By: Timothy Geigner On: 2013-05-17 22:39 (0 Reads)
It's sad to note how collective humanity has done an ostrich on the warnings about the machines. Still the NFL exists, robbing us of our best and brightest, who will no longer be available for the coming war with SkyNET. Conferences on what to do about the surely coming robot horde have produced little in the way of a path forward and have gone relatively unreported in any case. Due to this, we know very little about what form the non-existent threat of terminator-like metal monsters will take. Will they simply wage war against us? Will they syphon our body heat for energy? Will they farm our skin and dance around in it to Goodbye Horses, like some kind of graphite Buffalo Bill?
Not according to Rice University professor Moshe Vardi, who claims that they have a far more terrifying plan in store: displacing the human workforce.
Pictured: A Rice University professor in the near future Image source: CC BY 2.0
According to Vardi, sometime around the year 2045, you won't have a job any longer because the robots will have taken it away from you.
In recent writings, Vardi traces the evolution of the idea that artificial intelligence may one day surpass human intelligence, from Turing to Kurzweil, and considers the recent rate of progress. Although early predictions proved too aggressive, in the space of 15 years we’ve gone from Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess to self-driving cars and Watson beating Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Extrapolating into the future, Vardi thinks it’s reasonable to believe intelligent machines may one day replace human workers almost entirely and in the process put millions out of work permanently.
Well, looking back through the history of technological progress, you can certainly see his point. And once you've seen that point, you can laugh at it. And once you've laughed at it, you can call his local police station and request that they remove any science fiction movies from his home by force, because he's clearly seen too many of them.
The problem with thinking that artificial intelligence is going to replace us in the workforce is two-fold. First, it cheaply ignores the impact every other form of technological progress has had thus far. Robots are used on assembly lines, yet there's no drastic net loss of jobs. When the automobile was invented, it isn't as though the buggy whip makers simply died off in unemployed starvation. There are other jobs to be had, most often created as a direct result of the advance in technology. Assembly line workers become machinists. Buggy whip makers go to work for the auto companies. There can be pain in the market in the short term as it is disrupted, but on a long enough timeline everything seems to even back out.
The second problem is the failure to recognize that people value some products and services provided by our fellow meat-sacks. Can auto-attendant systems handle phone duties? Sure, but there are tons of companies that specifically advertise the concept of customers being able to talk to a "real" person. Can machines make rugs? Yup, yet there's a huge market in hand-woven rugs out there. And the service industries rely heavily on personality. A machine might be able to serve me my beer at my local watering hole, but will it listen to me complain about my job if I'm having a crappy day? Will it be able to offer me an opinion on which wine is the best on the menu? And, as the article notes, what if any workforce disruption that does occur is desirable?
Perhaps in the future, while some of us work hard to build and program super-intelligent machines, others will work hard to entertain, theorize, philosophize, and make uniquely human creative works, maybe even pair with machines to accomplish these things. These may seem like niche careers for the few and talented. But at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, jobs of the mind in general were niche careers.
I call dibs on being the new Socrates.
Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Nina Paley On: 2013-05-17 21:33 (0 Reads)
Crossposted from Questioncopyright.org
Photo by Ravi Swami, London UK
QCO Artist-in-Residence Nina Paley’s interview with at Baixa Cultura, conducted by email with journalist and photographer André Solnik. The English below is the original; Baixa Cultura translated Nina’s answers.
1. When your interest on free culture has begun?
For a long time I thought copyright terms were too long and the law could use reform, but I didn’t really understand Free Culture until October 2008, after months on the film festival circuit with my then-illegal feature Sita Sings the Blues. Free Culture was too audacious a concept for me to think about clearly until then. One morning I finally got it — freeing my work would be better for the work — and I spent the next half-year preparing for a Free, legal release of SSTB. That finally happened in March 2009, when I finally cleared all the necessary (and bullshit) licenses at a cost of about $70,000 to myself.
