Citation: Katina Michael and James Valentine, "The Consequences of Strava, Social Media, Wearables and Data Trails", ABC Sydney: Afternoons, 3.25pm-3.37pm, January 30, 2018, http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/afternoons/afternoons/9354824
The Strava App story seems to have mesmerised readers worldwide. Understandably so. People as sensors is a concept that has gathered momentum in the fields of location-based services, social media and crowdsourcing applications. In 2003, I recognised the potential of GPS/GIS and ran a study titled Spatial Database National Australian (S-DNA) that was funded by the University of Wollongong. Here are some of the first outcomes of the work, that later grew to be funded by the Australian Research Council as a Discovery Project:
Citation: Katina Michael and Dan Bourchier, "National Security Risks Associated with the Strava App", ABC Radio Canberra: Breakfast, January 31, 2018. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/canberra/programs/breakfast/breakfast/9354942
- The Threat of Public Data Availability on Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP), and the Level of Awareness Amongst Security Experts in Australia
- The state of public data availability in Australia: a study of suppliers of critical infrastructure information
- Implantable Medical Device Tells All: Uberveillance Gets to the Heart of the Matter
- Uberveillance and the Internet of Things and people
- What can people do with spatial data?
- Location and tracking of mobiles
- The Converging Veillances: Border Crossings in an Interconnected World
- Location-Based Privacy, Protection, Safety, and Security
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.
Vicinity Centres is considering replacing some of its cleaning contractors with robots in a bid to automate and save costs, according to one of the company's non-executive directors, Wai Tang.
In a roundtable discussion ahead of International Women's Day, Ms Tang said disruption and volatility in the sector had led to many changes.
Vicinty Centres, which manages shopping centres around the country, had recently started trialling whether robots could be used to clean its centres.
But such a move, if it was formally implemented, would "displace many jobs", she said.
The bot in question is Cleanfix. The product is made by Teksbotics that also makes Pepper, iCub, and other small humanoid robots with AI. Cleanfix has 11 sensors on board.
Standard company blurb includes:
The robotic technology being trialled is a hands-free system that incorporates 11 sensors, giving the robot a 360-degree view of its surroundings, and allowing it to operate and clean autonomously. Advanced navigation and sensors detect obstacles as well as people - stopping to let them pass before proceeding.
The award-winning Cleanfix RA 660 Navi is specifically designed for hard floors and is ideal for shopping centres as it scrubs and vacuums independently, reduces the need for chemicals and uses water more efficiently which significantly lowers its impact on the environment.
Citation: Katina Michael and Jon Faine, "Robotics Cleaning at Australian Shopping Centres: is it a good idea?" ABC Radio Melbourne: Mornings, http://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/live/ 7 March 2017.
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.
Steve Sammartino, entrepreneur and technology author
Dr Katina Michael, professor, School of Computing and Information Technology, University of Wollongong; board member, Australian Privacy Foundation
Citation: Steve Sammartino and Katina Michael with Eleanor Hall, "Techtopia: what does your phone know about you?", ABC World Today, http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2016/s4535025.htm
NEW breakthroughs in technology will enable employers to track your movements and even your health — and it’s coming faster than you think.
News Corp Australia Network
A STARTLING shift in workplace dynamics between bosses and their employees is brewing — and it’s coming in the form of technology barely the width of your thumb.
Every generation, digital pioneers introduce a new program or gadget that will forever change the way society operates. And the next tech revolution is already here. In part fanned by the buzz of the 2014 Apple Watch release, devices of all sorts are now strapped on the wrists of millions of individuals striving for extra functionality and healthier bodies.
Only now, businesses are looking to seize on smartwatch technology for their capacity to boost the productivity, safety and wellbeing of their workforce. The result? Your employer could well know a whole lot more about you.
Smartwatches are only set to get cleverer. Already commercially available devices by the likes of Garmin and Fitbit can monitor vital signs such as heartrate, sleep patterns and activity levels — factors that can indicate when somebody is unhealthy, under stress or fatigued.
The next generation will leap even further, driven by scientific discovery, to a molecular level. Engineers at University of California, Berkeley, have developed a complex wrist device with hypersensitive sensors that analyse the chemicals in sweat.
