Cybercrime: Under No Single Jurisdiction

Media Tear

The Internet has no physical location, beyond borders and is globally inclusive. As a result, devices are interacting from all parts of the world, controlled by completely different people whom all have a different standard of ethics to one another. This variation in ethics and justifications along combined with no single body monitoring cyberspace leads to the common practice of cybercrime. Criminal activity is even committed over Cyberspace via government bodies including North Korea, Russia, China (Perl, 2007) Cybercrime is highly complex, the perpetrator or group could be in another country, use software, proxies, or have some other kind McGuire’s (2012) found that up to “80% of cybercrime could be the result of some form of organized activity.” With those involved based in “loosely associated illicit networks rather than formal organizations (Décary-Hétu & Dupont, 2012). Consider the greater range of skills, resources and capabilities of cybercriminals through having underground connections.

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Refugees & Cyberculture: final progress update

intersectional alien

The time has come for my final progress update! I have basically finished my literature review, I have organised interviewees and I am ready to start working on my digital artefact. My digital artefact is – as I’ve stated a few times by now – a video series, so I’ve been on the hunt for photos and footage available to make the series visually compelling.

I was surprised to find Creative Commons actually had a vast amount of images available for reuse within the license requirements (non-commercial reuse), as in the past I’ve found it quite limited. I have a feeling the subject matter may account for the amount of available images to reuse, as I’ve noticed various sources have an interest in sharing the varied experiences of refugees.

“Syrian refugees strike at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015.” Attribution: By Mstyslav Chernov…

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The Economics of Driverless Cars


When looking at the future of driverless cars, we need to take into account the different economic changes that will occur with this shift in technology. What job industries will suffer and will new ones arise? Will the actual price of the vehicle be affordable for the average family? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? These are all important questions that should be addressed before autonomous vehicles are mass produced to make the transition easier.

Currently, vehicles form a big part of the economy whether you’re thinking of manufacturers, insurers, mechanics, dealers or even taxi drivers. For those businesses that don’t adjust in time, it is possible that they could lose “hundreds of billions of dollars” (Dallegro, 2014) and some would likely bankrupt. However at this point in time, many car manufacturers are wary of investing in autonomous vehicles because “anything that reduces the number of vehicles on the road, or reduces the overall cost of these vehicles, without providing a new revenue stream to compensate” (Stayton, 2015) is risky for companies and until the change becomes imminent, most manufacturers will stick to the status quo.

Even the government would lose revenue with a flip to autonomous cars since there would be no need for licensing fees and, since these vehicles follow the road rules at all time, there would no longer be fines for illegal driving habits like speeding and drinking under the influence. This all doesn’t cast the friendliest light for a shift towards driverless technology for companies who rely on the industry, but with the possibilities of safer roads and lower carbon emissions, autonomous vehicles are the way of the future. One industry that will certainly boom in the wake of driverless cars will be software development since the programs controlling the vehicles will have to be constantly updated to ensure safety in all situations and to stay on top of newly built roads. Although there may be some initial losses for the big boys, the future for the little people seems far brighter.

Anyone who has owned a car would be well aware of the ongoing cost to upkeep the vehicle. There’s ever-changing fuel prices, insurance, servicing, mechanics and that’s not even counting the initial purchase of the car which is a lot of money to drop whether it’s brand new or second hand. With self-driving cars, it would be possible to “rent them by the hour” (Ozimek, 2014) – a much cheaper system compared to a taxi. So for those who didn’t require a car on a daily basis or only for a short commute, rather than paying for insurance and other fees, they could rent cars based on their needs. This could help save the average family thousands of dollars a year which would make it much easier to save money in general whether that’s for a house deposit, a holiday or a little treat for yourself.

Robin Chase (2014), CEO of Buzzcar (a peer-to-peer car sharing service), provides a few statistics to help explain the benefits of self-driving cars for the average consumer. He mentions that 80% of people drive alone in their car and can spend roughly $9000 of their income every year for an asset that is used only 5% of the time. Although an important asset in this day and age, and quite a time saving one at that, autonomous vehicles would take a step further and increase the potential for car pooling (think of a company car that picks you up every morning and takes you home), save even more of your time by allowing you to work on tasks on-the-go and help you save some cash along the way. Also, for people who owned these self-driving cars, it could be an extra form of income. Rather than having our modern day taxi services, one person would be able to manage their own fleet of cars and simply work from home.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015), Australia has 764 motor vehicles per 1000 people which places it in the top 10 list of countries by vehicles per capita. Google is aiming to increase car utilization from between 5-10% to 75% through sharing (Dallegro, 2014). So if Australia were to move towards self-driving cars, a decrease in the number of cars on the road would be likely to occur. However, this brings in the question of affordability. Right now, the autonomous technology that needs to be added to a base model can add several thousand dollars to the price tag; the systems needed for a driverless Infiniti Q50 “costs an additional $6600 above the base sticker price” (Tannert, 2014). If the prices remain high, it will be difficult to convince the consumers to invest in the technology. The costs will definitely decrease with enough demand, however there needs to be a market from the everyday person in the first place rather than having sparse celebrities buying the product.