2. Tell me in short why artists should free their work. Is it a good choice for both renowned and new artists?
From my article How To Free Your Work:
Why should you Free your work? To make it as easy as possible for people to share your work — as easy as possible for your work to reach eyeballs and ears and minds — to reach an audience. And to make it as easy as possible for audience support — including money — to reach you…. Copy restrictionsplace a barrier between you, the artist, and most forms of support. By removing the barriers of copyright, you make it possible to receive money and other kinds of support from your audience, both directly and through distributors, thereby increasing your chances of success.
3. Creative Commons has recently released the final draft of the version 4.0 of its licenses. What changes would you like to see? Do you think CC should keep on supporting the nonfree licenses?
Yes, CC should stop supporting the non-free licenses. What kind of “commons” is that?
4. Although they are probably the most known alternatives to more restrictive ones, they still remain unpopular compared to the “all rights reserved“. Why is that? Do you reckon people get confused by the many possibilities given by the CC licenses?
Most people who use CC licenses don’t understand what the different licenses mean; they just call all of them “Creative Commons” as if that means anything. CC’s modular system was a good idea, I see it as an experiment that was worth doing. But the results are in: it didn’t work. What we have now are a mess of incompatible licenses, most of which fail to contribute to any real “commons,” and an increase of confusion and misinformation.
You can’t really blame Creative Commons though — the problem is copyright law. Nothing can fix it at this point. Even CC-0, a valorous attempt to opt out of copyright, doesn’t work in practice, as my experience with the Film Board of Canada showed — even after placing SSTB under CC-0, their lawyers refused to accept it was really Public Domain, and made me sign a release anyway, just to allow one of their filmmakers to refer to it. I will be saddled forever with permissions paperwork even with CC-0. I’ll probably keep using CC-0, of course, but I have no expectation it will work as it’s supposed to.
5. The BY-NC-SA license, although nonfree, it’s pretty popular. Why do you think so? What are the main issues about licensing a work using it?
People are high-minded when they choose the -NC restriction, but it accomplishes exactly the opposite of their ideals. They want to “protect” their works from abusive exploitation from big corporate players. They don’t realize those big corporate players LOVE the -NC clause, because it’s a commercial monopoly. Big corporate players are all set up to deal with commercial monopolies: they have licensing departments and lawyers. It’s the big corporate players who can afford to license your -NC works. It’s your peers, small players with no legal departments and limited resources, who can’t. The -NC clause screws over your fellow artists and small players, while favoring big corporations.
The way to avoid abusive exploitation is to use CC-BY-SA, a Share-Alike license without the -NC restriction. This allows your peers to use the work without fear, as long as they keep it Free-as-in-Freedom. Big corporate monopoly players, however, are unwilling to release anything Freely: if they want to use your work, they’ll have to negotiate a waiver of the -SA clause. For this they will pay money. It works like a regular licensing deal: for $X you waive the -SA restriction and allow them to re-use the work without contributing to the community. I have had many corporate licensors offer me such contracts, although I didn’t sign any because I was such a Free license booster.
The only reason BY-NC-SA is popular is because people really haven’t thought it through.
6. Money seems to be one of the main worries artists have when they hear someone saying “free your work“. Is this “fear“ justified? Have you recovered all the money spent in the making of Sita Sings the Blues?
No, this fear is not justified. But your question sure is biased: “Have you recovered all the money spent in the making of Sita Sings the Blues?” As if with copyright I would have! I have made more money with Freeing my work than I ever did with copyright restrictions. Period. Where do people get this idea that putting a © on something will magically generate money? It doesn’t. If it did, I would fully support copyright, and be rich. Copyright is a “right to exclude,” not a right to make money. You are free to make money without copyright, and you stand a better chance to as well.
7. You have recently announced that SSTB is now in the public domain. Although now you are finally free of burocracy envolving copyright stuff and this action could help your movie to have more visibility, on the other side it could favour restricted modifications of your work (e.g.: a book inspired by SSTB released under “all rights reserved“). How do you weigh these two sides?
