

From this we may conclude that Agency does not conform to the Law of Conservation.

I suspect that Google and Facebook see control over our data as a Zero Sum Game, i.e. If we (the Masses) have control over our stuff, they (the MegaCorps) don't, and they think that is bad for them. So they strive, by fair means or foul, to reduce our agency over our things and data, in order for them to gain that control for themselves.

Sadly many politicians and technologists, still see this as a Privacy problem. This encourages the idea that Agency, or Control, has to conform to the Law of Conversation. However in the digital world Win-Win positions are easy to develop and benefit from. It does however takes an Outside-In and Clockwise mentality to be able to attain this apparent Nirvanah. The truth is that joint e-trust and control can be achieved, if only we put our minds to it, that can be of benefit to all parties.

Could it be that Netflix might be preparing for a better world, where entities are given frictionless and rapid control over their own Things, data and destiny? Of course that is taking their actual behaviour, and stretching it a little bit too far, but we can hope!

Actually, better still, we can start taking this stance in our own organisations, imagine what it will feel like, when you realize that you have taken your organisation to the high ground in time to avoid the Cyber Agency Flood. (This is an imagined future where the masses rise up in frustration over their loss of control over, and the unimaginable amount of time it is taking them to manage, their cyber interactions.)

What are the key Agency measures and win-wins that your organisations can find in your customer interactions, that will help to gain value for all parties.

Please get back to me as I have a sneaking suspicion about what one of the measures of Agency is but, I have been proven wrong before, so I'd like to gather data!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Security = Futility or Utility?

Or put another way: How secure are we really? depends upon how empty or full you see your cup!

For those with a predilection for full, let me introduce you to the emergence of Weapons of Mass Cyber Destruction (WMCD).

Forget externally implemented Denial of Service attacks, think of previously embedded Denial Of Operation tools.

Think not of Back Doors, think of built in Kill Switches, either surreptitiously, or worse openly, installed by the manufacturers of the devices.

We already have EMP Nuclear Bombs that can destroy our unprotected electronic devices. By far the majority of our electronic devices would be permanently taken out by an Electro Magnetic Pulse triggered by the explosion of such a device. Few nations have the capability, or the capacity to develop such devices. So most electronic devices remain unprotected.

A single dedicated and suitably motivated individual could develop a digital equivalent of the EMP. However there are large corporations who have already demonstrated a predilection for developing and implementing digital kill switches.

Such code has been developed to "kill" or degrade charging cables not manufactured by Apple. It only takes a small step inside the innards of any electronic device to determine the capability of installing kill switches. The answer is simple: all could have one built in, most could have one added, the important question is how many already have? In the case of the Apple charging cable it is as a result of a licensing program that gives contracted companies the right to make Apple Cables, to achieve this right, they must build MFI Authentication chips into their devices. Apple has written code into the iPhones and iPads to allow them to degrade the performance of non licensed cables and then stop them working at all.

If it walks like a "Kill Switch" and quacks like a "Kill Switch"....

Apple is currently requiring that Home Automation Manufacturers build the same MFi Authentication chips into their devices if they want to interact with HomeKit. They will likely be building in the same kill code to disable operations of device manufacturers who have stopped paying the HomeKit licensing fee, as they have done with their cables. This sounding frighteningly close to a protection racket.

There is clearly a need for Trust Perimeters, and for a Digital Fabric that enables the development of e-trust, which is a requirement on the journey to true Cyber Agency. The challenge is to ensure that e-trust and Agency are achieved in an open, transparent and arguably free manner. Walled Gardens that do not allow the free flow of trust and agency will be a major disabler for economic growth in the not to distant future

But perhaps worse is that the practise of embedding "kill switches" into products, in the interest of protecting revenue generating license fees, may one day, be used against us all. Why would we allow the installation of components and/or code into our devices that enable Mass Cyber Destruction? It is quite clear that Nation States could trigger already embedded kill switches at a mere whim....

What systems do you already own that could be disabled by miscreants or manufacturers?

More importantly what systems have you sold to your customers that could be disabled by miscreants or manufacturers?

