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Edward Snowden’s Tweet That Exposed What Our TV’s Are Doing To Us

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    TVision Insights was launched a few years ago, allowing companies to monitor TV watchers' viewing habits. This means that they can watch you as you watch TV. The technology records where your eyes are looking, facial expressions and more.

  • Reflect On:

    What happened to privacy? How are these companies allowed to role out such technologies without the consent of the masses?

Before you begin...

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Years ago, Edward Snowden accomplished one of the most significant intelligence leaks in U.S. history, confirming to the world that the government really does spy on you. Two years later, Samsung casually warned the public that their Smart TVs could record their living room banter.

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Now, even if you’re alone in a room, if that room contains a laptop, computer, or Smart TV, it’s possible that someone out there is listening to you, and even watching you. The worst part? You wouldn’t even know.

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A technology called TVision Insights was launched a few years ago, allowing companies to monitor TV watchers’ viewing habits. This means that they can literally watch you as you watch TV, and the technology even records data on where your eyes are looking, when you’re distracted, and what emotions you’re conveying.

How TVision Insights Watches You Watch TV

I first came across the technology when Edward Snowden tweeted the following image on February 26, 2017.

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As you can see, not only can the companies watch you watch TV, but the technology is intelligent enough to pick up on your facial expression, engagement level, and other significant data. This information has provided insight into not only what shows people watch the most or are the most engaged in, but what commercials they prefer to watch as well.

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TVision was co-founded by Dan Schiffman and one of his classmates from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. Through the installation of a Microsoft Kinect device, most often used for Xbox video games, on top of TVs, TVision tracks the movement of people’s eyes in relation to the TV. The device can then record even tiny shifts from everyone in the room, and then the company matches the movements to what they’re watching.

The device’s sensors can record minute shifts in all of the people in the room. The company then matches those viewing patterns to shows and commercials using technology that listens to what is being broadcast on the TV.

Since the technology is still very new, it’s currently being voluntarily tested on 7,500 people in the Boston, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth areas (source).

Obviously there are privacy concerns here. The company states that they aren’t storing any images or video footage, and it’s only a voluntary installation, at least for now. But we’ve already seen companies and the U.S. government abuse similar software to spy on us.

How can we guarantee this information won’t be publicized or sold to corporations or the government, since that’s already happened in the past? Where do we draw the line between wanting the latest technical gadgets and wanting to secure our privacy? Is it even possible to have both anymore?

Your TV Could Be Watching You Already

This isn’t the first example of surveillance through TVs, and it probably won’t be the last. In early 2015, Samsung released a statement warning customers that their Smart TVs were capable of listening to and recording conversations.

These TVs have voice recognition software, but this fancy piece of technology comes at a price, and that price is a complete and utter violation of privacy. Samsung actually warned its customers not to have important conversations or disclose personal information in front of their Smart TVs because the audio can be recorded and then transmitted to unidentified third parties.

Samsung’s privacy policy in regards to the TV actually reads: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

You can read more about the Samsung controversy in our CE article here.

Vizio TVs were also found to record people, but the company had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges for collecting and selling footage from millions of TVs without the knowledge or consent of its viewers. This is a pretty fair settlement given the fact that they had sold 11 million of these smart TVs. One can only imagine how many people were directly affected by this.

The software, Smart Interactivity, was marketed as a feature that “enables program offers and suggestions” for users. However, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Vizio didn’t actually offer any of these programs or suggestions for more than two years after being sold. The FTC suit, which was filed alongside the Attorney General of New Jersey and the Director of the State’s Division of Consumer Affairs,  claimed that Vizio and its subsidiary, Inscape Services, sold data to third parties (source).

The data collected was able to show what programs and commercials people watched, and when. It could also measure the effectiveness of advertisements, as it would use the IP address attached to all of the internet-connected technological devices in your home to see if you recently searched for anything in regards to that commercial. For example, if you watched a McDonald’s commercial and then ordered McDonald’s on your phone, the software would pick up on that and confirm that the commercial was successful. The software can also do this in reverse, so if you see an ad online for a cool show and then you decide to watch it after, the software would pick up on that, too. The software could also target ads to people on their other devices, like phones or laptops, based on what they just watched on TV.

Although Vizio never publicly identified the companies they sold their data to, the FTC claimed that it included personal information like “sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, homeownership and household value” (source).

How Do We Take Back Our Privacy?

