Smarthomes


Smart Homes – a smart idea?

by Jakob and ?

“There is nothing more important than a good, safe and secure home”, but how safe is a home where an AI listen all the time, no matter what time of day? Smart speakers are supposed to be useful friends and helpers, which should make your life easier. And often they do. But in order to deliver better and more accurate results, the algorithm needs data. A lot of data. To do this, the AI analyses the requests and language habits of its owners. As soon as the speech software thinks it can hear one of the key words, it records the voice. Some claim that the smart home devices falsify these and pretend to have heard one of the key words. No matter whether the consent of the respective person is present or not. No matter whether the software notices a „false alarm“, such as a misunderstood word or a radio sound, afterwards or not: the recording is saved.
The question that should now be posed to users: Is the relief in everyday life worthwhile, even if you sacrifice large parts of your privacy for it?

Everyone knows the situation: you come home in the evening and the shutters are not closed, the heating is not on or the light is off. From this situation you can already derive the greatest advantages of Smart Homes. They can make everyday life easier. Doors and windows can be opened remotely, intelligent motion detectors turn on the light as soon as you approach the apartment, smart heating systems allow fitters remote access when maintenance is due, or a fault needs to be rectified. If there is a storm, doors, windows and the awning close. The smart devices are automatically interconnected and do not require the presence of the occupant.

Smart terminals increase security. Light, shutters, awnings, television and music are randomly switched on and off and thus simulate a permanent presence of the occupant to the outside world. This is supported by smart smoke detectors and cameras and can therefore guarantee optimum security as part of the overall package.

But the many advantages also have their costs. On the one hand, the systems are not yet standardized and mature. Many smart home devices are not compatible with each other due to different radio waves and can offer insufficient protection to hackers who can gain access to the smart homes. In addition, the price can skyrocket to astronomical heights, as numerous terminal devices and a control centre are required for an optimal smart home.

When buying a smart home, the most important point is often forgotten; without enough encryption, the smart home offers numerous possibilities for external access by third parties. Data storage is opaque and usually cannot be monitored and viewed by the user. In addition, it is controversial whether other organisations or the manufacturers of smart homes cannot listen in on certain situations in everyday life or whether the data can be used by the police as useful information in the event of a crime. In addition, it is questionable to what extent burglars are stopped by electronic barriers, the smart home serves only as a useful support, mechanical barriers are nevertheless indispensable.

But even 61 percent of Germans already have other smart devices connected to the Internet in addition to computers or mobile phones, but only 49 percent of them are concerned about protecting their devices from attacks.

An example where a smart home was hacked happened in the USA:
An American couple bought two smart home devices, one security camera with a speaker and one thermostat, for 700$ to bring them more security and comfort. But instead of it a hacker terrorized them by playing vulgar music on the security camera and raising the temperature in the house to 32 degrees. The problem was that the man had used the password for the Smart Home on various other websites and so the hacker could hack into his Smart Home with the same password.

We agree that we will only buy smart home devices once they are mature and secure, as they can give a deep insight into a person’s privacy, as they are usually placed in the very centre of their life, such as the living room or bedroom. The biggest problem is that we don’t know what companies do with this data and how well it is protected. If these problems are solved in the future, we’ll be happy to think about experiencing the benefits of smart homes for ourselves.

Deepfakes


Starting World War III from Home

by Cornelius and Jacob

Imagine watching the news and seeing Trump declare war on Russia, China and North Korea. With the help of artificial intelligence that is not as farfetched as it sounds. You might even believe it with Trump insulting world leaders on a daily basis. Manipulating videos to make politicians say whatever you like them to is easy for everyone with a bit of practice and artificial intelligence. The technology is called DeepFake.

Figure 1: Recognising Facial Features

For creating DeepFakes a Neural Network (Ai) uses images of the targeted person to analyse their mimic and facial features by putting points on special facial marks. With enough video footage or pictures, the Ai knows how that person’s mimic would look being afraid, happy or saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Snapchat uses such a program to create funny features like face swap.