The breakthrough technology paves the way for real-time monitoring with remarkable precision of a wearer’s health, as well as detecting cortisone levels, illness and drug use, by evaluating the physiologically rich information in sweat.
Market experts say the wearable electronics industry is on track to boom alongside growing demand over the next few years. Globally, the market for the technology is forecast to balloon from US$20 billion to US$70 billion in the decade to 2025.
Personalised medicine, healthcare and wellness will likely dominate the technology’s use, but its potential in society are far, far wider — bringing with it a long slew of concerns over employee privacy.
PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and digital services leader John Riccio said it was early days yet, with commercially available wearables still in a relatively immature stage and people still working through how best to apply them.
But by increasingly rooting the technology in a modern environment peppered with sensors, beacons and monitors, it can open up a whole new world of opportunity — whether it’s keeping tabs on an elderly medical patient for ultra-individualised healthcare or ensuring an oil rig worker stays out of high-risk areas.
“It will evolve considerably as the ecosystem around these devices becomes a lot more mature and pervasive,” Mr Riccio said.
This the beginning of a great new realm in bio-sensing. Not only for personal use but for astronauts, for people who need to be monitored, for this or that condition — Dr George Brooks, Exercise Physiology, University of California, Berkeley
He said that from an employee perspective, the wristbands would enhance their health and safety by helping to identify and prevent potential problems.
For employers, the main drawcard of the hands-free devices is productivity. He provided the example of a warehouse or retail worker being able to walk down aisles and automatically pick up product data and stock levels instead of having to scan each item. And nurses and doctors would be able to access detailed health information on their patients remotely or before an appointment even begins, allowing visits to be scheduled based on need as indicated by data.
Mr Riccio said he expected to see a major uplift in the next 18 months and it would become commonplace as more people chose to skip the routine phone upgrade to instead opt for a smartwatch that was much less obtrusive but provided functionality.
“It is going to become a normal part of being and we’re starting to see signs of that today. More and more people are wearing smartwatches,” he said.
“It’s like an extension of smartphones and it lifts the level of information available.”
For office workers, Mr Riccio said the benefit was less obvious being more about preserving wellbeing in high-stress jobs.
Doctors and nurses will be better able provide more personalised medicine for their patients. Picture: ThinkstockSource:Supplied
He said there was rising investment in smartwatch pilots in customer-based sectors such as health, retail and travel.
“It’s about increasing the level of service,” Mr Riccio explained.
“There’s a huge, huge dividend because of the productivity gain that comes out of it.
“Once that is evident, it becomes a no-brainer for businesses.”
COULD A WORKPLACE SMARTWATCH SAVE LIVES?
One question that emerges is whether there is a stronger ‘greater good’ argument for transport workers — pilots, truckies and drivers of taxis, trains, trams and buses — to take on the technology to track their physical and mental health because they have the public’s safety in their hands.
Mr Riccio said it was entirely possible that wearable technology could help prevent fatal accidents, drawing on a colleague’s example of the Germanwings plane disasterthat killed 150 people after the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately careered the plane into a mountainside.
In the case of Lubitz, who struggled with depression and insomnia and used prescription drugs to treat his mental illness, it is possible these factors could be picked up by the types of advanced wearable devices in development. Had Lubitz’s employer known his depression had returned after a previous battle in 2008, the tragedy may have been prevented — he would not have been able to fly.
Investigators work in the scattered debris on the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the French Alps in March last year. Picture: AFP/Anne-Christine PoujoulatSource:AFP
Market Clarity futurist Shara Evans also believed it was possible that technology could prevent a tragedy like the Germanwings crash but perhaps not using a smartwatch alone, believing it would take a mix of employee counselling services and possibly even facial recognition software.
However deadly road accidents are far more common and trucks continue to feature heavily in the nation’s fatal crashes.
Data from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Australian Road Deaths Database shows in the 12 months to the end of September 2015, 197 people died from 171 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses.
Mr Riccio said it would be a “very positive move” for both the public and the worker if a transport employer implemented wearable technology to further aid in identifying possible issues before they escalated.