Eh, honestly I just don’t care any more. Let’s just put it out there and see what happens. If something terrible happens because I shared freely, I’ll learn from that. But I think it’s stupid to worry about what other people do, and try to control it, especially with broken laws. Even Free Share-Alike licenses require copyright law to be enforced, and copyright law is hopelessly broken. I don’t want to validate or support it in any way.
Licenses are not going to fix our problems. What is fixing our problems is increasing numbers of people simply ignoring copyright altogether. Instead of trying to get people to pay more attention to the law, as CC does, I’d rather encourage them to ignore the law in favor of focusing on the art. Licenses are the wrong solution. Art is the solution. Make art not law.
8. Are you keen on the free software movement as well? Any of your works was made using free softwares?
I’m attending the 2013 Libre Graphics Meeting in Madrid this year, to discuss building a good Free vector animation tool I can actually use. More in this article, It’s 2013. Do You Know Where My Free Vector Animation Software Is?
Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Mike Masnick On: 2013-05-17 20:27 (0 Reads)
Plenty of people rightly mocked the news a few years ago that the Associated Press was working on a plan to "DRM the news." The idea was to put some sort of licensing mechanism together to get news aggregators to pay to promote their news. This seemed incredibly dumb for a whole host of reasons. It added no value. Its only purpose was to limit the value for everyone in the system by putting a tollbooth where none needed to exist. When it finally launched last year to great fanfare in the newspaper world, under the name "NewsRight," we pointed out that, once again, it made no sense. Basically, the whole focus appeared to be on getting bloggers and aggregators to pay for a license they legally did not need.
Since the launch... we heard absolutely nothing about NewsRight. There was a launch, with its newspaper backers claiming it was some huge moment for newspapers, and then nothing.
Well, until now, when we find out that NewsRight quietly shut down. Apparently, among its many problems, many of the big name news organization that owned NewsRight wouldn't even include their own works as part of the "license" because they feared cannibalizing revenue from other sources. So, take legacy companies that are backwards looking, combine it with a licensing scheme based on no legal right, a lack of any actual added value and (finally) mix in players who are scared of cannibalizing some cash cow... and it adds up to an easy failure.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Joyce Hung On: 2013-05-17 20:00 (0 Reads)
Is it still junk food if you make it yourself? If you feel guilty about buying junk food and have lots of time on your hands, here are a few links that might inspire you to try recreating some popular snacks at home.
Here's a recipe for homemade Cheez-It crackers, which supposedly taste better than the store-bought version. By the time you're done making these, you'll wish that you had just gone to the store and bought a box of Cheez-Its. url
McDonald's Canada has revealed exactly how they make their fries, "from the farm to the fryer." If you've ever wondered whether their fries are made from real potatoes, the answer is yes. Their fries are cut from whole potatoes harvested from farms in New Brunswick, Alberta, and Manitoba. url
Read about one junk food enthusiast's attempts to recreate Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, Oreos, and Fritos. While some of the homemade versions were somewhat "healthier" calorie-wise, the general concensus was that there's just nothing like the real thing. url
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Timothy Geigner On: 2013-05-17 18:40 (0 Reads)
Hopefully you recall the story of Suburban Express and its owner, admitted domain squatter Dennis Toeppen, but let me catch you up and let you know what's been going on since that post ran. Suburban Express is a bus company that caters to Midwest students traveling to and from Chicago. And by "caters" I apparently mean they make them sign contracts designed to extract unreasonable fines from their wallets and threaten lawsuits against them if they have anything less than glowing things to say about their experience online. While this has gone on for some time, a new spotlight was shown when one rider, Jeremy Leval, related on Reddit a tale of one of the company's drivers berating a customer for speaking less-than-perfect English. That customer happened to be an exchange student. Toeppen went nuclear on Reddit, threatened litigation via their corporate counsel, and also threatened the Reddit moderator. Once the story began to spread, the company was introduced to Ken "Popehat" White, at which point the tone of all their communications took an almost cartoonish turn towards congeniality. Suburban Express promised to drop their 100-plus lawsuits against customers, which they've done, and doesn't appear to have filed against the Reddit moderator. They were a bit too late, as the internet backlash led to someone defacing their website, but at least they learned a lesson in how to treat their customers, right?
