This is my homepage. Literally. It’s my home webpage and it’s hosted at my home, on my own server. In my home, the cloud is my cloud, because usually “the cloud” is just an abstract term to say that it’s hosted on a server, on someone else premises, most of the time mirrored automatically on various premises to avoid any downtime or loss of data. All these farms of server around the world are accumulating tremendous amount of data that are invisible to the common ones.
We are in the middle of the big data era, or maybe just at the beginning. Online services have changed our life and it’s not going to stop here tomorrow. Nowadays, we can say that everybody own a personal computer. And this computer is usually more powerful than most computer available 10 years ago. Also it fit in your palm (unless it’s one of these smartphone with a screen so big that some would call them phablet) . Our smartphone is on 24/7, in our pocket or on our bedside table, always communicating with your services provider, email, messenger, calendar, social media, news, entertainment and much more. You can love it, hate it or fear it, but it’s certainly here to stay.
But underneath, most people don’t realize how much data you are broadcasting to all the big service providers. Alphabet (Google), Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are getting as much data as possible from your smartphone, every time you are surfing, searching, chatting, watching videos or just doing stuff with your phone on you or next to you, without even looking at it. But that’s ok, “I don’t care that Google knows everything about me, I don’t care if they target the ads for me, on the opposite I’m so happy to see ads for things I love than ads I don’t care at all.” People are so used to get this new comfort where everything is made for them, everything is at a finger click, or even without doing anything, your need is anticipated to be sure you stay online and in need of their services as often and as long as possible. We can easily understand that people want to prioritize the comfort and ease of use over their privacy protection but I’m not sure they are fully aware of the potential of all the data shared. Analyzed, combined and interpreted, user data could be a powerful tool, the question is, who would you trust enough to give them such power ?
Now you told me that is we cannot trust these company, how can I still be connected, enjoy the benefit of technology and minimize the among of shared data ? End-to-end encrypted, self-hosted and preferably open source software are the way to go, but it’s not an easy path in your everyday life. You will have to choose how much exposure you are willing to leave, how strict you are with your principles and what compromises you are ready to make. Eventually you will always have data breaches that are out of your control (your friends, family or any company sharing data about you without your consent). But the first step, and most important one is to be aware of what you share and how you share these data. When it comes to give huge power in the hands of a few (companies), we might quickly think about the evil that might be done with such power. “Don’t be evil” Google said once before forgetting they have ever used this slogan.
Big data is also at the base of another revolution, the automation era. Software is evolving to become more and more efficient and easy to use. Without reaching the real artificial intelligence yet, we can already see a lot of tasks automated by computers, and of course it comes first for dematerialized tasks as the computer, connected to the world wide web, as everything needed to automate repetitive tasks we have to accomplish on it. All the administrative tasks, many desk jobs from administration to banking, validation and certification tasks, notary/attorney, accounting, sales, with online shops and easy to use configurator, translation and more are job in danger to be replaced by a computer program. Next is automation that require additional hardware, like autonomous vehicle, automated assembly line, construction of houses, building and infrastructures and even cook or gardener, soon or later most job that we know today might be replaced by a machine.It’s not something new but the rate of automation and job replacement is rising faster than ever and our current society doesn’t have laws adapted to help all these new employed peoples.
Another incoming revolution will come from the blockchain and smart contracts. In 2017 a record number of new companies has started working on blockchain technologies and some of them even get funding by selling part of the companies in the form of a token, that could be traded as any cryptocurrency. These news companies or these programs (as sometimes there is not a real company behind them, but just some development working together on an open source code) have all the potential to rule the world of banking, law, tax, voting, insurance, could get there cost cut down radically using blockchain technologies. More importantly, blockchain will allow all of the above autonomous entities to communicate and work with each other without having to trust any third party to validate legitimacy of ownership. When we talk blockchain, we immediately think about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with their huge speculation on price, but the most important is less the front value, than the technology behind them. This technology is just at its beginning and we are waiting to see all the possibilities they can offer in an automated world.
The topics mentioned above are all subject that will be part of my blog posts. Big data, privacy, encryption, self-hosted, blockchain, cryptocurrency, automation… But I’m not always so serious, I like also when technology is pushed further to entertain us to a new level, so I might occasionally speak about movies, books, video games and my favorite hobby, rollercoaster. So buckle up, because it’s gonna be a hell of a ride.