Films from the Future

Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies by Andrew Maynard, Mango Press, 2018, 293 pp.

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Reviewed by Katina Michael

Films from the Future is an ambitious collection of well-organised reflections that attempts to explore the technology and morality of 12 science fiction movies. It is intriguing that author Andrew Maynard has chosen to take away significant learnings from cult classics such as Minority Report that would otherwise be considered as backdrops for a dystopian future.

I was once told by Brian Cantrell of the World Building Media Lab at USC that “dystopia was easy and utopia was really hard” [i]. Cantrell’s lab director is Minority Report’s Production Designer, Alex McDowell [ii] who has given many a talk about how stories can shape the future [iii]. So I questioned from the outset how Maynard’s book might well make us stop and think and ask questions like: “how can we learn from science fiction scenarios, and how can we do better without making the same mistakes in the real world”? In essence, what is the take away message from dystopia?

To an extent, some of the visions presented by films like Minority Report, have come true. In “Can we predict when and where a crime will take place?” BBC reporter Mark Smith, takes us on a brief introduction of the capabilities of software like PredPol, Palantir, and CrimeScan [iv] but cautions we are not there yet in terms of AI-based predictive policing. But we can already contrast this retrospective hot spot analysis capability with new forms of facial recognition software detecting persons in mass crowds as has been purportedly demonstrated in China [v], and even the hope to create a crime time machine [vi].

Maynard’s book which is written in a very accessible manner, almost conversational one might say, comes with excellent sources, providing evidence to content that would otherwise be challenged by some. Maynard uses peer-reviewed papers to support claims as one would expect from an academic and former columnist for Nature Nanotechnology, but unashamedly intermingles this with references to mainstream media. There is something to be said about this methodology by an expert communicator of science in general. The further one gets into the book, the more one trusts the insights of this author implicitly asking the same questions pre-emptively: “where is all this leading us?”.

What all of the science fiction movies that Maynard has purposely hand-picked for us to engage with have in common is conflict. It is not only that these movies are couched in suspense, and are thrillers, but that their contents challenge our personal values: plainly, what is important to every one of us. They take us out of our comfort zone and somehow reinforce all that is healthy about our world, and help us to see more clearly those things that are unhealthy. In the endless possibility of technological and scientific trajectories, the reader knows instinctively which are destructive. Death is the ultimate harm, the ultimate toll humans may have to face for their discoveries; only extinction of the species can be worse. But how can we make things better for our present and generations to come?

In some way, we attempt to resolve the conflicts presented to us by analysing what are the real threats as opposed to perceived threats, and we consider suitable strategies to prevent or resolve the conflict. Science fiction also has a way of challenging government-industrial complex “group think.” In That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis masterfully presents a new government-funded research facility at the fictional University of Edgestow, aptly named the “National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments” (N.I.C.E.) with questions surrounding the natural limits of innovation. It takes the youthful new recruit, Mark Studdock an ambitious sociologist, to save the world from the establishment and François Alcasan whose head was recovered by the N.I.C.E. after the French scientist was murdered, and has been kept alive by technology seemingly communicating with Macrobes [vii].

Somehow at the heart of sci-fi is returning power to the people who almost always regain control before things get completely out of hand. But we learn that our freedom comes at a cost. The reassuring aspect of Maynard’s work is that justice prevails, despite the ominous lurking of some technological beast that is waiting to be unleashed, beckoning for a movie sequel. Technology and its application- at least in the interim- are restored to useful practice and people marshal towards hopeful and sustainable futures.

The deeper one gets into Films from the Future, the more one questions why these 12 movies. What is so special about them? What unfolds is a narrative that builds one layer on top of the other, and a chronological thematic inquiry that reaches its climax in chapter 13 dedicated to Contact. Maynard takes us on a fantastical ride through time- from what looks to be about the beginning and the presence of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, to the potential for human cloning in Never Let Me Go, to artificial intelligence, the advent of bioprinting, human augmentation and genetic engineering, to an age of singularity in Transcendence, climate change and finally considering the vast expanse that is space. It is as if the Creation story plays out, and then a doomsday Apocalypse threatens, only for humans to search beyond earth and into the stars for their ultimate glory.

Some readers would have watched perhaps a few of the sci-fi films selected by Maynard like Ex Machina, but Films from the Future is also set to encourage a whole new following of lesser known movies like The Man in the White Suit that depicts the struggle between an innovator and the unintended consequences his innovation causes.

About the only thing I can be critical of Mango Press about is the absence of a few images that might well have been able to bring the book to life in a different way; and perhaps some select quotations from the featured films that may have been interweaved into Maynard’s narrative or noted in the margins. I admit I love direct quotes!

One thing for certain Maynard presents an excellent summation of the topics that will invariably always preoccupy humankind. Inherent in all of this book are issues of control and risk. Students in particular will be served well in interdisciplinary courses that interrogate the subject matter from a variety of lenses- social, technical, ethical, and legal. And the book provides a starting point for the study of the future. One of the best summaries I’ve come across. 