Well, perhaps not entirely. See, Toeppen has chosen to show off his aptitude for pettiness online, and has actually decided to use the Suburban Express website to continue to publically go after Leval, with whom this all began.
Toeppen relaunched his online attacks against Leval, posting a page to Suburban Express' website that recounted the March 31 incident from Toeppen's point of view and calling Leval "nothing but a bullying, self-important brat." The page reiterated Toeppen's claim that Leval was trying to smear Suburban Express to help his own since-aborted plans for a student ride-sharing site, saying, "A blogger suggested that Leval may have been motivated to harass Suburban Express as a means of furthering his business interests."
Toeppen's post didn't end there. He also recounted a conversation that Leval and his girlfriend allegedly had with a driver from another transportation service. "On May 12, 2013, Jeremy Leval and his girlfriend interacted with an EAC driver at Armory around 2:50pm. Jeremy approached the driver and asked if he had heard of Suburban Express. Jeremy went on to boast that he is the guy who is causing Suburban Express lots of trouble. This makes me question Jeremy Leval's motivations. Is he a selfless individual fighting for the rights of the oppressed, or is he a self-promoting, troublemaking, attention-seeker?"
There's a couple of problems with this kind of response. First, note that none of this has anything to do with refuting the company's generally anti-customer behavior. Yes, Toeppen pushes back slightly on Leval's story, indicating that some kind of apology was made to the exchange student, by someone, somewhere, and at some time. Gee, wonderful. Nothing about suing their customers, however. Nothing about $100 fines for simply giving the driver the wrong ticket, calling such mistakes "ticket fraud."
Second, what difference does it make if Leval is proud of publically slapping around a company doing these kinds of things? Hell, I'd be proud of myself, too. There's no prohibition on enjoying doing good works. And the fact that Leval might (might!) be thinking of starting his own competing company is a complete non-issue relating to the facts. Again, what happened is what happened, regardless of Leval's future business endeavors.
And, finally, did Toeppen learn nothing from round one of this mess? Going after a former customer right on the company website is exactly the kind of behavior that got them into this mess to begin with. Business takes thick skin, even for those that aren't engaging in questionable behavior. I don't know what kind of profit Toeppen sees in using his company website in this manner, but I fear he's in for yet another lesson.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Ernesto On: 2013-05-17 18:15 (0 Reads)
New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that BitTorrent can be credited for one third of all North American upload traffic during peak hours. BitTorrent usage also remains strong in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. The report further confirms that SSL traffic has more than doubled in a year, partly due to an increase in VPN use.Source: BitTorrent Accounts for 35% of All Upload Traffic, VPNs are Booming
Want To Destroy Any Hope Of Serious Cybersecurity? Give The DOJ Its Desired Backdoor Wiretaps On All CommunicationsBy: Mike Masnick On: 2013-05-17 17:34 (0 Reads)
The Obama administration has supposedly been "considering" the latest version of the DOJ's plan to require backdoor wiretapping abilities in any form of digital communication. If you don't recall, the FBI asks for this basically every year. The latest version would lead to fines for any company that doesn't build in a backdoor wiretapping ability. We've been pointing out for quite some time that putting in such backdoors only makes us all less safe, because those with malicious intent will find and use those backdoors.
