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Keeping up with the latest technology

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

A few weeks ago, I finally succumbed and bought my first cell phone. With the help of my youngest son, I bought an iPhone 5C. Now the problem I’m finding is that it has become almost addictive.

My wife says that my new best friend is Siri. If you are uninitiated, Siri is like an artificial intelligence built into your iPhone. You speak to it and it will speak back to you.

Siri can help you perform a number of tasks on your iPhone much faster than if you typed them. Such tasks include things like sending text messages, having your spoken words transcribed into text, keeping calendar appointments and reminders, and giving you weather reports wherever you might be.

However, my Siri has a problem in that it does not recognize the word “Oshawa.” For example, when I speak to it and ask what is the best restaurant in Oshawa, it repeats my question as asking for the best restaurant in Oshua.

I asked “Siri, what should I write my next column on”, it transcribed that as “Siri, what should I write my next call him on,” and listed my last 25 calls.

Yes siree, modern technology still has limitations, but I’m hooked!

Now I want a drone! As you may know, drones are flying robots usually equipped with cameras and often have GPS navigation. In the U.S., the concerns about privacy have resulted in drones being banned in many US cities and states. If you get one, you will be able to hover over your neighbour’s backyard and even watch him through his window to see if he still follows the Leafs. Without proper legislation, drones will soon be everywhere, and we will never be certain of our privacy any longer. Do I keep my curtains closed all day?

Now, drones in the right hands can be very useful. The RCMP has saved lives using their flying robots in search and rescue missions. Amazon and Google plan to eventually deliver goods to your door using drones, and since I live in an apartment, I guess they will just put the parcels on my balcony. Apparently, farmers in Japan already spray much of their soy crops with drones.

There is even newer technology that will allow super-surveillance drones thousands of feet up, able to see objects six inches across. Your movements could be tracked all day long, every day.

With Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new anti-terror bill and surveillance legislation, Canada’s privacy watchdog is expressing early concerns. Who will decide which of us might be tracked? One drone looks just like a hummingbird and could be perched outside your home without you ever realizing it’s true function.

In the mid 1970s, I ran in a provincial election near Orangeville. I was aware that I was being followed at many of my speaking engagements. I felt it was probably a worker with one of the other two parties. I had a good relationship with my opponents and so I asked which one had someone following me. They both denied knowing anything about this.

I was in good company as Tommy Douglas, the father of Canadian Medicare, was once under surveillance. The RCMP security service spied on the former Saskatchewan premier and federal NDP leader, from the 1930s until shortly before his death in the 1980s. The Freedom of Information Act recently revealed more than 400 pages on the surveillance of Douglas. The police scrutiny that began in the 1930s continued even into his retirement. Why?

In regards to drones, the question is who gets to use them, on whom and how? I can envision the day that 10 RCMP drones follow suspected terrorists, and 50 private citizens have their drones following our prime minister or premier!

All that being said, I’d still like to try one out.

You can reach me at bdeefox@hotmail.com, where drones can’t find me…yet!

 

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