Reviewer: Katina Michael is a Professor in the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. katina.michael@asu.edu

 

References

[i] Katina Michael interviews Brian Cantrell, May 22, 2016, “Makoko 2036”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SntGFlz7Ro [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[ii] Laura Cechanowicz, Brian Cantrell, and Alex McDowell, “World Building and the Future of Media: Makoko 2036”, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, December 2016, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=7790997 [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[iii] Jamie Matroos, September 1, 2016, “Alex McDowell on telling stories that shape the future”, Design Indaba, http://www.designindaba.com/videos/conference-talks/alex-mcdowell-telling-stories-shape-future [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[iv] Mark Smith, October 30, 2018, “Can we predict when and where a crime will take place?”, BBC News, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46017239# [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[v] Paul Mozur, July 8, 2018, “Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras”, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/business/china-surveillance-technology.html [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[vi] John Hollenhorst, September 28, 2017, “Crime time machines adds to security, privacy debate”, KSL.com, https://www.ksl.com/?sid=45975124&nid=148 [Accessed October 30, 2018].

[vii] C.S. Lewis, 1945 (repub. 2003), That Hideous Strength, Scribner, New York, 384pp.

Citation: Book Reviewer Katina Michael. 2018. “Films from the Future” by Andrew Maynard, Mangro Press, 2018. Accepted, pending publication in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.

In Memoriam: Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard (1953–2015)

Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard

Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard

Professor Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard was a Philippine jurist specialising in computer law. In 2009 she attained the position of Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom researching a diverse range of topics including, comparative contract law, alternative dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, European Union law, privacy, electronic commerce, cybersecurity, computer law, and data protection. Professor Kierkegaard was a lifelong learner who had vast knowledge with a strong multidisciplinary approach to her work. Remarkably, her breadth of knowledge never came at the expense of her depth of legal knowledge. 

Sylvia obtained her first academic degree, a Bachelor of Mass Communications (Journalism), in the early 1970s from the University of the Philippines and later studied at Stanford University where she completed her Masters in Asian Studies. In 2003, she duxed her class, attaining her Masters in European Union Business and Law at the University of Aarhus. In addition to living in the Philippines and Egypt (the two countries where her three children were born),the family  moved several times due to her husband’s work transfers. Living in Greece and Germany respectively, Sylvia was active as a born-again Christian Minister, serving the Lord and  reaching to others. In 1992, Sylvia and her husband, Allan Kierkegaard, decided to move the whole family back to Copenhagen, Denmark. Sylvia continued with her ministries whilst taking care of her three children.

It was in Copenhagen, that Sylvia felt she could well and truly re-enter the workforce full time as her children were older, and sincerely begin her career as an academic in the field she so loved. She began to publish articles on topical themes. She also participated in several conferences, at which time she realised there was a stark gap in the field. In 2006, Sylvia swiftly moved to establish the International Association of IT Lawyers (IAITL) targeted  at lawyers and legal practitioners who had an interest in Information Technology Law. The association’s mission sought to promote the study and further research in Computer Law  through international engagement and conferences, the formation of transnational networks and networking events, the publication of members’ research, and the timely announcement of new job openings. In the same year that Sylvia formed IAITL, the first IAITL conference was held in Hamburg with great success. This was followed annually by conferences in  Copenhagen, Istanbul, New York, Beijing, Prague, Malta, Barcelona, Nicosia, Athens, Bangkok and Lisbon. These conferences were known for their high standard in paper submission and  service, as well as by loyal conference participation by delegates, year after year. For those of us who have had the good fortune to host, organise, and program large-scale events such as this, it usually is a one off thing, like building a house. Sylvia built many houses in her time,  had the ability to mobilise volunteers, and was a visionary. 

Sylvia was a deep thinker about the future for numerous reasons. First, she had children, and felt it a duty to provide ways for which legal framework solutions could be used to protect humans. She was incredibly “international” or “bloc” focused in her research having  understood the forces of globalisation so well from the perspective of a Danish resident and Philippine citizen. For instance, she could especially see how new technologies could impact people (e.g. women and children) and how the law needed to rapidly develop to face the challenges (e.g. cyberbullying). She also knew well the digital divide between countries in Asia and the rest of the world. 

Prof. Kierkegaard also liked to tackle looming problems and help bring some definition to them. She would often consider what was “the right thing to do”, and did not mind being faced with what others believed to be insurmountable barriers, challenges or impossibilities like catching out regulators for their lack of enforceability of given laws. To her there was no problem that was unresolvable. It just took hard work, perseverance and persistence. Sylvia needs to be remembered as a trailblazer, a first mover in the European Union, especially in relation to topics that were complex and highly significant to long-term stability of the human race. She was a fierce advocate of data protection, and in the protection of children, and that new technologies should not encroach on an individual’s right to privacy. This editorial is devoted to the celebration of her academic work while she made a seminal contribution at the University of Southampton, throughout Europe and internationally. 