Especially for the film industry DeepFake has valuable applications and can potentially save millions. Instead of using Photoshop frame by frame, DeepFake can be used to bring dead actors back to life or to correct mouth movements, while dubbing a movie. In the movie “Rogue One” from 2016, Disney spent millions to recreate Princess Lea, although her actor, Carrie Fisher, had aged by 34 years.[1] A few years later, fans created comparable footage for free with the help of DeepFake programs.

Despite these benefits the DeepFake technology can also be abused. DeepFake has its highest demand in the pornography industry. In Fact, 96% of all DeepFake videos contain adult content. Especially female celebrities are targeted, but also ordinary women or teenage girls find themselves having become famous in Pornography. It is impossible to guard one’s privacy. Any picture can be used to steal your face and violate your dignity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ54GDm1eL0
Figure 2: Using Deepfake on President Obama

With media basically being the fourth pillar of democracy and video as one of its most important tools the application of DeepFake becomes very dangerous. In early 2019 a Fox-News employee used DeepFake to mock President Trump’s appearance during his Oval Office address. Already in 2018, the famous comedian and Obama enactor Jordan Peele used DeepFake, making Obama address the danger of DeepFakes in politics. By having Obama insult Trump as “Dipshit” and pointing out that “our enemies can make it look like anyone can say anything at any point in time”, Jordan Peele tries to raise awareness.

New technologies like “Lyrebird” can even train an Ai to imitate a person’s voice with analyzing just a few minutes of audio. The Ai is able to fake an emotional state making the target sound concerned, elated or hateful. Just few parts of conversation like sounds created by mouth movement or breathing cannot be imitated yet.

With a few pictures and a few minutes of audio one controls the power the targeted person holds. The CEO of a British energy company was called by his boss from the German parent company and ordered to transfer 220.000 Euro to a Hungarian supplier. Because the CEO wrongly recognised his boss’s voice and his typical intonations, he obliged and made the payment.[2]

Then how do we combat the threat of DeepFakes? Pictures, videos and voice messages could be certified via blockchain. Blockchain would ensure the authenticity of media, but would consume vast amounts of energy. The Cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which also uses blockchain as a technology, consumes 66.7-Terawathours per year, as much as the Czech Republic.

Figure 3: Spotting DeepFake Altered Footage

The alternative would be to fight fire with fire. Microsoft and Facebook recently invested 10 million USD in the development of Ai that is trained to spot Ai altered DeepFake videos. Google has released 3,000 DeepFakes that shall help researchers train their Ai.[3] Since especially the government is interested in the control of DeepFake, the Pentagon also has allocated some of its budget to the fight against the misuse of DeepFake. New technologies are on the horizon and are just a few steps away of being implemented to fight DeepFakes.

The Wall Street journal calls the DeepFake fight a “cat and mouse game” with an endless chase. Although it is easy to imagine a dark painted dystopian future, we believe that the cat is faster and stronger than the mouse with its fangs an inch away from the mouse’s neck. The development of DeepFake detection Ai will be successful and return some of the authenticity media once had. Nevertheless, this reasoning is no excuse to not stay vigilant, especially right now with the upcoming presidential election in 2020. Think twice before you believe what you see!


[1] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/software/facebook-microsoft-join-hands-to-fight-deepfakes/articleshow/71005930.cms

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/fraudsters-use-ai-to-mimic-ceos-voice-in-unusual-cybercrime-case-11567157402

[3] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/movie-watch-disney-is-up-against-great-expectations-as-rogue-one-hits-theaters-2016-12-15

Genetics and medicine


Improvement of Medicine – blessing or curse

by Lucera and Emma

Especially during the cold season we are more likely to catch a cold. Then we have to ask ourselves whether we go to work or stay in bed to get healthy again. Most of us probably just take some pills of medicine, because we have so much to do that there is no time to be ill. Do we really have to take medicine to fight a non- threatening disease?

