Searching for the Super Human

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed today by Ms Anja Taylor in Los Angeles today. Anja works for Wildbear Entertainment that does co-productions with all the major television channels in Australia. She was formerly a researcher and presenter on Catalyst. This interview will form a part of the documentary series: “Searching for the Super Human” that will air on ABC in Australia later this year.

super-humans-real.jpg

Here are some of the topic Anja and I talked about:

  1. Brief discussion about the internet of things and the emergence of big data. What effect / impact this is having on society.

  2. You have mentioned “ambient intelligence” in your articles - what is it?

  3. What are “insertable chips” and what is their brief history? What types of new insertable chips are starting to emerge?

  4. Recently we have seen trials for insertable chips which can be used to open doors or pay for public transport, the trials found largely that people found them useful and painless – do you have concerns with these?

  5. What smart chips are you most concerned with?

  6. We are already being tracked with our smartphones – is this different?

  7. Our pets are now chipped as a matter of course – do you see this happening with humans? What are the implications?

  8. Can we not just opt out? Can it be done responsibly?

A special thank you to Luke for filming.

AFR Innovation Summit

AFR Innovation Summit: Pip Marlow, Larry Marshall, Alex Zelinsky

Quantum Computing - the race is on (left to right) Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist, Department of Defence Gro, Hugh Bradlow, Chief Scientist, Telstra, Michael Brett, CEO, QxBranch, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, ARC Centre for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology ? UNSW Australia and Paul Smith, Technology Editor, Australian Financial Review. Copyright AFR.  Read more:  http://www.afr.com/technology/afr-innovation-summit-pip-marlow-larry-marshall-alex-zelinsky-20170919-gykujf#ixzz4teLGbFrc   Follow us:  @FinancialReview on Twitter  |  financialreview on Facebook

Quantum Computing - the race is on (left to right) Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist, Department of Defence Gro, Hugh Bradlow, Chief Scientist, Telstra, Michael Brett, CEO, QxBranch, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, ARC Centre for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology ? UNSW Australia and Paul Smith, Technology Editor, Australian Financial Review. Copyright AFR.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/technology/afr-innovation-summit-pip-marlow-larry-marshall-alex-zelinsky-20170919-gykujf#ixzz4teLGbFrc 
Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook

1.34 pm

The panel is discussing the importance of ethics in innovation and that it has to be considered at all levels. 
Discussing accountability Professor Katina Michael from the School of Computing at the University of Wollongong says, it's everybody's responsibility to discuss regulation - whether it's self-regulation - or industry guidelines, or law. "We need to keep talking and we need corporations to speak to NGOs.
"If you really want to engage NGOs and consumers actually talk to them," she says.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/technology/afr-innovation-summit-pip-marlow-larry-marshall-alex-zelinsky-20170919-gykujf#ixzz4teIZszto 
Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook"

Photo by Véronique Henrisson

Photo by Véronique Henrisson

Original sourcehttp://www.afr.com/technology/afr-innovation-summit-pip-marlow-larry-marshall-alex-zelinsky-20170919-gykujf

Original remarks on LinkedIN here by INFORMA Producer Véronique Henrisson.

Human Microchips: Employers Going Too Far

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Human microchip implants have been around for awhile, used by home automation enthusiasts and biohacking movements. But Swedish company Epicenter is taking the technology to a whole new context as a workplace monitoring tool.

The microchips have been implanted into 150 employees and will enable them to open doors, use photocopiers and make purchases from the company cafe. However, privacy is a concern for many people.

Professor Katina Michael joined Nic to discuss the importance of personal choice in using implantables and the problems that may arise when companies and governments use the technology for potentially nefarious purposes.

Citation: Katina Michael with Nick Healy, "Human Microchips: Employees Go Far", 2SERFM Breakfast, May 5, 2017, 6.45-6.50am, http://2ser.com/human-microchips-employers-going-far/, Producers: Jennifer Luu.

ANALYSIS: Human Microchipping Poses Dangers to Health, Privacy

WASHINGTON, April 30 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – Although hardly a
novel idea, microchipping humans arouses justified concerns about risks to health and
privacy, experts told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

“Along with the potential risks to health, there is a real risk to freedom and privacy, one
of the key purposes of RFID is the tracking technology. Besides, numbering people is
very dehumanizing. It turns you into a barcode on the package of meat that’s get
tracked like inventory,” said Dr. Katherine Albrecht, an RFID microchip and consumer
privacy expert.