“It’s like a human early warning system, unlike a warning system around maintenance, for potential catastrophes,” Riccio said, before stressing it would then be essential to ensure there was the capacity to act on a problem.
“If you identify a potential issue, firstly how do you validate that is going to be an issue and more importantly, how do you act? ... If you don’t act on it, why bother listen?”
Ms Evans tended to agree there was a stronger business case for the transport industry and said workers were more likely to accept the devices and share data with their employer for the sake of safety.
Transport Workers’ Union of Australia assistant national secretary Michael Caine said that “in a balanced way” he felt there could be a stronger argument for transport employees to be early-adopters of wearable technology and said it could play a vital role in improving a truck driver’s wellbeing.
But he stressed that privacy issues would need to be ironed out first, as well ensuring data identifying dangerous levels of stress, fatigue or drug use wasn’t used to penalise workers.
He used the example of artificial stimulants that truck drivers sometimes resort to meet freight deadlines. If an employer picked up the drug use in a wearer’s body fluid, he said there was a risk they were “unfairly targeted” to avoid getting to the crux of why stimulants might be necessary.
“That can lead to a very quick downward spiral of standards,” Mr Kaine said.
He said his chief reason for welcoming wearable technology was to help alleviate the systemic pressures that worked its way down the business chain and hit drivers hardest.
“As long as ... (it is) in the context of a mix of strategies which must include holding those at the very top of the chain accountable, then as a general proposition this is important technology to explore,” he said.
Mr Kaine believed wrist devices would reveal fatigue and stress were more endemic than thought.
“Truck drivers are prone to fatigue, stress and lifestyle problems,” he said.
“Each time you get more granular in understanding the pressures on transport workers, the extent is always surprising and distressing.”
However he said there were “serious reservations” from drivers around protecting their workplace privacy.
“It is really getting to a very personal level,” he said.
“Workers have expressed concerns ... but they will be somewhat allayed if they understand the objective is to assist them and help employers lift pressures.”
ARE OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES AT STAKE?
Privacy advocates warn that if anything goes wrong in the domains of employee data privacy, security or accuracy, then you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
Mr Riccio acknowledged the public was likely to voice reservations around privacy, but said people “would become comfortable with it just like they have done in the past”.
“With every new technology the whole issue of privacy comes up. It’s more set in culture rather than a new concern,” he said.
Mr Riccio believed many employees would be open to employers taking on a bigger duty of care in relation to their health, while other workers would fear repercussions if they were found to be overly stressed.
He said “trust was the biggest factor in the digital world” and employers needed to be clear they would use the data for the right purposes rather than collecting it under the guise of health and wellbeing but then using it to assess an individual’s performance.
Ms Evans similarly said that once an employer had consent from an employee to implement wearable technology, the core concern was how data was used.
A model of the sweat-sensing wristband. Picture: Der-Hsien Lien and Hiroki Ota/Supplied
“Will it be used to alert an employee or supervisor of situations that might cause imminent danger or more nefariously to decide you don’t like the health signals coming from a particular person, run some predictive analytics to show they will take more sick leave, and form an idea about who the better workers are?”
University of Wollongong technology researcher Katina Michael said it had to be the choice of individuals whether or not to adopt new technology.
Dr Michael, who is also a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation, also feared we were entering dicey territory if we began predicting a person’s behaviour based on data.
“Just because someone has the characteristics or profile patterns that fit a particular group, it doesn’t mean ‘x’ will happen,” she said.
“A person might be functioning fine during the work day but an employer might say we can tell from physiological data that they’re suffering from depression, so we should cancel their ability drive a truck.”
She also feared bosses would easily be able “wash their hands of problems” and shift liability to their employees so as to not damage their company brand rather than tackling the underlying causes of issues like drug addiction and mental illness.
Civil Liberites Australia vice-president Tim Vines said transparency was his most central concern when implementing wearable devices.
More and more tech companies are producing smartwatches to meet consumer demand, like LG's Watch Urbane. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
“Employers need to provide solid justifications for why (they are necessary),” Mr Vines said.