In our survey, 60% of the respondents, only take medicine during an illness. The development of medicine has helped to get rid of several infections and viruses. Moreover one can easily prevent many diseases with vaccinations. Another important point is that life expectancy has increased due to medical improvement. Many people, especially those, who depend on medical treatment, benefit from the progress in medicine.

The problem is that it is difficult to determine who really needs a daily medical treatment. Our survey shows that there is a high number of people (40%) who take medicine regularly or on a daily basis.  It often happens that people get over-diagnosed and therapied by doctors. An international survey of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has shown that 30% of the doctors give their patients  antibiotics, even though it wouldn’t have been needed. This unnecessary, too early treatment is one reason for the high consumption of medicine. The results are multi-resistant germs, which are hard to be counteracted. As a consequence, better medicine needs to be created. But often medicine only gets more expensive but it neither increases the effectiveness nor the security. In many cases, making money is the main goal.

earth911.com/living-well-being/medicine-makes-environment-sick/

Medicine has surely helped us to exterminate illnesses, people have gotten sick from in earlier times. Especially at a high age you depend on medicine even more because you are proner for illnesses.

Apart from these scientific reasons, society also plays an important role in the intake, and overuse, of medicine.

It is easy as that: When you are at home in bed to rest, you are expected to get healthy soon. This vast amount of pressure leads to the fear of missing out on something important. The point is that nobody has time to be ill. The body does not get the time to completely cure a disease by itself. The medicine only suppresses the disease for a certain amount of time.

If we have a cold we should consider home remedies, such as ginger tee or a chicken soup, as an option.  They also are very sufficient if not better for our bodies. This way, there is a chance of getting healthy  in a natural way.

Unfortunately, this is too much work and effort for most of us. We’d rather take a pill of medicine and feel better instantly.

Another point is that nobody goes outdoor anymore. We surely spend more time in- than outside, which weakens our immune system. Nowadays many people have to sit in a closed office for hours. In  the evening they are too tired that they rather lay on the sofa and watch TV than doing sports or going outside.

Coming to conclusion one can see that the development of medicine is both, blessing and curse. It is not necessary that we quit taking medicine completely, but we should make sure to watch our consumption. There are cases where taking medicine is essential for your heath, but in most of the time there are better alternatives. Is it seriously that difficult to make yourself a cup of tee and watch your health?

Life without electronic devices


Is a life without electronic devices still conceivable?

by Kilian and Lars

It sounds like the deepest Middle Ages. But it is true! There was also a life without electronic devices. Nowadays everyone owns a smartphone or other electronic device, but how was life without these inventions?

On the one hand the communication was completely different, people had to either write letters and send them by mail or walk to the phone booth to talk to friends. If you were lucky, the family had a home phone. However, this was not as we know it today by radio, but it was connected with a cable and you had to stay within range.

Another thing that has changed is the leisure activities. In the past, children used to go out to play football on the street or to play catch. Others met in the park and explored nature for adventures

Love has also changed. Nowadays you write to each other by WhatsApp or you end it on the phone. People used to write real love letters that came from the heart or they met in person, but people dreamt about things like writing girls on Instagram.

People have lost creativity, they just hang out at home. They no longer meet up with friends, but arrange to play Fortnite on Playstation. No one goes to the nearby football field in town to play football. Nobody plays in the garden or climbs into their tree house anymore. More and more people lose interactive communication with each other, while they don’t even notice it.

These points are showing, that electronic devices changed our lives not positive. But there are also many features, that make our daily life easier. Google Maps replaced the classic maps. In a few seconds, the app can tell you, where to go.  Taking a foto is these days much faster and easier. Old schools had to always have a camera with them.

