Talking Targetgate on ABC 936 Hobart

ABC logoEarlier this week Target Australia announced that it was pulling Grand Theft Auto V from its shelves after an online petition gathered 41,000 signatures protesting the game’s depictions of violence against women. “Targetgate” soon became the label, of course — and it stuck even when Kmart Australia followed suit.

On Thursday I discussed the issue with Louise Saunders on ABC 936 Hobart, covering much the same territory as journalist Alex Kidman did in his opinion piece at Fat Duck Tech.

This is obviously a complex issue, especially in the wake of the continuing Gamergate furore, but because I’d previously discussed Gamergate on Download This Show, I felt reasonably well-prepared. I’m told I skirted around the edge of the rabbit hole without going down it.

I’d be interested to know whether you agree.

Play

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking mobile app privacy on radio 2MFM

2MFM logoHere’s the final of this week’s media spots that was triggered by Privacy Awareness Week, a chat about the privacy issues relating to mobile apps on Sydney’s Muslim community radio station 2MFM.

This interview was recorded on Tuesday 6 May, and this 23-minute edit was broadcast the same day. The presenter is Nadia Zahr.

2MFM has made the audio available on SoundCloud, but has not allowed for the file to be downloaded, so I’ve just embedded the SoundCloud link immediately below.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/148141679″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&show_playcount=true&show_comments=true” width=”100%” height=”81″ iframe=”false” /]

The audio is of course ©2014 Muslim Community Radio 92.1 FM.

Talking Facebook and infidelity on ABC 702 Sydney

ABC logoEarlier this morning I spoke about Facebook’s disturbing new “Big Cat” technology on ABC 702 Sydney, and here’s the audio.

Big Cat is the codename for an algorithm that can apparently detect with a high reliability whether your partner is having an extramarital affair, by analysing such things as their pattern of friend formation and communication, comparing their smartphone location with what they’ve said in posts — such as whether they’re really shopping or at the gym or on a work trip — as well as language cues, such as a tendency to avoid answering direct questions.

In a way, it’s a natural extension of MIT research from 2009, which showed that a young man’s pattern of friend formation could reveal whether he was gay — often before he even knew himself. Or Target (US) being able to determine when a woman had become pregnant from her shopping list — at least with 87% accuracy.

It’s the kind of stuff I talk about in my guest lecture to UTS students — which, as it happens, I’ll be updating and presenting this coming Monday 7 April.

As I discuss with breakfast presenter Robbie Buck, however, this is a little more serious than sending someone some discount coupons on a likely hunch. Facebook had better get this right, given that confronting a partner about an alleged affair is a serious issue.

I’m hearing that the Australia test locations will be the Brisbane / Gold Coast nexus or, more likely, Adelaide, for reasons that I explain.

One thing we forgot to mention in the interview is the reason for Facebook’s codename: “Big Cat” is for catching cheaters. Oh dear.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Talking Yahoo!, Summly and more on ABC Local Radio

ABC logoThe $30 million purchase of internet startup Summly by Yahoo!, the fourth most-visited online service, certainly attracted media attention today — thanks to founder Nick D’Aloisio being just 17 years old. So yeah, I did some radio.

I’ve just finished talking about that — and a whole bunch of semi-related issues like robot journalists and data mining — on ABC Local Radio around NSW with Rosie Beaton, who’s filling in for regular presenter Dom Knight.

I thought we’d talk for maybe five minutes, but it ended up being a 20-minute chat. Here’s the entire audio.

Play

The audio is of course ©2013 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, archived here because it isn’t being archived anywhere else.

SMH: You are what you surf, buy or tweet

I have an op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald today about the surveillance society, something that’s already with us.

Computers can tell when your daughter is pregnant. Sometimes they know even before you do. In a recent feature for The New York Times, Charles Duhigg describes how Target in the US analyses everything it knows about its customers. A young woman buying unscented lotion, a large handbag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a brightly coloured rug is likely to be pregnant. So Target dispatches coupons for baby clothes.

When a father stormed into a store complaining that his teenage daughter had received the coupons, Target was forced to apologise. But days later, he realised the store was right…

You can click through to read the whole thing. But since it was written for the dead-tree paper and not the website there are no links.

Here’s the links to my sources:

You might also enjoy some of my more recent articles on related topics: