Technology revolutionises the Church

Technology revolutionises the Church

If you enter a Mormon Church, you'll come across a group of missionaries holding an iPad and although you might blame it on Millennials, the truth is that missionaries use those iPads for religious purposes. They use those iPads with contact one another, to keep the Book of Mormon and other religious books handy, and to organise their lives around the Church. Technology hasn't just impacted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) but most Churches.

Whether it enhances the worship experience as projectors empower the words on screen or allow religious communities to stay in touch in their everyday lives, technology has proven to be a great addition to the church. Technology serves as a tool to empower the religious message and to allow to reach more people on a global scale. Social networks has also helped to advertise church programmes and seeking assistance for outreach programmes.

Technology has also impacted the church's ministry. Pastor Joan Gumbs of How Ya Livin' Now share with Family and Religion that one of the negative effects of technology on anyone including Christians is the addiction element.

Times have changed, and one can find oneself being addicted to the Internet. It is amazing to see during a service, church members checking out their Facebook profile. And if that wasn't bad enough, they an also be found tweeting about the service on the Twitter platform, she shared.

According to Gumbs, this addiction to technology can lead to alienation of some church members from others.

"Whereas there has always been cliques in the church, it was never as bad as it has become since the advent of technology in the church. If you don't have an iPhone or iPad you are not a part of the 'in' crowd," she said adding that this kind of materialistic behaviour should never be a part of Christendom.

While technology has helped the church attract non-believers to their religion, it has also led to many believers falling into the trap of being distracted from God. As people's fascination with technology grows, their beliefs start to be replaced by Internet and new electronic devices.

In this day and age, even believers are so consumer by social media that they forget to pray at night or would say a quick prayer before falling asleep.

According to Gumbs, many Christians spend more time sharing Whatsapp chain messages than spreading the word of God. The fascination with social media is such that it even steals time from community outreach.

Some church members have abandoned actual visitation of members or those in the communities and instead replace it with 'Whatsapp groups' and 'socialising' on their phones," said Gumbs.

It's common now to see parents enjoying the message while the child sits beside them engrossed in their tablets. Although it might seem like a negative occurrence, Gumbs begs to differ.

While it may seem counter-productive giving children tables to quiet them down in church, the reality is, tablets can be effective tools. For instance, a tablet, which is a mini computer, can have Christian programmes designed for children that can keep them engaged during service, so as not to disrupt the service," she shared.

Meanwhile, social media can also hurt the church as members of the community might tweet or post on Facebook something they dislike about the church and that might go viral, hurting the assembly.

"They can also use the video camera feature on the phone to video anyone in the congregation or on the podium for the same reason," she said.

"Technology of the 21st Century allows man to call his neighbour in Timbuktu on a device in which they can see each other even though they may be thousands of miles apart. Technology allows churches to better communicate with their members, especially those living afar," she said, adding that nothing is wrong with technology. "It has always existed and will continue to do so, with or without those of us who oppose it."

Facial recognition technology

Facial recognition technology

In 2018 we realise that Facebook is now doing facial recognition even on photos you're untagged in.

The myth of the surveillance society is nothing more than a myth. Just because there are security cameras in every street corner, it doesn't mean that it's infallible or that CCTV is delivering a safer society. When it comes to real-life situations, camera-based visual surveillance is not really accurate nor practical because you ultimately you need a human to watch the footage as they cannot rely on technology alone. For instance, during the 2011 London riots, facial recognition software contributed to just one arrest out of the 4,962 that took place. That is why visual surveillance still relies on people watching hours of footage - which is time consuming and unsustainable.

Software advances made in DNA sequence analysis could be a game changer in the field of video analysis software. These software tools and techniques, which treat video as a scene that evolves in the same way DNA does, could revolutionise automated visual surveillance.

While CCTV cameras create endless and complex video footage to analyse, automate video surveillance remains limited to tasks in relatively controlled environments. Although it is easy to detect a trespasser into somebody's property can be complete quite accurately, analysing footage of groups of people or identifying someone in particular in a public space is not as accurate since outdoor scenes vary and change so much.

The way to improve automated video analysis is by devising a software that can deal with this variability rather than treating as an inconvenience. One area that deals with large amounts of very variable data is genomics. The three billion DNA characters of the first human genome (the entire set of genetic data in a human) were sequenced in 2001, and since then, the production of this kind of genomic data has increased at an exponential rate. Given the amount of this data and the degree to which it can vary has led to vast amounts of money and resources being deployed to develop specialised software and computing facilities to handle it.

Thanks to this software, today it's possible for scientists to relatively easily access genome analysis services to study all sorts of things, including how to combat diseases and design personalised medical services, and even uncovering the mysteries of human history.

By investigating the mutations that have taken place over time, genomic analysis studies the evolution of genes. This can be compared to what visual surveillance is up against, which is the challenge of interpreting the evolution of a scene over time to spot and track moving pedestrians.

If we apply the same principles that are used in genomics to video surveillance, treating the images that make up a video as mutations, that we can solve the system's biggest challenge.

This practice is called vide-omics and it has already demonstrated its potential. For instance, one research group led by Jean-Christophe Nebel, associate professor in Pattern Recognition, Kingston University, has, for the first time, show that videos could be analysed even when captured by a freely moving camera. By identifying camera motions as mutations, they can be compensated so that a scene appears as if filmed by a fixed camera, Nebel explained.

At the same time, researchers at the University of Verona have demonstrated that image processing tasks can be encoded such a way that standard genomics tools could be exploited. This is particularly important since such an approach reduces significantly the cost and time of software development, Nebel said.

Combining this with our strategy could eventually deliver the visual surveillance revolution that was promised many years ago, he added. If the ‘vide-omics‘ principle were to be adopted, the coming decade could deliver much smarter cameras. In which case, we had better get used to being spotted on video far more often.

Asian markets

Asian markets

Asia has a longstanding history of lucrative trade routes. In the 21st century, much of the cross-frontier commerce relies on organizations utilizing the power of the internet. But its worth considering how many of Asia's key trade associations were first established, many centuries ago. A lot of these relationships persist to this day.

Innovation and good business ideas travel a great distance – and one of the fundamental drivers of this is travel. There is nothing new in this as a concept – in Asia, the routes that were most responsible for the dissemination of innovative ideas were the so-called silk roads.

The beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire. The main route of the Silk Road traveled through China into Central Asia, Korea, India, Pakistan, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Persia, Iraq, Turkey, Greece and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Together with merchant caravans Buddhist monks went from India to Central Asia and China, preaching their religion. While many different kinds of merchandise traveled along the Silk Road, the name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk with the west, especially with Rome. 1271-1295. Marco Polo. The most famous of the Silk Road travelers, who, by his own account, worked for Qubilai Khan traveled the Silk Road.

Think of one of humankind's most important inventions – of all time. That would be paper. This was first created in China, during the Han dynasty, coinciding with trade becoming increasingly prevalent along the silk road. Paper was considered so revolutionary at the time, because prior to its appearance amongst the caravans plodding along the vast cross-Asian highways, written communication relied on narrow wooden strips, or cumbersome rolls of silk. But thanks to the demand for this new substance that could be satisfied with the convenience of the silk roads, the idea quickly took hold in other parts of Easy Asia.

It took longer for paper to establish itself as the writing platform of choice in the northwest of China. Apart from proving ever more popular in Buddhist temples, the surrounding towns and villages were more content to hang on to the archaic papyrus and parchment methods of writing. But with the ebb and flow of civilizations in that part of the world, the influence of the all-conquering Mongols ensured that papyrus was superseded throughout China. As the world grew increasingly open over the centuries, Chinese ingenuity began arriving in the Middle East, and then making its way to Western Europe.

Another invention that spread across the world in a westwards direction was the use of water wheels for irrigation. Attributed to ancient engineers in the Roman province of Syria, the use of pots attached to a vertical waterwheel, driven by river currents, became relied upon for lifting water from its source. The fact this could be done without the input of human or animal force made it very appealing to all manner of tradespeople.

As well as these innovations, the silk roads winding their way across the vast Asian steppes, across the Caucasian Mountains and eventually into Europe, brought with them a host of exotic foodstuffs. Oranges, grapes, spices and a tremendous range of produce began making its way across the huge distances between nations, with demand rising as products gained new audiences.

The camel caravans that once plied their trade along the silk road have long been superseded by quicker, more efficient mechanized transport. But the essential ingredients of the Asia trade sector remain unchanged. Different cultures can have their diverse demands for items satisfied. Except, with the benefit of today's technological advances, it is possible for a consumer in Europe to order services from someone in China, with a few clicks of a keyboard.

Cyber health checks

Cyber health checks

Given that malware and other forms of internet sabotage have the potential to cost e-Commerce companies a vast amount of money, a timely announcement has come from IT Governance. This cyber security service is launching a specific ‘cyber health check' aimed at providing a sense of reassurance for a cross-section of small to medium-sized organisations.

Google's Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites. Search for Google Transparency Report to scan a URL.

This check, instigated back in 2014, will not be tailored to the size of the company under the spotlight. Instead the check will be available at a fixed-rate price. Consultancy will be offered on-site, as well as a full audit of respective computer infrastructures. Following-on from the exhaustive data checking, a report into the remote vulnerability assessment will enable managers to get an accurate snapshot of exactly how robust their organisation currently is.

A survey conducted by British Telecommunications last year demonstrated that companies in the United Kingdom were lagging some way behind their American counterparts in several crucial area of IT security. This discrepancy was most marked in respective levels of preparedness for countering threats. This attitude extrapolates to how robust any organisation is likely to be in combating the incredibly diverse range of online threats, whether that be non-malicious insider threats, or direct attacks by hackers. Perhaps the fact that the US continues to shrug off the paralysing effects of the September 11 attacks has implanted a more deep-rooted fear of malicious cyber activity.

The Founder and Executive Chairman of IT Governance, Alan Calder, stated: ‘With the proliferation of cyber attacks, the UK organizations' ability to assess the cyber risks and put relevant controls in place will be increasingly tested. Those who take the right measures, and on time, will be able to withstand an attack and those, who don't, will fail. Identifying the gaps between your targeted risk mitigation position and your current situation is a critical step for developing a business-led cyber security strategy that will ensure your future business resilience'.

If organizations are in any way under-prepared for perceived cyber threats in the current environment, they would be advised to take the appropriate action. The future of the internet, with technology such as Cloud services emerging, means that the number of potential areas to be exploited by hackers is increasing rather than shrinking.

According to security spokespeople, migration to the web, coupled with increasingly sophisticated software, will create ever more vulnerability for e-Commerce. This, in turn, will draw cyber attackers like a magnet. What may well inspire management teams to shrug off their complacency are the results of these cyber health checks. It might come as a surprise to these organizations to find that they are not currently under attack – but their defenses were breached many months ago.

10 ways BT Virus Protect helps keep your computer safe

1. VirusScan

VirusScan runs in the background of your computer, continually monitoring in-real time for viruses, Trojans, tracking cookies, adware, spyware, unwanted programs and threats from email or instant messaging.

If it identifies a threat, it deals with it before it can do any damage, or lets you know if you need to take further action.

2. SiteAdvisor

Some websites include spyware, spam and online scams. SiteAdvisor checks for threatening websites and warns you before you interact with them.

3. Personal Firewall

Virus Protect has a built in-firewall which protects your network, acting as a virtual gateway for incoming traffic, letting in safe traffic and blocking incoming threats including hackers.

4. Parental controls

Protect your children from online dangers with Virus Protect's Parental Controls. Turn on age-appropriate searches, set web browsing limits and filter inappropriate websites. You can also chose to restrict access to specific websites and block access based on keywords.

5. Clean-up tools

Keep your home PC running at optimum performance with Virus Protect's health tools, including automated file, browser and browser history clean-up and disc defragmentation.

6. Spyware protection

Spyware is software that gets information from your computer without your knowledge and can make changes to your computer, slowing it down in the process. Virus Plus protects, detects and removes spyware and adware, as well as blocking tracking cookies.

7. Stealth mode

This mode allows you to use the internet anonymously, so your machine can't be seen by hackers.

8. Vulnerability Scanner

Companies like Microsoft, Google and Adobe continually releases software updates for their software often containing crucial security updates, so it's important to keep your machine up to date. Vulnerability Scanner installs the latest Windows updates, and those from other programs.

9. McAfee SystemGuards

McAfee SystemGuards monitor your computer for tell-tale signals of viruses, spyware and hacking activity.

10. McAfee Security Centre

Use this to review your computer's security status, check for updates and fix security issues.

How to get Virus Protect:

1. Visit My BT and log in or sign up

2. Scroll down to My Extras, look for the BT Virus Protect panel and click Get Started.

3. Follow instructions to activate Virus Protect and begin the download.

4. Download and install it, look for the McAfee icon in your system tray, which means you are protected.

McAfee are one of many well-known security companies that produce apps for anti-virus/malware. We suggest it might be a good idea to have a few different security apps available from companies including Trend micro, Avast, Kaspersky.