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.

Social Implications Behind Emerging Technologies Examined

WOLLONGONG, Australia, June 7 -- The University of Wollongong issued the following news release:

A three-day international symposium focusing on the social implications of emerging technologies including microchip implants for humans, cyborgs possessing artificial and natural systems and the growth in nanotechnology is being held at UOW from 7-9 June.

It is the first time that the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society has come to the Southern Hemisphere in more than 25 years.

Symposium Program Chair, Associate Professor Katina Michael, said the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society has attracted speakers from 15 countries who will be presenting more than 70 papers.

Discussions will centre on themes and ideas about:

* Automatic identification

* Location-based services

* Social networking

* Nanotechnology

* Privacy, security and human rights

The symposium has brought together academics and practitioners from multiple disciplines including information technology, engineering, law, sociology, ethics, policy, medical, business, accounting and economics.

Some of the key topics at the symposium are examining:

* Nanotechnology: Will it revolutionise health care?

* Ethical aspects of ICT implants in the human body

* The challenge of cyborg* rights

* Tracking and monitoring of living and non-living things

* Internet filtering and regulation in Australia

[*The first generation of cyborgs is alive, well, walking among us - and even running. Pacemakers, clumsy mechanical hands and renal dialysis machines may not match the movie but they have been the leading wave. Greater challenges are posed by the legs of sprinter Oscar Pistorius].

The full program is available here (http://www.uow.edu.au/conferences/2010/ISTAS/program/index.htm)

Targetted News Service, June 7, 2010, "Social Implications Behind Emerging Technologies Examined".

You're being watched right now

You're Being Watched Right Now

In an Era of 'Internet Everywhere' Everyone Is Being Tracked All the Time

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/FunMoney/story?id=3937203&page=1

European officials are using terms like ubiquitous computing and pervasive or invasive computing. One of them said that ambient intelligence is an even greater challenge to European privacy enforcers than terrorism. Ambient intelligence refers to an environment in
which electronic devices support human beings in their daily activities in a way that conceals the computers' inner workings. This will involve embedding tiny chips inside the body, customizing them to the individual and anticipating needs of the individual.

Michael G. Michael, a theologian and technology historian at the University of Wollongong, in New South Wales, Australia, says that he originated the term uberveillance to describe the new
environment. The stem "uber" means "over" or "super" in German. He thinks the pervasive monitoring will lead to increased cases of insanity and mental distress. "Mental illness will become an increasingly confronting factor as these issues develop," he frowned.
Another threatening term often used in these contexts is nanotechnogy, which refers to a
miniaturization of technology allowing applications originally deemed impossible. Still another term is biobanking, which, in the words of an IBM developer, "aims to empower researchers with unprecedented access to critical molecular and clinical information to accelerate a
more personalized paradigm of medicine." Biobanks--sometimes called biorepositories or tissue banks--are a critical resource for 21st century clinical research and medicine because they naturally generate lots of genomic and phenotypic data. "Combining the wealth of genetic and molecular information now emerging with patient records and other clinical  records will help researchers understand disease at the molecular level, ultimately leading to
innovative new personalized therapies and treatments." Even -- especially -- children are  already subjects of this pervasive monitoring. Web sites like Neopets.com, Webkinz.com,
Surveysmash.com and Barbie.com manipulate children by offering bonus points for loyalty to products and to the site. Children are coerced into visiting on a regular basis. They are
forced to give care, love and attention to fictional characters and animals. Collecting information on child-oriented Web sites is regulated by American law (even though kids, of course, have little difficulty circumventing the parental consent rules), but manipulating children online is not regulated. 

Citation: Robert Ellis Smith and Forbes.com, December 5, 2007, "You're being watched right now", ABCNews: Americahttp://abcnews.go.com/Business/FunMoney/story?id=3937203&page=1