TEDxASU event looked ahead to the future

If you missed the fourth annual TEDxASU event earlier this spring, you’re in luck — the presentations are now available to view online. 

The March 25, student-organized event showcased nine speakers with expertise ranging from cancer diagnosis and plastic pollution to space governance and the nexus of art and technology. 

“It’s important to us to place a variety of people on stage — students, faculty, community and industry leaders from different backgrounds and perspectives,” says Ammar Tanveer, founder and executive director of TEDxASU.

Organizing around the theme “NextGen,” speakers cast their minds to the 22nd century to imagine what waits on the horizon in their respective fields. 

“We settled on NextGen for a couple reasons,” says Tanveer, a doctoral candidate in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “We wanted to convey that TEDxASU was taking a step forward as an organization, but also to focus on the future broadly, and incorporate talks from different viewpoints and disciplines.”

More than 1,600 people attended the event at Gammage Auditorium, an increase from the attendance at the previous events which were held at Tempe Center for the Arts and the Marston Exploration Theater. 

Professor Katina Michael explored the idea of brain implants, their benefits and applications, as well as their dangers — some of which she sees today. Photo courtesy of TEDxASU

Professor Katina Michael explored the idea of brain implants, their benefits and applications, as well as their dangers — some of which she sees today. Photo courtesy of TEDxASU

Katina Michael, a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, explored the possibility of widespread brain implants and the dangers inherent in such a technology.

She imagined a future in which humans become so thoroughly integrated with the digital world that bodies became secondary and in some cases, obsolete altogether. Michael examined the benefits of a purely digital existence before calling into question the effects, some of which we’re grappling with already.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are becoming entangled in the wires and cables,” said Michael. “We lust for high tech but have no overload switch and are short circuiting as a result.”

Find out more about neuroprostheses in “Brain Implants: Hope or Hype.”

Source: August 6, 2019, Knowledge Enterprise Development, Arizona State University, https://research.asu.edu/20190806-tedxasu-event-looked-ahead-future

Industry calls for more caution over MHR system

hand.jpg

As the Federal Government today pushes the button to create My Health Records for every Australian who wants one, the industry has stepped out asking for more transparency around security and secondary use of the records to enable people to make more informed decisions about it. 

The industry has also voiced out about data de- and re-identification, a global approach to cybersecurity issues as healthcare digitises, information security requirements of the future and blockchain as a way to alleviate some of the challenges associated with the My Health Record system.  

On 26 November 2018, the Federal Parliament passed legislation to strengthen privacy protections in My Health Records Act 2012 without debate or division.

The new legislation means that Australians can opt in or opt out of My Health Record at any time in their lives. Records will be created for every Australian who wants one after 31 January and after then, they have a choice to delete their record permanently at any time.

The date of 31 January follows much deliberation from the Federal Government to extend the opt-out date. Australians initially had until 15 October 2018 to opt out of the national health database, or a My Health Record was to be created for them by the end of that year. 

But following the opposition calling for an extension to the opt-out period, the public outcry against the potential for the data to be shared with police and other government agencies, a leaked government document detailing the Australian Digital Health Agency’s response to concerns and a raft of changes recommended by the Senate Inquiry into My Health Record, the Federal Government pushed this date back and relaxed its stance on when Australians can opt in or opt out of the system.  

Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) President Professor Hugh Bradlow said the collection of health data across the population will result in better health outcomes as it not only shows how effective interventions are, but also allows treatments to be personalised based on the experience of thousands of other patients.

“New forms of measurement (based on artificial intelligence) will also give patients far more significant information about institutional performance, practitioner performance, the outcomes of specific interventions, etc.” he said. 

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said the My Health Record debate highlighted the need for an integrated ehealth system, accessible only to health professionals and set up at the request of health organisations, for the benefit of all Australians.

"All Australians, regardless of any illness or condition, deserve to get the highest-quality care,” Michaels said. 

“More often than many would think, patients are unable to explain the medicines they are already taking and for what conditions they are already being treated, particularly after a seizure or if unconscious. Many of these patients are unaccompanied. Sometimes this lack of information leads to errors that have serious impacts on people’s lives. 

“[Hence] hospital pharmacists have long called for a shared, electronic patient data system that links up a fragmented health system and empowers patients in their own care."