I provide here a list of highlights between 2009 and 2013 as they demonstrate the breadth of the research Prof. Kierkegaard was engaged in:
• Keynote speaker at the 16th Eurasia Summit on Information and Communication Technologies
• Invited lecture on the “Present State and Future Developments in EU Data Privacy and Protection and Info-Network Security” at Technion Israel Institute of Technology
• Recipient of an EU grant to conduct a visualization and privacy study in Israel
• Speaker and panellist at the Ankara Bar Congress
• Speaker and moderator at the Workshop on IPR, INPR Court in Bangkok
• Keynote speaker at the Digital Agenda Assembly of the European Commission Department of Information Society and Media and the European Parliament
• Chair at the EU Workshop on Cultural Heritage, Private Law and IPR from a global and EU-China Perspective
• Keynote speaker on Cybercrime Prevention organised by the Internet Fraud Association, Australian Police and International Association of Cybercrime Prevention in Sydney
• Keynote speaker on “Copyright, Patent, and Trademark” for the Perth Judiciary conference
• Summer School chairman: organized by the University of Vienna Economics, University of Gottingen, University of Hamburg, and Utrecht University
• Chairman for the Conference in Public law, Private law, Trade law in Cyprus
• Chair and workshop in Turkish Cyprus for the Supreme Court on Regulating Cyberspace
• Various lectures at Beijing Normal University, Communication University of China and Renmin University
• Keynote speaker, World Congress of Forensics, Chongqing China
• Workshop chairman for CASS for the China Supreme Court, for Hong Kong University of China, and the University of Macau
• Panel chairman for Challenges in Cybersecurity - Risks, Strategies, and Confidence-Building workshop organised by the Free University of Berlin, the University of Hamburg, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva and the Federal Foreign Office Berlin
• Conference chairman and speaker, Cyberconference, Netherlands Antilles
• Speaker at the International Information Marketing Association Conference, Texas, USA
• Speaker at the Famagusta Law Conference in Turkish Cyprus
• Chairman, Hans Bredow-Max Planck Workshop on IP Law: “Regulating IPR”, Hamburg, Germany
• Speaker, panellist, ESF Strategic Workshop on Cybersecurity, Budapest, Hungary
• China IP Summer School Program in X’ian, Nanjing and Shanghai
• Keynote speaker, Cybercrime Conference, Brazil for ILA
• Chairman, speaker, IPL Conference, Barcelona, Spain
• Keynote speaker, Social Networking Workshop, Finland
• Chairman, co-Reach Workshop on IPR and ISP Liability, London, UK
• Chairman, co-Reach Workshop on IPR and Collective Society, Database, and Jurisdiction, Vienna
• Keynote speaker, EU Medforist Project under the auspices of Princess Sumaya of Jordan
• Keynote speaker and moderator,Workshop on Digital Convergence and Cyberlaw, Malaysian Centre of Regulatory Studies, Malaysia

• Keynote speaker, 5th Media Economics and City Development Conference, CUC, Beijing. Participation by over 50 mayors of China

• Co-Reach Workshop, CASS, Beijing
• Keynote speaker, First International Workshop on Transborder Commercial Law, University of South Africa and Nedbank
• Welcome speech, 4th Legal Security Privacy Conference and 3rd International Law and Trade Conference, Malta
• Panel with Interpol, EU Data Protection Commissioner and Eurojust regarding privacy issues under the 3rd Pillar, Brussels, Belgium
• Keynote speaker, The Ankara Bar Congress in Turkey
• Keynote speaker, International Information Management Association
• Panellist, Council of Europe, International E-Participation and Local Democracy Symposium, London
• Keynote speaker and panellist, Council of Europe, Madrid, Spain
• Welcome speech, 3rd IBLT Conference, New York, USA
• Welcome speech, 3rd LSPI Conference, Prague, Czech Republic September
• Keynote speaker, EU- China Joint Workshop Organised by the EU Commission and the Chinese Ministry of Information and Industry, Beijing, China

During the same time she was zipping across Europe, the US, the Middle East, Australasia and the Americas, somehow Sylvia was able to produce about 150 publications in 7 years. For anyone in the law, business or humanities,this is double or even triple the number of high-end outputs of what a typical A+ academic could produce. 

It was obvious to anyone on listening to Prof. Kierkegaard deliver a keynote or presentation, that she was not only an expert in her craft, but she could convey difficult concepts simply. Her formula was thus:
1. provide current examples of the subject matter at hand
2. illustrate visually with tangible examples and with visual queues (e.g. clipart) where possible
3. explain the relevance of the material in everyday life to various stakeholders
4. come in with heavy duty descriptions of laws, acts, codes, and regulations
5. consider exemptions to the general rule
6. consider the US and also federal and state legislative differences
7. identify case law examples
8. contextualise for the relevant audience (e.g. Australian cases and laws for a predominantly Australian audience)
9. describe how the EU is leading the way with new directives and compare with other nations
10. talk technology and technological issues and impacts on society
11. bring all the various aspects together with specific line by line Article identification; and
12. offer a bigger picture view all the while pointing to future challenges.

Prof. Kierkegaard loved to simplify thick legal speak and skillfully break it down into consumable chunks for her audience. She is one of the few people I know that could confidently deliver 75 Powerpoint slides in 60 minutes without demanding too much of her audience. Needless to say, Sylvia was a grand master in delivery. She was always well prepared with the unique ability to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together to offer cutting edge insights for all who were willing to listen. One could imagine her in full swing as a jurist as many of those qualities shone through during her time in academe. 

Sylvia was special; there was no doubt about that. She broke all the gender, academic and ethnic stereotypes: woman, wife, mother, self-confessed born-again spirit-filled Christian, multi-disciplinary scholar, Filipino and powerhouse leader, organiser, editor, innovator. I have tried to reflect on what made Sylvia so exceptional. No doubt,migrants feel privileged, for the greater part do not take for granted what they have, cherish the simple things in life, and are not boxed by the boundaries imposed on them by others, often over-achieving as a result. But there was something more to Sylvia. It was not just her cultural roots, her dynamic spirit of engagement, her passion for her craft- Sylvia had a sense of purpose and believed her work could make a difference, and could somehow see what others could not, years in advance. She also believed in the potential of every person that entered her path. 

Prof. Kierkegaard had a flair for engaging everyone she came into contact with: whether they were high court judges, ministers of data protection, European Union or industry lawyers, conference delegates, colleagues, students at Southampton University or simply members’ of the public. She loved people and she loved sharing. Sylvia was always ready to give a talk and always had something to contribute to a discussion in her field. She was vibrant, self-assured, meticulous and extraordinarily encyclopaedic. At the same time, she was willing to see your point of view, provide critical feedback and consider positions that were in deference to hers. The truth was however, you could seldom match it with Prof. Kierkegaard, but rather than feeling somewhat diminished after correspondence or face-to-face question time, you walked away feeling strengthened and encouraged.

Sylvia always made you feel important,that you could conquer the world, achieve anything if you put your mind to it, and that commitment should be placed in international causes that were meaningful to citizenry. In short, she believed all life was precious. She was always seemingly in a hurry to get things done, bring as many stakeholders together around a table as possible, travel to places where decisions and actions could be taken, and think about future issues before they became problematic in society. For Sylvia, there was no time like the present, geographic expanse was not a constraint, and she seldom wasted time putting her ideas into action.

To her name are many edited books with leading specialists, conferences hosted or chaired by her together with accompanying peer-reviewed proceedings, and many articles. The books alone which I have listed here are work enough for the average person over a lifetime of research, let alone 7 years:
• Laws and Practice: Critical Analysis and Legal Reasoning (ed., 2013)
• Contemporary Private Law (ed., 2012)

• Law, Governance and World Order (ed., 2012)
• Copyright Law in the Making – Chinese and European Perspectives (ed. With Willem Grosheide, 2012)
• Law Across Nations: Governance, Policy and Statutes (ed., 2011)
• Private Law: Rights, Duties and Conflicts (ed., 2010)
• Legal Discourse in Cyberlaw and Trade (ed., 2009)
• The Dynamics of Trade, Law and Economics (ed., 2008)
• Synergies and Conflicts in Cyberlaw (ed., 2008)
• Business, Law and Technology, Present and Emerging Trends (ed., 2008)
• International Law and Trade, Bridging the East-West Divide (ed., 2007)
• Cyberlaw, Security and Privacy (ed., 2007)
• Business, Law and Technology, Present and Emerging Trends (ed., vol. 1, 2006)
• Business, Law and Technology, Present and Emerging Trends (ed., vol. 2, 2006)
• Legal Privacy and Security Issues in Information Technology (ed., vol. 1, 2006)
• Legal Privacy and Security Issues in Information Technology (ed., vol. 2, 2006)

One considers how Prof. Kierkegaard could have been such a prolific publisher. Of course there must’ve been some significant sacrifices, but one could deduce that when she was not engaged in the classroom, or with her family, or with her local Church activities, or sleeping, she must’ve been at full throttle researching almost all the time into the early hours of the morning.

Before too long, Prof. Kierkegaard unsurprisingly was in very high demand, and this in a pre-Twitter, pre-ResearchGate, pre-Google Scholar world, where academic news travelled slower, though she heavily embraced online communications for knowledge sharing. She travelled to so many parts of the world to deliver talks, to collaborate, on invited visiting appointments
(e.g. China), as a legal consultant, as a government advisor (e.g. EU), and as an expert commentator to the media. One was always at a stretch to figure out how she did it all simultaneously. One day she could be in Lisbon, the next in Perth, China, and a few days later back corresponding, researching or working on a paper. For Sylvia her work was inseparable from her life’s journey. She also felt it her duty to educate those who perhaps did not have access to necessary expertise in institutions worldwide. As a Professor named in the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research in the UK, she also reached out far and wide, supervising a PhD candidate at the Communications University of China, and as an adjunct professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University among others. Her involvement was significant in the China market. 

