When games become real

It is one thing to stalk a person, sneak up on that person and slice his throat, it is not that big a deal when we do this on a console or PC, but when we do it for real it is murder, whether targeted killing or not. It is warfare against most often a non-combatant. And when it is simple murder, we are outraged (or we should be) and if the rules of evidence are clear and fulfilled you go to prison, unless you are in the Netherlands and you kill a child and two grandparents whilst speeding, in that case you get 120 hours of community service (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Q0Mg9tioM) . So, at times things are not equal, that has never been a surprise.

Yet, what happens when the lines are blurred? Let’s take a step back to 2014, after a year of delay Watchdogs was released. It was over hyped in many ways, yet it was not awful and it was as we needed to recognise an entirely new game, a new Intellectual Property in gaming. So like many, I thought it was a flawed game, but it had potential. So, I kept an open mind for the sequel that was released a week ago. Well, I have spent enough hours of game time to form an opinion. Graphically the game is passable (read: awesome in some ways) and as an open world it is pretty impressive. I think that San Francisco as a choice for several reasons was the deal breaker that took the game from failure to optional success. I reckon that in another major city this game would not have worked. Whether you visit Nudle (read: Google), whether you see Pier 39, the Rock or just Jack London Square. The game gave me the feeling that I was actually seeing San Francisco, and let’s not forget that big bridge!

As an open world it is one of the best released open world locations. I think Ubisoft did what I hoped it would and as such, the jump from Assassins Creed to Assassins Creed 2 has been equalled from the stern Altair we went to Ezio Auditore. In Watchdogs we went from the driven Aiden Pearce to the data tyranny opposing Marcus Holloway. This African American is more than just likeable, like Ezio Auditore he is the good hearted scoundrel we all wish we were. In a similar way to AC, this game is also a large leap forward. They are not there yet, because the game still has issues on several levels, but overall the game is more than just playable. In the first game, I quickly grew a dislike to driving, that feeling was not present in this game. Traffic was a lot better, less annoying (apart from some Taco truck, which might be an inside joke), the game has a much better setting towards stealth, it could improve in many ways, but it is a lot better than it was. Control of Marcus is still a question in some specific cases, yet we might digress too much towards Assassins Creed and this is no Assassins Creed game.

What is above all others is the story, this one is sublime in several ways. Those stinkers (read: level of envy) at Ubisoft Montreal did something brilliant. Even though the game comes with disclaimers of fiction and coincidence if too alike, but they did manage to pull a rabbit out of a bow tie. You see, the world we move towards as per 2017 is in the game. It will not be  like the game in reality, yet when we see the data gathering that is happening now and when we see the 5G world as it is to happen (at https://5g.co.uk/guides/what-is-5g/), parts that were described in my earlier blog ‘Non iudicium tuum‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/10/18/non-iudicium-tuum). We need to get an eerie feeling, you see the accusations for 2 years on Facebook selling your data/information, and we see mentions of Google doing the same.

We see these accusations and the opposite defence by both that this is not happening. It is not what I believe, because I do not think that this is what is exactly happening. Yet, when Facebook offers the deepest and most granular population for your advertisement, it seems to me that it has access via portals to offer to advertisers a selection of people. Google does the same, it offers a portal for advertisers even though those advertisers will never know the identity of the individual; their advertisements go to the most likely interested people. So data is not sold, it is a semantic on how people are approached and by what means. This reality will grow over the next 5 years, especially through 5G and that is the group watchdogs 2 is now dealing with. You see, the reality of 5G is offering Smart mobility, domotics and Utility management. It also offers smart security and surveillance. Yet what Watch dogs 1 and now 2 in a larger extent addresses is that one man’s smart is another man’s stupidity. So is the world we move to as in the games or not? You see, the reality is catching up to the games and this game is showing the dangers of no privacy. The issue in reality is seen to some extent (at http://theconversation.com/there-really-is-a-link-between-your-facebook-posts-and-your-personality-68186), where we see “Privacy campaigners this week applauded Facebook’s decision to block big UK insurance firm Admiral from using young people’s social media data to help set their car insurance premiums. But this is just the start of a debate over the use of social media information for such purposes“, yet this the reality we faced for a while. The event seen in November this year happened in real life less than a month before Ubisoft voiced it in its game where people saw premiums rise because of life choices (like ordering pizza) and a mere 10 months after I mentioned it in ‘Double standards, no resolve (part 2)‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/26/double-standards-no-resolve-part-2/), where I stated: “So if we do the following math 32% of 70 million (falsely assuming that they were all American gamers), then we now get the number of people confronted with a $144 a year additive. So in one swoop, this data set gives way to an additional $3.2 billion for insurance fees. Data is going to be that simply applied sooner than you think“, and guess what, UK insurance firm Admiral did try just that. Yet as we read: “Facebook’s decision to block” is just a shot across the bow, because when the genie is out of the bottle putting him/her back is much less of an option and data tends to get out into the open. If you doubt that, just ask the Mail server IT person of the Clinton family, he can assure you of that.

