Not So Fast (book review)

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Not So Fast: Thinking Twice about Technology. By Doug Hill. Univ. of Georgia Press, Oct. 15, 2016, 240 pp.

In 2014, I had the good fortune of meeting Doug Hill in the flesh at the first IEEE Conference on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (http://21stcenturywiener.org/). It was one of the highlights of the conference for me. I was attracted to Doug because of his outward simplicity but at the same time deep inner profundity. It did not take long for us to get talking of our mutual interests. For instance, we've both been influenced greatly by the French philosopher, sociologist and lay theologian Jacques Ellul [1], popularly known for The Technological Society (1964) [2], [3]. Hill is an investigative journalist by training, an award winning writer [4], with a specialization on the philosophy of technology.

In Not So Fast, Hill wastes no time in getting his point across. Chapter 1 opens: “Let me begin by stating the obvious: We live in an era of technological enthusiasm.” In his book, Hill attempts the impossible and pulls it off. He hits us with the hard facts, one after the other. And we can either take his word for it, or refute him page after page, until we realize, that the evidence is overwhelmingly stacked against us. In effect, Hill tells us “where we are at” with all this techno-deluge, even if we don't wish to admit it. He makes a point of highlighting the technological utopianism we have begun to believe and dream about, only to bring us down crashing the very next moment with the startling realities.

“Lively, fast moving, always entertaining,’Not So Fas’ offers a grand overview of the extravagant hopes and dire warnings that accompany the arrival of powerful new technologies. Blending the key ideas of classic and contemporary thinkers, Doug Hill explores the aspirations of those who strive for the heavens of artifice and those who find the whole enterprise a fool’s errand. This is the most engaging, readable work on the great debates in technology criticism now available and a solid contribution to that crucial yet unsettling tradition.”

—Langdon Winner, author of Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought; Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The book contains quotes from people we all look up to in the tech and business world, representing thousands of hours of research to craftily support the central thesis: “not so fast.” Hill proclaims in no uncertain words, that we have lost control over the very creations we have built to make life better for us. Somewhere along the way we have become emotionally attached to our technologies; rather than being extensions of us, it seems we have become extensions of them.

But for Hill. it's not all about the bling, and high-tech gadgetry. For Hill, it is more than being enslaved into a life of upgrades, although he does question the practices of Silicon Valley - the preoccupation of building the ultimate immortal man who can live forever through AI and some sort of fantastical Singularity [5], [6]. Hill doesn't just stop there. He looks for the underlying causes to why our climate has changed so detrimentally, the very processes that didn't begin with the introduction of smartphones or social media, but of events from hundreds of years ago. Indirectly, Hill entices the reader to scratch beneath the surface and think about the “how” and “why.”

In a somewhat prophetic voice, Hill arrives at the conclusion that if we are going to reverse things that we might as well begin now. What he's really talking about is the mystery of technology. Hill doesn't shun its value but he declares that we have to put it in its place, before it puts us in a place of no return. His is a voice of one crying in the wilderness, but he is not alone. The reader, no sooner reads a few more of Hill's chapters, and finds herself admitting what she's always known: “Technology doesn't always mean progress. In fact, sometimes it has some very ugly intended and unintended consequences.” In short, we gotta be alert and awake. But even more than that!

Hill digs deep and unravels the inherent qualities of technology, and proceeds to make us aware of the happenings around us [7]. Readers will be all the more enlightened to learn about some of Hill's conclusions, through practical examples in everyday life:

  1. The technological imperative. “Our entire way of life - the social fabric in which we live - is utterly, completely dependent on technology,” says Hill. “To free ourselves of that dependence would be so disruptive that economic and social chaos would result.”

  2. Technological momentum. “There's a simpler reason technologies become intractable: it's too hard to change them. We're stuck with the infrastructure we have,” Hill says. “For example, it's not easy to replace a city's sewer system from scratch.”

  3. Convergence and diffusion. “Technologies are communicable; they spread like viruses. They converge with other technologies and diffuse into unexpected areas,” says Hill. “Bronze casting methods first used to make church bells were soon used to make canons, for example. Today automation techniques - robots - are diffusing daily into ever-more industries and applications, from assembly of everything from cars and smartphones to the handling of banking transactions.”

  4. Speed. “Regulation is slow; technologies are fast,” says Hill. “So it is that governments are frequently unable to effectively control technological development. Hundreds of companies today are feverishly working to exploit the commercial potential of nanotechnology and synthetic biology, for example, despite the fact that no one is certain either technology is safe.”

 

“This is the technology criticism I’ve been waiting for - aware of the history of technology criticism and the history of changing attitudes toward technology, and at the same time attuned to contemporary developments. Not So Fast is readable, meticulously sourced, and, above all - nuanced. I recommend it for technology critics and enthusiasts alike.”

—Howard Rheingold, Internet pioneer and author of Tools for Thought, The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs, and “Net Smart”

In his conclusion, Hill isn't very optimistic about where we are at and he certainly doesn't give us any tangible or pragmatic ways to combat the predicament that society finds itself in. And yet, perhaps that has left the door open to a sequel, possibly about a resurgence in technology assessment, about the importance of resistance, and breaking with the belief that technology can do no evil.

Is the path we are on, really that irreversible? Are we headed down a road of inevitabilities, locked-in on auto-pilot? Or are there strategies we might be able to employ right now, as interlinked local communities that make up a collective global consciousness? We have the power, are we willing participants? How much do we care about the future to get involved?

Hill warns: “There's more to turning off machines than hitting a switch… We are deeply, intimately tied to our technologies, in all sorts of practical and emotional ways. To give them up would be literally life-threatening. That's why many experts believe our technologies have become'autonomous.’”

I give this book 5 stars not only because it is masterfully written - the reader feels like they have known Hill for years, a faint voice in the back of their head reaffirming truisms - but because it reveals socio-technical patterns and trends happening all round us. Hill also makes observations about things that others would at best say to leave alone.

“Doug Hill’s insights into technology are both original and profound. I’ve travelled in the highest reaches of the tech world for more than twenty years, and I still learned much from this book. He will be recognized as a leading thinker on technology and its impact on our world. In an industry that too seldom stops to think through the implications of the products we produce, his is a voice we need to hear.”

—Allen Noren, vice president of online, O’Reilly Media

It's time for those brave conversations, about technology in our homes and our schools, about technology in our industrial and military sectors, about what we should be pooling our resources into to ensure environmental sustainability, and about what should be better left alone. Whether hype or hope, we've embraced a pseudo-truth, that our human salvation will come from technology, abandoning myths 2000 years old.

And while Hill does not make reference to this specifically, I think we are unashamedly worshipping at the foot of technology, believing this will be our ultimate destiny, our chance to live forever on earth. And yet, our sensibilities should tell us that eternal life on earth, would be not unlike living in an endless loop, and as spiritual beings, get us nowhere. I return back to those fundamental human principles, are we bettering ourselves, our nature, because we are surrounded by so much technology, or are we just becoming less able to discern the good from the bad, the useful from the useless. And who or what is behind that wheel driving us to our destinies? It's time to get back in control.

Citation: Katina Michael, 2017, Book Review on Doug Hill's "Not So Fast", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 36(2), pp. 24-26.

Socio-Ethical Implications of Implantable Technologies in the Military Sector

Abstract:

The military sector has been investing in nanotechnology solutions since their inception. Internal assessment committees in defense programmatically determine to what degree complex technologies will be diffused into the Armed Forces. The broad term nanotechnology is used in this Special Issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine to encompass a variety of innovations, from special paint markers that can determine unique identity, to RFID implants in humans. With the purported demand for these new materials, we have seen the development of a fabrication process that has catapulted a suite of advanced technologies in the military marketplace. These technologies were once the stuff of science fiction. Now we have everything from exoskeletons, to wearable headsets with accelerated night vision, to armaments that have increased in durability in rugged conditions along with the ability for central command without human intervention. Is this the emergence of the so-called supersoldier, a type of Iron Man?

Nanotechnology in the Military Sector

The military sector has been investing in nanotechnology solutions since their inception. Internal assessment committees in defense programmatically determine to what degree complex technologies will be diffused into the Armed Forces. The broad term nanotechnology is used in this Special Issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine to encompass a variety of innovations, from special paint markers that can determine unique Identity, to RFID implants in humans. With the purported demand for these new materials, we have seen the development of a fabrication process that has catapulted a suite of advanced technologies in the military marketplace. These technologies were once the stuff of science fiction. Now we have everything from exoskeletons, to wearable headsets with accelerated night vision, to armaments that have increased in durability in rugged conditions along with the ability for central command without human intervention. Is this the emergence of the so-called super-soldier, a type of Iron Man?

Social Implications: Key Questions

This special issue is predominantly based on proceedings coming from the 9th Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security, co-convened by the authors of this guest editorial. The workshop focused specifically on human-centric implantable technologies in the military sector. Key questions the workshop sought to address with respect to implants included:

  • What are the social implications of new proposed security technologies?
  • What are the rights of soldiers who are contracted to the defense forces in relation to the adoption of the new technologies?
  • Does local military law override rights provided under the rule of law in a given jurisdiction, and 1 what are the legal implications?
  • What might be some of the side effects experienced by personnel in using nanotechnology devices that have not yet been tested under conditions of war and conflict?
  • How pervasive are nanotechnologies and microelectronics (e.g., implantable technologies) in society at large?


Recommended Reading

More broadly the workshop sought to examine socio-ethical implications with respect to citizenry, the social contract formed with the individual soldier, and other stakeholders such as industry suppliers to government, government agencies, and the Armed Forces [1].

  • F. Allhoff, P. Lin, D. Moore, What is Nanotechnology and why does it matter? From Science to Ethics, West Sussex, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • S.J. Florczyk and S. Saha, “Ethical issues in nanotechnology,” J. Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 107-113,2007.
  • A. Krishnan, Military Neuroscience and the Coming of Neurowarfare, London, Routledge, 2017.
  • K. Michael, “Socio-ethical Implications of the Bionic Era”, Academy of Science in Australia, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOOgep8ery8, Shine Dome, Canberra, 25/05/17.
  • R.A. Miranda, W.D. Casebeer, A.M. Hein, J.W. Judy, E.P. Krotkov, T.L. Laabs, J.E. Manzo, K.G. Pankratz, G.A. Pratt, J.C. Sanchez, D.J. Weber, T.L. Wheeler, G.S.F. Ling, “DARPA-funded efforts in the development of novel brain-computer interface technologies,” Journal of Neuroscience Methods, vol. 244, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165027014002702, 2015.
  • M. Murphy, “The US Military Is Developing Brain Implants to Boost Memory and Heal PTSD,” Defense One, 2015; http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/11/us-military-developing-brain-implants-boost-memory-and-heal-ptsd/123784/, 17/11/15.
  • M. Orcutt, “DARPA's New Neural Implant Has a Sneaky Way of Getting Inside Heads,” M.I.T. Tech. Rev., 2016; https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600761/darpas-new-neural-implant-has-a-sneaky-way-of-getting-inside-heads/, 09/02/16.
  • D. Ratner, M. Ratner, New Weapons for New Wars: Nanotechnology and Homeland Security, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 2004.
  • P.S. Saha and S. Saha, “Clinical trials of medical devices and implants: Ethical concerns,” IEEE Eng. Med. & Biol. Mag., vol. 7, pp. 86–87, 1988.
  • S. Saha and P. Saha, “Biomedical ethics and the biomedical engineer: A review,” Critical Reviews in Biomedical Eng., vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 163–201, 1988.
  • P. Tucker, “The Military Is Building Brain Chips to Treat PTSD,” The Atlantic, 2014; http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/the-military-is-building-brain-chips-to-treat-ptsd/371855/, 29/05/2014.

DARPA's RAM Project

In 2012, the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) confirmed plans to create nanosensors to monitor the health of soldiers on battlefields [2]. In 2014, ExtremeTech [3] reported on a 2013 DARPA project titled the “Restoring Active Memory (RAM) Project.” Ultimately the aim of RAM was:

“to develop a prototype implantable neural device that enables recovery of memory in a human clinical population. Additionally, the program encompasses the development of quantitative models of complex, hierarchical memories and exploration of neurobiological and behavioral distinctions between memory function using the implantable device versus natural learning and training” [4].