She was also a fellow at the UN African Center for Cyberlaw and Cybercrime Prevention, consultant for the Data Protection SDN, BHD Malaysia and a member of the Advisory Board for
the World Council for Law Firms and Justice. She truly was an international citizen, while also contributing greatly to her neighbouring institutions, among them the London School of Economics as a policy expert on their Media Policy Project and was a member of the Policy and Scientific Committee of the European Privacy Association.

Dr Mohamed Chawki, Dr Katina Michael and the late Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard in Sydney at the Cybercrime Prevention Conference in 2011

There was no doubt about the inner power and strength she possessed. She was a fast mover, always had new ideas, and was constantly thinking about the pressing issues in the field that needed to be addressed. She told me once in person while we attended the Cybercrime Prevention Conference hosted by the Internet Fraud Association in 2011, “The secret to a long and illustrious career is to tackle the topics before anyone else does. Think on the pressing matters that need to be urgently addressed today, and don’t hesitate in seeking solutions. Most people steer away from controversy in research, but I tackle it head on. Someone has to do it.” She also advised me on my career progression: “Katina, choose topics that are little  researched, and that few hesitate to consider the implications of, in that way you can make a bigger contribution in a short time-frame. So long as your interests align, and you are passionate about your subject matter.” I remember that conference well, as I was still breastfeeding. My husband encouraged me to leave all three kids with him, drive to Sydney, and to meet Sylvia in person. I was not disappointed. The person I had been corresponding with for several years was real. I cherish those few hours we had together during a lunch break and her keynote. We spoke more about faith and motherhood than academia. She was more than an academic - she was a whole person, with a multiplicity of roles. This is what made Sylvia so magnetic. 

For Prof. Kierkegaard, researching the law was a calling, there was something sacred about her mission. And she was right at home whether on a panel with the top EU representatives, as a keynote at a conference, or talking to every day mothers and fathers, or communicating with minors. In fact, when I think of Sylvia, I remember a dynamic woman whom I could not keep up with. She was always speaking somewhere, always writing books, always editing journals, always acting on a committee for reviewing papers, and always engaging. I do not ever recall her saying ‘no’. She never tired of the correspondence; despite I imagine her email trove was significant. You always were made to feel special. Sylvia was instructive also and always shared her own papers unreservedly. She even sent me her  powerpoint presentation files, relevant to my own work. She mentored continuously. 

I came across Prof. Kierkegaard’s research at the beginning of 2009 when I was completing my major project on DNA and the Prüm Treaty while studying towards a Masters of Transnational Crime Prevention in the law faculty at the University of Wollongong. By then Sylvia had a well-established academic teaching and research portfolio and was near the pinnacle of her career. Sylvia sent me half a dozen papers, and helped me clarify my research topic so that it could offer some original contribution. Her support during this time was crucial to me. She was such an inspiration for working mothers who were trying to raise a family, and somehow juggle an academic career. In this regard, Sylvia would say that the little children should always come first, and refer to the special responsibility that working mothers had to the health of their  households. When I told her I was pregnant with my third child, she eradicated the doubts in my mind that “I could not continue to do it all.” In 2011, a year after I had given birth to my third child, Sylvia could see the enormous pressure I was under. She gave me the words of encouragement I needed, reassured me that all would be well. She was also very proud of her own children and their achievements and was just elated when her daughter Margaux became pregnant in 2013. She could not wait to become a grandmother, to spend time with her grandchild. She would also mention her beloved husband to me often, of being a godly man who encouraged her onward daily. 

Many of us would have suspected that something was wrong when our emails remained unanswered. Sylvia was known to reply to messages within at most a few days. She would never leave you hanging. Somehow she always made you feel important despite the humungous workload she always engaged in. At most if a few weeks had passed by, you would get an email with longer guidance than you expected and then somehow additional helpful thoughts given a recent visit Sylvia had completed or an important  discussion she had with an influential notable. On one occasion in 2013, Sylvia had told me she was not feeling well but did not make it sound at all too serious, rather that investigations had begun to find out what was wrong. She asked me to pray for her and said for a short time she would try cutting back on her commitments. It was the last time we had contact. 

It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of one of the most brilliant people I have personally known in my career. Sylvia was 62 years old. And she had so much more to do. 

I consider Sylvia would have heavily contributed to necessary changes that she long foresaw, such as the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and passing of data breach notification laws. How she would have reacted today to the constant stream of business news such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, the role of social media in Brexit (and more), to IOT-invasive tech like Wi-Fi enabled toys for kids, to smartphone tracking and telecommunications metadata laws, autonomous systems like driverless cars, and the impact of artificial intelligence in the field of law. She would have particularly had much to say on the mega data breaches of Target, Equifax, and online platforms like eBay. Suffice to say, Sylvia would have had more than an opinion, but she was among the first to begin the discussion more than fifteen years before its actuation. Prof. Kierkegaard was a major supporter of the Computer Security Law Review journal begun by editor in chief Steve Saxby, an exceptional pioneer in his own right. Together, Steve and Sylvia were able to draw a global community of specialists to cultivate a nuanced socio-legal response to technological innovation. Unsurprisingly, after many years of effort, CLSR has become the number 1 outlet for such discussions and is truly multidisciplinary bringing together scholars and practitioners from diverse fields. Sylvia’s professional service to the community also extended to several other publications for which she had primary involvement (see http://www.iaitl.org/): 