“It will depend on bosses having conversations with employees and ... being upfront about what type of data they are collecting, how it’s going to be used, stored and for how long.”
He stressed that without clear rules, it risked giving an employer too much power over their workers’ lifestyle, health and even substance use.
“We don’t want our bosses to become the police force of our private lives,” he said.
Ms Evans said hacking by cyber criminals was another reasonable concern.
She warned that personal data gathered by smartwatches could be used for “all kinds of malicious mechanisms like identity theft and blackmail to truly harm a person.”
Ms Evans said it was also key to consider the accuracy of the data being transmitted. An example of this is playing out in the US where Fitbit buyers have filed a class-action lawsuit accusing its heartrate monitor of being shonky.
If a sensor on a device was flawed, then so were conclusions drawn from it, Ms Evans said, stressing it would be wrong to deem an employee unfit for duty unless there was a way to ensure data accuracy.
The potential of wearable devices goes well beyond what the Fitbit, as worn here by Luke Hines, can do. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
But all of these public concerns will do little to block wearable technology’s ascent. Despite the reservations, there is collective acknowledgment that wearable technology isn’t going anywhere. Rather, it is doing just the opposite — and growing in even newer ways such as ‘smartclothing’ fitted with biosensors, technology that Ms Evans would be welcomed in construction and mining.
And she said CEOs she is in discussions with are eager to begin investing in reliable wrist technology.
As University of Cincinnati professor Jason Heikenfeld wrote in journal Nature, the latest breakthrough sweat-sensing devices developed at University of California, Berkeley, reveal the scale of opportunities with researchers set to “undoubtedly come up with innovations to transform technology that is currently merely appealing into something that, one day, you could not imagine living without.”
It may be only a matter of time before your boss rolls out a smartwatch trial.
Citation: Sophie Aubrey, February 24, 2016, "How wearable technology and smartwatches will change the workplace", News.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/wearables/how-wearable-technology-and-smartwatches-will-change-the-workplace/news-story/01ed2f07153e86fe7a379fca271f4e29
"Regulators are way behind the game when it comes to wearable and IoT privacy, and users are willingly conspiring with companies that don't care about them to help create a society of “uber-veillance”.
That's the grim conclusion reached by Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) board member and University of Wollongong researcher Katina Michael in conversation with The Register.
In light of the US Federal Trade Commission's warning at CES that it's watching the Internet of Things closely, Vulture South wondered how things might stand in Australia and asked Michael for her views on the topic.
One of the things that makes it hard for a regulator to formulate privacy rules covering things like RunKeeper, Fitbits and the like is that so much of the privacy invasion seems almost voluntary. Users take the defaults of the product-plus-service, create a social media stream informing the world of everything from their sleep patterns to the distances and even places they walk, run, cycle – with too little understanding of just how much about them can be inferred from the data.
“We know about peoples' measurements – sleeping, health, where they are, who they're with, engaged in sex, walking, running, speeding, burning calories”, Michael told Vulture South.
“How long does it take until we're constantly being monitored and tracked, and people are predicting our next action?”
She noted that individuals don't realise how much trackers, and the companies that sell them, know about us, how companies use that information, nor how their policies let them on-sell that information.”
She added that it's no longer a fiction that the services behind wearables and IoT devices could know more about us – at least in specific areas – than we know ourselves.
To Vulture South's scepticism, Michael answered “I'm busy: I can't count the number of steps, because I'm too busy walking. I can't count the calories I burn at the gym, or tell you the speed I walked, the distance I covered or the time I spent on a particular activity.
“Spatio-temporal models know these things and can make inferences about what you're doing,” she explained.
Michael reminded Vulture South that these models have been under development for decades. “I worked in a telecoms vendor for six years. We had voice and data traffic models; we were fairly accurate, we knew where traffic was coming from, where it was going to.”
The advent of mobile telephony expanded both the data and the inference that could be drawn from it dramatically, she said, so that by 1997-1998, she was able to find very good details that associated the individual to his or her behaviour.
Since then, the data sources contained in just one device, the smartphone, have exploded: “Not only can we collect the personal data from the sensors – the GPS, the accelerometer, the altimeter, the temperature sensor, and make the speed/distance/time calculation,” she said, but it's now trivial to plot that against data amassed by Google's StreetView or national address files (the GNAF in Australia).
