Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Bernie Goldie. 29/04/2009

Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions

Welcome to the brave new world where national security concerns have presented governments with the justification to introduce surveillance on people on an unprecedented scale and where human chip implants are on the rise.

Ominous scenarios going beyond what was once predicted in novels such as George Orwell’s 1984 are brought to life in a new book, Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants, by University of Wollongong (UOW) academics Dr Katina Michael and, Dr M.G. Michael.

The book details the social implications of technology and how new emerging innovations are completely changing the rules of engagement. In 2003, for instance, a family volunteered to officially receive the commercial VeriChip implant for an emergency service application. Such applications are on the rise especially in the United States.

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Automatic-Identification-Location-Based-Services/dp/1599047950/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1521350903&sr=8-11&keywords=katina+michael

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Innovative-Automatic-Identification-Location-Based-Services/dp/1599047950/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1521350903&sr=8-11&keywords=katina+michael

The book was largely written during a time of global geo-political and economic turbulence when the world witnessed a rise in a new kind of terrorism and also large-scale emergencies related to natural disasters and looming pandemics.

The authors highlight that not all of the latest innovative techniques should be viewed negatively. For example, electronic health monitoring solutions are helping doctors gather accurate and timely medical data about their patients and their needs. And in the area of criminal intelligence, GPS tracking units are being used by law enforcement agencies to gather evidence towards convicting suspects of criminal activities or keeping track of parolees who have been released from prison.

The new and emerging technologies however, do carry with them serious implications for privacy, trust, control, and especially human rights. It was as recent as December 2008, that Indonesia’s Papua dropped its plans to microchip about 5,000 HIV/AIDS patients in order to monitor their actions. This raises major concerns about the application of invasive technology by institutions of higher authority. It also raises issues about the application, validity, and viability of the technology in a variety of usability contexts.

Automatic identification has evolved to use techniques that can identify an object or subject without direct human intervention – such devices include bar codes, magnetic-strip, integrated circuit, biometric, radio-frequency and nanotech-based identification.

Dr Katina Michael’s research interests are in the areas of automatic identification, location-based services, emerging mobile technologies, national security and their respective socio-ethical implications. She is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Information Systems and Technology at UOW, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and on the publications committee of the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.

Dr M.G. Michael is an Honorary Senior Fellow in UOW’s School of Information Systems and Technology and a member of the American Academy of Religion. A theologian and historian with broad cross-disciplinary qualifications, Dr Michael provides expertise on ethical issues and the social implications of technology.

He coined the word ‘überveillance’ which this year was voted top in the ‘technology’ category in Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year search. Dr Michael defines the emerging concept of überveillance as “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body”.

Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Bar Codes to Chip Implants (514pp) has been published by Information Science Reference. The book features seven full-length interviews with notable scientists, including Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading and Professor Christofer Toumazou, Director of the Biomedical Institute at Imperial College. Also featured is Mr Amal Graafstra, the world’s most recognised hobbyist implantee.

Citation: Bernie Goldie, April 29, 2009, "Rapid pace of technological change goes beyond George Orwell predictions", UOW Media Release, https://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW058534.html

Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year

16 Jan 2009 | Kate McIlwain

uberveillance
(say 'oohbuhvayluhns)
noun. an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology
that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human
body. Also, überveillance.
--

A word invented by UOW researchers has made it into the Macquarie Dictionary and, along with 91 other new words, is in the running to become the 2008 Macquarie Word of the Year.

Uberveillance in practice: Mr Amal Graafstra has two radiofrequency

The word uberveillance was coined in 2006 by UOW Honorary Senior Fellow Dr MG Michael and the concept has been further developed together with UOW senior lecturer Dr Katina Michael.

The first time the term was used by Dr Michael was in a guest lecture he delivered on the “Consequences of Innovation”.

Drs Michael and Michael had been researching the trajectory of ‘beneath-the-skin’ surveillance technologies that could identify and locate individuals.

The duo said the word simply ‘came out’ in a moment of inspiration, when Michael was searching for words to describe the embedded technologies. They said the term “surveillance” didn’t describe the full extent of the technological capabilities available today.

“Michael could find no other term but to bring together the German prefix “über” with the French root word “veiller” to describe the exaggerated surveillance conducted by governments in the name of national security,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“Michael has always had an affinity with words from some earlier studies in linguistics and his
success in having his poetry published in a number of Australia’s major literary journals.”

“We needed a word to describe the profoundly intrusive nature of such technologies and it was no longer about Big Brother looking down, but rather about Big Brother on the inside looking out,” she said.

Some research concerning uberveillance has so far included studies on the privacy, trust and
security implications of chip implants (e.g. Alzheimer’s patients), the socio-ethical implications of pinpoint location based services, an exploration of the factors motivating ‘underground
implantees’ to embed technology in their body; and looking at the trade-offs between privacy,
value and control in radio-frequency identification applications like e-passports and e-tollways.

The term and associated research has attracted attention from the media and academic community in its three-year lifespan, but being put into the Macquarie Dictionary has special significance. 

“To get it recognised in Australia’s official dictionary was for us an absolute thrill,” Dr Katina Michael said.

“It clearly evidences to the impact of our work… especially given the list of words is international and includes terms that have been in use for much longer.

“We do not know who nominated the word, or how it got onto the list, but it is without a doubt one of the outcomes we will hold as a major achievement,” she said.

2008 Word of the Year is awarded to the word that gains the most votes from the public – so
Katina and Michael are urging UOW staff and students to log on, improve their vocabularies, and support UOW research.

How to vote:

  1. Go to the Word of the Year page.
  2. Click on VOTE NOW and scroll to the TECHNOLOGY tab.
  3. Click on the Uberveillance button.
  4. Enter your email address.
  5. Press submit.

Citation: Kate McIlwain, January 16, 2009, "Vote 1 uberveillance: UOW term in running for 2008 Word of the Year", UOW Media, https://media.uow.edu.au/news/UOW053997.html