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.

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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.

Microchipping Employees and Potential Workplace Surveillance

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British companies are planning to implant staff with microchips to improve security. Sputnik spoke about it to Katina Michael, professor of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong.

Sputnik: Could companies sell employees' personal data to third parties?

Katina Michael: The first thing to know is that before an employer considers selling implant discrete data to a third party, they would likely use it to monitor their staff. For example, for physical access control, the way staff congregate to exchange ideas, how often they use the restroom, how fast they may be finishing and completing some tasks. It is not to say that that would occur, but quite possibly it would be used as a timestamp device. In comparison, today we commonly find facial recognition or fingerprint recognition allows employees to log their time at work.

But a company now can use this technology to introspectively look at what employees are doing. I mean, we can consider employers today gathering data on their employees by using smartphones: I know a lot of companies sign off an agreement when they do offer their employees a company-sponsored smartphone, identifying that they may well log their locations and time based on the company smartphone. Otherwise, I don't believe that a corporation would sell that information.

Sputnik: But if companies were to sell personal data to third parties, what could employees do to prevent that from happening?

Katina Michael: Employees would not be able to block the distribution of data gathered from their implantable devices, unless they've signed some legal agreement not allowing consent to occur or through local workplace surveillance laws. And so they can block the corporation from sharing that information with other companies, such as health insurance providers.

Sputnik: Could employers know if staff contacted a competitor about a job?

Katina Michael: You have to consider that the diffusion of the implants is only a couple hundred people, for example, in the UK, and many of them are not in the employment context. In one case there was an implant device granted to someone with a systematic technology need, an amputee; and when we look at these more widely in the world we could say that probably a few thousand people at most, who are hobbyists to get an implant because they are infused by technology and progress, and being able to automate certain aspects of their life.

I don't believe that, for the time being, information would be provided when one implantee meets another implantee, because of the limitations of the mutual communication and the radio frequency identification being used in that technology. These technologies don't act like smartphones; for the time being the devices are proximity devices that require you to be no more than ten centimeters away from a reader.

Citation: Katina Michael and Laurie Timmers, 2018, “Businesses to Microchip Employees 'to Monitor' Staff”, Sputnik International News, https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201811121069747561-business-microchip--monitor-staff/

Fork Over Passwords or Pay the Price

Fork Over Passwords or Pay the Price, New Zealand Tells Travelers

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As of this week, travelers who fail to unlock their devices risk prosecution and potential fines of 5,000 New Zealand dollars, about $3,295.

The law applies to both foreign visitors and returning New Zealand citizens.

Mr. Brown, the customs spokesman, said that once a password was supplied, “preliminary searches” would be carried out with a traveler’s phone or computer set to flight mode, and officers would explore only files saved to the device, not website histories or any information uploaded to cloud-based storage.

A device could be confiscated for further examination only if the preliminary search led officials to believe that was warranted, although Mr. Brown admitted that failure to provide a password could be grounds for seizure.

The move drew criticism from civil liberties advocates, who said digital devices contain far more private information about a person than luggage does and should therefore be subject to greater protection from searches.

Katina Michael, a professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia who specializes in surveillance issues, said most countries’ laws allowed officials to confiscate devices, often for a period of weeks, if passwords were not provided or illegal activity was suspected. But she said the new fines in New Zealand added a “scare factor” to pressure people, who often do not know their rights when entering a new country, to hand over their codes.
But a spokesman for New Zealand’s Council for Civil Liberties, Thomas Beagle, told Radio New Zealand that it was not clear what constituted “reasonable suspicion” and that there was no way for travelers to challenge a forced search of their devices.

In 2017, New Zealand border officials conducted 537 preliminary searches of devices, and customs officials said they did not expect that number to increase under the new law.

In the United States, forced searches of devices at the border have increased in recent years and have been subject to lawsuits, in which civil liberties activists claim the examinations are invasive and unlawful.

Professor Michael said there had also been an increase in digital searches and device confiscations at the Australian border.

Stare into the Lights my Pretties by Jordan Brown

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We live in a world of screens. The average adult spends the majority of their waking hours in front of some sort of screen or device. We’re enthralled, we’re addicted to these machines. How did we get here? Who benefits? What are the cumulative impacts on people, society and the environment? What may come next if this culture is left unchecked, to its end trajectory, and is that what we want?

Stare Into The Lights My Pretties investigates these questions with an urge to return to the real physical world, to form a critical view of technological escalation driven by rapacious and pervasive corporate interest. Covering themes of addiction, privacy, surveillance, information manipulation, behaviour modification and social control, the film lays the foundations as to why we may feel like we’re sleeprunning into some dystopian nightmare with the machines at the helm. Because we are, if we don’t seriously avert our eyes to stop this culture from destroying what is left of the real world.

Program title: Stare Into The Lights My Pretties.

Duration: 120 minutes.

Year of Production: 2017.

Website: https://stareintothelightsmypretties.jore.cc/

Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi666155033

Full version screener: https://stareintothelightsmypretties.jore.cc/files/StareIntoTheLightsMyPretties_1080p-4982k.mp4

IMDB Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7762882/

National Security Risks Associated with the Strava App

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:

Source: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/australian-military-says-strava-tracking-app-doesnt-breach-security-1806287

Overcoming Social Media Addiction with the AntiSocial App

Citation: Katina Michael with Shaun White, "How much do we actually use our phones?", Sunrise: Channel 7, May 10, 2017, https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/35366754/how-much-do-we-actually-use-our-phones/#page3.

What is the Internet doing to our heads?

We spend more time online than offline, so what is all this screen time doing to our heads?

Presenter/Producer: Cheyne Anderson
Presenter: Ellen Leabeater

Speakers:
Lawrence Lam - Professor of Public Health, University of Technology Sydney
Katina Michael - Professor, School of Computing and IT, University of Wollongong
David Glance - Director Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia

Think: Digital Futures is supported by 2SER and the University of Technology Sydney.

2ser.com/thinkdigitalfutures

Consider following below on SoundCloud.

Citation: Cheyne Anderson, Ellen Leabeater, Lawrence Lam, Katina Michael, David Glance, April 23, 2017, "What is the Internet doing to our heads?", 2SERFM Think: Digital Futures, https://soundcloud.com/thinkdigitalfutures/what-is-the-internet-doing-to-our-heads

Nice to see it made available here also: https://www.ivoox.com/what-is-the-internet-doing-to-our-heads-audios-mp3_rf_18287880_1.html