Madelyn Nelson of ASU interviews Katina Michael

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Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University

Katina Michael discovered something important when she started walking. 

“Everything happens in a flash, life happens in a flash. If we don’t stop this quick way of living, then we’re on this treadmill of constant flashes,” she explained. “But if you stop and just walk —  without headphones, without your cell phone — you hear people and see people. The risk of looking up and engaging with the world means that you might have to face the problem.” 

This idea of foregoing our comforts and our technologies in favor of slowing down and reflecting on life is the cornerstone of Michael’s work. She says, “We’re giving over control, to some degree, to the technology. And in doing so, we’re not developing the self. Technology can sometimes be used as an excuse to ignore the inward process of human development.” 

She researches predominantly in the area of emerging technologies, and has secondary interests in technologies used for national security and their corresponding social implications. Like many of her colleagues at SFIS, Michael realizes the importance of examining the risks and potential consequences of emerging technology and science. 

She has held visiting academic appointments at Nanjing University (China) and the University of Southampton (U.K.) and has taught at the Singapore Institute of Management, as well as overseeing UOW engineering and information science courses in eight campuses in five countries. In 2017, Michael was awarded the Brian M. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Social Implications of Technology. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society, which will be launched in 2020. 

Before finding her way to SFIS, Michael served as associate dean international at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, where she was employed in the School of Computing and Information Technology. As for why she decided to pack up and move to the States to join the faculty at SFIS, she said: “I think I was always meant to be here. I grew up in Tempe, New South Wales,” she laughed. “But aside from that, it was the people here. And I’d been in Wollongong working at the same campus for seventeen years, so for me to leave, it had to be something really special.”

Gary Retherford - the Microchip Implant Consultant

When I saw the product that they had I became fascinated with it. Even more fascinated when I realised after, I guess, maybe through the Google searches that I had done, and I came across Verichip – and so many hits associated with some of the evangelicals slants in the market … and I think that kind of intrigued me, because I’m thinking: “Wow, where’s this coming from?” So I actually had reached out to Verichip to find out about their asset tracking and simultaneously was going to ask about their implantable microchip product for access control because I was in the access control business. Interesting enough though, at the very same time and I’m talking almost down to the minute, I was getting ready to have lunch with the owner of the company called Citywatcher and I reached out to them because they were offering this service of doing video surveillance on servers and they were doing some work in the city of Cincinnati. So as I literally had my phone in my left hand getting ready to introduce myself to a contact at Verichip, I was reaching out with my right hand to shake the hand of the president and little did I know at that point that roughly a year later, what was going to eventually end up happening. So then I began talking to Verichip. We talked about their asset tracking component for the art, but I also started to ask them about their access control system and when I was beginning talking to them and their sales people/person that they had in charge, I realised that they had a little bit of a flaw, in my opinion, in the way they were trying to market their product. What they were trying to do was create a whole access control system and sell it as an entire system and I said, “Well, I have a suggestion for you. My suggestion is that in doing that you just take the reader and they can integrate with everybody else’s access control.

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