If you own a Smart TV, don’t stress too much! There are ways to opt out of these features (although who knows if this is guaranteed, but it’s certainly worth a shot). Just do a quick Google search and you can find out how to opt out of Vizio and Samsung Smart TVs, if not more.

It’s well-known now that laptop cameras and microphones are easy targets for hackers, particularly if those hackers are U.S. government agencies, as they can be activated remotely (and you may not even know it because that little green light next to your camera won’t necessarily turn on).

The entire CE office tapes over their laptop cameras in order to prevent anyone from potentially spying on us. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tapes over his laptop camera and microphone as an easy defence against people spying on him. I encourage you to do the same!

The reality is that we live in a world where everything is recorded and privacy isn’t always a choice anymore. There are little things here and there that we can do to avoid being taped or listened to, but that seems to be getting more and more difficult. We live in a technologically driven world, so it’s crucial that we voice our opinions and fight for our privacy. Even if you feel like you don’t have anything to hide, you should still have the right to do so!

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Fact Checkers & Big Tech Censorship Are Tearing Apart Society

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CE Staff Writer 1 minute read

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Journalist Laurie Clarke published an article in the British Medical Journal examining hundreds of millions of pieces of content that Facebook has removed in an attempt to stop ‘covid misinformation.’ As a result of censorship, we are seeing a breakdown of important dialogue. Here is our deeper written analysis of her piece.

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The Quantum Eraser Experiment: What Happens In The Present Can Change The Past

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read
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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    At the quantum scale, what we do in the present can impact what happens in the past. This is shown through what's known as the quantum delayed choice choice, or quantum eraser experiment.

  • Reflect On:

    Why are factors associated with consciousness directly intertwined with physical material matter at the quantum scale? What does this mean when it comes to our physical material world in relation to our thoughts, perceptions, feelings and emotions?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

One of the founding fathers of quantum theory, Max Planck, who is often credited with originating quantum theory – a feat that won him the Physics Nobel Prize in 1918 – once stated: “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as exiting, postulates consciousness.”

Fast forward to today and there are a number of experiments in multiple fields showing that Planck was right. Consciousness is fundamental and it is directly intertwined with what we call physical material matter. You cannot explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals like space, time, mass, and charge. As a result, the logical thing to do is postulate whether consciousness itself is something fundamental to the existence of reality.

A classic experiment used to examine the role of consciousness and its relationship to matter is the quantum double slit experiment. In this experiment, tiny bits of matter (photons, electrons, or any atomic-sized object) are shot toward a screen that has two slits in it. When there is no measuring device placed at the screen, the tiny bits of matter act as a “wave” and creates an “interference” pattern on the other side where a wall is placed to catch the pattern. Because there was no measuring or observation device used to see what slit the matter went through, we cannot know what path it took. When the pattern on the wall is examined to see what path it took, it represents a wave of possibilities, meaning the matter (particle) went through both slits, and one slit, and interfered with itself, which should be physically impossible. Welcome to the wacky world of quantum physics – anything and everything is possible.

The kicker is, when an observation device is set up to observe what slit the particles go through, the particle then only goes through one, thus collapsing the wave pattern and forming a pattern that is representative of the particle only going through one slit. In other words, the behaviour of the matter changes when we decide to measure  or observe it, the particles act as they are aware they are being watched. 50 percent of the time the particle will go through one slit, and the other 50 percent of the time it will go through the other and form a two slit pattern, just as if they were balls lobbed through one slit or the other.

Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it…We compel (the electron) to assume a definite position…We ourselves produce the results of the measurement. (M. Mermin, Boojums All the Way Through: Communicating Science ina Prosaic Age (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990, referenced by Dr. Dean Radin, From A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays explaining how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality

If this isn’t already mind-altering enough for you, one physicist, John Archibald Wheeler, pondered what would happen if we don’t interfere with the photons on their way through the slits? What would happen if we didn’t set up a measuring device to observe what slit the matter went through, and instead, what if behind the back wall there were detectors? One detector is focused on each slit, and just before the particle lands on the screen after it has passed through the slit device, the detectors are pulled away. When no one could detect which slit the photon had gone through, there was a wave pattern, but when the detectors were in place, there was no wave pattern. Similar to observing the particles before they went through the slit. No observation produced an interference pattern, and observation formed a one line, one slit pattern.

If they collapse to a state of particles from a wave at the moment of detection, after they have gone past the slit device, this means that even though they went through the slit unobserved and should produce a wave (interference) pattern, the very act of observing, still, instantly transforms them into particles and collapses the wave function.