Several months later, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) published on their web site an article on how DARPA was developing wireless implantable brain prostheses for service members and veterans who had suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) memory loss [5]. Quoting here from the article:

“Called neuroprotheses, the implant would help declarative memory, which consciously recalls basic knowledge such as events, times and places…”
“these neuroprosthetics will be designed to bridge the gaps in the injured brain to help restore that memory function… Our vision is to develop neuroprosthetics for memory recovery in patients living with brain injury and dysfunction.”
“The neuroprosthetics developed and tested over the next four years would be as a wireless, fully implantable neural-interface medical device for human clinical use.”

The U.S. DOD also noted that traumatic brain injury has affected about 270 000 U.S. service members since 2000, and another 1.7 million civilians. The DOD said that they would begin to focus their attention on service members first [6]. Essentially the program is meant to help military personnel with psychiatric disorders, using electronic devices implanted in the brain. Treated disorders range from depression, to anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder [7]. The bulk of the15 million) and the University of Pennsylvania ($22.5 million), in collaboration with the Minneapolis-based biomedical device company Medtronic [8].

More Information

Visual proceedings of the 9th Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security, including powerpoint presentations, are available [9]. The workshop was held during the 2016 IEEE Norbert Wiener Conference, at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Several DARPA-funded neurologists from the Vascular Bionics Laboratory at the University of Melbourne were invited to present at the workshop, including a team led by Thomas Oxley, M.D. [10]. (Oxley did not personally appear as he was in the U.S. on a training course related to intensive neurosurgical training.)

The military implantable technologies field at large is fraught with bioethical implications. Many of these issues were raised at the Workshop, and remain unanswered. If there is going to be a significant investment in advancing new technologies for soldiers suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the military, there needs to be commensurate funding invested to address unforeseen challenges. In fact, it is still unclear whether U.S. service members must accept participation in experimental brain research if asked, or if they can decline in place of other nonintrusive medical help.

References

1. K. Michael, "Mental Health Implantables and Side Effects", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 5-17.

2. B. Unruh, "U.S. Military Developing Spychips for Soldiers", WND, [online] Available: http://www.wnd.com/2012/05/u-s-military-developing-spychlps-for-soldiers/.

3. S. Anthony, "US military begins work on brain implants that can restore lost memories experiences", ExtremeTech, [online] Available: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/176337-us-military-begins-work-on-brain-implants-that-can-restore-Iost-memories-experience.

4. "Restoring Active Memory (RAM)", [online] Available: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=925a0e2faf1c2e3c3782e1788fcc660d&tab=core&_cview=0.

5. T. M. Cronk, DARPA Developing Implants to Help with TBI Memory Loss, US Department of Defense.

6. T. M. Cronk, DARPA Developing Implants to Help with TBI Memory Loss, US Department of Defense.

7. John Hamilton, "Military Plans To Test Brain Implants To Fight Mental Disorders", Npr.org, [online] Available: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/05/27/316129491/military-plans-to-test-brain-implants-to-fight-mental-disorders.

8. Tanya Lewis, "US Military Developing Brain Implants to Restore Memory", LiveScience, [online] Available: http://www.livescience.com/46710-military-memory-brain-implants.html.

9. K. Michael, M.G. Michael, J.C. Galliot, R. Nicholls, "The Socio-Ethical Implications of Implantable Technologies in the Military Sector", The Ninth Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security (SINS16).

 10. "Minimally Invasive “Stentrode” Shows Potential as Neural Interface for Brain: Implantable device repurposes stent technology to enable direct recording from neurons", Darpa.mil, [online] Available: http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-02-08.

 

Citation: Katina Michael, M.G. Michael, Jai C. Galliot, Rob Nicholls, "Socio-Ethical Implications of Implantable Technologies in the Military Sector", 15 March 2017, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 7-9, 10.1109/MTS.2017.2670219.

IEEE Keywords: Special issues and sections, Military communication, Military technology, Implantable biomedical devices, Nanotechnology

INSPEC: ethical aspects, nanofabrication, night vision, radiofrequency identification, social sciences, implantable technologies socio-ethical implication, military sector, nanotechnology, internal assessment committee, RFID implant, fabrication process, military marketplace, night vision,durability, super-soldier

Gone Fishing

 Figure 1. Packing for a full month away. Everything but the kitchen sink.

Figure 1. Packing for a full month away. Everything but the kitchen sink.

On the 9th of December in 2015, I set out for a camping trip with my three young children to the Sapphire Coast of Australia, toward the New South Wales and Victorian border (Figure 1). The last time I had driven through this stunning part of the world, was when my parents decided to take their four children across country in a Ford Cortina station wagon to visit their first cousins on apricot and citrus farms in South Australia.

I turned eight years of age over that summer, and the memories of that trip are etched into our hearts. We've laughed countless times over events on that holiday, all of which were borne from a “lack of access” to technology, resulting in “close-ess” and “togetherness.” Loxton, South Australia, only had two television channels back then-the ABC news, and 5A which showed endless games and replays of cricket. While we grew to love cricket — we had no choice - we welcomed every opportunity to physically help our cousins gather fruit using nothing but ladders and our bare hands.

It was the festive season, and I remember lots and lots of family gatherings, parties, and outdoor lamb-spit barbecues. We gathered to eat, and dance, and our elders reminisced over what life was like in the village in Greece, and tell us funny stories about growing up with hardly any material possessions. Highlights included: when a photographer visited the village once every other year to take pictures with his humungous boxed contraption, which he would hide behind; the memory of the first time a car was spotted trying to come into the village; walking to school one hour away with shoes made out of goat skin (if not barefoot); and the harsh unheated winters and boiling hot summers over scenic Sparta.

It was a kind of celebration of life when I think back. It was so carefree, clean and pure, and joyous! Everyone lived in the moment. No one took pictures of their food to post to Instagram, no one had their head buried in front of a screen watching YouTube on demand, and we were outside in the fresh air awestruck by the beauty of the glistening stars that shone so bright in the night sky (and getting bitten by mosquitos while doing so). It was a kind of SnapChat without the “Snap.” On that trip I gained an appreciation for the land, and its importance in sustaining us as human beings.

As I reflect on that time, we travelled through remote parts of Australia with nothing but ourselves. We were too poor to stay at hotels, so dad ingeniously turned our station-wagon into a caravan, or so it seemed to us when the back seat folded forward and the travelling bags were placed on the roof rack secured with a blue tarpaulin.

 Figure 2. The great Australian outdoor toilet, proverbially known as a “dunny” Used in one camp site the kids endearingly nicknamed “Kalaru Poo.”

Figure 2. The great Australian outdoor toilet, proverbially known as a “dunny” Used in one camp site the kids endearingly nicknamed “Kalaru Poo.”

We had no mobile phone in the car, no portable wifi-enabled tablet, no gaming DS, and certainly no down-screen DVD player or in-car navigation system to interrupt the ebb and flow of a family confined to a small space for six weeks. Mum would put on a few Greek cassettes for us to sing along to (Dad's “best ofs” which he had dubbed from the radio), and we paid particular attention to the landscape and wildlife. Mum would tell stories nostalgically about the time before we were born and how she left her homeland at seventeen on her own. And dad would talk about the struggles of losing his mother just before the start of World War II, and how his schooling was interrupted in third class as towns were burned to the crisp by the invaders, and how lucky we were to have a chance at education in a peaceful nation. All the while my brother Arthur was pointing at how far we had driven with his AO mapliterally thousands of kilometres-which gave me a great sense of space and time that has stayed with me to this day. And of course, I do recollect the unforgettable chant of my little sister and big sister in near unison, “are we there yet?”

Last December 2015, after a demanding year in my various roles that included bi-monthly long-haul travel, I was determined to “shut down” the outside world, and give my children what my parents had given me, in all the same simplicity (Figure 2). I somehow needed to give my children my full attention for a four-week duration without a laptop in tow, ensuring that my body and mind would recover from the year that was. I knew I was drifting into overload in September 2015, when on one occasion, I found myself asking my husband which side of the road I should be driving on, even when I was in my home town.

 Figure 3. The most spectacular and secluded Nelson Beach down the trail of Nelson Lake Rd near Mogareeka, NSW.

Figure 3. The most spectacular and secluded Nelson Beach down the trail of Nelson Lake Rd near Mogareeka, NSW.

 Figure 4. My youngest walking near the most spectacular Wallagoot Gap. We spent the day out at this magical place, swimming with the fish.

Figure 4. My youngest walking near the most spectacular Wallagoot Gap. We spent the day out at this magical place, swimming with the fish.

When one loves life and what they do, it is easy to feel so energized that you don't feel the need to stop… but “stop” I did. I wanted to reconnect with the natural environment in a big way, with my kids, and my inner self. I found myself asking those deep questions about creation - who, what, when, how? What an incredible world we live in! How does it all work and hang together as it does? I felt so thankful. Thankful for my family, my friends, my work, nature, life, Australia. It is so easy to take it for granted.

Each day, we'd choose a different place to visit, not excluding unsealed roads that led to secluded beaches, lakes, and inlets (Figures 3 and 4). Every morning we were awakened by the birdlife - a strange creature would call out at 4:30 a.m. for about 15 minutes straight, and then give it a rest; spotted lizards a few meters long on the road, and lots of kangaroos coming out of hiding at dusk to socialize. While we swam we could see the fish in the sea (with and without snorkels), and we got to speak with complete strangers, feeling like we had all the time in the world to do so.

At historical places, we learned about indigenous people like “King Billy” of the Yuin clan who would often be seen walking unheard distances in the 1950s in the dense shrub between Jervis Bay and Eden − 300 km (Figure 5).

 

 Figure 5. The Yuin people (aka Thurga) are the Australian Aborigines from the South Coast of New South Wales. At top are images of legendary “King Billy” as he was nicknamed.

Figure 5. The Yuin people (aka Thurga) are the Australian Aborigines from the South Coast of New South Wales. At top are images of legendary “King Billy” as he was nicknamed.

My kids began to make comments about how resourceful the aborigines would have been, catching fresh fish, making new walking tracks, and being blessed to live in a pristine world before the built environment changed it so radically (Figure 5). It was not difficult for me to imagine throwing in my current lifestyle for the serenity, peace, and tranquillity of the bush. The kids and I would be outside under the sun for at least 12 hours each day, and it was effortless and filled with activities, and so very much fulfilling (Figure 6).

  Figure 6.  The sun setting on New Year's Eve celebrations in 2015 in Merimbula, NSW

Figure 6. The sun setting on New Year's Eve celebrations in 2015 in Merimbula, NSW

 Figure 7. Pre-bedtime entertainment in our tent. Another game of Snakes & Ladders anyone?

Figure 7. Pre-bedtime entertainment in our tent. Another game of Snakes & Ladders anyone?

The kids didn't watch any television on this trip even though they had access to it in one camp spot (Figure 7). I spoke on the cell phone only a handful of times, and on some days I did not use electricity (they were my favorite days). Many times we did not have any cell phone coverage for large parts of the day. I learnt some important things about each of my children on this trip and about myself and the world we live in (Figure 8). And I'd love to do it all again, sooner than later.

We've been sold the idea that technology provides security for us but I am of the opinion that at least psychologically it leads to insecurity (1). It is a paradox. My eldest kept asking what we would do if we got a flat tire or engine trouble deep down a dirt road where we had no connectivity, or what we'd do in the event of a bushfire (Figure 9). Good questions I thought, and answered them by driving more slowly and carefully, avoiding sharp rocks and potholes, and more than anything, turning to prayer “God, keep me and my children safe. Help us not to panic at a time of trouble, and to know what to do. Help us not to be harmed. And help us not to have fear.” For all intense and purposes, technology which has been sold to us for security, breeds a false sense of security and even greater fear. We have learned to rely on mobile phones or the Internet, even when we don't need them. It has become a knee-jerk reaction, even if we have the stored information at hand readily available.

 

 Figure 8. The kids posing for a photo with a big snail at Merimbula's Main Beach. Such a great opportunity for all of us to bond even closer together.

Figure 8. The kids posing for a photo with a big snail at Merimbula's Main Beach. Such a great opportunity for all of us to bond even closer together.

I am thankful I turned to art on this trip - a decision I made a few days before I left my home (see cover image of this issue). I loved speaking to real people, in person, and asking them to participate (2). Being able to hear their laughs, and see the expressions on their faces, and listen to their respective stories was so satisfying. On a few occasions I embraced people I met after opening my heart to life matters, challenges, joys, and sorrows. The cool thing? I met lots of people that reminded me of my mum and dad; lots of people who had three or four or more (or no) children - and felt connected more than ever before to the big family we call “society.” We'd sit around at the beach, at the rock pool, or the camp site, listening and learning from one another, and somehow indirectly encouraging one another onwards. We soon realized these were shared experiences and there was a solidarity, a “oneness,” an empathy between us.

 Figure 9. Going down a steep and narrow unsealed road with lots of potholes at Mimosa Rocks National Park. One way down and only one way up.

Figure 9. Going down a steep and narrow unsealed road with lots of potholes at Mimosa Rocks National Park. One way down and only one way up.

We returned home a few days early due to heavy rains, and unexpectedly I did not feel the drive to return to my email trove that I figured had grown substantially in size. The thought crossed my mind that I could get heavily depressed over the thousands of messages I had missed. But I controlled that temptation. The last thing I wanted at that point was to get bogged down again in the rhythm of the digital world. Friends and colleagues might have been shocked that I did as I said I would do - utterly disconnect - but I learned something very fundamental… time away from the screen makes us more human as it inevitably brings us closer together, closer to nature, and also brings things into perspective.

Depending on our work, we can feel captive behind the screen at times, or at least to the thousands of messages that grace our laptops and mobile phones. They make us even more digital and mechanical - in intonation, action, even movement and thought. Breaking with this feeling and regaining even a little bit of control back is imperative every so often, lest we become machine-like ourselves. It is healthy to be “Just human,” without the extensions and the programs. In fact, it is essential to revitalize us and help us find our place in the world, as sometimes technology leads us too quickly ahead of even ourselves.

While it is an intuitive thing to do, you might find yourself having to work that little bit harder to make the unplugged time happen. But breaking free of all the tech (and associated expectations) occasionally, reinforces what it once meant to be human.

References

1. M. Lacy, "Cities of panic and siege psychosis" in Security Technology and Global Politics: Thinking with Virilio, New York, NY:Routledge, pp. 69f, 2014.

2. K. Michael, "Unintended consequences 1–100", [online] Available: http://www.katinamichael.com/call-for-papers/2016/1/14/unintended-consequences-1-100-artwork.

Citation: Katina Michael, "Gone Fishing: Breaking with the Biometric Rhythm of Tech-Centricism", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine ( Volume: 35, Issue: 4, Dec. 2016 ), pp. 6 - 9, Date of Publication: 19 December 2016, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2016.2618738.

Can Good Standards Propel Unethical Technologies?

Between 2010 and 2016 I accepted a voluntary post representing the Consumers Federation of Australia (CFA) on the standardization of the forensic analysis process [1]. The CFA represents most major Australian national consumer organizations that work together to represent consumer rights.

The committee I was on was Standards Australia's “CH041 — Forensic Analysis” focused on the collection, analysis, and storage of materials as well as interpretation and reporting of results for forensic purposes (Figure 1). The Committee's scope included digital forensics, DNA, soil examination, toxicology, document examination, audio and video analysis, drug analysis, blood alcohol examination, chemical trace evidence, clandestine laboratory investigations, fire and explosion investigation, ballistics, forensic biology, forensic botany, crime scene investigation, fingerprint identification, vehicle examination, shoe and tire impressions, toolmarks, evidence recovery, exhibit storage, bloodstain pattern interpretation, forensic anthropology, forensic entomology, forensic odontology, and forensic pathology. Over a period of six years, six standards were created in the Australia and New Zealand landscape [2] (Table 1).

 Figure 1. Bus drivers across the West Midlands were equipped with mini DNA kits in 2012 to help police track anyone who spit at them or fellow passengers.“Spit kits”—which feature swabs, gloves and hermetically sealed bags—allow staff to take saliva samples and protect them from contamination before being sent for forensic analysis. Samples are stored in a refrigerator before being sent for forensics analysis, with arrest plans put in place should returning DNA results point to a suspect already known to police.Date: Nov. 23, 2012, 16:03. Courtesy of Palnatoke, West Midlands Police.

Figure 1. Bus drivers across the West Midlands were equipped with mini DNA kits in 2012 to help police track anyone who spit at them or fellow passengers.“Spit kits”—which feature swabs, gloves and hermetically sealed bags—allow staff to take saliva samples and protect them from contamination before being sent for forensic analysis. Samples are stored in a refrigerator before being sent for forensics analysis, with arrest plans put in place should returning DNA results point to a suspect already known to police.Date: Nov. 23, 2012, 16:03. Courtesy of Palnatoke, West Midlands Police.

All of the meetings I attended were very well organized, and provided adequate materials with enough time to digest documentation. Queries were dealt with in a very professional manner both via email and in person. The location of these standards meetings happened at the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA) in Melbourne Victoria — perhaps a non-neutral location, but regardless important as a hub for our gatherings. There was adequate funding provided to allow people to come together several times a year to discuss the development of the standards and the rest was achieved via email correspondence. Of course, there were a number of eminent leaders in the group with a discernible agenda that dominated discussions, but for all intents and purposes, these folks were well-meaning, fair, and willing to listen. It was obvious that the standardization process was paramount to those using forensic data on a day-to-day basis.

Representatives who served on that committee had diverse backgrounds: police officers, analysts from forensic laboratories, lawyers, statisticians, consumer representatives, and academics in the broad area. I never felt like I was ever asking a redundant question, people spent time explaining things no matter how technical or scientific the content. Members of the committee were willing to hear about consumer perspectives when key points had to be raised, but for some the importance of the topic was circumvented by the need to get the forensics right in order for criminals to be brought to justice.

In March of 2010, I graduated with my Masters of Transnational Crime Prevention degree in the Faculty of Law at the University of Wollongong. My major project was a study of the European Court of Human Rights ruling S. and Marper v. The United Kingdom [3], under the supervision of former British law enforcement officer, Associate Professor Clive Harfield. The European Court of Human Rights sitting as a Grand Chamber was led by President Jean-Paul Costa. S. and Marper complained under Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [4] that the authorities had continued to retain their fingerprints and cellular samples and DNA profiles after the criminal proceedings against them had ended with an acquittal or had been discontinued. Both applicants had asked for their fingerprints and DNA samples to be destroyed, but in both cases the police refused [5]. My involvement in the enactment of forensic standards in the Australian landscape was to ensure that Australia did not end up with blanket coverage surveillance of the populace, as has happened in the United Kingdom where about 6 million people (1 in 11) have their DNA stored on the national DNA database (NDNA), and over 37% of black ethnic minorities (BEM) are registered on the database with indefinite DNA retention of samples or profiles [6].

I learned a lot about standards setting through the Forensic Analysis project. Although I had studied the theoretical importance of standards in the process of innovation, and I had spent some time in an engineering organization during a peak period of telecommunications standards and protocol developments, I never quite realized that a standard could propel a particular product or process further than was ever intended. Of course the outcome of the BETAMAX versus VHS war has gone down in engineering folklore [7], but when standards have human rights implications, they take on a far greater importance.

Although international standards usually take a long time to bring into existence (at least 2 years), at the national level if there is monetary backing, and a large enough number of the right kind of people in a room with significant commercial or government drivers, a standard can be defined in a fairly straightforward manner within about 1 year. No matter the query, issues can usually be addressed or abated by industry representatives if you can spend the time necessary on problem solving and troubleshooting. Consumer representatives on standards panels, however, unlike paid professionals, have very limited resources and bandwidth when it comes to innovation. They usually have competing interests; a life outside the standards environment that they are contributing to, and thus fall short from the full impact they could make in any committee that they serve if there was financial support. In the commercial world, the greater the opportunity cost of forgoing the development of a standard, the greater the driver to fulfil the original intent.

And thus, I was asked at the completion of my CFA role by the convenor Regina Godfredson, Standards Co-ordinator of the CFA Standards Projects, whether or not I had any thoughts about future standards because “standards” were one thing that the CFA received funding for, in terms of the voluntary contributions of its representatives and membership being seconded to standards committees.

 Table 1. Forensic analysis — Australian standards.

Table 1. Forensic analysis — Australian standards.

As Regina and I brainstormed, I described a few projects pertaining to emerging technologies that required urgent attention from the consumer perspective. But the one that stuck out in my mind as requiring standardization was non-medical implants in humans (Figure 2). I kept thinking about the event report I cited in 2007 published on the MAUDE database of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) web site, for the “removal of an implant” that acted as a personal health record (PHR) unique ID [8]. In 2004, the company VeriChip had an implant device approved by the FDA for use in humans [9]. The device was to be inserted in the right tricep, but as applications for access control and electronic payment were trialled, the device soon found itself in people's wrists and hands for usability [10]. Still that event report had got me thinking. How could a company (or for that matter a government administration) be so inept in creating a device for implantation with no removal process? Of course, had the VeriChip device not been related to any health application, it would not have required any FDA approval whatsoever, which is equally problematic when ethical questions are considered.

7563959-fig-2-small.gif

Figure 2.

A surgeon implants British scientist Dr. Mark Gasson in his left hand with an RFID microchip (Mar. 16, 2009). Mark's Ph.D. scholarship with Prof. Kevin Warwick was sponsored by the author's former employer Nortel Networks. Photo taken: March 16, 2009, 14:44:22. Photo courtesy of Paul Hughes.

The questions that stem from this mini case are numerous. But perhaps the most important one is: does a standard set by a standards or regulatory body open the floodgates to propelling a given innovation forward, even if that innovation is controversial or even viewed as risky or unethical by the community at large? I had to ask myself the pros and cons of spearheading such a standard into Australia and New Zealand. Standards at the local level begin to gather momentum when they are recognized by the Australian Standards organization, but more so when they are picked up and highlighted by the International Standards Organisation (ISO). There are also no commensurate “ethics applications” accompanying the submission of human augmentation devices, as noted by Joe Carvalko, a U.S.-based patent attorney and implant recipient [11].

Did I really wish to be involved in such a process when I believe deeply, for anything other than therapeutics and prosthesis, there should not be a standard? Do I think this is the future of e-payments being sold to us? There have been countless campaigns by VISA to show us the “mini-Visa” [12] or the contactless VISA “tap and go” system or the VISA embedded in our phone or e-wallet or even smartwatch. Do I think we should believe the companies pushing this next phase? No, I do not. As consumers we do have a choice of whether or not to adopt. As a technology professional do I wish to be the one to propel this forward? Absolutely not. Does it mean it will never happen? No, it doesn't.

As I continued my conversation with Regina Godfredson, I realized deeply, that while CFA would get some major attention in funding for being leaders in this space, the negative would be that we would also be heavily responsible and accountable for what would come out of the group as we would be the driving force behind it. The consumer side of me says “get in there quick to contribute to the discussion and push the importance of ethics within an information technology implant scenario.” The academic side of me says sit back and let someone else do it, but make sure to be ready for when this may take place (and it is taking place right now). Just yesterday, I received a telephone call from one of Japan's leading games suppliers who wants to integrate the human augmentation scenario into Deus Ex's, “Mankind Divided” game, to be launched in Australia in the last week of August with an implants shopfront.

The conversation with the publicist went something like this: “Hello Katina. I note you are one of the leading researchers on the topic of the socio-legal-ethical implications of implants. Look, I want to know, if there are any legal issues with us launching a campaign for our new game that includes an implantation shop. I've rung everyone I can think of, and everyone keeps passing me on to someone else and cannot give me a direct answer. I've tried the Therapeutic Goods Administration here, but they say they don't care because it is not a medical device. I've looked up laws, and I can't seem to find anything on implants for non-medical applications. I've spoken to police, and ditto they don't seem to care. So what do you think?” It goes without saying that that 50 minute conversation ended up being one of the most stimulating non-academic discussions I've had on the topic. But also, I finished by saying read Katherine Albrecht's Bodily Integrity Act in draft since 2007. The publicist kept stating: “I hope from this engagement to put forward a framework allowing for human implants.”

My concern with going forward has naught to do with my ability to answer very complex biomedical ethical questions as I've thought about them for over 20 years. My concern has much to do with whether or not we should even be dabbling with all of this, knowing what we know of the probable uberveillance trajectory. I am sure I could create some very good standards to some very unethical value-laden technologies.

I will not say much about what is an ethical or unethical technology. I will simply say that pervasive technologies have an intentionality, and they have inherent qualities that can be used positively or negatively. Talking to social shaping of technology experts, I would be labeled as a follower of the technological determinist school of thought. But clearly here, when we investigate the piercing of the skin, we have a complexity that we've never before faced in the non-medical commercial space. It crosses the boundaries of negligence, consent, and human rights, which we cannot ignore or treat as just another run-of-the-mill technological innovation.

References

1. Consumers Federation of Australia, [online] Available: http://consumersfederation.org.au/.

2. CH-041 - Forensic Analysis, [online] Available: http://www.sdpp.standards.org.au/ActiveProjects.aspx?CommitteeNumber=CH-041&CommitteeName=forensic%20Analysis.

3. Case of S. and Marper v. The United Kingdom, 2008, [online] Available: https://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/dataprotection/Judgrnents/S.%20AND%20MARPER%20v.%20THE%20UNITED%20KING-DOM%20EN.pdf.

4. Article 8 ECHR, 2016, [online] Available: http//echr-online.into/article-8-echr/.

5. K. Michael, , "The road from S and Marper to the Prum Treaty and the implications on human rights" in Cross-Border Law Enforcement: Regional Law Enforcement Cooperation - European Australian and Asia-Pacific Perspectives, Routledge, pp. 243-258, 2012.

6. K. Michael, "The legal social and ethical controversy of the collection and storage of fingerprint profiles and DNA samples in forensic science", pp. 48-60, 2010.

7. A.R. Dennis, B.A. Reinicke, "Beta versus VHS and the acceptance of electronic brainstorming technology", MIS Quart, vol. 28, pp. 1-20, 2004.

8. MAUDE Adverse Event Report VeriChip Corporation - VeriMed Patient Identificator - VeriChip Implant, July 2007, [online] Available: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfMAUDE/Detail.CfM?MDRFOI_ID=962453.

9. 21 CFR Part 880 [Docket No. 2004N-0477] Medical Devices; General Hospital and Personal Use Devices; Classification of Implantable Radiofrequency Transponder System for Patient Identification and Health Information, [online] Available: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/04-27077.htm.

10. A. Masters, K. Michael, "Lend me your arms: The use and implications of humancentric RFID", Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 6, pp. 29-39, 2007.

11. J. Carvalko, K. Michael, "Crossing The Evolutionary Gap", Joseph Carvalko Speaks With Katina MichaelOn His Fiction Piece, July 2016, [online] Available: https//www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4JyVCba6VM.

12. "Visa introduces contactless mini card making payments faster and more convenient than ever", Business Wire, Aug. 2006, [online] Available: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20060316005263/en/Visa-Introduces-Contactless-Mini-Card-Making-Payments.

Citation: Katina Michael, Can Good Standards Propel Unethical Technologies? IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 35, Issue: 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 6 - 9.

Smart Toys that are the Stuff of Nightmares

Introduction

At the top of some children's Christmas present wish list in 2015 would have been the new Hello Barbie doll [1]. Mattel's latest doll connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi and uses interactive voice response (IVR) to effectively converse with children [2]. When the doll's belt button is pushed, conversations are recorded and uploaded to servers operated by Mattel's partner, ToyTalk [3].

Hello Barbie tries to engage with children in intelligible and freeflowing conversation by asking and responding to questions, as well as being able to learn about its users over time [4]. As Mattel's website says [1]: “Just like a real friend, Hello Barbie doll listens and adapts to the user's likes and dislikes” [5].

But is Barbie the Friend She Promises to be?

Some might welcome Hello Barbie, and similar talking dolls such as My Friend Cayla [6], as a fun and novel development in smart toys that will keep children occupied. Others have voiced concerns, such as the #HellNoBarbie [7] from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood [8].

As one reporter found, Hello Barbie prompts those conversing with her to divulge information about themselves, but when the focus is on her she quickly changes the subject to invariably gender-normative subjects and fashion [9]. “Hello Barbie: Let's get serious and talk about something really important: fashion.”

She mines children for personal details but gives little in return, other than vacuous compliments and fashion advice. Her friend credentials come further into question as she routinely discloses all the information gathered to ToyTalk, who operate the speech processing services for Hello Barbie.

What's in the Privacy Statement?

As with many products, the detail that really matters is in the fine print. In this instance the fine print is in ToyTalk's Hello Barbie privacy statement, so there are a few important points to consider before wrapping her up and putting her under a Christmas tree [10].

ToyTalk outlines that it may:

“[…] use, store, process, convert, transcribe, analyze or review Recordings in order to provide, maintain, analyze and improve the functioning of the Services, to develop, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or for other research and development and data analysis purposes.”

Essentially it can use the information gathered from the child, or anyone who converses with Hello Barbie, for any purpose that it chooses under the vague wording “data analysis purposes.” ToyTalk will also share recordings with unknown “vendors, consultants, and other service providers” as well as “responding to lawful subpoenas, warrants, or court orders.” Has Hello Barbie become a sophisticated surveillance device masquerading as an innocuous child's toy [11]?

In England, the draft Investigatory Powers Bill introduced “equipment interference,” which allows security and intelligence agencies to interfere with electronic equipment in order to obtain data, such as communications from a device [12]. This would mean that government agencies could lawfully take over children's toys and use them to monitor suspects.

These data collection practices are significant, as they reach much deeper than marketing practices that collect information about children's likes and preferences. In conversing with toys, such as Hello Barbie, children reveal their innermost thoughts and private play conversations, details of which are intended for no one else to hear. Once a child has developed a friendship with Hello Barbie, it might not be so easy to take her away.

Security Risks

ToyTalk does recognize that “no security measures are perfect” and that no method of data transmission can ever be “guaranteed against any interception or other type of misuse.” Just last month the toy maker VTech reported 11.6 million accounts were compromised in a cyberattack, including those of 6.3 million children [13]. Photos of children and parents, audio files, chat logs, and the name, gender, and birthdate of children were accessed by the hackers [14].

It's not just toys that are at risk [15]. There are ongoing reports of baby monitors being hacked so that outsiders can view live footage of children (and family), talk to the infant, and even control the camera remotely [16].

Smart toys are going to be tempting propositions for hackers, with some already proving that they could make My Friend Cayla swear [17], to more usual targets such as hacking credit card details [18].

Barbie has also been in hot water before [19]. The Barbie Video Girl [20] has a camera lens embedded in the doll's chest disguised as a pendant which prompted the FBI to issue a warning that it could be used to make child pornography [21].

The Internet of Things provides direct access to children and their spaces through an increasing array of products and gizmos [22]. Such security breaches not only act as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of children's high-tech toys, but also lead us to reflect on other risks that the trend in so-called smart toys might be introducing into children's lives.

An Invasion of Play

But Hello Barbie doesn't just reveal a child's private conversations to large corporations, and potentially law enforcement agencies. She also tells tales much closer to home - to parents. A smartphone app enables parents to listen to the conversations between their child and their Hello Barbie. They can also receive alerts when new recordings become available, and can access and review the audio files. Anyone with access to the parent account can also choose to share recordings and other content via Facebook. Twitter, or You-Tube. While some may see this as a novel feature, it is important to consider the potential loss of privacy to the child.

Play is an important part of the way children learn about the world. A key part of this is the opportunity for private spaces to engage in creative play without concerns about adults intruding. It looks like Hello Barbie's dream to be a fashion-setter might just come true as she pioneers a new trend for smart and connected toys. In turn, the child loses out on both a trusted toy and on the spaces where they can lose themselves in other worlds without worrying about who's listening in.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This article is adapted from an article published in The Conversation titled “Hello Barbie, hello hackers: Accessing personal data will be child's play,” on Dec. 16, 2015. Read the original article http://theconversation.com/hello-barbie-hello-hackers-accessing-personal-data-will-be-childs-play-52082.

References

1. "Hello Barbie™ Doll - Blonde Hair", Mattel Shop, 2016, [online] Available: http://shop.mattel.com/product/index.jsp?productId=65561726.

2. K. Michael, A. Hayes, "High-tech child's play in the Cloud", IEEE Consumer Electronics Mag., vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 123-128, 2015.

3. "About us", Toy Talk, 2016, [online] Available: https://www.toytalk.com/about/.

4. "Hello Barbie is world's first interactive Barbie Doll", YouTube, Feb. 2015, [online] Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJMvmVCwoNM.

5. "CNET News - Saying hello to Hello Barbie", YouTube, Sept. 2015, [online] Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVaVaf8QqWc. 

6. My Friend Cayla, 2014, [online] Available: http://myfriendcayla.co.uk.

7. "Hell no Barbie: 8 reasons to leave Hello Barbie on the shelf", Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, 2015, [online] Available: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/action/hell-no-barbie-8-reasons-leave-hello-barbie-shelf.

8. 2016, [online] Available: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/.

9. Z. Jason, "Hello Barbie: Fashion-obsessed talking doll thinks I'm amazing — Or so she said", The Guardian, Dec. 2015, [online] Available: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/dec/04/hello-barbie-talkingdoll-mattel-toytalk-fashion.

10. "Privacy policy", Toy Talk, Jan. 2016, [online] Available: https://www.toytalk.com/hellobarbie/privacy/.

11. "Hello Barbie ‘creepy eavesdropping doll’ at New York Toy Fair violates privacy", YouTube, Mar. 2015, [online] Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31GvRZKWrhQ.

12. Draft Investigatory Powers Bill U.K. Parliament, 2015, [online] Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/473770/Draft_Investigatory_Powers_Bill.pdf

13. "FAQ about cyber attack on VTech Learning Lodge", vtech, Feb. 2016, [online] Available: https://www.vtech.com/en/press_release/2016/faq-about-cyber-attack-onvtech-learning-lodge/.

14. D. Goodin, "Internet-connected Hello Barbie doll gets bitten by nasty POODLE crypto bug", The Guardian, Dec. 2015, [online] Available: http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/12/internet-connected-hello-barbiedoll-getsbitten-by-nasty-poodle-crypto-bug/.

15. P. Timms, "Hello Barbie: Wi-fi enabled doll labelled a bedroom security risk", ABC News (Australia), Nov. 2015, [online] Available: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/wi-fienabled-hello-barbie-dollraises-securityconcerns/6981528.

16. K. Albrecht, L. Mcintyre, "Privacy nightmare: When baby monitors go bad", IEEE Technology & Society Mag., Sept. 2015, [online] Available: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=7270426.

17. K. Munro, "Making children's toys swear", PenTestPartners.com, Jan. 2015, [online] Available: http://www.pentestpartners.com/blog/making-childrens-toys-swear/.

18. R. Hackett, "Hello Barbie Doll vulnerable to hackers", Fortune, Dec. 2015, [online] Available: http://fortune.com/2015/12/04/hello-barbie-hack/?iid=sr-link1.

19. K. Michael, "The FBI's cybercrime alert on Mattel's Barbie Video Girl: A possible method for the production of child pornography or just another point of view".

20. "Barbie® Video Girl™ Doll", Mattel Fisher Price, 2015, [online] Available: http://service.mattel.com/us/TechnicalProductDetail.aspx?prodno=R4807&siteid=27&catid1=508.

21. L. Goode, "FBI: Video Barbie could hold evidence in child abuse cases", WSJ, Dec. 2010, [online] Available: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/search/fbi%20video%20girl%20doll%20could%20hold%20evidence/?s=fbi+video+girl+doll+could+hold+evidence.

22. K. Albrecht, K. Michael, "Connected: To everyone and everything", IEEE Technology & Society Mag., vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 31-34, 2013.

Keywords: security of data, smart toys, data transmission, ToyTalk, Hello Barbie, security measures

Citation: Emmeline Taylor ; Katina Michael, Smart Toys that are the Stuff of Nightmares, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, (Volume: 35, Issue: 1, March 2016), pp. 8 - 10, Date of Publication: 10 March 2016, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2016.2527078

Reflecting on the Contribution of T&S Magazine to the IEEE

Introduction

It's always important to stop, take a breath, and reflect on the activities one is engaged in. Sometimes we do this reflection willingly, and at other times there are formal structures within which we have to work that trigger the requirement periodically. It is always a good sign when a Committee knocks on your door asking for certain bits of data, and you are more than willing to share your learnings, with enthusiasm, and not just for the sake of the least amount of effort required to respond to a standard pro-forma.

This March, the IEEE Periodicals Review and Advisory Committee (PRAC) requested detailed data about the periodicals of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (IEEE-SSIT), providing three months for a written report to be submitted. The PRAC Review happens every five years and is an opportunity for IEEE to consider the contribution and validity of all its periodicals. For the Society in question, it is a chance to receive valuable feedback from experienced colleagues, look for areas to improve, consolidate, or expand, consider what was done well, and brainstorm on the opportunities that lie ahead.

The PRAC report that was submitted to IEEE in Fall 2015 was about 50 pages long. Katina Michael, Terri Bookman, Joe Herkert (by teleconference), Greg Adamson, and Lew and Bobbi Terman met with the PRAC Committee in New Jersey. We managed all the questions put to us by PRAC, and later received written feedback on our report, and responded accordingly to queries and clarifications.

It is now time to look at the next five years of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, but before doing so let us celebrate the milestones we've achieved together, and also spell out what we need to do better to keep growing and developing, as well as some of the measures we've put in place to overcome some significant issues as we've gone through a rapid expansion phase.

Content

 Figure 1. Concept map of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine article headings (March 2010–July 2015) generated using Leximancer.

Figure 1. Concept map of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine article headings (March 2010–July 2015) generated using Leximancer.

The first thing we would like to do is thank all the authors who have published their research with us in the last five years. It is such a privilege to work with professionals who sincerely care about how technology is impacting the world around them. We conducted a content analysis of paper titles since 2010 and generated the concept map in Figure 1. It is so encouraging to see diagrammatically that we are fulfilling the mission of our Society, with papers published in humanitarian engineering, engineering education, engineering ethics, sustainability, social implications, the interplay between technology and society, the role of government, and the development of systems to enrich our everyday lives with adequate energy. Privacy, security, and trust are prevalent themes also addressed in the digital data age of the Internet, as is acceptable use and user behavior with respect to smart applications.

Articles and Authors

During the study period, 272 individual articles were published with 452 author instances. Popular entry types included peer-reviewed articles (131), Commentaries (13), Book Reviews (35), Leading Edge columns (14), Opinion pieces (13), Viewpoint columns (5), Editorials (16) and Guest Editorials (6), as well as interviews, fiction, letters to the editor, news, policy and trends, Memoria, and Last Word columns. For a magazine that publishes only four times a year on a limited page budget, most recently of 80 pages per issue, we have really maximized space well. Particularly encouraging is the work toward internationalization that Keith Miller spearheaded and is still going strong. There has been a visible redistribution of author region location as can be seen in the pie chart in Figure 2, although we still require further expansion and outreach activities in Canada and Central/South America.

 Figure 2. Authors by region IEEE-TSM 2010-2015.

Figure 2. Authors by region IEEE-TSM 2010-2015.

The caliber of our author affiliations are exceptional. A representative list of affiliations include: Arizona State University, Australian National University, Carnegie Mellon University, Copenhagen Business School, Cornell University, Delft University of Technology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, ESADE, ETH Zurich, Harvard University, Imperial College London, Kyoto University, M.I.T. Media Lab, Stanford University, Georgia Institute of Technology, The Pennsylvania State University, Tilburg University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, Nanjing University, University of Sydney, University of Tokyo, University of Toronto, Virginia Tech, Zhejiang University.

Equally impressive are entries that have been affiliated with a variety of stakeholders, not just academia. These included for example:

  1. Applied industry submissions by employees of large technology corporations such as, Google, Accenture, Siemens Corporate Technology, Toshiba Research, Tata Consultancy, InfoSys Technologies, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, Telecom ParisTech, Acconite Solutions, Vodafone, and IBM.
  2. Applied government and defence submissions by employees of various international ministries and commissions both in defence and non-defence institutions such as the Defence Science and Technology Corporation (DSTO), European Commission, Virginia Military Institute, West Point Military Academy, Ontario Privacy Commissioners Office, and Greek Ministry of Economy and Finance.
  3. Small-to-medium company submissions such as BRP Renaud & Partner, KVC Consultancy, Illuminating Concepts, Xylem Technologies, Modern Combatives, StartPage, Oxford Systematics, Xamax Consultancy, Trans Technology Group, Salinger Privacy, Lockstep Consulting, Iran Nanotechnology Business Network, Orica Mining Chemicals, and Socca INC.
  4. Non-government organizational submissions such as from the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Australian Privacy Foundation.

Mission

IEEE-SSIT's Technology and Society Magazine is the only periodical that specializes in the social implications of technology – and on the interplay of technology and societal implications – from the perspective of a technical engineering society.

In the international publishing arena Technology and Society Magazine is considered as follows:

  1. an engineering periodical with a focus on societal implications of technology (privacy, security, affective, addictive, predictive, anticipatory, pervasive, invasive, ubiquitous, access, universal obligation, equity, borders, convenience, openness, value proposition, control, care, prosthetic, robotic, adaptive, surveillance, enforcement, employment, consumerism, innovation, human rights, gender, sustainability, and freedom and choice)
  2. a multidisciplinary periodical that includes perspectives from a variety of disciplines (legal, regulatory, philosophical, ethical, theological, cultural, anthropological, sociological, new media, economic, environmental, technological, scientific, health, medical, and policing)
  3. a diverse stakeholder reaching periodical that is relevant to entities along an upstream and downstream supply/value chain (business, raw material producers, designers, makers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, content providers, handset/wearable providers, operators and service providers, industry bodies, standards-setting organizations, non-government organizations, advocates, and users).

Table 1. Thematic “Technology” snapshot by volume and issue

Table 2. Thematic “Society” snapshot by volume and issue.

 

Breadth of Topic Coverage

The content we have received for publication is mostly two-pronged. On the one hand are the organizational and/or societal issues raised by each paper, and on the other hand is the technology that overcomes those stated problems. In addition, from the interplay of technology and society come positive and negative socio-economic impacts, social implications, and technical shortcomings that are important to discuss.

Special Sections and Special Issues

We have continued to host an annual special issue on select papers emanating from SSIT's International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS). In 2015 we also published a special issue on Norbert Wiener. Special section themes have also served as the basis for dialogue around emerging technologies. Some of these have included: the “Social Impacts of National Security Technologies” (vol. 31, no. 1), “Privacy in the Information Age” (vol. 31, no. 4), “Smart Grids and Social Networks” (vol. 33, no. 1), “Technology for Collective Action” (vol. 33, no. 3), “Social and Economic Sustainability” (vol. 34, no. 1). Co-locating like themed material has provided a richness for enjoying a single issue as a whole unit of evidence to ponder. At times articles submitted for review may “jump the queue” if they are immediately relevant to a socio-technical matter being addressed in that given issue, or in the media more broadly.

Online Social Media

As well as the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine there are several other ways to publish content relevant to the SSIT. These include the IEEE SSIT E-Newsletter (email DeepakMathur@ieee.org), and several social media portals listed here:

  1. IEEESSIT Facebook (4991 members) that can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/324644704262132/?fref=nf
  2. IEEE-SSIT LinkedIN (3610 members) https://www.linkedin.com/groups/IEEE-Society-on-Social-Implications-1790357
  3. IEEESSIT Twitter (515 followers) https://twitter.com/ieeessit

What's New??

Two major changes recently have been made to IEEE T&S Magazine: the way the Magazine looks in terms of creative design; and how articles are submitted to the editor for review. A lot of effort was expended by the Publications Committee around these two items, and when prospective funding became available, we responded accordingly.

New Format Creative Design

The Magazine has a new look and feel – everything from presentation, to the way that content is laid out, to the spacing and accompanying images. We have defined “new entry” types and enhanced existing ones. A stronger emphasis on varying stylistic contributions has been adopted to ensure a mixture of peer review and non-peer review perspectives—from Opinion, to Leading Edge technology insights, to Interviews, Commentaries and Last Word columns.

Acquiring and Implementing a New Workflow in Scholarone's Manuscript Central

We have acquired the IEEE standard for submission of Magazine/Journal manuscripts. This meant that an online workflow had to be defined for T&S Magazine that would align with ScholarOne. By year-end we will have reduced our accepted article backlog to include only outstanding Book Reviews. Beginning in 2016, our review time will decrease substantially, as will time until the final result for accept, major revision, minor revision, or reject status. We are confident with this measure, given the streamlining we have implemented. It is important to underscore however, that our goals do also hinge on the availability of reviewers and their timely feedback.

Future

As T&S Magazine continues to grow, there are any number of opportunities we could investigate as future options. So far we are doing a solid job with our online downloads for articles published with 48 K papers being downloaded in 2014, placing us at about a 150/338 rank for IEEE publications.

Our impact factor is at the highest it has been over the last five years, at 0.56 which is so very encouraging. Although we are not solely about impact factor, we are widely considered the number 1 publication outlet for the specific overlap of technology and society. When we consider that IEEE Spectrum's impact factor is 0.22, Emerald Insight's IT & People is 0.530, Elsevier's Technology in Society is 0.271, John Hopkins University's Technology and Culture is 0.321, and Ethics and Information Technology is 0.520, it is exceptional that with merely 24–28 peer reviewed papers per year we are increasing our citations, and more. We are also not heavy on self-citations in our Magazine of our own contributors, but I would encourage more of us to cite IEEE Technology and Society Magazine articles in other outlets.

We would like to spread the word about the recent excellent results and development of IEEE T&S Magazine. We would like to do this by creating a new and enhanced user-friendly T&S Magazine front end website portal that may drive more traffic to paid elements of the Magazine, but also to contributors and reviewers, with additional multimedia content. We expect this new site will help drive increased membership in our Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) and T&S subscriptions. The new portal also will allow more interactive feedback from readers. A reminder also, that T&S Magazine is still available in print medium.

As the reputation of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine grows, we will need to recruit more reviewers, invite key contributions from major stakeholders, and enlist more full-time and associate members from regions like South America and Africa as well as key representatives from government, all while assuring gender balance.

Acknowledgement

Katina Michael would like to thank Terri Bookman, Managing Editor, and Joe Herkert, Publications Chair, for their edits and additions to this editorial and their support throughout her editorship. She would also like to acknowledge the work of Keith Miller when he was editor for his foresight and vision.

Citations: Katina Michael, "Reflecting on the Contribution of T&S Magazine to the IEEE", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 34, Issue: 4, Dec. 2015, pp. 9 - 14, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2015.2494238

Mental Health, Implantables, and Side Effects

Then I was 8 years of age my older sister who was 8 years my senior was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. As a result, my family spent quite a few years visiting hospitals and mental health facilities on a daily basis. It is painful to reflect on that period, as our whole world was rocked by this illness. My once vibrant, skilful, dynamic, energetic, extremely kind, and top-of-her-class sister was plagued by a disease process of schizophrenia that would have her attempting to take her own life on several occasions, battle with hearing voices, go into a state of catatonia for long periods of time, and suffer severe bouts of anxiety and depression.

The onset of my sister's schizophrenia was spontaneous, during what should have been the most carefree years of her life. We will never know what triggered her illness but for whatever reason that this “thing” landed in our household, we learned to come to terms with its impact. I grew up with an understanding that, in life, there are some things we can fix, and some things we cannot. There are some things we can explain, and some things we cannot. Sometimes medical science has the answers, and sometimes it does not. It does not mean I give up on the potential for a cure or therapy for various forms of mental illness, but I am more wary than most about silver bullet solutions.

In the 30 years my sister has lived with schizophrenia there have been numerous incremental innovations that have been beneficial to some sufferers. First, there have been advancements in pharmacology and in the composition of antidepressants so that they are more effective. But pharmaceutical treatments have not helped everyone, especially those sufferers who do not take their medication on a regular basis. Many persons living with depression who come on and off antidepressants without seeking medical advice are at an increased risk of suicide.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), an empirically-based psychotherapy, has also aided increasing numbers of patients to better cope with their condition. Yet CBT is not given the same media attention as the new range of dynamic neural stimulators, commonly dubbed “brain implants,” now on the market [1].

For sufferers who are diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), and for whom antidepressants and CBT simply do not work, doctors have turned to the prospect of somatic therapies. These include: electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS). If an individual does not respond to ECT (and only fifty per cent do), they are said to have treatment-resistant depression (TRD) [2].

In plain language, ECT is when electricity is applied to the scalp generally over a treatment period of between 2-4 weeks, several sessions per week. rMTS treatment goes for 4-6 weeks, of 5 sessions per week and uses a fluctuating magnetic field from electromagnetic coil placed outside the skull sending an electrical current to the brain.

VNS and DBS are more intrusive procedures targeting specific parts of the brain [3]. In VNS, an electrode is wrapped around the left vagus nerve in the neck and stimulation occurs about every 5 minutes for about 30 seconds. The battery packs sit under the skin of the chest in both VNS and DBS, but in the DBS procedure, one or more leads are implanted in the brain, targeted through burr holes in the skull, and locked into place [2].

VNS and DBS were unavailable techniques when my sister first became ill, but I do recollect vividly the results of ECT upon her. Post the treatments, we lost her well and truly into a dark space one cannot reach she was placed on higher dosages of antidepressants for the weeks to follow, and it was apparent to us she was not only in mental anguish but clearly in physical difficulties as well. Doctors claimed clinically that she “did not respond to the treatment,” but never acknowledged that the ECT process might have caused her any short-term distress whatsoever. In fact, we were told: “There is no change in her condition. She continues to be as she was before the treatment.” That was debatable in my eyes. Even though I was just a kid, I observed it took a good three months to get my sister back to where she was before the ECT treatment. But she was only one participant among many in clinical trials, and in no way do I generalize her outcomes to be the outcomes of all ECT patients.

VNS and DBS are again very different techniques, and while VNS is used as an adjunct therapy for major depression, DBS is mainly reserved for treating Parkinson's disease and has had only limited approval for combatting intractable obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, what I gained from those childhood experiences is that human life is precious and experimentation can have some very adverse side effects without any direct benefits to the individual sufferer. Doctors need to be held accountable, caregivers and patients with MDD must be told clearly about the risks, and VNS patients must be monitored closely into the longer-term. I am alarmed at the lack of qualitative research being conducted across the spectrum of implantable devices in the health sector. And that is an area I intend to personally address in my own research in years to come.

To this day, I believe my sister was in no condition to consent to the treatment she received. At the time she intermittently thought I was Brooke Shields and that my siblings were other television personalities. She was delusional and completely unaware of herself. Prior to the trial my sister participated in, my parents had no real idea what ECT was, save for what they had heard anecdotally. As my sister's “guardians,” my parents did not understand how ECT would be administered and were not given the option to accompany her during the actual treatment. They were simply told that my sister would wear something on her head and have an electrical current travel all around it to hopefully “zap” her back to normal. They were not informed of what the risks might be to their beloved daughter, although they were clear it was all “experimental.” It was also emphasized, that this “electro-shock treatment” was the only other alternate route of exploration to help my sister get better. I remember their expectations being raised so high, only to be dashed after each treatment [4]. My parents had to rely on an interpreter as my father did not speak English and my mother only broken English. When one was not available my brother and sisters and I would do the translation.

In the end, when all other routes failed, my family turned to God for help. Alongside an excellent medical and health team (psychiatrist, social worker, general practitioner), and a loving home environment, it was faith that gave my family the will to go on facing everyday issues, as my sister slowly regained parts of herself to become functional again, such as her mobility and speech. As the saying goes “prayer works,” and while it might not make rational sense to believe in miracles, I remember witnessing these on at least a few occasions.

A few months ago, the cover of the February 2015 issue of IEEE Spectrum was graced with the title: “Hot-wiring the nervous system: implanted in the brain, smart-systems are defeating neurological disorders” (pp. 28) [5]. As someone who has spent the greater part of their academic career studying surveillance, risk, privacy and security, trust, and control, I have long reckoned that if we can “defeat” neurological disorders using implantable devices, then we can also “construct” and “trigger” them willingly, as well. But the point of my editorial is not to discuss the future of dynamic neural stimulators; we can debate that in another issue of T&S Magazine. Rather my point is to try to generate discussion about some of the fundamental issues surrounding the socio-ethical implications of penetrating the brain with new technologies, especially those that are remotely triggerable [6].

While the early studies for VNS with respect to MDD look promising, we need to acknowledge we are still at the very beginning of our investigations. I am personally more circumspect about published figures that simply categorize subjects post implantation using minimal labels like “non-responders,” “responders” and “achieved remission” [7]. Longitudinal data will give us a clearer picture of what is really happening. DBS, on the other hand, has been used to treat well over 75 000 persons, mostly suffering from movement disorders [2], but it is increasingly being piloted to treat OCD [8]. This is a call to the research community, to publish more widely about some of the complications, side effects, and resultant social life changes that implantees (of all kinds) are faced with post-surgery.

I am not referring here to issues related to surgical implantation (e.g., symptomatic haemorrhage after electrode placement), or even device failure or hardware-related complications (of which I have great concerns that there will be severe hacking problems in the future). Rather, I am referring to the resultant effect of “artificially constructed” dynamic stimulation on the human brain and its impact on an individual. In short, these are the unintended consequences, that range in scope from psychotic symptoms post stimulation (e.g., for epilepsy, or for patients presenting with auditory hallucinations for the first time), to modifications in sleep patterns, uncontrolled and accidental stimulation of other parts of body function [9], hypersexuality, hypomania [10], changes to heart and pulse rates, and much more.

Many implantees resort to social media to share their pre-and post-operative experiences. And while this is “off the record” self-reporting, clearly some of these discussions warrant further probing and inquiry. My hope is that the copious note-taking that occurs during pilots and clinical trials, specifically with respect to side effects, will be more accessible in the form of peer reviewed publication for doctors, engineers, government officials, standards organizations, regulatory approval bodies, and of course, the general public, so that we can learn more about the short-term and long-term effects of neural stimulation devices.

One patient, as a result of a particular procedure in a DBS pilot study described a sensation of feeling hot, flushed, fearful, and “panicky.” “He could feel palpitations in his chest, and when asked indicated he had an impending sense of doom. The feelings were coincident and continuous with the stimulator ‘on’ setting and they rapidly dissipated when switched ‘off'” [11]. Surely, this kind of evidence can be used to inform stakeholders towards what works and what does not, and the kinds of risks a patient may be exposed to if they opt-in, even if we know the same state will not be experienced by every patient given the complexity of the brain and body. In the more mature heart pacemaker industry, it is device manufacturers who tend to wish to hoard the actual physiological data being recorded by their devices [12], [13]; the brain implant industry will likely follow suit.

To conclude this editorial, at the very least, I would like to echo the sentiments of Fins et al., that deep brain stimulation is a “novel surgical procedure” that is “emerging,” and should presently be considered a last resort for people with neuropsychiatric disorders [14]. There needs to be some tempering of the hype surrounding the industry and we need to ensure that rigor is reintroduced back into trials to minimize patient risk. Exemptions like that granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the grounds of a “humanitarian device” allow implant device manufacturers to run trials that are not meaningful because the size of the trial is inappropriate, lacking commensurate statistical power [14]. The outcomes from such trials cannot and should not be generalized.

I would go one step further, calling not only for adherence to more careful research requirements during clinical trials, but also urging the medical community in general to really think about the direction we are moving. If medical policies like these [15] exist, clearly stating that “there is insufficient evidence to support a conclusion concerning the health outcomes or benefits associated with [vagus nerve stimulation] … for depression” then we must introduce major reforms to the way that consent for the procedure is gained.

Between 1935 and 1960, thanks to a rush of media (and even academic coverage), lobotomies were praised for the possibilities they gave patients and their relatives [16]. Although I am not putting lobotomies on the same level as VNS and DBS, I am concerned about placing embedded devices at the site of the most delicate organ in the human body. If we can “switch on” certain functions through the brain, we can also “switch them off.”

It is clear to anyone studying emerging technologies, that the future trajectory is composed of brain implants for medical and non-medical purposes. Soon, it won't be just people fighting MDD, or OCD, epilepsy [17], [18], Parkinson's disease [19] or Tourette's Syndrome who will be asking for brain implants, but everyday people who might wish to rid themselves of memory disorders, aggression, obesity, or even headaches. There is also the potential for a whole range of amplified brain technologies that make you feel better – diagnostic devices that pick up abnormalities in physiological patterns “just-in-time,” and under-the-skin secure identification [20]. And while the current costs for brain implants to fight mental illness are not cheap, at some $25 000 USD each (including the end-to-end surgical procedure), the prices will ultimately fall [1]. Companies like Medtronics are talking about implanting everyone with a tiny cardiac monitor [21]; it won't take long for the same to be said about a 24×7 brain monitor, and other types of daily “swallowable” implants [22].

Fears related to embedded surveillance devices of any type may be informed by cultural, ethical, social, political, religious concerns that must be considered during the patient care process [23]. Fully-fledge uberveillance, whether it is “surveillance for care” or “surveillance for control” might well be big business in the future [24], but for now academicians and funding bodies should be less interested in hype and more interested in hope.

References

1. S. Upson, "A difficult time for depression devices", IEEE Spectrum, pp. 14, May 2008.

2. W. K. Goodman, R. L. Alterman, "Deep brain stimulation for intractable psychiatric disorders", Annu. Rev. Med., vol. 63, pp. 511-524, 2012.

3. P. Kotagal, "Neurostimulation: Vagus nerve stimulation and beyond", Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, vol. 18, pp. 186-194, 2011.

4. V. Johansson, "Beyond blind optimism and unfounded fears: Deep brain stimulation for treatment resistant depression", Neuroethics, vol. 6, pp. 457-471, 2013.

5. T. Denison, "Building a bionic nervous system: Smart neural stimulators sense and respond to the body's fluctuations", IEEE Spectrum, pp. 28-35, Feb. 2015.

6. W. Glannon, "Stimulating brains altering minds", J. Medical Ethics, vol. 35, pp. 289-292, 2009.

7. T. Schlaepfer, J. Fins, "Deep brain stimulation and the neuroethics of responsible publishing: when one is not enough", JAMA, vol. 303, pp. 775-776, 2010.

8. B. Aouizerate, "Deep brain stimulation for OCD and major depression", Amer. J. Psychiatry, vol. 162, pp. 2192, 2005.

9. P. Moore, "Enhancing Me: The Hope and the Hype of Human Enhancement" in , Wiley, 2008.

10. C. Ch, "Hypomania with hypersexuality following bilateral anterior limb stimulation in obsessive-compulsive disorder", J. Neurosurg., vol. 112, pp. 1299-1300, 2010.

11. S. Na, "Panic and fear induced by deep brain stimulation", J. Neurol. Neurosurg Psychiatry, vol. 77, pp. 410-12, 2006.

12. J. Carvalko, "The Techno-Human Shell: A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap" in , Sunbury, 2013.

13. J. Carvalko, "Who should own in-the-body medical data in the age of ehealth?" in IEEE Technology & Society Mag., Summer, pp. 36-37, 2014.

14. J. Fins, "Misuse of the FDA's humanitarian device exemption in deep brain stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder", Health Aff. (Millwood), vol. 30, pp. 302-311, 2011.

15. C. Blue, "Medical Policy: Implantable Eletrical Nerve Stimulators (Vagus Autonomic Nerve and Peripheral Nerve Stimulators)", 2014, [online] Available: https://www.capbluecross.com/wps/wcm/connect/73f7fba6-65df-4f7f-a35c-acc4d805a066/Implantable_Electrical_Nerve_Stimulators_3-25-14.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

16. G. J. Diefenbach, "Portrayal of lobotomy in the popular press: 1935–1960", J. History of the Neurosciences, vol. 8, pp. 60-70, 1999.

17. C. M. DeGiorgio, "Pilot study of trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) for epilepsy: A proof-of-concept trial", Epilepsia, vol. 47, pp. 1213-1215, 2006.

18. A. Schulze-Bonhage, V. Coenen, "Treatment of epilepsy: peripheral and central stimulation techniques", Nervenartz, vol. 84, pp. 517-528, 2013.

19. E. Strickland, "How brain pacemakers treat parkinson's disease", IEEE Spectrum, Apr. 2015, [online] Available: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/new-clues-how-does-a-brain-pacemaker-control-parkinsons-symptoms.

20. K. Michael, Microchipping People, 2012.

21. E. Strickland, "Medtronic wants to implant sensors in everyone", IEEE Spectrum, Jun. 2014, [online] Available: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/medtronic-wants-to-implant-sensors-in-everyone.

22. "Google director Regina E. Dugan pushing RFID microchips", 2014, [online] Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvYnWBdmcQk.

23. K. Michael, M. G. Michael, The Social Cultural Religious and Ethical Implications of Automatic Identification, 2004.

24. M. G. Michael, K. Michael, "Towards a state of Uberveillance", IEEE Technology & Society Mag., vol. 29, pp. 9-16, 2010.

Citation: Katina Michael, "Mental Health, Implantables, and Side Effects", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 34, Issue: 2, June 2015, pp. 5 - 17, 19 June 2015, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2015.2434471

Social and Economic Sustainability

Back in 1997, Katina would use International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates of incoming and outgoing voice and data teletraffic tables for her work in strategic network engineering. She was particularly amazed when viewing these figures in global thematic maps, as thick arrows would always flow in and out from developed nations, and yet significantly thinner arrows would be flowing from developing nations, despite the difference in population counts [1]. That image has stuck with her as a depiction of how the world is, no doubt, related to historical events. Efforts required to bring those arrows into equilibrium at a country level seem somewhat impossible, given the digital divide.

As initiatives like Project Loon attempt to grant all peoples Internet access [2], there are still many places on Earth that have limited or no connectivity whatsoever. Some of these places reject services, believing that they will bring with them even greater harm, such as deforestation or a destabilization of culture and religious practice. And yet, developed nations uphold that they are in fact educating, providing, and allowing for longer-term economic and social sustainability through their technological solutions. For example, Jason has recently returned from the eastern part of the Maharashtra state of India where the use of technology in remote villages such as Jamnya appears at first glance to be at direct odds to the subsistence way of traditional village life. However, on second glance, the benefits of technology offer endless possibilities from education to weather station assistance with crop plantings. See also, Khanjan's projects in Africa [3].

But what about long-term stability in developing nations? For example, as we strive to mainstream alternate energy sources and make them accessible in resource poor communities [4], how do we think beyond the technological and economic dimensions and ensure respect for social, political, and environmental imperatives? Computers, including the tiny but powerful ones on cell phones can be game-changers, but they will not save lives directly. They cannot be eaten by a starving population. And then, they need to be serviced and maintained. Jason, along with Katina's husband Michael, visited and taught Karen refugee students in camps and remote villages on the Thai-Burma border [5]. They quickly realized that computers work only if they are connected to electricity. Someone has to pay the bill. Computers can thereafter continue to work, if no parts go missing, and they are fully enclosed within a shelter that has windows, and are not damaged. Computers can be operated by people who have received some training and where there is some connectivity. It is hopeless to want to share files or use remote applications if bandwidth is lower than 56 kbps. For example, Martin Murillo et al.'s article in this special section emphasizes that leading humanitarians have identified data communications for remote health offices as one of the top three tools that will contribute to the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Today, as many as 80% of the world's citizens reside in areas with mobile phone coverage [6]. Increasing access to computers and cellular devices has allowed telemedicine systems to flourish in developing countries. But these devices can only really work if technologies are integrated into local communities in bottom-up socialization practices. They can work if they are embraced by locals, and harnessed for good by local companies, NGOs, elders, and other stakeholders. While the number of mHealth and telemedicine systems is growing, the benefits of these technologies are yet to be fully realized. Many mHealth ventures in resource-constrained environments suffer from “pilotitis” – an inability to expand beyond the initial pilot and ultimately become sustainable ventures. Khanjan has led the design and execution of a cash-positive telemedicine venture in central Kenya that now has seven full-time employees. His students recently conducted a study of the failure modes that plague the growth of mHealth pilots in the developing world. This study of over 50 projects in Africa and Asia uncovered a wide range of barriers including financial challenges, business structures, technological limitations, and cultural misalignments. Once again, some of the greatest challenges were related to bottom-up socialization, melding Western and indigenous knowledge, and integration of new technologies, approaches, and business models into traditional ways of life. Khanjan has captured the nuts and bolts of “how things work” and why projects fail in a series of short stories called The Kochia Chronicles: Systemic Challenges and the Foundations of Social Innovation. These narratives take readers headlong into the lives of people in a quintessential African village as they usher in an era of design, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

It is difficult not to be cynical about initiatives such as Zuckerberg's hopes to wire the world [7]. These technological initiatives sound good, but with computing also will come social implications. Not all of these implications will be positive.

But back now to getting those inflows and outflows to look more alike, as newly industrialized countries have experienced growth since the inception of the mobile phone (e.g., India), broadband (e.g., Singapore), and manufacturing machinery (e.g., Thailand). The bottom line is that to overcome the endemic failures that inhibit the sustainability and scalability of well-meaning projects, a truly systemic and participatory approach is essential. Rather than dwelling on the problems caused by, or that might result from, the digital divide, let us preoccupy ourselves with considering digital inclusion as a primary aim. Digital inclusion is not just about offering equity but about making substantial self-determined improvements to the lives and livelihoods of people in resource-poor settings. The digital divide will never be entirely bridged, but inclusion can be propelled through social innovation, concerted time, and effort supported by multi-lateral funding from local and global stakeholders who not only understand the need for change but are passionate about the human need and its interdependence with global peace and sustainability.

IEEE Keywords: Special issues and sections, Investments, Communication Services, Internet, Government policies,Social factors, Social network services, Economics, Sustainable development, Environmental factors

Citation: Jason Sargent, Khanjan Mehta, Katina Michael, "Social and Economic Sustainability", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 34(1), March 2015, pp. 17 - 18

The State-Society Relationship: Big Data's Big Future - But for Whom

When we ponder on the future, scenario-based planning is one of a number of approaches we can employ to consider the “what-might-be” possibilities. These are plausible scenarios that let us peer into the future, not with certainty of what will eventuate but with a spirit of consideration and preparedness.

Recently, Katina was invited to participate in Australia's Prime Minister & Cabinet series of workshops on the state-society relationship. A number of fundamental questions were posed at the workshops relating to futures. Some of these are highly pertinent to the thought-provoking Special Section guest edited in this issue by the studious Associate Editor Jeremy Pitt, Ada Diaconescu, and David Bollier, addressing matters of the digital society, big data, and social awareness. The questions included:

  1. What can governments use crowdsourcing for?
  2. How does government operate in a networked environment?
  3. Can Big Data help government solve problems?
  4. How will government respond to the empowered individual?
  5. How can governments effectively manage cities to meet the challenges of urbanization?
  6. How will the government communicate with its citizens given instant communications?

To some degree answering one of these questions provides insights into answers for others. For the purposes of this editorial, we'd rather ask:

  1. What can citizens use crowdsourcing for?
  2. How can companies effectively manage cities to meet the challenges of urbanization?

It should come as no surprise that in the last 12 months, T&S Magazine has published articles on a variety of themes relevant to the above-mentioned questions, relating to smart grids, smart homes, smart meters, energy monitoring, public technical means, public sector information, open government, big data, geosocial intelligence, the veillances (data-, sous- and uber-), future government, crowdsourcing, collective awareness, participatory government, and design science and development.

What binds all of these topical themes together is the emphasis on finite resources available to serve a growing highly mega-urbanized networked glocal population that places immense pressures on the natural environment. Take for example the Beijing-Shanghai corridor fueled with several megacities that are each suffering dire environmental problems. Scientists internationally have especially attempted to raise alarm bells as they report on increases in carbon emissions and air pollution, on rising sea levels (e.g., Jakarta), on changing weather patterns (El-Niño), on dying species of plants and wildlife, on the need for recycling and unacceptable means of waste disposal (especially e-waste), and on the fundamental necessity for clean drinking water.

There is no such thing as the “land of plenty.” Pristine artesian wells are being drilled as a last resort to supplying water to the impoverished. Oil reserves are fast depleting but stockpiles are in the hands of the accumulators. Rich minerals like coal and iron ore are being mined amidst a flurry of research activity into affordable renewable energy sources. Categorically our present actions will have a direct impact on our livelihoods (economic, health, social), and those of our children, and our children's children.

But we are living in the “upgrade generation” fueled by mass production, instantaneous consumption, and enough waste generation to land-fill entire new nations. The core question is whether technology can help solve some of the biggest problems facing our earth or whether the rhetoric that says using technology to correct economic externalities is a misnomer.

 PetaJakarta.org team survey damage along the Ciliwung River using GeoSocial Rapid Assessment Survey Platform (#GRASP) via Twitter, as neighborhood children look on.

PetaJakarta.org team survey damage along the Ciliwung River using GeoSocial Rapid Assessment Survey Platform (#GRASP) via Twitter, as neighborhood children look on.

Let us ponder on the affirmative however. What role can big data play in civic infrastructure planning and development? Can citizens contribute data via crowdsourcing technologies to help service providers and government have better visibility of the problems on the ground?

For example, in the Chinese megacities that have emerged, capturing data that indicates where there is a pressing need for cleaner drinking water is imperative for the health and welfare of citizens. Doing this systematically might mean that citizens contribute this knowledge via a text message or through the use of social media, giving municipal and provincial governments and specific agencies in charge of waterways, such as environmental protection authorities, an ability to better plan and respond in a timely manner.

Similarly, if we can monitor zones prone to flooding that affect tens of millions of people, we might be able to lessen the burden on these citizens by informing civil infrastructure planners in the government to respond to the underlying problems perpetuating the flooding during monsoon season. Refer here to the work of Etienne Turpin and Tomas Holderness of the SMART Infrastructure Facility www.petajakarta.org. Here citizens send a text message using Twitter, some with location information and others with photographs attached, allowing partner organizations such as NGOs to get a complete picture of trends and patterns at a dwelling level, and collectively assess areas of major concern affected by banjir (i.e., floods). Is it possible to use this data to drive change?

Socio-technical systems in their purest form are there to fulfill user-centered aims, and not to act against an individual's freedom and human rights. Will we be able to convert the present senseless surveillance fueled by mega-companies and governments to a net-neutral opt-in detection and alert system toward access for basic needs and longer term sustainability for communities far and wide? At what point will citizens be able to donate their mobile and Internet and general utilities data without the risk of potential harm to themselves and their families? Or are we blindly being led down a utopian scenario that will ultimately be used to control or manipulate the masses even further?

Additionally, what will be the repercussions on private enterprise? To date utility companies have been taking advantage of their own inability to offer services that run on efficient energy redistribution to their subscribers. Of course it has never been in their best interest to “rob from the rich to feed the poor,” precisely because by offering this kind of redistribution, utilities companies would negatively be impacting on their bottom line. What will all this big-data achieve? An ever-greater ability to scrutinize the subscriber, based on smart meter data, in order to generate even more revenues for private companies who have taken on once government-based responsibilities.

We must not be myopic – big data can be used for us or against us. This issue presents the positive value of “collective action,” a fundamental ability to commandeer resources together, often self-organized, toward the benefit of our community at large. This is not a new phenomenon but with the aid of technology, both data collection and analysis have become possible at granular levels of detail. It is up to us to anticipate the risks associated with such engineering design principles, and introduce safeguards that will make such an approach work.

Citation: Katina Michael, Xi Chen, 2014, "The State-Society Relationship: Big Data's Big Future - But for Whom", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 33, Issue: 3, Fall 2014, pp. 7-8. DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2014.2349572

Drones Humanus

Some years ago, a sweet grandma in my (Christine's) neighborhood was convinced that one of her neighbors was involved in illegal activity. Although my husband and I tried to assuage her overactive mind, she insisted we purchase and deliver binoculars to enable her to perform her civic duty as a self-appointed sleuthhound.

If it had been this year, she could have placed an order on-line and a drone could deliver the packaged binoculars to her front door [1]. Perhaps next year, she can trade in the binoculars for a perching air drone that will not only fly, but also perform a controlled stall with actuators allowing the feet to grip the branch of the tree in her neighbor's yard. The bird-like drone, with motors that can shut down to avoid energy depletion, can sit for long periods of time, recording lots and lots of data [2].

The current environment in which these technologies are emerging causes even the more open-minded members of society to face considerable misunderstandings, exploitation, abuse, and even physical danger as was evidenced during The Burning Man festival this past year [3]. Not surprisingly, a plethora of issues arose at the festival pertaining to drones; many of which related to privacy. It is apparent, there are still fragmented, few, or no regulations. Yet advances in technology allow for more easily concealed devices [4], revolutionary capabilities of remote sensing and capture technology (e.g., LIDAR chip) [5], and decreasing costs to acquire devices [6].