“I not only know your X and Y coordinate, I know the building name, what floor you visited,” she said, and since people are creatures of habit, the inferences that can be drawn from phone data alone are invasive and revealing.
Add data from wearables and implantables, add consumer confusion about who owns the data (you don't, for example, own the data generated by “your” pacemaker, she said), and combine it with vague and liquid company privacy policies and user enthusiasm for self-publishing their “quantified self” data, and the emerging situation “blows the National Privacy Principles out of the water,” Michael said.
“For example, you can easily bucket someone into categories – social sorting – 'I won't hire them because they're lazy, or they're not eligible for credit, or I won't insure them, or hike up the premium'.
(For example, El Reg had its attention separately drawn to the AAMI “Safe Driver” app, which offers the inducement of rewards for the user to link back to the company. It's a short distance from carrot to stick.)
“How long is it going to take before this data is used to make decisions that the person is not aware of?”, she continued, citing the possibility that a future user doesn't realise they're being charged a different insurance premium “because of the data you put online from the Fitbit?”
Wearables, she said, are not so far in capability from state surveillance anklets (for example, that are used to monitor persons subject to control orders). “We're being duped into thinking they're liberating devices, when they're devices of enslavement,” she said. “And consumers aren't saying 'uh-oh, there's a problem here'. They're saying 'bring it on!'”
We're creating a world not of surveillance – that's already here – but of “uber-veillance” where the combination of data and analysis “gets inside your head” and increasingly predicts actions.
Michael says it's also easy to imagine that non-participation – a decision to keep some data private – could draw a punitive response from the corporate world.
Today, she said, people pay attention to the idea that their “things” might be hacked, that their phones might be vulnerable.
In the future, she said, “you won't be able to hide: you will get hit with fees for not disclosing.”
Penalties for non-disclosure of metrics will, at least, offer one opportunity for regulators to act, and such opportunities will be few.
Another spot where regulators could apply a wedge is in how devices and their associated apps treat privacy at purchase.
“They shouldn't be automatic opt-in,” she said. Individuals might find it inconvenient in the short term, but instead of hiding poison pills on page nineteen of a document nobody reads, users should have to go through dialogues, understanding and okaying each of the invasions the wearable's maker hopes to achieve.
“We get the devices, they have inherent policies built in and we're not told what could happen. The location information doesn't have to come built in and already enabled,” she said – it's just that's the preference of the vendor.
Orwell's vision is already obsolete, she said, usurped by Google and a world that has you tagged. Until privacy watchdogs awake from their slumber, it's only users who can resist the cargo-cult tradeoff of their secrets for a shiny toy. "
Citation: Richard Chirgwin, January 13, 2015, "Welcome to 'uber-veillance' says Australian Privacy Foundation" The Register (2015), Available at: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/13/its_already_too_late_for_privacy/
Katina Michael, University of Wollongong
Paula Tapiolas, ABC Radio
Spy applications and devices are proliferating in Australia. What is the response of the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF)?
Katina Michael and Paula Tapiolas. "The Spying Landscape in Australia" ABC Radio North Queensland: Mornings with Paula Tapiolas (630 ABC) Nov. 2013: 9.30-9.50.
Author: Tiffany Hoy, Editor: Wang Yuanyuan, Global Times - Xinhua China
Katina Michael, University of Wollongong
As "smart" devices continue to advance, government regulation is lagging far behind, leaving citizens vulnerable to giving away their private information without their knowledge, said Katina Michael, vice chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation.
People sometimes don't even know what embedded sensors are in the devices that they're carrying, Michael said, but the information that they record can be pieced together to create a frightening surveillance profile. "There are many social implications if I know your whereabouts 24 x 7. I can track your location history, for example -- I know exactly where you were on the Earth's surface, I know how fast you were traveling which tells me your mode of transport, if any, and I'm probably able to infer what you were doing," said Michael.