Katina Michael, an associate professor at the University of Wollongong, echoed the
opinion, stating that implanting automatic identification technology for non-medical
purposes could entail the total loss of the right to privacy.

“There is a grave danger in it, as someone who gets an implant does not have control
over bodily privacy. They cannot remove the implant on their own accord. They do not
know when someone is attempting to hack into their device, no matter how proprietary
the code that is stored on the device, and no matter whether the implant has built-in
encryption,” Michael told RIA Novosti.

In 2007 Albrecht and Associated Press Reporter Todd Lewan revealed to the public
studies that showed microchips cause cancer when they are implanted into laboratory
animals. The finding led to the suspension the VeriChip company’s work.
“In our research we found that between one and ten percent of laboratory animals
implanted with radio frequency microchips developed cancer adjacent to and even
surrounding the microchips,” Albrecht said.

“Pacemakers can also cause cancer, but in a case of a pacemaker where the alternative
is literally dying, it is worth the risk. However, in a case of something like an
identification microchip or dosages of drugs being delivered to the body, that does not
make any sense. Most people would prefer to simply take those drugs themselves than
run the risk of an implant,” she added.

Dr. Michael also explained that implanting microchips is not new in the health industry,
as society has already adopted implantables for a variety of uses. However, implantables
for medical applications or for the identification of animals have a number of
documented health side effects in line with Dr. Albrecht’s opinion.

“People with microstimulators have described … varying levels of neurological response
that were not as prescribed, … or health implications such as infection, or even ongoing
stress,” said Michael, adding that there are a whole gambit of health issues that no one is
really studying properly.

The expert claimed that these kinds of technologies are being tested already, but have
not yet been approved by the FDA for use as medical devices.

However, Albrecht said that the FDA appears to have never looked at the studies
pointing to the dangers.

“One of the things I learned is that the FDA relies on the company that’s looking for the
approval to provide the evidence of the safety and of the danger of the product. They
don’t do independent research, and I think there is a very serious potential to having the
companies be the ones that determine the safety of their own product,” she said.

The VeriChip Corporation implanted identification microchips into diabetic and
Alzheimer's patients as a trial with Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2007. The trial was stopped
due to cancer risks.

In recent years, advocates of the technology have promised neural implants that could stimulate the brain to help people with depression, implants that would deliver certain
amounts of medication which may be remote controllable. The technologies involved
are not new, and neither is the argument on their appropriateness.

Tags: microchipping, privacy, technology

Lyudmila Chernova, April 30, 2014, "ANALYSIS: Human Microchipping Poses Dangers to Health, Privacy", Ria Novosti [РИА Новости], http://en.ria.ru/business/20140430/189481760/ANALYSIS-Human-Microchipping-Poses-Dangers-to-Health-Privacy.html

RFID Nieuws

This article is written in Dutch. I was not directly consulted before it was printed.

Professor waarschuwt voor RFID-implantaat bij mensen

by Redactie blognieuws 4 JAREN GELEDEN 

LESS THAN A MINUTE

READ

 

Hoewel sommige wetenschappers experimenteren met het injecteren van RFID-chips in hun eigen lichaam, kan dit serieuze gevolgen voor de mensheid hebben als het ooit gemeengoed wordt. Daarvoor waarschuwt Katina Michael, een professor aan de Universiteit van Wollongong.


Michael is gespecialiseerd in de sociaal-ethische gevolgen van opkomende technologieën. Ze stelt dat geïnjecteerde RFID-microchips eigenlijk een unieke identificatie in het lichaam zijn. "En zoals we weten kunnen cijfers worden gestolen en kan data worden gehackt. Externe computerproblemen binnen het menselijk lichaam brengen zit vol gevaren", zo waarschuwt ze. RFID-implantaten kunnen volgens de professor voor een surveillancesamenleving zorgen waarbij Big Brother in ons lichaam zit.

RFID News Dutch 17 April 2014.jpg

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.

Robots of the flesh open door to future

Man with a chip-implanted hand at uni symposium

IMAGINE a world where a wave of a chip-implanted hand opens doors, turns on your computer, or starts the family car.