In this now, we get the point when gaming and reality get uncomfortably close. It is one thing when we play call of duty where it is just guns, guts and adrenaline. The reality of war tends to hold us back from doing stupid things, yet what happens when the reality is merely copying a file, how will we stop acting when we have misguided ourselves into believing that it is just a harmless file? When we see: “The Admiral case could well be remembered as just the beginning of a tortuous back and forth over using digital footprints in financial modelling“, yet the danger is seen in other ways too, yet it is not voiced. We pay a certain premium for a certain risk, yet it takes years to get a discount for loyal non claiming clients. It only takes one algorithm to raise it by 10% plus on collected data that is alleged of personality not a given and as such we get to pay for being social in many ways. This is a clear case of worry at the very end where we see “As long as companies use our data transparently and with our consent, why not allow both parties to an insurance transaction to rely on what appears to be very accurate data?“, because it might give a $10 relief for a healthy young person. It will cost anyone who had been in an accident an additional $200 a year and we have decades of data that these companies are run by greed driven people, board members who do want their 8 figure bonus and giving discounts is creating a gap of getting that bonus. Meaning that we sell our neighbours away for a few dollars whilst the neighbour is cut off from health insurance because he fell and hit his head, that is what the message on Facebook said and it did not come with an admittance or with evidence. That is the danger and Watch Dogs 2 shows that in clarity as you move from hacking router to hacking router.

The 5G guide gives us: “By 2020 it’s predicted that there will be 50-100 billion devices connected worldwide, many of which will need continuous data access“, which is a low estimate. Here at University I see people with a Laptop, a smart phone, some with additional Tablets and music stream devices. Now some of these elements overlap, some are used strictly separate, yet in all this the low estimate of 50 billion devices can easily be surpassed before 2020, and connection are growing in other ways too. Most TV’s are now Android enabled and connected to the home network, so are PC’s and consoles, so the average family will have 8-12 devices connected. That whilst the RFID world is only now starting up within the domestic household sphere, so this number will drastically change soon enough. This is what the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility team advertised today “At least 60% of security breaches start with employee credentials getting into the wrong hands. With modern mobility and bring-your-own-device solutions, protecting your data starts with protecting the identities of your organisation’s employees. That’s why we’ve made identity security central to Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Discover how focusing on identity can help make your organisation more secure“, I am not questioning on how needed this is, because mobile security needs to be on the top list of any person, whether as an employee or as a personal reason. You see a system that requires over a 100 patches on an annual basis has issues. Now, we need to accept that this was always the case and a system this big will always have flaws, yet when we see the level of issues in an age where non-repudiation is almost more important than digital evidence gives rise to the reality we face and the games we play.

Are we an algorithm?