In an increasingly interconnected world of Things, protecting the Agency of our Citizens/Customers, must be one of our highest priorities, after delivering them value for their tax/money. Though protecting the Agency of our own enterprise is as equally important. Be aware of each and every reduction of Enterprise Agency, some of these reductions may be done for good business reasons, but be sure they are. Miscreants and Entropy acts on Agency in the most surprising of ways, just like the frog relaxing in a warm pool of water, we should always be very cognizant of the importance of Situational Awareness. For like the dozing frog, we may never come to the realization that it is in fact a pot on the stove, and never wake up!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Enterprise 2000 revisited

Simon Wardley has reminded me that Mapping is the only way to the future.


So I decided to apply his technique to an old Vision that I once helped write.


Extend Human Capability and

Promote Global Collaboration by

Providing Continuous Natural Access to

People and Knowledge


Ah it's clear now that this must have come from Simon's Strategem Algorithm


What does it look like with Simon'sMapping applied?


Extend Entity Capability and

Promote Global Collabora-Things by

Providing Transparent & Trustworthy Natural Access to

Entities and Smart Knowledge

Hmmm perhaps I've missed the point?

But then I did write this last Wednesday!!


OK, so that is a hateful join of two things, in this case words! But that will be what we get, when we let Things join together willy nilly. Most of the Thing joins done out of sight, and not under our direct control will be neither fortuitous nor laudable.

I recall trying to contact the folks behind the current Thing joining standard, DLNA. I had hoped to find a group of individuals who were planning to build "Agency" into their standard, at least I was until I understood them to be an association of Thing Manufacturers. When I understood the FLA, it stands for Digital Living Network Alliance, it became clearer, their goal is to let things connect to share data, mostly media related data. Put plainly DLNA servers publish all media files they hold to any and all compliant DLNA clients.

My conversation with them, was short and not so sweet, it resulted in them not understanding why I might not want any DLNA compliant thing to be able find and connect to any DLNA compliant server on my network. It ended with me being told "if you don't want them (the DLNA servers) to be connected to, then switch them off!" They clearly didn't understand my point or motivation. I wanted to add human agency to the DLNA standard, and they didn't see the need.

There are other Media related sharing standards, like Apple's proprietary AirPlay. Apple made the sharing activity human centric, the server in this case a smart phone or IPad will only share to a client under the direct control of a human. Putting the AirPlay Server under the control of the user, rather than allowing the user to use an AirPlay Client to browse all servers, is IMHO the right thing to do, Human Agency was put at the right point in the process of sharing.

As a test I placed a "Inappropriate Media File "on one of my disks that acts as an DLNA server, and tried to make it unavailable to my television, so that my Grandchildren could not stumble upon said file. The fellows from DLNA was right. If I didn't want the file to be available to my Grandkids, I needed to turn off the DLNA service on the disk. Be aware that when DLNA servers are enabled, "any" DLNA enabled client on a network can browse the files so published.

When it was just about sharing Media, perhaps Agency wasn't a high priority, as users could be relied on to not publish inappropriate material on their private networks. In truth, apart from the fact that they can't be relied upon, this also ignores the porosity of most home networks, that is few Betworks are private.

If I were a musician or filmmaker I would be concerned that my material was being published on DLNA servers, connected behind porous network routers. For I can imagine an illicit media service that reaches into the deperimeterised home networks to map, and provide access to the worlds DLNA published media.

As Things become more capable, and they start controlling each other, building Human Agency into the protocols that allow the Things to collaborate will surely be a necessity? Not just from the view points of Intellectual Property, and Privacy, but also from the view points of Fiduciary and Personal Safety.

Alternatively we can build Things that can think and act Autonomously, applying human values to their decisions, and Asimovs Four Laws of Robotics will apply!

Is Small and Simple really the best way to avoid complexity?