A new report has been released, put together by some of the best known technologists and security experts out there, saying that the plan, as being considered would effectively undermine any cybersecurity regime. At a time when the administration and Congress keep insisting that we need better cybersecurity, to undermine it all with wiretapping backdoors would be ridiculous. And let's not even begin discussing how this would play out if it passed and number one CISPA backer Mike Rogers then became head of the FBI.
Among the report's authors are names you might recognize, like Ed Felten, Peter Neumann, Bruce Schneier and Phil Zimmerman. You can read the full report (pdf) to see all the details. As Ed Felten told the NY Times:
“It’s a single point in the system through which all of the content can be collected if they can manage to activate it,” said Edward W. Felten, a computer science professor at Princeton and one of the authors of the report... “That’s a security vulnerability waiting to happen, as if we needed more,” he said.
Once again, all of this suggests that the efforts around "cybersecurity" have always been more of a cover story to try to make it easier for law enforcement to access data, rather than any legitimate effort at improving security.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Tim Cushing On: 2013-05-17 16:34 (0 Reads)
Nintendo's history of aggressive IP enforcement is long and colorful and, occasionally, completely ridiculous. No one protects the brand quite as fiercely as Nintendo does, an unfortunate byproduct of its obsession with maintaining a clean, family-friendly image.
Its latest misadventure into "controlling all things Nintendo" was brought to our attention via a post to Reddit's r/games by a prolific creator of Let's Play videos, Zack Scott. For whatever reason, Nintendo is performing a "mass claiming" of Let's Play videos featuring its titles. Scott notes in his post that Machinima has seen these claims increasing exponentially recently, pointing towards this being an active move on Nintendo's part.
The speculation is now over. Nintendo has released a statement to Gamefront, which reads as follows.
As part of our on-going push to ensure Nintendo content is shared across social media channels in an appropriate and safe way, we became a YouTube partner and as such in February 2013 we registered our copyright content in the YouTube database. For most fan videos this will not result in any changes, however, for those videos featuring Nintendo-owned content, such as images or audio of a certain length, adverts will now appear at the beginning, next to or at the end of the clips. We continually want our fans to enjoy sharing Nintendo content on YouTube, and that is why, unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property.
For more information please visit http://www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/faq.html
A few observations on this statement:
1. In terms of the internet, the present will always be relegated to some distant point in the future for Nintendo. The fact that it took until three months ago for Nintendo to join forces with the world's largest video site is astounding. This is probably has something to do with Nintendo's recent shuttering of several Wii channels, many of which were underwhelming and ignored by a majority of its customers. (The "flagship" of the lineup — the Nintendo channel — was one of the worst, featuring haphazardly posted content that seemed to mistake throwing darts at a lineup for curation.)
2. Nintendo's self-consciously squeaky clean image? This IP grab is about that, too. Why else would a company that only recently decided YouTube might be a viable outlet use the phrase "shared... in appropriate and safe ways" to justify slapping ads on tons of pre-existing content uploaded by its customers and fans?
3. "...unlike other entertainment companies, we have chosen not to block people using our intellectual property." Good Guy Nintendo says No Blocking! While other "entertainment companies" have blocked thousands of videos, most video game companies don't. With the exception of Sega's promotional push for its new Shining Force title that took the form of widespread takedowns, most gaming companies take a more hands-off approach, realizing that Let's Play videos are a form of advertising that costs them nothing.
4. Nintendo passes the buck on its particular copyright "strategies" by directing readers to YouTube boilerplate. Weak.
Nintendo is well within their rights to monetize these videos and images. But, as anyone who's had experience with situations like this can tell you, being "within your rights" isn't the same thing as "right," either in the moral sense or in the "opposite of wrong" sense.
Nintendo can (and does) monetize gameplay videos using its IP. There are some valid arguments for fair use that can be applied here (Techdirt contributor E. Zachary Knight runs down a few over at Gamasutra), but when it comes to uploaders v. content companies, the algorithm tends to side with the YouTube partner and the registered content. Once Nintendo makes this monetization claim, there's very little the uploaders can do to fight it.