• Editor in Chief, Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology
• Editor in Chief, International Journal of Private Law
• Editor in Chief, International Journal of Public Law and Policy
• President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of IT Lawyers (IAITL)

 

Sylvia was an authentic leader. She gave of her time, and people around her reciprocated with supporting her common vision. There are many examples of Sylvia’s mentorship, but if I named them here explicitly, I know that she would chastise me for disclosing things that, in her eyes, one did because they were “being human”. She shared in her successes, and lifted those people up around her. She was selfish when it came to carrying the load, and unselfish when it came to sharing the ‘glory’ with others. A model academic in my eyes, I am honoured to have called her my friend, albeit in the last 6 years of her life. I am sure that stories post this publication will surface, of examples of goodness, altruism, goodwill. Great people never die, they live on in our memories. And perhaps of all things, these are the achievements that matter. On our tombstone, the number of publications are not recorded, nor are the titles of “Professor” or “Chairman” or “Keynote Speaker”. We leave with just our name, our age, and the active reputation that precedes us in the number of years we had the opportunity to make a difference in this world we live in. Prof. Sylvia Kierkegaard, could say, on reflection, she did all she could in the time she had- she lived life to the max. She would likely tell us now, it is our turn to pick up where she left off, and continue on the fulfilment of her greater vision of  research on the implications of technology on the law. 

Above all, Sylvia valued relationships and people: her family and friends, colleagues and students. She was overjoyed by the effort of her own children in academia, Margaux in International Development and Management, Mikael an engineer specialising in innovation in industry, and Patrick a health informatics scholar. Sylvia, especially mentioned many times, Patrick’s contribution and co-authoring efforts in  joint work. Among my favourite papers that demonstrated Sylvia’s flair was one of her final publications printed in CLSR published in 2013 with son Patrick, titled: “Danger to public health: Medical devices, toxicity, virus and fraud”. Here she bravely took on some big names in industry holding them accountable to appropriate biomedical regulatory practices. 

Sylvia was larger than life, a force to be reckoned with, in the field of transnational law and the need for laws in the protection of people to assist in reducing the negative social implications
of technology. Sylvia’s voice was unique, and it will echo reverberations in decades to come. Such was the currency of her work. May you rest in peace Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard. Thank
you for your passion and dedication to the field, and for igniting so many of us to follow in your footsteps. Thank you for being kind, and for loving others as you did. You have been missed greatly already but not forgotten. May your memory be eternal.

Professor Katina Michael
Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, University
of Wollongong, NSW, Australia 2522
katina@uow.edu.au
http://www.katinamichael.com

 

Note from Steve Saxby, Editor-in-Chief, CLSR

I would like to thank Sylvia’s family for giving their permission to publish this ‘Editorial: In Memoriam’. Thank you also to Katina, for her heartfelt tribute and analysis of the outstanding
life and career of Sylvia. She first made contact with me in 2005 when she began to publish incisive pieces in CLSR. I quickly established a friendship with her and she joined the ‘Correspondents Panel’ of what was then Computer Law and Security Report. Little did I know what a meteoric decision that was going to be both for me and for the journal. Sylvia began discussing the idea of an annual conference that would explore legal, security and privacy Issues in IT and subsequently private law, public law and the intersection between
economics and law. She thought it would be a great idea to link the IT law related events to CLSR, which would become publisher of the best papers and issue prizes for these.

As Katina has explained, we began in 2006 in Copenhagen and 12 conferences later concluded the series in Lisbon when Sylvia’s health began to fail. These conferences, as those who have taken part will recall, had a unique character and their success was entirely down to Sylvia and her family’s personal commitment to organising these events. No University could possibly have taken on the organisation and financial risk that was involved. Sylvia was simply unique and utterly committed. A very loyal group of participants developed and we all looked forward to the next conference waiting for Sylvia to tell us where it would be. What impressed me was the fact that the book of conference papers was always printed and ready for distribution upon registration. More journals emerged too from these conferences, all guided by Sylvia’s  expertise and abundant energy.

But it did not end there. After 20 or more years as founder and editor of CLSR, I had been successful of course in building it up, but looking back I can see that I had become  comfortable with the routine and where the journal had reached. I needed to understand that so much more could be achieved. Sylvia ignited me to look further and come up with a plan. In Vol. 25.1 of the January 2009 edition my Editorial ‘Ringing the changes – A quarter century of CLSR’ announced what had been happening – a “full scale review of the journal, its image, content and position in the field”.

