Author Archives: 45219-EX

Is Oculus VR safe for children?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The article “Bought your kid a VR headset for Christmas? You might end up regretting it” written by Ryan Browne from CNBC details the downsides of children using Meta’s Oculus Virtual Reality headsets. These headsets pose a number of risks to its users such as subjecting them to 18+ content as the Oculus does not come with the option to block R-rated content as well as other content that can be harmful to children. Moreover, this article also explains that children may also be subjected to child predators using Oculus pray on victims as well as racism and pornography. Although Meta has said it will invest $50 million into global research to ensure that the Metaverse products are used responsibly, this does not change the fact that there are threats as of now that are not close to being mitigated.

Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change | WIRED
Figure 1: Mark Zuckerberg using the Oculus VR console

Although this technology is highly targeted towards children, it lacks the barriers required to keep one of its largest audiences safe. Speaking from experience, I have a niece and nephew ages 12 and 9 respectively, who got an Oculus for Christmas and after having done further research on it, I would not feel comfortable with kids of my own using it after learning of the lack of parental controls on this website. Furthermore, there has also been research about how VR can be damaging to the developing eyes of children and can also lead to children having a more individual and isolated experience, even more so than traditional forms of gaming. From a business standpoint, the VR market is very niche and exclusive when compared to other forms of gaming and is known to be very expensive to create content as well as for users to purchase it. All in all, I believe that it is a very intriguing and exciting technology and form of entertainment, but there are strides that need to be made in order for this software to be appropriate for children and for everyone else for that matter.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/31/bought-your-kid-a-vr-headset-for-christmas-you-might-regret-it.html

Nuclear Power Plants and Where Their Place in Our Future

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The article “The small nuclear power plants billed as an energy fix” is about an energy company in Denmark, Seaborg Technologies which has invented a new type of nuclear reactor that is much smaller and cheaper than the conventional large and expensive nuclear reactors and address the problem regarding the fears of safety involving nuclear disasters we have seen in the past. These reactors are housed on floating barges and use molten soft to moderate reactions which prevent large-scale disasters from occurring. Moreover, this article also includes skepticism from professionals in the industry as well as some concern from the director-general of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Seaborg barges
Figure 1: Seaborg nuclear power barges

Of course, nuclear energy is known to be very clean and much more efficient than other alternatives such as Solar and thermoelectric energy, but the question remains to this day, are the tradeoffs from this energy worth the potential for another nuclear disaster in our future? having had such devastating incidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima would make anyone wonder if it is possible to use this technology without there ever having issues again. This company thinks that they have found the solution to this problem; however, this technology may not be available for a number of years meanwhile other alternatives like wind and solar are growing leaving nuclear behind such is an example with Germany who has greatly invested in wind energy and has practically abandoned nuclear energy. I do believe that one day companies will have technology advanced enough to ensure with 100% certainty that there will not be another nuclear disaster, but I think that day is still off into the future. I personally am in favour of nuclear energy due to many factors such as it being a low-carbon energy source but also because the nuclear sector creates many jobs in different aspects and stages of production from the construction of nuclear power plants to running as well as the decommissioning of plants and waste. However; I think there are too many skeptics and too many countries who are steering away from it to become a more mainstream form of energy any time soon regardless of the reduction in pollution it would bring as well as the individual reduction of businesses’ carbon footprint.

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59245973

Why Amazon might need a Human Resources adjustment

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The article “Protesters hit Amazon buildings on Black Friday” addressed the protests which occurred at Amazon buildings in the UK, US and Europe on Black Friday. These protests were led by the movement of “Make Amazon Pay” which has been perpetrated by labour unions as well as equality and environmental groups. This movement’s purpose is to protest seek out improved pay, end employee surveillance as well as for Amazon to add its own labour unions. Moreover, the movement also seeks to extend sick leave and improve COVID-19 tracking and reporting as well as to pay taxes ethically without using loopholes. Additionally, these protests are also in response to an increased number of EMS calls to Amazon factories where employees have required medical assistance.            

Amazon workers in Europe mark Black Friday with 'we are not robots' protests  - CNET
Figure 1. Amazon protests outside warehouse in the uk
https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-workers-in-europe-mark-black-friday-with-we-are-not-robots-protests/

In my opinion, Amazon needs to change its business model and become more inclusive to those who work for them rather than being so robotic and focusing exclusively on mass productivity. Since Amazon warehouses are not unionized workers are not allowed to strike which adds another element of unethical leadership on behalf of Amazon as it limits the ability of employees to raise concerns they have with the company. When you think of Amazon, you never think of the people behind the scenes and how your products were handled by human beings but rather the electronic process you go through to make your purchase and it being strategically across the world by their computer system to get to your doorstep. Amazon should add an element of human life and be more appreciative and outspoken about how crucial the workforce they have is to them as well as make it more appealing to work for them to limit the connotations and comparisons that have been made with their warehouses and sweatshops. They should also add ad campaigns that show Amazon workers happy to be there and speaking into the camera commenting on the benefits Amazon has brought them and how it is a good and productive working environement in order to improve their global perception which has been tarnished in the past few years due to claims such as the ones made in this article.

References

BBC. (2021, November 26). Protesters hit Amazon buildings on Black Friday. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-59419572

Cyber-surveillance Companies and their Social Responsibility

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The American think tank and research institute, Atlantic Council, recently shared a study where they indicate that Cybersurveillance companies are being careless with who they sell their services to and it is becoming a matter of national security. This report by the Atlantic Council compiled data from the past 20 years from the cyber-surveillance trade show ISS World as well as the arms fairs such as Milipol and examined 224 surveillance companies who have been present at these events. From this research, there were many companies that were associated with a negative history of shady dealings. Among these include, Israel’s Cellebrite, a company that develops forensic tools as well as phone hacking capabilities and played a role in China’s Crackdown; furthermore, it also came to light that their services were being used by a death squad in Bangladesh.

S&D MEP Bernd Lange on the inclusion of cyber-surveillance technology in  the export control rules for dual-use goods | Socialists & Democrats
Cybersurveillance, source: Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

It seems pretty clear that these cyber-surveillance companies need to be more regulated regarding who they are allowed to provide their services; moreover, these companies should be forced to implement more sophisticated screening procedures in order to prevent their technology from falling into the wrong hands. Although the European Union and the United States have already implemented stricter laws on surveillance technology, it still leaves a vast portion of the world that remains unpoliced regarding this problem.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/11/08/1039395/grim-outlook-cyber-boom-atlantic-council-report/

https://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/pl/channel/sd-mep-bernd-lange-inclusion-cyber-surveillance-technology-export-control-rules-dual-use