K5's Experiential Robotics Goes Wrong

The war between robots and humans is heating up

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Dr Katina Michael is a professor in the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong. She considers the K5 to be a sinister development and has been following its progress since 2013. She’s notes how they look somewhat like the dreaded Daleks from Doctor Who – without the weaponised arm.

What are you meant to do? Take out your umbrella and start hitting it?
“If you see one coming toward you,’’ says Professor Michael, “what are you meant to do? Take out your umbrella and start hitting it?’’

At trade shows, she’s seen a K5 trip on a buckle in the carpeting and fall over. “The question is when they take a different form in the future…. When they can walk like a human. Then it becomes a different proposition. It doesn’t look so harmless. They’re more mobile. They can be tripped … but get up again.’’

She notes that K5 robots were first trialled by Microsoft and Uber. The Uber connection is significant because the ride-share outfit has disrupted the regulated taxi industry by baldly flouting the law. Surveillance robots are being launched upon us in much the same lawless way.

“It’s autonomous, gathers information and is capable of behavioural analysis. It’s a grave invasion of privacy. They are danger to society because they will develop awareness over time. For the first time we have an autonomous system that can follow humans.’’

Facial Recognition and Scope Creep in Australian Proposal

'Before we know it…': worries over feature creep

But surveillance expert Professor Katina Michael pointed to an established trend of technology creeping up in scope and said The Capability would be no exception.

She expected the system to slide down a slippery slope of privacy erosion, eventually being used for petty crime, civil cases and a whole range of purposes unrelated to terrorism.

"It's a farce," she said.

"Before we know it'll be used for breath tests and speeding, it will be used to open a bank account … licences are our primary ID — so does that mean everywhere we've been using them for identity, all the clubs and pubs, will have access to it?

"Even car insurance — [people will think] 'we are using it for drivers' licences, maybe we should also use it for third-party compulsory insurance. And then we need it for health insurance'."

Your face 'may end up on some third-party selling list'

Ms Michael was equally concerned about systematic errors causing potential mistaken identities and leading to people being wrongly accused or suspected of crime.

"It's not going to take long for these systems to be hacked, no matter what security you have in place and once it's hacked, that's it — everyone's facial images will end up on some third-party selling list and possibly on the internet for accessibility."

"Yeah, people put photos on Facebook, but not in that kind of systematic, calculated way.

"Some Australian citizens are going to be completely freaked out."

Original Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-05/facial-recognition-coag-privacy-concerns-about-the-capability/9017494

Citation: Jake Evans and Clare Sibthorpe, "Facial recognition: Feature creep may impose government's software in our lives, expert warns", ABC News, October 5, 2017. Available: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-05/facial-recognition-coag-privacy-concerns-about-the-capability/9017494

When Cameras can Hear and See: The Implications of Behavioural Biometrics

Ms Jennifer Luu is a student at the University of Technology, Sydney completing a Bachelor of Journalism. She also has begun producing stories at 2SER. I am appreciative that our interview on behavioural biometrics was recorded and transcribed by Jennifer herself. Above an audio download, and the full transcription available here.

Changes to digital privacy laws – but are consumers aware?

Consumers are not aware of new digital privacy laws, says Associate Professor Katina Michael.

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Are consumers really properly protected in this digital era with the introduction of new privacy laws now coming into effect?

According to Associate Professor Katina Michael from UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences and Vice Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, many consumers are unaware of changes taking place to privacy. In a recent interview broadcast nationally on ABC and a other interviews with SBS Radio and Ten’s Wake Up, Professor Michael said the majority of Australians were unaware who could access their personal information both in Australia and overseas.

She said when applying for a credit card or a home loan, do people really know that their personal credit history is being tracked and precisely what information is being stored about the products they purchase? 

New privacy laws have now been introduced following amendments being passed by Federal Parliament. The laws as they pertain to repayment history information are retrospective to December 2012. Under the new laws, large organisations and agencies that collect personal data are required to take reasonable steps to notify consumers about the collection of sensitive information, why it is being collected and whether or not it is onsold to third parties. Individuals will also be able to request access to their personal information and expect correction to their data if it is incorrect.

Large organisations that send personal data overseas would also be bound by new principles requiring them to take reasonable steps to ensure the data remain private and secure. The Australian Council of Civil Liberties says the laws needed to be updated to recognise the growth of social media websites over recent years where many users are posting personal information about themselves online. Professor Michael emphasised that consumers who used online dating web sites were particularly vulnerable to identity attacks, given the amount of data collected by the agency to perform “matches’ with prospective candidates that was publicly available.

The new laws also include more comprehensive credit reporting which will allow the reporting of information about an individual's credit history over the previous two years to credit providers. Individuals who make a loan or credit card payments more than five days late, may struggle to obtain credit products in the future as a result of the changes. 

Professor Michael told ABC interviewer Rod Quinn: How many consumers are really aware that if they have been only five days late with a payment this will be listed on their credit history? The same goes if one is more than 60 days late for a utility payment. The Australian Privacy Foundation welcomes some aspects of the new laws which it believes will help to strengthen consumers' rights such as civil penalties for companies who are in breach of the Act, and also new enforcement powers by the Privacy Commissioner.

Professor Michael believes the new laws covering personal data could fail if companies send information to countries with weak privacy laws and regulations, or none at all. If a security breach occurs in an overseas organisation organisation it may remain unknown to Australian consumers. She also thinks that small businesses should not have been exempted from the new privacy laws highlighting the fact that 80 per cent of Australia's businesses are small businesses hiring a quarter of Australia's population. Australia made attempts in the 1980s to centralise people’s information on to one card (combining Medicare and Social Security information for example). However, the Australia Card and the Access Card never got off the ground. 

Professor Michael told ABC listeners that there was a real danger in centralising people’s personal data all on to one card should that information fall into the wrong hands or encourage scope creep. “Having all that information in one place is just too penetrable,” she said.
Professor Michael fielded a range of listener enquiries during her ABC Radio interview.

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.