That is why, as we celebrate 200 issues of CLSR and see just how successful the implementation of that vision has been, it is only right and proper to honour Sylvia in this way. I must have had more than 3000 emails from her over the 10 years of our collaboration. Numerous phone calls too. She did not hold back when she thought something needed to be done and I can still hear her voice encouraging me to get on with it. The results of her input live on in the memory and in the wide range of contributions she has made to the subject and
support for all those who knew her. This has been so well set out too by Katina. Thank you so much Sylvia. We had a great time.

Steve Saxby
s.j.saxby@soton.ac.uk

Citation: Katina Michael, 2018, Editorial: "In Memoriam: Sylvia Mercado Kierkegaard (1953-2015)", Computer Law & Security Review, 34, pp. 671–676.

Socioethical Approaches to Robotics Development

Source: http://echord.eu/exotrainer/

Source: http://echord.eu/exotrainer/

This special section of IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine (RAM) is a collaborative effort with IEEE Technology and Society Magazine (T&S) (the March 2018 issue). This means that members of each Society will gain electronic access to one another’s publications for this issue only. Please take the time to explore international author findings from each of the magazines and compare outcomes. While the RAM special section focuses on socioethical approaches to robotics development, t h e T&S special issue discusses more general robots and social implications. T&S, guest edited by Katina Michael, Diana Bowman, Meg Leta Jones, and Ramona Pringle, takes a broader view of the definition of robots, encapsulating a variety of systems, including anthropomorphized and industrial robots, drones, driverless cars, smart Internet-of-Things hub devices, and software bots.

Focus of the Joint Special

The aim of this joint special was to bring together diversity of thought in robotics from a variety of disciplines, and this has been achieved with specialists from anthropology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, and law working alongside mechanical, mechatronic, electrical, computer, and software engineers. The skill set in both specials is impressive in breadth and capacity for interdisciplinarity. These are the kinds of collaborations that need to be encouraged by government grant bodies, technical institutions, and corporations alike. It will not be long before internal review boards and ethics committees demand the role of an ethicist or sociologist in submitted project applications.

Public participation in the robotics development process is also vital but a much harder proposition to achieve before diffusion. At best, perceptions of consumers or employees can be harnessed at the proof of concept or trialability stages, but these are only representative. Unfortunately, the patent process is not inclusive of socioethical dilemmas [1]. A product or process is usually awarded a patent based on its inventiveness, without a pursuant discussion on the possible socioethical implications at the time the patent is filed [2].

The results of the joint special collectively indicate that there is, unsurprisingly, a major interest in the social and ethical dimensions of robotics development and application, but few studies published in the public domain that have incorporated socioethics. Historically, there are even fewer studies that we can point to that link social and ethical issues with intelligent machines [3] or robots, but for the greater part, the link of socioethics is embedded into the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) framework and applied to biologically related innovation (e.g., human genome) [4]. More recently, responsible research and innovation have been applied by researchers in the space of emerging technologies [5] to emphasize corporate social responsibility. And there is a growing number of philosophers who now study ethics and robotics [6].

We seem to be able to theorize on the possibilities through various forms of scenario planning, but very little empirical work to support the possibilities is conducted on prototypes or realworld operational robots. We envisage the domain of socioethics to boom in the coming years as we come to grips with new standards, policies, and laws related to the field of robotics at large. This is to take seriously the understanding that ethics is not devoid of societal context and different markets have relative values that are influenced by culture. Disparate social groups within the same society may also prioritize their actions based on their values in differing ways, and this may lead to conflicting worldviews. How do we innovate mindfully, given that the existence of a robot in a specific process has far-reaching impacts beyond the user? And can we imbue robots with ethics [7]?

Search the IEEE for the term socioethical or derivatives thereof, and you will not find much in terms of published research. In the field of engineering and information and communications technology, one is more likely to come across references to sociotechnical (systems) or socioeconomic (impacts) or sociocultural (implications) or sociolegal (cases) or simply broader ethical issues in the domain of study. Search more specifically for evidence that ethics has been considered in the end-to-end design lifecycle of a new process or product, and you will find even less proof that these practices exist.

This does not mean that socioethical issues are not being adequately addressed in robotics, but we are more preoccupied with the tensions between conception, deployment, first-mover advantage, and feedback loops than embedded ethics from the outset. Whether this has to do with more agile development approaches or trade secrets that won’t relinquish industry practices, this special is a call to raise awareness of the importance of socioethics as an integral part of any problem definition or feasibility study right through to operation and maintenance road maps of emerging technologies. Yet, evident even in the contributions of this special section, engineers of all types are mixed in their attitudes toward the effectiveness of the application of ethical frameworks, with some believing they are relevant at the beginning of a development lifecycle, and others arguing you cannot prejudge ethics. The following brief section introduces how the IEEE Standards Association is contributing to ethical considerations, an initiative led by the chair, Raja Chatila, with hundreds of contributions from all over the world, academicians and industry specialists from large and small boutique companies, and government and nongovernment participation.