The issue of security 

However, University of Melbourne Department of Computing and Information Systems Cybersecurity Senior Lecturer Associate Professor Vanessa Teague expressed her concerns around the privacy implications of secondary uses of My Health Records not being accurately explained.

"The My Health Record privacy policy says: ‘It is expected that most applications which are assessed will be for the use of de-identified data. This is where your personal details are removed from the dataset and you cannot be identified.’ Unfortunately, removing obvious personal details (such as name, location, and date of birth) does not securely de-identify the data,” Teague said.  

“Both doctors and patients can be easily and confidently identified in a dataset… In the case of patients, this means that a few points of information, such as the patient's age and dates of surgeries or childbirths, is enough to identify the person and thus, retrieve all their Medicare bills and PBS [Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme] prescriptions for many years.  

“Easy and confident re-identification has been demonstrated on numerous other datasets that were shared in the mistaken belief that they were de-identified. It is probably not possible to securely de-identify detailed individual records like My Health Records without altering the data so much that its scientific value is substantially reduced.” 

[Read more: My Health Record system data breaches rise | Game changer: Creator of FHIR writes about approaching critical mass and a growing data sharing revolution]

Teague said patients may choose to opt out of secondary uses of their data but are unable to make a “genuinely informed decision” if they are inaccurately told that their detailed record cannot be identified. 

“Even more importantly, those whose identifiable MBS [Medicare Benefits Schedule]-PBS records were already published in 2016 should be notified, because the earlier release could make re-identification of their My Health Records much easier,” she said. 

Harvard Medical School International Healthcare Innovation Professor Dr John Halamka also previously criticised the system for relying on outdated technology, saying that the $2 billion My Health Record was nothing more than “digitised paper” as it uses such “out-of-date” technology that crucial patient information on test results and diseases are unable to be read or shared by computers.

University of Wollongong School of Computing and Information Technology Professor Katina Michael said health data breaches, for some, could have a huge impact. 

She used the recent example from Singapore, where 1.5 million Singapore health records were breached in a highly targeted effort on SingHealth. Among the breached health records was Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's personal records.

“What does this tell us when one of the world's most advanced cybersecurity nations suffers such a large-scale attack? Plainly, that no one's personal information is safe, no matter the measures in place,” she said. 

"If we have learnt anything over the last four months, it is that electronic health records are hackable. We need not have to look too far to see that no system is impenetrable.” 

Michael also speculated that there is the possibility of a ramp up of blockchain initiatives to beef up on My Health Record security.  

“We will likely be told in the not too distant future that we wildly underestimated our security requirements and as such, must go one step further and protect our credentials,” she said. 

According to Professor Michael, this involves the implant of a 16-digit Personal Health Record (PHR) ID number into people that also reads vital signs while embedded. This technology then alerts first responders of ailments and medications without the need for the person to provide any information. 

[Read more: Australia leads the world in personal control of electronic health records | Is the My Health Record technology out of date?]

ATSE’s Bradlow said the industry needs to be “realistic” about it as the danger of data leaking due to cyber hacking is as true as hacking any other data system. 

“Let’s remember that many [healthcare professionals] have easy access to today’s paper-based health records – an electronic record is actually a step up in privacy. Within My Health Record, we can make it the default to require a patient access code,” he said. 

“A well-designed record system which is managed by a professional security organisation and has a clear audit trail, for example, provided by blockchain, can mitigate this risk significantly."

Source: Hafizah Osman, 31 January 2019, “Industry calls for more caution over MHR system”, https://www.healthcareit.com.au/article/industry-calls-more-caution-over-mhr-system

Note: Thank you Hafizah Osman— interestingly I was referring to the VeriChip experiment of the PHR that Dr John Halamka trialled for a short time and wrote about in 2006 here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1656959/

Emerging Technologies: In The Loop Gong

We sat down with bright mind professor Katina Michael to talk about her research into emerging technologies like wearable tech, nanotechnology, and biohacking.

Meow Meow with his implantable Opal Card using NSW Rail Reader

Meow Meow with his implantable Opal Card using NSW Rail Reader

Techtopia: what does your phone know about you?

Original source here: http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2016/s4535025.htm

ELEANOR HALL: Welcome to Techtopia, our segment on the technologies set to disrupt our future and some of the unexpected questions we may need to ask about them.

Today a technology we're all familiar with: our phone. It has gone from staid, home-based handset to wearable message conveyor, music player, direction giver and so much more. 