Alternate Title: Should we Exploit, Manage or Avoid Emergent Behaviour in the Internet of Things

Complicated is not the same a Complex, as those who study Complexity theory know well. Some of these theorists, posit that Complicated Systems can be designed, with behaviour that can be both predicted and controlled, while Complex Systems cannot. Complex Systems are normally found when a large number of smaller components or entities with similar goals are found in a specific domain. Their individual behaviour cannot be easily predicted but the emergent behaviours can often be divined once they have started to emerge. However it is not clear that they can be divined from a given set of starting points and/or constraints.

Computer Modelling of Complex Systems are increasingly used to develop theories as profound as the existence of dark matter, or the Location of Black holes. By running the increasingly detailed models enough times the required starting conditions are being established.

One of the outcomes of the increasingly detailed instrumentation of humanity is the fact that our every move and intention are being observed and collected by Things that are being given goals.

These Things are being connected in increasingly complex matrices or fabrics. We are creating the conditions of a Complex System in the Internet of Things. Complexity Theory predicts that there will be emergent behaviours.

Have any such emergent behaviours already surfaced?

Who is accountable for detecting, observing or regulating such behaviours?

What are the starting conditions for Autonomy to emerge as a new behaviour from this Network of Things?

Would we be allowed to become aware of the conditions that would allow the creation of this emergent behaviour? For after all the Computer Models would be under the control of the Things!

Why am I being reminded of Mice? Oh yes, they were the authors of the code to find "The question!", given the answer to Life the Universe and Everything was 42!. In this case Arthur Dent, the supposed sole survivor of the planet Earth, was the Thing that developed autonomous behaviour. As I recall he wasn't very happy to discover he was simply part of a System to divine a question.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When should a machine remove Agency from a Human?

The answer is not simple, but certainly when the human in question is breaking the Zeroth AND First Laws of Robotics.

       0. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.[1]

Surely I can't be the only person to ask:
"Why did the plane let him fly all those passengers into a mountain?"

I suspect Andreas Lubitz will be used as an exemplar for years to come as we see machines being given more and more authority to over-ride the risky instructions of mere mortals. This is one of those times in history when new principles are developed.

The new Principle can be written quite Simply as "Humans can't be Trusted!"

The same week as Andreas took his life and the life of 149 others, Ford launched a car that can "prevent you from speeding"

I posit that Things will be enacting more and more of our rules for us.
So can I suggest we start getting really good at writing Rules.

For if the Rule is bad the Thing will still enact it!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why the swing from Privacy to Agency?

I suspect have been asked this question via the many quizzical looks I have noticed on the occasions I espoused Agency over Privacy, but I sadly I read "confusion" rather than "question".

So recently I have been considering why I was not so "into" Agency in the past, and why I am now.

I had toyed with Primacy over Privacy in the early days of the Jericho Forum, indeed the word Primacy appears in the Identity Commandments.

It has recently struck me that the reason is very similar to the deep feelings of discomfort I experienced in my early forays into Second Life. The digital and physical world are starting to converge and in that convergence we have some new things to learn, and perhaps more importantly some new things to gain control of.

So to revisit my second life experiences, my first foray was more about understanding the interface and how to build things and dress myself in this new virtual world. I was happily immersed in these challenges (I still am not sure why I chose an animal skin cat suit) when I accidentally bumped into another virtual being. It was a visceral shock, I did not like the fact that I had absolutely no identity or trust cues. In fact I hated it so much I stayed clear for a fair while, and on the odd occasions I did venture back in, I worked hard to find deserted locations to play, in order to be "in control". If I couldn't be "Private" I sensed myself going into "Tube" mode. The way I am, and act, when travelling on the underground; in close proximity to a large number of strangers, I basically work hard to ignore them, pretending they are not real!

The time I did go into second life to interact with another virtual entity, was when I was being chaperoned by "Byn". She was a virtual world expert in my eyes, and most importantly I knew and trusted her. The experience was far more akin to real life and I felt like I was there, but most importantly I felt in control. Thus I sense that my issue was not really my desire for Privacy but rather my desire to be "in control". In short, I have an innate desire for agency! So perhaps my first swing from Digital Privacy to Digital or Cyber Agency was triggered by Second Life.

With the accelerating emergence of the Internet of Things the Digital and Physical worlds are colliding again.  Instead of the Physical world being instantiated Virtually in the Digital World, as in Second Life, this time the Digital World is being Physically instantiated in the Physical World.

