Blake Dowling: Invisible tech

We barely even take notice any more of breaches as they are so commonplace.

Uber was hacked last week.

Did you even flinch when you saw the headline or heard the news? I scrolled to see if credit cards, or passwords were leaked and moved on (it appears they were not).

Hacks like this happen every day, every month, every week, and someone else is brought down.

We barely even take notice any more of breaches as they are so commonplace.

Guess how Uber got hacked? Uber, a company with cyber defense protocols in line with the Department of Defense got breached because it is alleged that a hacker pretending to be the “IT Department” convinced an Uber employee to give them their credentials.

This is called social engineering and we have entered what I can only describe as the “Really era.” Really? Someone calls or messages you to give them your password and you do so? Really?

Will we stay at hacking Defcon 1 for the rest of our lives — on alert for the next cyber incident?

What will they call this era for real in the years to come? The Hacking Years? Not very catchy like my “really” era, but we/they/someone always produce a name for an era after the fact.

Naming trends in tech is trendy, so let us move on from hacking and to the latest era of technology. I heard a new one the other day and it is called ambient computing.

Ambient Computing is a concept in technology where computing is made to appear anytime and everywhere. In contrast to desktop computing, ambient computing (also called ubiquitous computing) can occur using any device, in any location, and in any form.

What does that mean? In other words, it means not sitting in front of a computer but still immersed in tech; but the tech, while surrounding you, is acting on its own in most cases.

Think about things like the Nest home thermostat or a self-driving car, an Apple Watch monitoring health, or a Ring video doorbell that can respond to the doorbell ringing without its owner present.

This technology relies on sensors and artificial intelligence to get the job done.

If you work in technology, you might be thinking this is all great but what happens when it goes south on you?

Say you have a robot vacuum that automatically cleans your tile floors when you leave the house. What happens when your dog Max — who you didn’t take out before work — does his business on the floor and the robot vacuum cruises over it and redecorates your tile for you?

You also have public trust issues as these sensors and AI tools collect a monstrous amount of data and (if controlled by the tech giants) guess who gets the data? Thank you, ambient technology says Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.

Our state government also uses this technology.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has almost 200 monitors around the state to track air quality. This vast program is called the Florida Ambient Air Monitoring Network plan and covers almost 90% of our state. This program helps find and track long and short-term risks while making sure our state is in line with national standards.

You are in luck if you want more details as all 86 pages are on the DEPs website.

This technology is very cool, I am just making sure to point out that it is not perfect.

I love when our conference room video camera follows whoever is talking in the room versus having someone to have to move it. Or chat support calls on a website that are not really people, that is artificial intelligence giving you the answers you look for; assuming they are in their knowledge base.

I also love our auto pet water dispenser at the house, another notable example of ambient tech in use.

What’s next? Smarter cities, smarter homes, smarter offices? But knowing humankind, there is someone waiting to goof it all up by handing over their login credentials to a hacker.

Really? Yes.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at [email protected] and this column is dedicated to the memory and legacy of one of the founders of our company Mr. Brad Mitchell. Brad died peacefully in his home on Sept. 18. Brad loved technology and he will be missed by all that served with him. Rest in peace, sir.

Brad enjoying some wine with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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