On the plus side, Nintendo isn't actually taking down videos. This means uploaders may lose the income (many uploaders have never attempted to monetize their uploads), but their accounts will remain strike-free. (Unfortunately, having several videos from the same account claimed by ContentID tends not to reflect well on the account holder and will probably be taken into consideration should other infringement issues arise.)
The money gained from applying pre-roll/post-roll ads to Let's Play videos is likely insignificant in terms of Nintendo's annual income. (It's certainly not going to make up for the WiiU's rather inauspicious debut.) Nintendo's past IP battles make this more about control than income. This also builds Nintendo a useful database of "offending" titles that it can easily block or take down by doing nothing more than changing its ContentID options.
Is the additional control worth it? If nothing else, it will be easier for Nintendo to control its online "representation" as its actions have decreased its customer base. Zack Scott, whose account contains dozens of Nintendo Let's Play videos, has already announced he will no longer be supporting the company.
I think filing claims against LPers is backwards. Video games aren’t like movies or TV. Each play-through is a unique audiovisual experience. When I see a film that someone else is also watching, I don’t need to see it again. When I see a game that someone else is playing, I want to play that game for myself! Sure, there may be some people who watch games rather than play them, but are those people even gamers?
My viewers watch my gameplay videos for three main reasons:
1. To hear my commentary/review. 2. To learn about the game and how to play certain parts. 3. To see how I handle and react to certain parts of the game.
Since I started my gaming channel, I’ve played a lot of games. I love Nintendo, so I’ve included their games in my line-up. But until their claims are straightened out, I won’t be playing their games. I won’t because it jeopardizes my channel’s copyright standing and the livelihood of all LPers.
There are many better ways Nintendo could have handled this (a monetization split with uploaders, an invitation to upload to Nintendo's official channel, DOING NOTHING...), but the company's antagonistic attitude towards anything it doesn't directly profit from made this situation one of the better outcomes, unfortunately.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
Indian Publishing Firm Can't Take A Little Criticism, Threatens Blogger With $1 Billion Lawsuit, Criminal ChargesBy: Mike Masnick On: 2013-05-17 15:32 (0 Reads)
Here's a fun one via Popehat. Apparently an Indian publishing firm by the name of OMICS can't take some criticism from a blogger. The blogger, Jeffrey Beall, who is based in the US, has a blog called Scholarly Open Access (he's also a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver) in which he reviews and critiques various open access programs. As we've discussed, open access is really important for the sharing of knowledge — but not all open access programs are created equal. In fact, there are serious complaints about many of them. Beall had some choice words for some of OMICS practices, which he claimed involved spamming and bait-and-switch. For what it's worth, Beall is hardly the only one to question OMICS' tactics. The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed OMICS in an article about "predatory" open access journals. As The Chronicle explains:
In 2012, The Chronicle found that the group was listing 200 journals, but only about 60 percent had actually published anything.
OMICS' response to Beall is almost too incredible to be believed, but it threatened to sue Beall for $1 billion and seek criminal penalties as well. Yes, billion with a b — so insert your Dr. Evil jokes here. Oh, if you're asking under what law?
In India, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act makes it illegal to use a computer to publish "any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character" or to publish false information. The punishment can be as much as three years in prison.
As Ken White points out, the SPEECH Act clearly protects Beall from any ruling in India. We've been waiting for the first attempt to see that law used to protect someone from some insane foreign claim. If you don't recall, the SPEECH Act says that the US will not recognize foreign civil rulings over speech that would violate US law, such as the First Amendment.
Similarly, criminal charges would be meaningless, because any attempt at extradition to India would require dual criminality — such that the acts would be criminal in both countries. That's clearly not true here (and it's debatable if they're actually criminal in either country).
Amazingly, when asked about this whole thing by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the lawyer representing OMICS, Ashok Ram Kumar, a lawyer with the firm IP Markets, appeared to double down on the threats and insist that he was "very serious" (TM), though various lawyers are a bit more skeptical of that.