Are we real is the question we should ask and whilst we play we are not the real us, we play to be Marcus Holloway in San Francisco, Ezio Auditore in Venice or Geralt of Rivia in some other place. We are seeing that Marcus Holloway is showing us a world that is the one we seem to live in and that should be a little more upsetting than it actually seems to be, because we remain in denial. Although, all things being equal, me working in a place like the Delaware data farm would be a dream come true. Who would not go weak at the knees seeing the tens of thousands of data servers all streaming data? The game story gives us several parts, many I will not speak here because I do not want to give away the game, it is so much better when you experience it for yourself, but the truth will hit you as it remains close to the reality we now see in newspapers, although without 5G none of it can come to pass to the degree we see. The question that we are faced in reality is that as we are valued and weighted by our social interactions, have we been minimalised to a mere algorithm, which then leads me to the question are Sociopaths soon the only people valued correctly? It certainly seems to be the case when we consider the elements of the Admiral insurance scenario. The SK Telecom white paper on 5G (at http://www.sktelecom.com/img/pds/press/SKT_5G%20White%20Paper_V1.0_Eng.pdf) goes as far on page 40 on combining Business Intelligence (BI), Network Intelligence (NI) to form within IoT (Internet of Things) to form Service Intelligence (SI), that whilst we now get one of the earliest official papers to set SI as a “It knows me better than I know Myself“, this will vamp soon enough as they state it themselves as ‘Telco Asset-based personalised service‘, which is pretty much the founding father of Mobile based Software as a Service, based on collected data. It is a stretch to call this a personal data based service level agreement, yet, I wonder how far off I am when I do that. In addition, at the IP conference last week, I predicted that by 2022, the total amount of Trade Marks will have grown by 300% on a global scale. 5G will be driving new versions and new iterations of corporations, many who missed the initial digital age boat, those will run like crazy to not miss a second of the next wave, because those who do will be corporations that become non-existent. If there is one part that Google AdWords and Facebook advertising are proving is that granularity will become the next key in those who advertise, although there is a case to be made that the current data at present is not voluminous enough to currently completely rely on this advertisement track, implying that this path seems to be less than 18 months away.

This is where we are going and Ubisoft was more than a little brilliant implying darker versions of reality in this game, especially in the San Francisco light of living, where freedom of identity is everyone’s Personal Jesus. So in light of that, the game does hold up, due to the improvements and in larger pat to the stories that connect to one another in the game, the fact that some elements are taken from life almost here is just the icing on the cake making for a sweet gaming treat.

So even as the corporate world at large has been ignoring non-repudiation as a bad taste, we see that 5G is no longer making that an affordable option as the collected data is  going to be key in the time of personal services. Don’t take my word for it, Edgar Allen Poe is stating the same thing on Facebook, as did Shakespeare who gave me his fax number (bonus points for those who know what film that was from). In an age of SaaS, SI and service personalisation’s, we will see a dependency on identity and more important the linking of certain elements, which also implies that messing with that part will be the prankster’s new ‘O’ (for Orgasm), giving non-repudiation a very new light in security requirement on a level we have not cared for before, although, the wrong people have not been not-caring on that requirement for a little too long. So as we realise that there is a reality to these things, as our reality caught up with the games we play, we might wonder where Marcus Holloway is. So Ruffin Prentiss (at @RPrentissIII), you need to get your ass in gear and save millions of potential victims from themselves soon enough!

smartfridgeNow, we know that an actor might not have the skills to do what is needed, yet in all fairness, some actors became president, so the call is not that far from centre, in addition, many require decent degrees to get a gig nowadays, not just in communication. The reality that Watchdogs uses is based on real issues, some providers offer ‘zero day exploit protection‘ at premium price, so when we saw “By 2020 it’s predicted that there will be 50-100 billion devices connected worldwide“, how many will have been engineered by the lowest bidder? How many zero day exploits will we be confronted with? Now, many of those devices will have no real information, but what about that ‘intelligent fridge’? Remember Admiral Insurance? What happens when he has that juicy list of your fridge? The fish fingers (optional with custard), the Pizza, all those sugary drinks. What happens when your parties become the health risk you advertised in your fridge, what happens when your health insurance premiums start going up? That reality is not that far-fetched, because Facebook isn’t giving that data at present, does not mean that Admiral Insurance et al cannot get their fingers on the data it wants and needs to spike premiums. That is the issue we all face. And the image of the ‘smart’ fridge is already 3 years old, implying we have come a lot further in less time. The reality of growth is here, but so is the realisation of personal secured privacy data and it did not require a game to give that reality to us, but Ubisoft is bringing this story in an excellent way, a way that should give cause to realise that our private needs of safety are not being met and we are giving away whatever privacy we had much easier and freely than we admit, because we do not realise what else can come of it.

Even as Google is calling this ‘the year of mobile’, there is every clear indication that 2017 needs to be ‘the year of personal data safety’. I wonder how many people realise how little they have done for themselves in that regard and if you have a PC or Console, Ubisoft has a game that can help you figure that part out, even though it is still a little futuristic for now.

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