 We asked 3 teenagers, where the mobile become an important part of their lives. They said, that they are spending two to three hours daily on their phones. You have to ask yourself: “what would I do, if I haven’t got a mobile” Not only the mobile is a “timekiller”. Every boy we asked, said that he played or is playing video games. Also one to three hours daily. On the weekend sometimes more , than five hours. The difference from today’s games to video games 20 years ago is, that they have no end. It is impossible to finish the game.

For me, the biggest problem is, that we, the teenagers, lost our creativity. I was at a party a few weeks ago and seven guys at the same age sit down and all looked on their phones. I asked myself: “What would my dad have done , when he was in my age ?” They would dance, talk about girls, maybe smoke something, but they would never sit down and do nothing. Just wachting on their phones. If you think, that you aren‘t  concerned, just try it! Let your mobile at home for a hole day. Many of our teenagers, we asked, told us, that they feel empty or lost, when they aren‘t available anymore. When you have this fear, just try to don‘t look that often on your phone. The medienpsychologe Thorsten Fehr talks from a “digital drug“. He says, that it is very important to controll the mobile time of their childrens. He underlines, that kids in a young age skip an important development of becoming an adult.

To solve the problem, we found a website, which helps to find a good balance between using your phone and not get addicted. Also for parents, there are important tipps, how to behave.

The goal should be, that every electronic device is only a feature for solving a problem in everyday life. Communications should be more personal and more directly.   Parents have the task to control the mobile time of their children, because we think that spending time at your mobile or computer, is wasted time.

Privacy vs. Security


They know you.

by Vincent and Nick

The internet has your data. Everything you do in the internet leaves a trail of information behind. Who can access your data? And who should?

What is more important: Privacy or Security? There is a great conflict between the two. In our survey security was valued as more important. Most people would instinctively choose this option. However this conflict is more complex than one may think.

Privacy is about you keeping your personal information secret as long as you don’t want it to be public. This includes your thoughts and feelings as well as your memories and experiences. Of course you wouldn’t want everyone to know who you broke up with last summer. Or where you live, what you eat, when you were born, etc. Privacy gives you a feeling of safety and comfort.

But isn’t security supposed to make you feel safe?

Security ensures the protection of oneself in reality and in cyberspace. It is the only barrier that separates our society from turning into anarchy. The law protects your rights from being taken away by force. Your freedom won’t be limited by others freedom. Security allows you to live in safety and freedom.

So, shouldn’t they agree with each other?

While the concept of privacy focuses on holding information back, security is in need of this information. Knowledge about a threat is needed to deal with it. Privacy gets in the way of security. The internet has spread around the globe and is in need of new security measures. You can’t catch a thief that doesn’t need to enter your home to steal and sell your data with a policeman. If you want the government to deal with it, you need to give away your data. You give away your data to keep it from getting taken. The more the government knows about its citizens the more it can deal with the evil. This can include checking every communication to find terrorists hidden amongst the innocent. But about 99% of the people it checks will be innocent. The government will have breached your privacy – an innocent citizen’s privacy.

So, should we neglect security to focus on privacy?

To achieve absolute privacy the opposing force – security – will have to be removed completely. This would imply your every action to be unchecked by the government. Thus, there would be no control over the country’s citizens and the criminals. The result being anarchy.

But having no privacy to ensure security would be no solution either. If this were to be executed, we would live in circumstances similar to the dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell. We wouldn’t be happy living in a society where freedom isn’t granted.

In our survey concerning the idea of CCTV in public spaces about 86% of all participants agreed to this idea. It would grant the government higher levels of security while maintaining a certain amount of privacy. The innocent citizens walking the street would have nothing to worry about while wanted criminals could easily be spotted. This way the internet can be used to aid law enforcement and transfer data throughout the country.

This example shows the need of a proper balance between the two concepts of society to ensure the well being of citizens as well as their happiness.

We agree to the idea of a higher level of security but we have to make sure to limit the restrain of our privacy. The internet is a place of interaction with large amounts of data and this balance is needed to make sure everyone can safely use it without unwanted theft of one’s data.

Embryo Screening


by Alek and Selina

Hi fellow future moms,

I´m Ava(37+) already a happy mom of a 5yo boy and planning to get a second child. Unfortunately Eric has a hereditary disease namely down-syndrome. That’s why I need a second opinion of yours on using embryo screening to ensure my next child will be healthy and carefree. Embryo screening is recommended for women over 37, a family history with chromosome problems and multiple miscarriages… So I´ll be perfectly in this recommendation group and this embryo screening process would be painless, simple and fast (that’s what the doctors told me).

The process consists of harvesting of a few fertilized eggs which are observed in a lab for a number of days. The biopsy is performed on the 3rd day of fertilization (each embryo has 6-8 cells). During the biopsy only 1-2 cells are extracted because a higher number would result in a development trouble. After that the embryos are placed back into their incubator until the diagnosis is retrieved. There are two diagnosis procedures PGFA (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies) and PGT (Preimplantation Genetic Testing): PGFA is screening for present chromosome abnormalities / PGT is screening for specific conditions (e.g. down-syndrome). The diagnosis is heading to evaluate which one of these embryos is the healthiest and has the best chance of survival and implantation. One is selected and implanted into the womb.

So here are my concerns about embryo screenings:

Embryos have a right to live, protection and recognition as a human being. It´s unethical to choose between the chances of survival of several humans based on a “quality analysis”, thus waging a human life against another, and denouncing the unselected embryo as unworthy to live. This also contradicts with our ethics and societal values. Embryo screening leads to a discrimination of disabled people because these people are seen in this case as faulty and a mistake. As a consequence two classes, the ones who were selected or altered and the ones who were born naturally with eventually their own human flaws, can emerge. Embryo screening is expensive and if only the wealthy can afford this procedure this two-class idea doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
In addition many scientists are doubtful because most human traits are influenced by multiple genes interacting not just with each other, but also with the environment. That’s why a healthy life of that embryo is not guaranteed.

But on the other hand there are several equally important reasons to do embryo screening:

If a pregnant woman gets notified, her child is disabled or is very likely to die and she is about to abort her child, it´s mostly a worse and severer operation, than implanting a proved healthy embryo.
This would lead to optimal start conditions for the child. Actually the woman needs to have a freedom of choice on whether doing it or not. If it´s banned women would do it abroad or in dubious circumstances.

In Germany embryo screening isn´t totally banned but regulated. It is allowed to use it in order to scan for hereditary disease, screen for aneuploidy or if the pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage. It is strictly forbidden to use this procedure to choose between immune compatible embryos, gender or other than the previously mentioned cases.

In „Building Baby from the Genes Up“ ethics professor Ronald M. Green’s essay presents his case in support of the genetic engineering of embryos arguing that a eradication of diseases can follow after working on embryo genes. „Eventually, without discarding embryos at all, we could use gene-targeting techniques to tweak fetal DNA sequences. No child would have to face a lifetime of dieting or experience the health and cosmetic problems associated with obesity.”

During my research I stuck on to women´s experience doing embryo screening:

Both future parents were desperate because both of them had a condition called cystic fibrosis and their child had a 50% chance on getting it too. The future mother couldn´t handle a child with this disease and they wanted to save the child from having this painful life.
In Germany the doctors recommended and offered to do ICSI and if their child is ill simply to abort the pregnancy. Therefore they went to Belgium to do a PID (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis). They talked to several doctors and psychiatrists, which explained the process and it´s dangers, they were welcoming and cared for them. The couple felt safe and calmed down. The mother had to take a nasal spray to decrease her hormones and was injected every day. After 8-9 days her ova were ready and 22 ova were stippled which lasted just 10min and was totally painless. The father´s sperms were extracted (she was amused by the way he had to walk after the extraction). 5 days later the embryos were tested only on cystic fibrosis. Another 5 days later 2 embryos with a chance of 98% being cystic fibrosis free were in just 10sec implanted. Two weeks after she got a positive pregnancy test. Both of them were overjoyed but still feared a miscarriage but didn´t test the baby on any disabilities because they would still keep it even if it´s disabled. They asked the doctor to not mention the procedure because they feared; doctors would tend to aCaesarean section more likely. At the end they got a healthy son and doesn’t regret anything.