Or a world where your entire medical or personal history is carried inside your body to be accessed at the flick of a government controlled button.

Will there be a time when cyborg athletes running and jumping on artificial legs, arms, or even hearts, smash world records with ease?

Such Orwellian scenarios have now left the pages of science fiction to become a potentially frightening reality, with emergence of the latest generation of all-seeing, all-knowing technologies.

Just what the social implications of these emerging technologies might be will be explored during a three-day international symposium which starts at the University of Wollongong today.

Speakers from 17 countries will present more than 70 papers centred on automatic identification, location-based services, social networking, nanotechnology, and privacy and human rights.

Symposium chair, Associate Professor Katina Michael said some of the key topics to be explored will include ethical aspects of bar-code and microchip implants in the human body, the challenge of cyborg rights, tracking and monitoring living and non-living things, and internet filtering and regulation in Australia.

"We have seen an increase in the use of wearable and embedded technologies in everyday life, so I believe it's time for public debate on a range of associated issues," Prof Michael said.

"One recent example of an issue that has posed a number of social and ethical challenges regarding cyborg rights is South African runner Oscar Pistorius, who runs with the aid of carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs," she said.

"Pistorius's artificial lower legs have allowed him to compete in open competitions, but this has generated claims that he has an unfair advantage over runners with prosthetic limbs," she said.

One of those presenting a paper at the symposium is Amal Graafstra, who has a radio-frequency identification chip implanted in the webbing between his thumb and forefinger.

One of about 300 implant "hobbyists" around the world, he can unlock his car and his front door and even turn on his computer.

Citation: Paul McInerney, June 7, 2010, "Robots of the flesh open door to future", Illawarra Mercury, p. 3.

Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'

All Australians could be implanted with microchips for tracking and identification within the next two or three generations, a prominent academic says. 

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

This VeriChip microchip contains identity and health information and is embedded under the skin. (AAP)

Michael G Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Information Systems and Technology, has coined the term "uberveillance" to describe the emerging trend of all- encompassing surveillance.

"Uberveillance is not on the outside looking down, but on the inside looking out through a microchip that is embedded in our bodies," Dr Michael told ninemsn. 

Microchips are commonly implanted into animals to reveal identification details when scanned and similar devices have been used with Alzheimers patients. US company VeriChip is already using implantable microchips, which store a 16-digit unique identification number, on humans for medical purposes. 

"Our focus is on high-risk patients, and our product's ability to identify them and their medical records in an emergency," spokesperson Allison Tomek said. "We do not know when or if someone will develop an implantable microchip with GPS technology, but it is not an application we are pursuing."

Another form of uberveillance is the use of bracelets worn by dangerous prisoners which use global positioning systems to pinpoint their movements. But Dr Michael said the technology behind uberveillance would eventually lead to a black box small enough to fit on a tiny microchip and implanted in our bodies. 

This could also allow someone to be located in an emergency or for the identification of corpses after a large scale disaster or terrorist attack. "This black box will then be a witness to our actual movements, words — perhaps even our thoughts —-and play a similar role to the black box placed in an aircraft," he said. 

He also predicted that microchip implants and their infrastructure could eliminate the need for e-passports, etags, and secure ID cards. "Microchipping I think will eventually become compulsory in the context of identification within the frame of national security," he said.
Although uberveillance was only in its early phases, Dr Michael's wife, Katina Michael — a senior lecturer from UOW's School of Information Systems and Technology — said the ability to track and identify any individual was already possible.

"Anyone with a mobile phone can be tracked to 15m now," she said, pointing out that most mobile phone handsets now contained GPS receivers and radio frequency identification (RFID) readers. "The worst scenario is the absolute loss of human rights," she said. 

Wisconsin, North Dakota and four other states in the US have already outlawed the use of enforced microchipping. "Australia hasn't got specific regulations addressing these applications," she said. "We need to address the potential for misuse by amending privacy laws to ensure personal data protection."

Uberveillance has been nominated for Macquarie Dictionary's Word of the Year 2008.

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Citation: Josephine Asher, "Humans 'will be implanted with microchips'", ninemsn.com, January 30, 2009.

Addendum: The following comment was provided but was not included in the final production of the article for reasons of space and readability. I provide here regardless.

