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.

Emerging Technologies: In The Loop Gong

We sat down with bright mind professor Katina Michael to talk about her research into emerging technologies like wearable tech, nanotechnology, and biohacking.

Meow Meow with his implantable Opal Card using NSW Rail Reader

Meow Meow with his implantable Opal Card using NSW Rail Reader

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.

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.

Does Google Maps New Update Breach Our Privacy?

Google Maps have announced their latest feature that allows for a user to share their location with others, by tracking their location in real time on the map. While the app aims to assist its users , the question lies whether the feature enables privacy concerns? Joining me on the line to discuss how the new feature can be abused, is Katina Michael, Associate Dean at International Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences at University of Wollongong.

Produced by Brooke Taylor

Living In A Smart World

Key Link

Authors

Author: Tiffany Hoy, Editor: Wang Yuanyuan, Global Times - Xinhua China
Katina MichaelUniversity of Wollongong

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Global Times - Xinhua China and Katina Michael. "Living in a smart world" Global Times Jun. 2013.

TEDxUWollongong: The Social Implications of Microchipping People

A/Professor Katina Michael from the University of Wollongong, speaks at the 2012 TEDxUWollongong on the moral and ethical dilemmas of emerging technologies. The 3 scenarios she performs raise very interesting social implications for our humanity. http://www.tedxuwollongong.com  

Speaker playlist here

Photostream available here

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.

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