"What he has written is something highly inappropriate," Mr. Kumar said. "He should not have done something like this. He has committed a criminal offense."
While Mr. Kumar said he and his client are "very serious" about the $1-billion amount, Jonathan Bloom, a lawyer with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, in New York, said it seemed more like a publicity stunt. "Sometimes people just want to puff their chests, indicate their reputation, and try to intimidate people that criticize them," Mr. Bloom said.
One thing that is clear, however, is that any company that would send out such a ridiculous threat over a blog criticism isn't a company worth trusting. Whether or not they spam and engage in bait and switch or other predatory practices, we do know with certainty that they send out insane legal threats. That's enough information necessary to decide that OMICS is not a company worth supporting.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story
By: Mike Masnick On: 2013-05-17 14:29 (0 Reads)
I've always been careful about putting my phone into "airplane mode" when flight attendants ask. However, a few years back, for reasons that I've yet to see any explanation for, flight attendants changed the script and started insisting that "flight mode" wasn't enough any more and you had to turn the phone all the way off. I've asked many times why this switch was made, and no one can say. At the point when that happened, I happened to have a smartphone that had no ability to turn off. I looked. There was no power button. There was nothing in the software that was a "turn off" function. The only way to turn it off was to pull out the battery. I did that on a few flights and then figured it was stupid. So I stopped. And nothing happened. With my current phone, I've tried to "turn it off" but even when it says it's turning off it's not really turning off (because when I switch the battery, it takes about 3 minutes to boot up — but if I "turn it off" and then turn it back on, it's ready to go within a second). Today, I still always put it into flight mode, but that's it. I turn off the screen and put the phone away, but I don't "turn it off" because it's pretty clear the phone doesn't actually turn off. And the requirement is silly. Similarly, my tablet stays on in my bag and my laptop is generally in "sleep" mode, but not off.
And I'm not alone. It seems that lots of people leave their devices on when they fly.
In a study released on Thursday by two industry groups, the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association, as many as 30 percent of all passengers said they had accidentally left a device on during takeoff or landing. About 67 percent said they had never done this, always ensuring that their electronics were turned off. Four percent were unsure.
In another segment of the study, passengers were asked if they turn their devices to “off” when instructed to do so by the pilot. Although 59 percent of passengers said they do fully turn their electronics off, 21 percent said they often simply switch to “airplane mode,” which disables the main radios of a gadget. Five percent sometimes adhere to the rule. And others were either unsure or do not carry electronic devices on a plane.
People give all sorts of reasons for why the devices should be turned off, but none of them make much sense. There is the interference question, but given how many of these devices stay on, there would be at least some real evidence of interference by now if that were really a big concern. There is the "gotta pay attention to the flight attendants" argument, but then they wouldn't let you sleep or read a book during takeoff. There's the "flying device is dangerous if something goes wrong" argument, but that applies equally to books. So, what is the reasoning? There's either some reason that no one's explaining... or just a ridiculous overabundance of caution where it's clearly not necessary.
Of course, as I was finishing up this post, someone passed along a Bloomberg video that claims that phones do interfere with flight GPS. If you look at at the text that goes with the video, they cite a story of a flight that went off course until flight attendants convinced someone to turn off an iPhone. However, nowhere in the video do they even mention that story or give any data or support for that claim. The video claims are also suspect. They name a single study from nearly a decade ago talking about a single phone, which is no longer on the market, that caused some interference. The other "studies" they look at include a very small number of claims from pilots who claim problems and that they "suspect" interference from phones, but those are never confirmed. They found 75 such claims over six years, but without any evidence to back them up.
Again, given how often people leave their devices on, you would expect a lot more verifiable evidence beyond a few pilots "suspecting" that phones were the problem, when a variety of other variables might have been a part of it.Permalink | Comments | Email This Story