But how familiar are we with what our smart phones know about us and what are they doing with that information? 

Joining me in Sydney, as he does every week for Techtopia, is entrepreneur and technology author Steve Sammartino.

Also here in our Sydney studio, is Dr Katina Michael, a Professor at the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong, who is also on the board of the Australian Privacy Foundation.


FEATURED: 
Steve Sammartino, entrepreneur and technology author
Dr Katina Michael, professor, School of Computing and Information Technology, University of Wollongong; board member, Australian Privacy Foundation

L to R: Katina Michael, Eleanor Hall, Steve Sammartino

Citation: Steve Sammartino and Katina Michael with Eleanor Hall, "Techtopia: what does your phone know about you?", ABC World Todayhttp://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2016/s4535025.htm

A Switch in Time

CAREER CHANGE A university languages lecturer shifts careers to get greater certainty in the IT industry

THE APPLICANT Name: Geoffrey Jenkins Former position: Senior lecturer, University of Melbourne New job: Network engineer and level 2-4 support, KORE Wireless FOR more than 18 years, I worked as a senior lecturer in classical Semitic languages and Early Judaism at the University of Melbourne.

I actually completed a degree in Physics and Applied Maths but my interests grew in this field after working in Egypt for a number of years, publishing my PhD as well as a book of my own.

I’ve been working with KORE Wireless since 2008.

I started as a contractor before becoming full time in 2011 and over this time I have worked in a number of areas within the company.

I currently spend my time across two roles at KORE Wireless – network and applications engineer as well as level 2-4 support for KORE customers. Being employed in both roles means all advanced queries that require extensive background research come through to me, as I am constantly maintaining and enhancing the applications that we provide.

I made the decision to change careers because the courses I was teaching started to become less relevant in today’s society and saw decreases in demand.

Because these areas of learning are confined to such a specialised audience, I needed to turn to another area of my expertise which was programming, something I had been doing as a side project along the way.

As you get older, it does often become harder to fall into another role that you equally enjoy and to find a business that requires another rather specific set of skills. Luckily for me, changing my career so late in the game, I had known Shane Murphy (vice president, KORE Wireless Asia Pacific) for a while and I was able to fit straight into the team.

I’ve always wanted to maintain what I enjoy so much and that drive to continue to explore and discover still stays with me.

I’m still planning to eventually return to Egypt to uncover more historical artefacts in the coming years.

THE TRAINER Name: Dr Khin Than Win Position: Acting head of School of Information Systems and Technology, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Wollongong.

The skills workers need: The misconception that IT professionals will only be looking at the machine and coding needs to be changed.

The industry needs individuals with a hybrid skill set. Skills in demand include higher-level analytics, process and project management and an understanding of user-centric computing and technology. Another misconception is IT is only for men; however increasingly women are playing key roles.

Network engineers need to identify appropriate network design and management methods for solving enterprise needs and play an important role in the infrastructure of industries and government.

THE EXPERT Name: Katina Michael Position: Associate Professor, School of Information Systems and Technology, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, University of Wollongong.

Skills workers need: Problem solving, understanding real-world network problems, the ability to understand multiple technologies (for example, wireless and broadband), be able to absorb new technological advancements and incorporate them into everyday tasks, and specialise in a given area of networking depending on the context of one’s interest. You can choose from a range of degrees such as a Bachelors of Information Technology (Network Design & Management) in the School of Information Systems and Technology or a Bachelor of Engineering (Telecommunications).

THE EMPLOYER Name: Shane Murphy Position: Vice president, KORE Wireless Asia Pacific What we look for:I don’t tend to focus on resumes as they often don’t tell you about who a person really is, except obliquely.

Conversing with someone directly will always give you a better indication of their personality, values and work ethic. Interviews are best when they are kept to the basics – what does the candidate enjoy about their current role, what motivates them, what do they expect from such a role. If the right attitude is there, skills can be taught and applied.

For employees such as Geoff, who are regularly dealing with b2b sales and communicating with our customers, it’s about having someone who is motivated and interested in helping others.

Citation: Staff, August 16, 2014, "A switch in time", Daily Telegraph, p. 73.

Cyborgs walk among us

Cyborgs walk among us

Higher education Conference

A university conference is tackling the big issues of technology and features speakers who have devices implanted under their skin, writes BENJAMIN LONG.