  • "Technology is not foolproof. That’s one of the paradoxes of these surveillance systems," Katina Michael said. "Our ethical and legislative discourse lags far behind the diffusion and application of location based services. "There needs to be some public discourse and debate."

  • Dr Katina Michael recently received a grant from the Australian Research Council to research and propose new regulations to address these new technologies. "Implants is only one small component of the research - the main things we’re investigating relate to consumer mobile location records and data protection, socio-ethical dilemmas related to social networking applications based on the tracking of other human beings and privacy.

  • "Where do we stop and where do we begin? We have to be very careful at this early point as the new capabilities and their effects on society are relatively untested," Katina said.

Is RFID safe and secure?

Elizabeth Latham, Radio Comms journalist

We've heard a lot about RFID - it's used in supermarkets, implanted in pets and even by blood banks - but is it actually secure? Is the information we put on these chips safe from hackers? RFID is a very useful technology, especially in production because it is usually non-line-of-sight (nLOS). This means that cartons or pallets do not require a particular orientation  or scanning, unlike bar codes. This aids in the automation of many tasks throughout the supply chain that have typically been labour intensive, such as checking and scanning incoming
inventory.

Organisations also have an accurate picture of stock levels, which in turn means lower inventory costs and fewer out-of-stock occurrences. 

Can you trust the RFID to hold your information? 

Dr Katina Michael, senior lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology, Faculty of Informatics, University of Wollongong, believes it's all a matter of context, but would not advise the use of RFID for access control types of applications.

"Security has to be identified as the number one disadvantage of RFID. Although it should be stated that researchers are working hard to overcome this hurdle, offering a variety of partial solutions," Michael said. 

While standards are beginning to emerge like EPCglobal, there is a great number of proprietary specific RFID standards on the market. The standard denotes how a message is stored, the length of a message (for example 128-bit) and a sequence of bits that tell a reader when to start and stop reading, as well as additional error-checking bits. 

How does information get tampered with?

 "It is as simple as acquiring the relevant reader and working out what each bit in the message means, and interpreting that information correctly. Bits can be encoded using a particular scheme, but once the scheme is identified, the  information can be read," Michael said. 

"Given RFID is wireless, you need be in the proximity of 90 centimetres (dependent on the range requirements of the tag) to intercept the radio signal. So once you have read the chip you can simply play back the signal you picked up and pretend to be someone you are not."

This has major implications for active tags because it means the hacker cannot only read information but write to the tag as well, and even change variables

"When a new technology enters the market, hackers are presented with a new challenge. And so the race begins for who can 'crack the code' so to speak," Michael said.

How can you protect yourself from hackers?

There are many options to choose from when trying to protect data. For example, it is possible to kill off the RFID tag after a certain time and datestamp on the chip. The information on the chip can also be encrypted and passwords placed on the tags.

Two main approaches have been adopted by researchers: either a separate piece of hardware is required (hard solution), or a software-based solution is adopted (soft solution). Blocker tags (such as ancillary RFID tags) can also help solve the problem of hacking by preventing
unauthorised scanning of items. 

It is also possible to use antennae energy analysis to gauge the distance of a reader from a tag or storing a biometric onboard the RFID chip. "All the RFID security-privacy solutions being proposed are only partial solutions and each has its benefits and limitations. At the crux of the
matter is the unique ID of the actual RFID tag, how this information is stored and whether or not passwords have a role to play and how anonymity is ensured," Michael said.

More recently, developments for human-centric applications have seen RFID go into the subdermal layer of the skin in the form of a transponder. "The argument for this latest development to 'protect' information is simple - if it's beneath the skin the ID chip cannot be stolen, is with you everywhere you go, is lightweight, it cannot be duplicated, a perpetrator
does not know you have something implanted, and the RFID chip can be accessed at crucial times with your prior consent," Michael said. 

Michael warns that the benefits of the above method of protection are misleading. Chips can still be read by persons in close proximity to an implantee, or even by unobtrusive readers that can trigger the device to emit a signal.

So, you decide. Is the risk worth it? What information is on the RFID chip and do you want someone to have access to it?

Citation: Elizabeth Latham, 2006, "Is RFID Safe and Secure?", Radio Comms, February 12, 2007: http://www.radiocomms.com.au/radiocomms/feature_article/item_022007a.asp