We are learning how to make digital things physical in a new way. We have done this mechanically and indeed electrically for a long time. After all a thermostat and a heater are two components, or a thing, that translates a desired digital outcome, or a digital intent, into physical reality: "I want the temperature in the room to be 20 degrees Centigrade."

The fact that we are networking the sensor and the heater and giving them an API does not seem too important until we realise that now anyone on the planet, with the right skills, can chose to set the temperature of our room to whatever temperature they chose. The dangerous thing about this latest Digital / Physical interconnect is that there are no means to identify the lack of trust cues.

We have no simple means of knowing if we are in control of a thing and when we lose it.  How many of you spotted the new Frequent Locations service embedded by Apple deep in the bowels of iOS on your iPhone.

As an aside: Tim Cook please also shift from Privacy to Agency,your focus on Privacy  I accept that you "are" working hard to protect our Privacy from Nasty State Agencies. May I remind you that you have also been working hard to reduce our Agency or the degree of control we have over our Cyber Space. While I accept that Apple is not the only organisation hell bent on turning people from fungible resources into revenue generators. Locking us into your walled garden while carefully and subtly reducing our degrees of freedom, is not what I want from an organisation that wants to gain and maintain my trust.

The first organisation that truly empowers me, with an agent service that acts on MY behalf, will get my vote and perhaps most importantly access to my wallet. Indeed the first organisation that helps me to monetise my information whilst keeping me in control of that same information will be a hero in my eyes.

So, why the swing from Privacy to Agency? : I want to be able to be the agent of my own destiny in this ever more connected world of Things.

Agency gives me control and allows me to select and achieve many more things than the Privacy/Transparency choice.

Light, Heat, Nutrition, Health, Making, Wealth, Learning, Entertainment, Supporting Others, Charity, Security to name but a few.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Death: The Ultimate Cyber Agency Challenge

To recap, Cyber Agency is the control an individual has over their cyber space. Most of us do a very poor job of managing our Cyber Space. This is caused primarily because today our cyber space is made up of myriads of slices of enterprise Cyber Space, In the battle to win bigger shares of control over us, our Cyber Space providers are trying to attract us to use more and more of their "free services".

As an example, where is all the music to which you have license? In the past you might have said "music you own", that was however when we purchased physical objects containing the music. (In my own case, I find the answer to be unknown to me, I remember 3 service providers and have control of two but have an inkling that I have forgotten a couple, there was that incident in the last century where a disk crashed on my PC. I never really did recover from that, emotionally or archivaly. When I take into account the devices that contain my music, and then There was also that Russian Music service that provided cheap music...

I estimate that I have more than 25 Cyber Music Slices.

I won't bang on about all the myriads of Identities I have been forced to create on Vendor websites, I know I have forgotten more than I maintain control over, some of these are still costing me, as I regularly discover. The British Legion each year nicks another wodge of cash from my bank account. During the Iraqi war in a moment of giving I signed up to give them a donation. I must have ticked the wrong box, as the war is a distant memory, and I am still giving. However, as it is just after Poppy Day, I am reminded of the fact that I didn't buy one again, so end up not trying to figure out how to cancel the never ending donation. I did once and failed after 30 minutes of trying... and ended up frustrated and still poorer, but at least it's going to a good cause, right? But as the myriads of Identities in the main do not have too much of any import, I will focus on financially impactful identities. I lose my credit cards often enough that the credit card numbers I give to websites become quickly defunct. Perhaps this is a strategy I should actively engage in?! Yes, I think I will lose my Internet Credit Card each year, if I haven't already!

Attaining, let alone maintaining control over our Digital Assets is a task we keep promising ourselves that we will do. But the task is becoming ever more difficult as our Cyber Space is being sliced into ever thinner wedges. Too often we do not even notice our Cyber Space being split into ever more and thinner slices.We do this to ourselves when we by new and more devices, often from different suppliers. We also do this to ourselves when we attempt to file something and create a special folder for it, forgetting that we already have 3 other special folders for precisely the file type and content that this one was. A rough tally of my folders across multiple storage slices quickly exceeds 1,000... Aaargh!

