Draft of Book Chapter: Ethics, Privacy and Trust in Serious Games

A draft of a chapter looking at Ethics, Privacy and Trust in Serious Games, gamified applications, pervasive and persuasive games. Written by myself and Lynne Baillie of Heriot Watt University.

The chapter is scheduled to appear in 2017 in:
Handbook of Digital Games and Entertainment Technologies
Editors: Nakatsu, Ryohei, Rauterberg, Matthias, Ciancarini, Paolo (Eds.)

Publisher Springer.

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Financial Paranoia? RT, Max Keiser and Zerohedge

Why don’t you pop on over the Zerohedge.com for a spot of financial paranoia? If you believe what you read then the dollar is worth nothing, gold is worth something and Bitcoin is the future. What’s more if you also watch the Keiser Report on  the “impartial” RT you will have noticed Zerohedge as being a major source of information. If you read or watch these sources you will quickly find that they promote gold, bitcoin, alternative investment funds and other approaches outside the financial norm. You will often also find that the same people who promote these alternatives are offering financial advice or in some cases are even connected to the ventures which offer surprise, surprise, similar services.  This is for me is a clear conflict of interest and should mean that anyone watching or reading such sources should do so with some considerable care.

On a more positive  note, if like me you studied economics or financial related topics (I did so as part of a joint degree) the chances are that you may have had some nagging doubts about what you were being told – especially about the massive over simplifications relating to markets and human behaviour. Not forgetting the complete lack of empirical evidence to back up a large number of the economic theories. You may also have thought that rising house prices and with it mortgage costs and rental prices which were not matched by salary increases(especially in the UK) would only lead to trouble. Despite these reservations you most likely thought like me that well, “I didn’t study it in enough detail to really understand any of it” and hence left it to the economists and governments only to find that when we experienced the fun of 2008 t that actually a lot of it was theoretical academic nonsense. If you do hold that view then please do check out the sources above. While all the facts presented are probably correct, do keep an eye out for propaganda, overly selective facts and conflicts of interest – a quick Google search is usually enough.

Despite reservations  Zerohedge and “Mad” Max Keiser are relevant sources of information which make you question the prevailing economic views of our time. They for example frequently point out how debt is ignored in predictions (economists do not usually take it into account except if it is sovereign debt) or how we have seen massive increases in public and private debt with little or no  meaningful return in terms of GDP (China and the West being good examples). They also regularly accuse bankers of fraud or misconduct – something which has been alleged against some former HBOS staff, not forgetting the blackmail charges in the same case. So in that sense he is right (which may also explain why Bank of American banned it’s staff from accessing Zerohedge). From then on it is up to you to formulate your own opinion… but do take it all with a pinch of salt.

 

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Quick Review: Acer Liquid Jade Z S57

The rather oddly named Liquid Jade Z S57 is one of the budget smart phone offerings from Acer. At around €180 it is good value for money and while it has a good screen it just feels cheap in comparison to the Moto G. Anyway here are a few good and bad points:

Good

  • Nice big screen with 1280×720 resolution which is good for the price. In my view better than my old Moto G.
  • Expandable, you can drop in extra storage space without any problems.
  • Thin and relatively light weight.
  • Good value for money.
  • Quad core. so pretty fast (when first bought, see later).
  • Reasonably decent audio for the money, they even include some OK headphones.
  • 13mp built-in camera, on paper at least this is fine.

Bad

  • The casing feels cheap in comparison to my old Moto G.
  • There are two clocks, the central one on the main screen and one on the top right. They crash frequently so you end up with two different times. Recently the difference was about 12-14 hours.  I have never had this kind of severe problem with previous Android phones. This crash often can bring down the entire phone, Whatsapp for example has severe problems when it suspects you are tampering with time.
  • The display is almost unusable under bright sunlight (not a problem unique to Acer).
  • Lots of pre-installed apps which you cannot easily get rid of.
  • Prone to crashing, it reboots so you find out hours later that your phone has been off all afternoon.
  • Gets slower and slower and slower, so now it takes ages to even start up.
  • 1GB memory is a limiting factor, Acer do though provide a memory optimiser.
  • Rather ugly UI.
  • Built-in speakers are very tinny.
  • Slow camera and not the best in terms of quality.

Would I buy it again? Probably not. It is acceptable enough for every day use although the increasing slowness is driving me mad. If that problem could be resolved then  I would recommend the phone.

 

 

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Is the tech cloud about to rain?

Cloud computing has arguably revolutionised swathes of IT services, with Google Drive and Dropbox both being excellent examples of good services which just work as they say. However, as yet it is very difficult to know how much money “upstart” services which don’t rely on advertising actually generate in terms of profits (if any). The ubiquitous Dropbox for example has seen its valuation cut according to Zerohedge. Dropbox unlike Google or Amazon, does not actually have its own server base instead it rents capacity of all places from Amazon. Apparently Dropbox was valued at $10bn by it’s own investors recently and it is them who have now said that it will not fetch anywhere near this value in any IPO. This overall value masks the true level of investment which was closer to $600m (January 2014). Given the large user based that Dropbox has it would be very alarming if they had not been able to convert a reasonable percentage of free users to paid accounts. In the tech bubble of the late 90s many services were free (to a point); many of these services also failed or had to be bailed out.

The underlying economic issues aside cloud computing also faces serious issues when it comes to security and privacy or in the case of the US Government just plain snooping. So it remains to be seen if the rapid growth will continue or if overtime more and more people will switch to home-based local clouds. This would of course also effect the business model of services such as Dropbox. That said so far I know very few people who have fully dropped commercial cloud providers – although many are just using free rather than paid accounts.

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Alternative Taxation

Over recent years we have seen an increasing erosion of state “welfare” while at the same time being asked to pay more sales or personal income taxes – they are rarely ever called income tax rises. In the UK they’ve gone one step further by proposing to cut tax credits from the poorest workers in society while pledging to cut income taxes for the high rate payers.  However, is all the debate about income tax and tax credit the wrong one? Noam Chomsky and others debate alternative approaches to taxation, including a land value tax and taxes on landlords or natural resources. Therefore removing the need for as much tax on income. In the UK that would never be allowed as the very people who decide such things are the owners of the very land.

 

The video may seem a little strange to many but such an approach would all but remove the tax haven problem as assets in their place of existence would be taxed. It would also benefit those who actually work in society rather than those who have been lucky enough to inherit property.

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