With technology improving at a rapid rate and a constant emphasis on keeping roads safe, it’s a no-brainer to move towards autonomous technology. Even with the initial shock to the car industry, it is very possible that new jobs will arise from the very creation of this technology and with enough adjustment, the transition will easily fit in to our culture. On an individual scale, the benefits seem almost magical and will be a relief to commuters everywhere although it may be a bit more difficult to get those rev-heads to stop grinding those gears.

Reference List:

Sex in space

Through my exploration of sex and sexuality online during my early research, and attempt to briefly define these concepts during my presentation on sex in cyberspace, I have arrived at this research question:

How does the virtual experience transform our conceptualisation of sex, sexuality and sexual interaction?

While this is a very broad area of study which could possibly inform an honours thesis or several research articles, it’s the most concise way to query what most of my research has been pointing towards while leaving myself open to further study if I do want to take it further than this semester. But where to start?

In my last post I detailed how Iris Bull‘s thesis ‘Foreclosing Possibility in Virtual Worlds: An Exploration of Language, Space, and Bodies in the Simulation of Gender and Minecraft’ (2014) informed my analysis of sexual exploration in virtual spaces. Her work on gender and virtual worlds was really informative in my exploration of cyberspace, however it was the structure of her thesis which really gave me what I needed: a research framework which could help me define the other areas of sexual exploration online.

Through the lens of the three pillars of her thesis i.e. ‘Language, Space, and Body’, I can narrow down how my research might work to answer the above research question in a more effective way, especially if I choose just one of these interrelated areas to focus on. Based on my established research on ‘space’ e.g. blogs, social networks, forums, virtual reality, virtual worlds, I will extend my understanding of ‘space’ to include a discussion of how sex and sexuality is transformed by digital space, how objects and subjects of cyber-worlds transform these spaces, and how these spaces more adequately accomodate for paraphilic behaviours.

My digital artefact will take the shape of a virtual map of the cyberspaces which are helping people transform sex and sexuality in order to reflect the concept of non-physical ‘space’. I believe that the best spacial presentation medium for this kind of research would be a Prezi, as I can use the Zooming User Interface as a way to illustrate ‘space’. However I will still keep looking for different ways to share my ideas.


Feature image by Cate Storymoon 2014, used under licence CC BY-SA-2.0.



can we make robots ethical?

Our major concern for the future of robots and AI, are robots becoming crappy because its creators, us fickle humans, are crappy. Like accidentally swearing in front of your 1 year old and it’s first word being #$%&, we worry about passing on our least favourable qualities to our creations. The last thing anyone wants is a robot with anxiety or a god complex.

In order to exist, they need to be safe for humans and not a threat to us, and give them the qualities that won’t bring about the robopocalypse. We need to give them ethics.

“What happens, when these robots are forced into making ethical decisions….
…a robot left in an impossible double blind, how could it possibly equip an automated intelligence to cope with this type of complexity?”
“Can Robots Be Ethical” 
Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens, ABC Radio

Continue reading can we make robots ethical?

ASMRelated: Placing ASMR with Related Phenomena

Whenever I mention ASMR in conversation, it’s a pretty safe bet I will need to follow up with an explanation. ASMR is only a very recently recognized phenomenon and although it is starting to break into more mainstream coverage (such as TIME magazine), it has not yet reached a point of understanding where I can simply mention it without having to refer people to a YouTube video primer. This is something I have had to do to pretty much everyone else in my cybercultures class with the exception of one particularly clued in netizen. My usual responses tend to be comments on whether or not they, too, get triggered, often accompanied with a certain detectable trace of bewilderment at the whole cultures existence. But on a few other occasions I have gotten the response, “oh, so is it sort of like X?” Where ‘X’ in this case is another neurological, sensory condition such as synaesthesia or misophonia. This got me thinking about exactly how ASMR might compare or relate to other known conditions and neurosensory phenomena. Continue reading ASMRelated: Placing ASMR with Related Phenomena

Human-Robot Relationships

The growing fear of robots taking over the world has become a dominant discourse when discussing advanced A.I. Will they’re intelligence override human intelligence? Will they become the dominant life-form? I believe the biggest threat super intelligent robots pose to humanity is how we form relationships with these robots. Will human-robot relationships become more important than human-human relationships? Will technology replace human connection?