Ethical Considerations of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems

Source: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2014-01/11/content_31152067.htm

Source: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2014-01/11/content_31152067.htm

The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (A/IS) was launched in April of 2016 to move beyond the paranoia and the uncritical admiration regarding autonomous and intelligent technologies and illustrate that aligning technology development and use with ethical values will help advance innovation while diminishing fear in the process [8].

The goal of the IEEE Global Initiative is to incorporate ethical aspects of human well-being that may not be automatically considered in the current design and manufacture of A/IS technologies and reframe the notion of success so human progress can include the intentional prioritization of individual, community, and societal ethical values. The mission of the IEEE Global Initiative is to ensure that every stakeholder involved in the design and development of A/IS is educated, trained, and empowered to prioritize ethical considerations so that these technologies are advanced for the benefit of humanity.

The IEEE Global Initiative has two primary outputs, the creation and iteration of a body of work known as Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-Being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems [9] and the identification and recommendation of ideas for standards projects focused on prioritizing ethical considerations in A/IS. Currently, there are 11 approved standards working groups in the IEEE P7000 series.

A key distinction we also always make in our work is to point out that ethical considerations in and of themselves are not new for engineers, academics, and programmers. Codes of ethics have guided these professions for decades and provide seminal principles regarding safety and compliance that have provided, and still provide, critical guidance for technology design and production. Our goal is to provide an additional set of principles and standards to help any technologists not used to dealing with the new aspects of how A/IS can affect human agency and emotion. Like any new technology, A/IS simply brings new issues to deal with, and, in the case of systems or products directly interacting with humans, applied ethics or values-driven design are methodologies that help technologists evolve their ethical paradigm to address the algorithmic age.

Overview of Accepted Articles in the Special Section

Three articles were accepted for inclusion in the special section. The first article, by Amigoni and Schiaffonati, presents an ethical framework for experimental technologies with respect to robotics. The article takes the ethical framework proposed by van de Poel for experimental technologies and applies it to the case of robotics. Amigoni and Schiaffonati critically and somewhat controversially argue that explorative experiments can be conducted in robotics given the absence of proper theoretical backgrounds. The authors claim that we can only address ethical issues on the impacts of robots in society through real-world deployments. They utilize two examples in the domain of search and rescue, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge and the Fukushima Nuclear Emergency, to make their case.

The second article, by Villani et al., focuses on industrial robots to simplify work-related operational processes. The article highlights the benefits of measure, adapt, and teach (MATE) robots in care and service roles and provides an excellent discussion on observed socioethical implications. The ELSI framework and roboethics have been integrated more broadly into the development process of MATE robots used in the workplace. The authors state that technical requirements are not solely driven by the use cases but by other design recommendations stemming from the analysis of implications on ethics and social and legal issues related to the use of adaptive human–machine systems (i.e., MATE).

The third article, by Borenstein et al., uses a survey methodology to report on parental perspectives on the overtrust of pediatric health-care robots, specifically exoskeletons. This article is concerned with socioethical issues surrounding postdeployment of robotics in the personal health-care domain. A key finding in the study was that over 62% of respondents indicated they would typically or completely trust their child to handle risky situations with an exoskeleton.

While the guest editors decided to accept only three articles, these are indicative of various perspectives in theoretical or applied foundations (e.g., explorative experiments versus roboethics and ELSI and aspects of trust and risk), in context (e.g., search and rescue with respect to defense and emergency services versus industrial robots versus personal health-care robots), and end users (citizens, employees, patients, and consumers). 

References

1.  K. Michael, "Can good standards propel unethical technologies?", IEEE Technol. Soc. Mag., vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 6-9, 2016. 

2. What is a patent?, 2017, [online] Available: http://www.wipo.int/patents/en.

3. M. A. Boden, "Social implications of intelligent machines", Proc. 1978 Annu. Conf. (ACM ’78), pp. 746-752, 1978.

4. "The ELSI research program", 2017, [online] Available: https://www.genome.gov/10001618/the-elsi-research-program/.

5. N. McBride, B. Stahl, "Developing responsible research and innovation for robotics", Proc. IEEE Int. Symp. Ethics in Science Technology and Engineering, pp. 1-10, 2014.
View Article Full Text: PDF    (220KB)

6. R. Capurro, M. Nagenborg, Ethics and Robotics, Heidelberg, Germany:AKA G.m.b.H., 2009.

7. K. Miller, "Can we program ethics into AI?", IEEE Technol. Soc. Mag., vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 29-30, 2017.

8. "Ethically aligned design version 1 for public discussion", IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems., Dec. 2016, [online] Available: http://standards.ieee.org/develop/indconn/ec/ead_v1.pdf.

9. "Ethically aligned design version 2 for public discussion", IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, Dec. 2017, [online] Available: http://standards.ieee.org/develop/indconn/ec/ead_v2.pdf.

Keywords: Robots, Autonomous robots, Ethics, Social implications of technology, Bot (Internet)

Citation: Noel Sharkey, Aimee van Wynsberghe, John C. Havens, Katina Michael, IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, Vol: 25, No. 1, March 2018, pp. 26-28, DOI: 10.1109/MRA.2017.2787225.