Program chair Associate Professor Katina Michael is expecting plenty of robust debate at the 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society this week at the University of Wollongong.

The multidisciplinary conference, which closes tomorrow (with a further workshop being held on Thursday), has attracted the world's leading experts in the area of new technology and its social impacts.

"What is fresh about this conference is that it is bringing people from different disciplines to discuss the same subject matter from different angles" says Dr Michael, a senior lecturer in the School of Information Technology and Computer Science at UOW.

"There should be a clash of sorts, because I don't think everyone will agree with what is being put forward.

The conference is looking at issues related to cyborg technology, microchip implants, nanotechnology and social networking

"We've got information and communication technology specialists. We've got applied ethics researchers. We've got political scientists. We've got lawyers talking about regulation and legislation of emerging technology such as nanotechnology.

"We've also got commercial entities that have invested heavily, for example, in GPS innovations. We've even got a theologian talking.

"It's not just engineering focussed or humanities focussed. It's going to create a lot of dialogue between those who conceive, those who implement and those who eventually critique the technology."

More than 100 speakers from 17 different countries will address the conference, and 70 academic papers will be presented.

It is the first time the symposium has been held in Australia, says Dr Michael, who has been working on it since UOW was awarded the hosting rights in 2007.

Speakers are looking at emerging technologies in four broad categories - location-based services, social networking, nanotechnology and automatic identification - and looking in particular at issues of security, privacy and human rights.

A number of the keynote speakers are addressing issues around implantable devices.

Professor Rafael Capurro of the Steinbeis-Transfer-Institute Information Ethics, Germany, is a leading ethicist in this area. He has been writing about these issues, says Dr Michael, since a time when "most other people were thinking this was the stuff of conspiracy theory".

Prof Capurro writes that while "ICT (information and communication technology) implants may be used to repair deficient bodily capabilities they can also be misused, particularly if these devices are accessible via digital networks. The idea of letting ICT devices get under our skin in order not just to repair but even to enhance human capabilities gives rise to science fiction visions".

Dr Mark Gasson, a senior research fellow in the Cybernetic Intelligence Research Group at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, has an engineering background and looks at implants from a different angle.

In particular he is interested in implantable RFID (radio-frequency identification) devices, which have evolved to the point where they can be considered simple computers.

Dr Gasson recently became "the world's first human infected with a computer virus" when he had a chip implanted in his hand and then infected with a computer virus.

Taking a more idiosyncratic approach is another keynote speaker, Amal Graafstra, who is not an academic but rather an RFID implant enthusiast from the United States.

The owner of several technology and mobile communications companies, Graafstra has two RFIDs implanted in his body which do things like allowing him keyless access to his home and car.

Another of the keynote speakers, Dr Roger Clarke, a consultant on eBusiness, information infrastructure, and dataveillance and privacy, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Computer Science at ANU, addresses the subject of cyborg rights.

"The first generation of cyborgs is alive, well, walking among us, and even running," Dr Clarke argues.

"Pacemakers, clumsy mechanical hands, and renal dialysis machines may not match the movie image of cyborgs, but they have been the leading wave."

He points to the case of South African athlete Oscar Pistorius, a double leg amputee whose prosthetic legs enable him to run faster than most able-bodied people. Pistorius doesn't want to be known as a Paralympian and would rather race against able-bodied athletes. Should he be allowed to run in the Olympics?

Dr Michael hopes that one of the outcomes of the conference is a greater awareness of how technology is affecting our lives.

"Technology can be used for positive means, but it can also be exploited," Dr Michael says.

"It is a great medium to communicate with other people on, but just be aware that even intelligent and street-savvy people can be fooled, and that harm can come from it.

"For example, one of the issues of location-based social networking is that Facebook now has a function that enables you to have a status update, which is automatic and which identifies your location based on where your mobile phone is.

"People can look at that without your knowing - if you've got 400 friends on your friends list - and see that you are in Figtree or you are in Wollongong.

"That might not mean much to people at the moment, but somebody might be able to use that to say, okay, well you're not at home right now so I can go around there and take everything you have. Or they could use it to stalk you.

"We are talking about technology that is not just in the virtual world, but which has repercussions in the physical world."

Citation: Benjamin Long, June 8, 2010, "Cyborgs walk among us", Illawarra Mercury, pp. 1, 23.