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 5.50.55 pmWe are susceptible to forming emotional attachments to robots and even feel empathy towards robots in the same way we feel empathy towards other humans. A recent study showed neurophysiological evidence that humans can feel empathy for robots in pain. Participants were made to look at images of a human hand about to be cut by scissors and a robot hand in the same situation. Researchers found that the neural responses that indicate empathy were similar when faced with both images. What this proves is that humans can easily feel for and relate to humanoid robots (Suzuki 2015).

We also see many examples of humans having an emotional attachment to robots in the world today. When Sony stopped manufacturing the AIBO robot in 2006 and then ceased to provide repair services for the robots in 2014, many AIBO owners held funerals for their broken robot pets that could no longer be fixed. Similarly, American soldiers are seen to bond with robots used to defuse bombs; naming them, awarding them purple hearts and holding funerals for the ones destroyed in combat (Hsu, 2015). This love and affection for these robots highlights the emotional attachments humans are capable of making with robots.

These significant relationships between humans and robots in our current world show a strong potential for even deeper, more intimate relationships with robots of the future that are extremely artificially intelligent and who appear to truly be alive. The question is will these future relationships with robots be detrimental or beneficial to humanity?

Hsu, J. 2015, ‘Robot Funerals Reflect Our Humanity’, Discover, retrieved from cyborg/2015/03/15/robot-funerals-reflect-our-humanity/#.VylGSGR941g

Suzuki, Y., Galli, L., Ikeda, A., Itakura, S. and Kitazaki, M. (2015). Measuring empathy for human and robot hand pain using electroencephalography. Sci. Rep., 5, p.15924.


Cyber Fears



This week I began analyzing the results from my survey. The aim was to discover the answers to several key questions regarding my research topic about Cyberpunk and Cyber Fears …

  • Are we more accepting of new technology?
  • What kind of fears do we have regarding our current technologies?
  • Do we still have a dystopian view of the future or do we have more positive perceptions?
  • Is there room for the cyberpunk genre to re-emerge in our modern culture?
  • And if so how might it be different?

Originally I was aiming to get around 40 participants, but thanks to Facebook and its mass message capabilities I was able to get 80. This was really exciting because it gave a large range of in depth answers to work with and draw ideas from. Here are some of the trends I noticed…

35% of participants stated they had a negative perception of…

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An Exotic Lie Detector, A Consensual Hallucination, Crime Coefficient over 531


Last week I researched the Cyberpunk genre, its dystopic settings, its portrayal of (or the lack of) the separation of the organic and artificial, as well as Jon Turneys “Imagined objects”. From here I will begin refining my final digital artefact, with the aim of developing a complete Virtual Cyberpunk Store.

To begin, I have selected the first 3 objects I will be exploring:

1. The Voight Kampff Machine – Blade Runner:
A lie detector-type device that allows the user to distinguish between humans and androids using biometrical measurements.


2. The OSC 7 Cyberdeck – Neuromancer:
An advanced computer system used to jack into the matrix.




3. The DominatorPsycho-Pass:
A gun that can determine the identity of the user, requiring authentication in order to read and send psychological data (Psycho-Pass) of targets in order to calculate their crime coefficient.



For each of these objects displayed in my store, I will create an in-depth discourse exploring the textual background and the contextual societal concerns, as well as a description of what they are used for within their texts.
A further element I am considering is pricing the items in specific currencies, and possibly even creating comparisons between similar items.

This will involve drawing on Cyberpunk theory, as well as wider sci-fi theory and how these genres impact on real science and technology. Furthermore, research into Design Fiction will help in my representation of the ‘imagined objects’. Lastly, and most obviously I will, and have been, engaging in the texts of which these items come from.

Another step which I am about take is to begin developing the store site. If I can find an effective way of reading material within VR, I will definitely be looking at creating a VR store, with my items through Unreal Engine. However, I feel a much more realistic approach will be to create a web-store.