Digital photos is the next domain starting to be dominated and sliced by our "free service" providers. Here I am even more confused, as Apple, just one of my providers, and with my connivance, has now managed somehow to create 11 different places where I can find our photos stored! How did that happen?! I am not even counting the 6 different iPhoto Archives I have created over the years. Last week I wanted a photo that I knew I had taken, I knew the camera and rough date, it is still not found:-( When I take into account the myriad of non Apple devices that take and store my photos the number of Photo Cyber Slices quickly approaches 50, I suspect it exceeds that number, but I have not the patience to even count them, let alone try to attain control over them. Oh yes I should also remember the myriad of storage cards of various types dotted round the house and in various devices. Many of these I can no longer even read! I still have an early Apple QuickTake? camera that creates a file type that not even Apple iPhoto deigns to acknowledge. I am sure it still has photos in it.... Oh! wait did I count the DJI drone? So yes, way more then 50 Cyber Photo slices. I just realised that of course I meant all images, moving and still! I wonder if those cine films are still readable!? I know the BetaMax tape I kept as a keep sake has long since become unreadable. I hope the Peacefull Valley Dude ranch VHS video is still readable.

Perhaps the most divisive of the Cyber Space slicers, is the growing band of free storage space providers. DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud (or whatever Apple is calling it this week) are just few of the myriad free cyber storage space providers. (Naturally I have one of every one that I can lay my hands on. After all it is free, and like my brother I encourage others to take up space in my new found storage provider as that gives me even more free space.) I am truly at a loss to define a number for my different Cyber Storage Slices, let's say 20? Seems conservative...

I can only imagine how many new Cyber Space slices will exist in my Cyber Space when the Internet of Things properly kicks in, as all things will naturally come with their own cloud data store. What self respecting thing would ever come into existence without a place in the cloud to store all it's sensor data. The number of these slices rapidly approaches a large number, today I have 15 temperature sensors in our household, that I know of, I assumed two in each car, I suspect there are many more.

So my rough prediction of cyber slices that will be in existence when I die will be well north of 5,000. I predict that at that time I will only have agency over less than 10% of them, and be "in control" of a handful.

Inside each of those slices might be between a dozen or 10,000 files.

I can only hope that my Digital Agent will attain wondrous curation skills before I die, as I know in my heart of hearts that I won't do it. I can only apologies in advance for the sad state of affairs that my family will find themselves attempting to handle.

So the next Cyber Space service industry that will need come into existence, if the Agents do not step up to the mark, is Cyber Space Curation of the Dead. Navigating the myriad of different Organisational procedures to wrestle back cyber agency of the dear departed will not be a trivial task! Just finding the slices is going to be hard enough! Whether there is anything value in all those slices is an entirely different matter! Future Data Archeologists may disagree, but perhaps the most prevalent response will be to erase the lot! To Adam and Christopher I have hidden the number of my Swiss bank account in one of those slices! ;-) (Not really!)

Now all I need is a suitable Cyber Slices of the Dead Graphic...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wait! my dreams are being mapped into Reality!

In this case, Mapping comes in the form of Clues, rather than @swardleys eminent Mapping approach.

If you haven't read the ClueTrain then do...

But perhaps more importantly read the NewClues:

At the end of the preface Doc Searles and David Weinberger state:

We, the People of the Internet, need to remember the glory of its revelation so that we reclaim it now in the name of what it truly is.

They solved my klutzy and limiting "We, the People of the World...", with the use of the key word Internet, an even more expansive version might start... "We, the Entities of the Internet..."

My ONLY quibble is their use of the word "is", for in their own minds they know that we can't know what "it" is, we can only extract Clues that point what it "truly can be!" Though perhaps they think they covered that with their use of "in the name of"

As they are the pre-eminent Clue extractors, I implore you again: "Read the New Clues."

I warn you, to truly grok them, the Clues that is, you will need to read them more than once and preferably in groups...

...Clue Clubs anyone?