The second experience describes the first child born via PID in Germany:
Annette Z. had multiple miscarriages and abortions because of a severely disabled child.
One had a fluid retention and was about to die, another died in the 10th pregnancy week and the last had a severe condition of desbuquois-syndrome, a rare skeletal disease which leads to a painful life sometimes to death. Dietrich Z. her husband requested for permission to do a PID which was approved.
4 out of 6 fertilized ova had genetic mutations which would trigger the desbuquois-syndrome.<br>The two healthy ova were implanted and Annette got pregnant.
In an interview she told that she disapproves the use of PID in order to create a perfect baby or anything that is unnecessary. But she accepts and believes that it´s right to do PID to prevent serious diseases.

Digital School and personal Sport


Virtual school and personal sport control

by Helena and Tabea

Imagine waking up and managing your day by yourself. Starting the day at any time you want with a learning unit or with a personified sport class with smart watches. In your learn units you’re sitting in front of your desktop and seeing the teacher through a webcam. Working alone or in a group is personally adapted to the topic and the subject. Learning in your own speed helps you improving your skills and becoming selfreliant.
To become familiar with the new media, essays and tests are
written digitally.

School today is based on teaching classes of 20-30 pupils of the same
age. The classes are split into oral and written marks, which the
curriculum determines. The use of technology depends on the school
and the knowledge of the teachers. Either the teachers use modern
technologies or students are allowed to use their technical devices. Often students do not have full concentration and much
misunderstanding in their lessons. To prevent this problem, students
work for better productivity at home.

Are you more focused
if you learn at home?
(Student survey at the
Kaiserin-Friedrich-
Gymansium)

Pioneers of virtual school are used commonly in the every day life of
many pupils. Youtube channels like the simple club explain school topics to confused students and help them preparing their tests and exams and understanding the lessons.

To have a balanced and healthy daily life, sport is very important. Smart
watches and personal sport control help the pupils of virtual school to do the right amount and the right sort of sport per week. For most students of the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymasium, their health and sports are very important, so this digital school method motivates them.

How important is sport and your health for you? (Student survey at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymansium)

But is the digital school beneficial to pupils and has a positive impact on
their development and education?

First of all every student can learn in his own speed. Some critics say
that the children have too much freedom and maybe also have problems to concentrate and focus on school. Another aspect is that the pupils have no social skills and no teamwork skills because of the isolation at home. The children sit every day alone at home and work. Some pupils feel alone and lose their motivation. Of course it depends on the speed of learning and concentration of the different students. Many educate themselves further and become selfreliant.
In this way the students are prepared for upcoming jobs and
technologies of the future. Nowadays, many new jobs are created that deal a lot with new technologies. Today’s generation should be prepared for this technology-dependent future. And the digital school is a appropriate solution to educate the students. Anyways learning is an individual and a social act to get the comprehension in the subjects. In digital schools the focus is on working alone with the technology. One could criticize that learning is not a technical act like in digital school. Therefore will be an excess of digitalization.

On the other hand there exists a direct and fast exchange of topics and projects for some subjects. As a result there are many forms of
communication and information channels. Furthermore digital school is opinion-forming and democracy promoting because they are guaranteed more freedoms.
Furthermore, there is a direct and fast exchange of information, many
communication possibilities and information channels, so that the pupils have the opportunity to continue their education independently and
diverse.

Finally, it is important to underline that digital school is an excellent way to guarantee students a varied, digital, free and modern education. It is also personalized to the different students so that no student feels alone. In addition, there are still teachers who help the students, as in the classical school.