This begs the question, how could these detectors interfere with something that had already happened? It would mean that what happened in the present changed the past. The very act of detecting the particles after they go through the slit determines how they went through the slit, either as a wave or as particles. How is this possible?

Like the quantum double slit experiment, the delayed choice/quantum eraser has been demonstrated and repeated multiple times. For example, physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) have conducted John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, and the findings were recently published in the journal Nature Physics.

In 2007 (Science 315, 966, 2007), scientists in France shot photons into an apparatus and showed that their actions could retroactively change something that had already happened.

“If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance, but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.” (source)

To make the experiment easier to understand, Wheeler used a cosmic scale explanation. Imagine a star emitting a photon billions of years ago, heading in the direction of planet Earth. In between, there is a galaxy. As a result of what’s known as “gravitational lensing,” the light will have to bend around the galaxy in order to reach Earth, so it has to take one of two paths, going left or going right. Billions of years later, if one decides to set up an apparatus to “catch” the photon, the resulting pattern would be an interference pattern, as explained above in the double slit experiment. This demonstrates that the photon took one way, and it took the other way. A “wave” of possibilities, but the way it took has not been defined.

One could also choose to “peek” at the incoming photon, setting up a telescope on each side of the galaxy to determine which side the photon passed to reach Earth. The very act of measuring or “watching” which way the photon comes in means it can only come in from one side. The pattern will no longer be an interference pattern representing multiple possibilities, but a single clump pattern showing “one” way.

What does this mean? It means how we choose to measure “now” affects what direction the photon took billions of years ago. Our choice in the present moment affected what had already happened in the past.

Below is a great video of Wheeler explaining.

My mind is blown just writing this article, I can’t stop thinking about it and what it could possibly mean, and how factors associated with consciousness are, in more ways than one, intertwined with what we perceive to be our physical reality. I recently published an article regarding consciousness and how it might be fundamental to the creation of our physical material world. You can read that here if interested.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” ― Nikola Tesla

Why does all of this matter? Because it’s one of multiple experiments showing a strong connection between consciousness and physical matter. What does this mean at the classic physics scale? What does it mean with regards to the way we think, feel, perceive? What does it mean when we are talking about solutions to problems we are facing on our planet? If human consciousness could be so fundamental with regards to the ‘creation of our reality’, why aren’t we talking about it more? What impact would changing the way we look at our world have on the human experience? What would happen if we started to see things in a different light?

We tend to believe in our culture that we are beings where everything in our world is happening to us, as opposed to us being intimately connected to everything in our world. How might that knowing change the nature of our choices?

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Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

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Dr Byram Bridle Speaks For 100 Colleagues Afraid To Share Science About COVID Vaccine Concerns

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CE Staff Writer 2 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dr Byram Bridle and two other physicians spoke at a news conference on Parliament Hill about their experience being censored or harassed as a result of sharing their medical opinions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Reflect On:

    Do we as citizens truly want our scientists and physicians to be silenced and censored?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Why are scientists and experts in this field scared to share concerning science regarding COVID vaccines? Just ask Byram Bridle, a viral immunologist from the University of Guelph who recently released a detailed, in-depth report regarding safety concerns about the COVID vaccines. The report was released to act as a guide for parents when it comes to deciding whether or not their child should be vaccinated against COVID-19. Bridle published the paper on behalf of one hundred other scientists and doctors who part of the Canadian COVID Care Alliance, but who are afraid to ‘come out’ publicly and share their concerns.

Bridle has stated about the Alliance,

In fact the reason that we (Canadian COVID Care Alliance) exist is sad. We exist because we’re like minded in the sense that we all want to be able to speak openly and freely about the scientist and medicine underpinning COVID-19, and we don’t feel safe to do it  anywhere else other than within our own private group, where we feel safe.

Below is our detailed report on the news conference held on Parliament Hill on June 17th, 2021. It was organized by Canadian MP Derek Sloan who has received hundreds of concerned communications from Canadian citizens about the censorship of scientists. Bridle and two other physicians spoke at the conference.

A recent article published in the British Medical Journal by journalist Laurie Clarke has highlighted the fact that Facebook has already removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube has removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”

The more important questions to ask are: who is deciding what’s misleading? Who decides what’s false?

Some of the most renowned scientists and expert in this field have been subjected to this “fact-checking,” and they’ve been outspoken about how much of this fact-checking is flat out censorship. You decide.

To note: HealthFeedback.org, a fact checker, has attempted to refute some of Bridle’s claims. You can read more about them here.

 

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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