"If I know through the devices that you're carrying: who you are -- through your ID, where you are -- through GPS or wifi enablement, when you were there -- through a timestamp, and what you were doing -- through the visual imagery you are taking photos or records of, then we pretty much know what is actually in your mind," she added.
Moving towards a more transparent society, where mobile recording devices can be used to capture what's happening at any given time -- with life-bloggers recording every waking moment through autography devices, and police use dashboard cameras and headsets to record video later used as evidence in court, also comes with a trade-off: the erosion of personal privacy.
"There's an asymmetry involved here. The wearer of these wearable devices is always a more powerful constituent in this relationship. Those individuals who choose not to be a part of this new information society may find themselves on the wrong side of any particular imbalance," Michael said. "The asymmetry gets greater and greater as the number of devices grow, (between) those that have wearables and those who don't, and those who don't wish to participate and live off-grid. "Yes we understand that once we step out our front door we can' t expect privacy. But private things can be gathered, such as the clothes that we wear, the places that we frequent, if I want to go to a religious building on a weekend ... I should have an expectation of privacy and there should not be recordings of me going about my everyday life," she added.
Global Times - Xinhua China and Katina Michael. "Living in a smart world" Global Times Jun. 2013.
Lisa Wachsmuth, Illawarra Mercury
Katina Michael, University of Wollongong
"It is one thing to lug technologies around, another thing to wear them, and even more intrusive to bear them... But that's the direction in which we're headed."
"I think we're entering an era of person-view systems which will show things on ground level and will be increasingly relayed to others via social media.
"We've got people wearing recording devices on their fingers, in their caps or sunglasses - there are huge legal and ethical implications here."
Lisa Wachsmuth and Katina Michael. "Glogging Your Every Move" Illawarra Mercury: News Nov. 2012: 10. Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kmichael/298
Full article in text here:
YOU wake up, it's a hot day so you put on your smart clothes that keep you cool; you lace up your smart shoes which track your movements while every moment of your day is recorded via an implant in your eyeball.
Sounds like science fiction but the technology is already available and it won't be long before body wearable - and implantable - technologies are ever present, according to a University of Wollongong academic.
Associate Professor Katina Michael said people were already comfortable "wearing" devices like pedometers and iPods - and there were even a number of "voluntary microchip implantees" including Australians.
"It is one thing to lug technologies around, another thing to wear them, and even more intrusive to bear them," she said. "But that's the direction in which we're headed."
Emerging body-wearable technologies were becoming more sophisticated and less visible, said Prof Michael, who will host an IEEE International Symposium of Technology and Society in Canada next year.
"You already see people running around with iPod pockets around their arms, or with a heart-rate monitor on at the gym," she said.
"Over the next few years these devices will become less obvious and more integrated with our clothing and accessories. We'll be wearing smart necklaces and earrings, smart glasses and headbands, smart shoes and belt buckles.
"These smart devices will make 'augmented reality' a part of our daily lives; we'll be able to take photos and video, to collect geographical data about where we've been and physiological data such as our heart rate."
A lot of this technology is already in use - extreme sports people wear cameras with built-in GPS; police officers use special sunglasses to record situations and location-based shoes monitor people with dementia.
"Most of these devices were developed for the military and are now enjoying popularity as commercial devices," Prof Michael said.
She collaborates with Prof Steve Mann from the University of Toronto, who is renowned for his eyetap device - a bit like the Google glasses available to buy in 2014 - which he uses to record his life.
"Steve coined the term 'sous-veillance' which unlike surveillance - watching from above - is about watching from below, by having a camera looking out from your body," she said.
"There's already many 'life bloggers' or 'gloggers' who record their lives - it's a bit like having a black box recorder on your person.
"I think we're entering an era of person-view systems which will show things on ground level and will be increasingly relayed to others via social media."
However, the technologies were emerging so fast that the laws - and social mores - surrounding them could not keep up.
"We've got people like Jonathan Oxer, an Australian who has a microchip implanted in his arm so he can open the door to his house without a key," she said.
"We've got Canadian film-maker Rob Spence who replaced his false eye with a camera-eye so he can record everything he sees.
"We've got people wearing recording devices on their fingers, in their caps or sunglasses - there are huge legal and ethical implications here."
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.