What will we become? We can now buy devices to wear 24/7, logging everything we see, and sending data to our lifelog storage device in the cloud. Perhaps we are now the bird-like drone, but we move from the sky, to the branch, to the inside of people's homes, into their workspaces, and alongside them on roads, trains, and planes. We can capture their interactions, their facial expressions, and the intimate aspects of their everyday experiences [7]. There are seemingly no limits [8].

Much like peer-to-peer security that has proven to be effective in society to reduce disorderly conduct in crowds [9], perhaps people will be paid for drone-like behavior [10]. Perhaps, the sweet, civic-minded grandma in the neighborhood, who lifelogs to pass on a heritage to her progeny, will utilize the same device to capture peer-to-peer data and thereby subsidize her pension. What is the trajectory for society?

If the digital realm plays an ever-increasing role in developing and transmitting social norms, we must consider the many values at stake [11]. The older as well as the younger generations may perceive this as an opportunity to become as fearless as the desert explorers who traversed unknown lands. Only today, the point-of-view #explorers are demonstrating their mean feats to a global theatre using social media in real time to their legions of online followers [12]. Suppose lifelogs lead to an environment in which we are fact-checked against the recorded medium [13]. Your interpretation of an event could be refuted; you would be told, “You were never into jazz.” or “That wasn't such a good time, was it?” [14]. Can synthesized data, capture the spirit behind the poetic license one takes when telling a story to achieve a desired effect? Can an algorithm discern the varied contexts within which our behaviors were recorded? We often have different personae that change over time; and it is often necessary for an individual to have one personae for work, one for family, and yet another for the Internet [15].

The human experience cannot be captured and interpreted easily; we are highly complex and astoundingly dynamic beings. This is the great stuff of humanity. We are ever-changing. We embellish to affect laughter. We create what didn't exist. We make stuff up. We make up rules so we can play games. We make up institutions so we can coordinate problem-solving collective action. Data, especially when so abundant and extensive, can easily undermine such invention. One only needs to ask siblings to describe their shared childhood experiences; one could compare their stories and be exceedingly perplexed. Each sibling has created his or her own narrative; each may have invented a slightly different back story. Can algorithms or a fallible human who chooses how to personally interpret the synthesis of data, appropriately process reality [16]? Moreover, if it can be said that “history belongs to the winners,” then while there exists lifelogging asymmetry (some do, some don't), perhaps it could also be said, equally cynically, that “personal history belongs to the lifeloggers”? Issues arise with this historical record because a lifelogger could easily omit, misrepresent, or even distort and deceive; he or she can willfully create inaccurate narratives which could go unchecked and unchallenged.

The most delightful aspect of visiting that grandma wasn't the amusing humor derived from her comedic idiosyncrasies, but rather it was her rich storytelling. Her husband often had a different take on events. She admitted she chose to forget the painful aspects of the depression era. Yet, she wonderfully verbalized a narrative of her life and times from her perspective. Just as forgetting is an essential part of the human psyche (without which we cannot begin to function), so is the ability to create narratives [17]. In the event of universal lifelogging, could this be lost and replaced with machine-perfected recollections? Without narrative, we have no mythos, and so we have no more explanation for the human condition than logos. We would have much less ability to create a shared sense of community through a commonly told story, and may be stuck instead with a single unalterable personae deterministically crushed by the unbearable tyranny of mundane facts captured through devices.

There are negative ramifications when we allow technology to commodify social concepts, and diminish social relations like privacy, friendship, and loyalty. The resultant consequences, such as the fragmentation of communities, the dissolution of trust, and the diminution of our ability to solve collective action problems, are serious enough. However, such invasive technologies as wearables and bearables are doing something else: they could deprive us of the ability to create personae and narratives [18]. We may discover the obsessive literalism is an axe being taken to the very essence of what it means to be human.

IEEE Keywords: Special issues and sections, Drones, Privacy, Behavioral science, Security, Information processing,Wearable computers, Surveillance

Citation: Jeremy Pitt, Christine Perakslis, Katina Michael, "Drones Humanus", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 33, Issue: 2, Summer 2014, pp. 38 - 39, Date of Publication: 02 June 2014, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2014.2319951

Putting Technology into Perspective in Asia

With almost four billion people, Asia comprises about 55% of the world's population and 45% of the world's Internet users [1]. Internet penetration in Asia is estimated at almost 28% compared with the rest of the world at 43% [2]. The number of mobile users in Asia at the end of 2012 was estimated at about 3.2 billion subscribers. Eighteen countries in Asia have saturated mobile markets exceeding 100% penetration, while Macau and Hong Kong have mobile penetration levels of more than 200% [3]. India and China account for over 60% of the telecommunications market in Asia which is why so many companies are vying to be there.

But all of this needs to be factored against some humbling statistics. For example, 66.7% of people living in South Asia in 2010 earned less than$2 a day compared with 30% in East Asia and the Pacific [4]. According to the World Bank, more than a third of these people did not earn more than$1.25 a day, placing them below the poverty line. An estimated 80–90% of this population is rural, with rural poverty especially endemic in Southern Asia [5]. However, between 1990 and 2008 the number of people living in poverty in the world halved [6]. One question to ponder is how much of this reduction in poverty was as a direct result of technology?

When I worked for Nortel in Asia I had the opportunity to study voice and data teletraffic flow maps published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). I was always intrigued by the fact that thick arrows representing large volumes showed information flowing in and out of developed nations [7]. Poorer nations in Asia and Africa especially had very thin flows. Sometimes this signified that a market was predominantly “closed” and had not yet formally deregulated, or that internal conflict caused it to remain troubled instead of outward looking and global. The poverty cycle, also known as a spiral, is difficult to break. Initiatives like one laptop per child (OLPC) surely provide hope [8], as do open data initiatives to give access to information to anyone who has an Internet connection of any type [9]. However when there is no one to pay the electricity bill or to even guarantee the underlying infrastructure, even these promising ventures will fall short.

There are numerous ways to consider technology within a framework of progress. For example, some point to genetically modified (GM) crops that can provide food for those in need [10]; enabling technologies in the manufacturing industry giving workers a chance to earn a living; transportation technology like containers on ships and rail that enable global supply chain processes; sophisticated private and public exchange banking systems that allow for electronic commerce from anywhere in the world; and a high tech industry that is continually reinventing itself with new innovations to keep the retail sector moving.

Nonetheless, resources are limited as populations continue to rise at an increasing rate in developing nations, placing pressure on fossil fuel reserves. On the one hand these limited resources have meant that we are continually seeking to harness new alternative means of energy such as solar and wind, but on the other hand, we may be quickly approaching a crisis far greater than that of the 1973 oil embargo and subsequent stock market crash, if we do not back renewable resource initiatives with serious and ongoing research funding.

The externalities of technology are not only felt on a global scale with respect to climate change as a direct result of carbon emissions, but are vividly obvious in other activities from the exportation of e-waste disposal to countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, and in the contamination of waterways through industrial chemical waste within organizations situated within Asia and Africa [11].

In other cases, technology change has equated to business process optimization so harsh on employees that inhumane practices have been discovered in sweat shops and white good manufacturing lines. We might be paying significantly reduced prices for our computers, toasters, and clothes, but somewhere up the “chain” someone has had to get the component parts to a finished good. We have a responsibility to ensure that child workers are not being exploited on cocoa farms to bring us our favorite chocolate bars, and that pregnant female workers are not bound to their sewing machines from dawn to dusk, among a great many other worker issues.

I observe around my neighborhood during rubbish collection days, electrical appliances such as printers, abandoned on the roadside because it is cheaper to purchase a brand new one than to take the effort in purchasing color toner and installing it for use. Little by little we have become the throw-away generation, and the side effects from this thoughtless consumerism will cost us heavily in years to come. How much more prevalent this behavior might become with the onset of 3D printers and downloadable computer-aided designs (CAD) is anyone's guess.

While I do not wish to cast any shadow on this significant special issue dedicated to “Technology and Society in Asia” for which I thank the tremendous efforts of ISTAS12 organizers Greg Adamson, Michael Arnold, Sophie McKenzie, and guest editors Martin Gibbs, Philip Hall, and Shiro Uesugi, a counter-balance is necessary to place the special issue in perspective [12]. Yes, technology is the answer to so many of our problems today, but it can also be the source of our woes. That which has had such a positive impact on the production functions of so many processes, i.e., technology, can also carry with it negative intangible and hidden costs to the individual, the household, the factory, and society at large. We need to think past the first ripple effect, to far-reaching consequences, ensuring that we take the longer-term view, before that which immediately benefits profit margins.

References

1. United Nations Population Information Network, 2009, [online] Available: http://www.un.org/popin/data.html.

2. Internet World Stats: Usage and Population Statistics, 2013, [online] Available: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm.

3. P. Evans, P. Budde, "Asia-Mobile broadband and digital economy overview", BuddeComm, 2012, [online] Available: http://www.budde.com.au/Research/Asia-Mobile-Broadband-and-Digital-Economy-Overview.html.

4. "Poverty and equity data", The World Bank, 2013, [online] Available: http://data.worldbank.org/topic/poverty.

5. "Rural Poverty Portal: Asia", International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2009, [online] Available: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/region/home/tags/asia.

6. M. Tuck, "Poverty Reduction and Equity", The World Bank, 2013, [online] Available: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/.

7. "Measuring the Information Society" in International Telecommunications Union, 2012.

8. one.laptop.org, OLPC Foundation.

9. Interaction Design Foundation.

10. S.K. Moore, E. Strickland, "GM foods grow up", IEEE Spectrum, 2013, [online] Available: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/environment/gm-foods-grow-up.

11. StEP Solving the e-waste problem, 2012, [online] Available: http://www.step-initiative.org/.

12. ISTAS12 Technology and Society in Asia IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, 2012.

Citation: Katina Michael, "Putting Technology into Perspective in Asia", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 32, Issue: 3, Fall 2013, pp. 5 - 6, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2013.2276662

Welcome Message from The Program Committee Chair (ISTAS13)

It was in July 2012 that Steve Mann and I corresponded on the possibility of hosting a conference on wearable computing in Toronto, Canada. Steve had just returned home from a family holiday to France and publicly blogged about an unfortunate incident that had happened to him while away. On 17th July 2012 he posted: “Physical assault by McDonald’s for wearing Digital Eye Glass”. I could not be helped but to be reminded of that exchange during Star Wars between Luke Skywalker and the bartender:

LUKE: Do you really think we’re going to find a pilot here that’ll take us to Alderaan?

BEN: Well, most of the best freighter pilots can be found here. Only watch your step. This place can be a little rough. LUKE: I’m ready for anything.

THREEPIO: Come along, Artoo.

INTERIOR: TATOOINE — MOS EISLEY — CANTINA. The young adventurer and his two mechanical servants follow Ben Kenobi into the smoke-filled cantina. The murky, moldy den is filled with a startling array of weird and exotic alien creatures and monsters at the long metallic bar. At first the sight is horrifying. One-eyed, thousand-eyed, slimy, furry, scaly, tentacled, and clawed creatures huddle over drinks. Ben moves to an empty spot at the bar near a group of repulsive but human scum. A huge, roughlooking Bartender stops Luke and the robots.

BARTENDER: We don’t serve their kind here! Luke still recovering from the shock of seeing so many outlandish creatures, doesn’t quite catch the bartender’s drift.

LUKE: What?

BARTENDER: Your droids. They’ll have to wait outside. We don’t want them here. Luke looks at old Ben, who is busy talking to one of the Galactic pirates. He notices several of the gruesome creatures along the bar are giving him a very unfriendly glare. Luke pats Threepio on the shoulder.

LUKE: Listen, why don’t you wait out by the speeder. We don’t want any trouble.

THREEPIO: I heartily agree with you sir.
— Star Wars (1977)
 "We don't serve their kind here!"

"We don't serve their kind here!"

Sarah Slocum daring to take Glass footage inside a nightclub in the USA.

We both knew the timing was right for such an event that was not just a technical engineering or applied orientation on the theme of smart worlds, but an event that would grapple with the dichotomies of transparency and human rights, privacy and security, and of course technology and society more broadly. If I could credit Mann for one thing, beyond his savvy inclination toward innovation, it is that he has multiple dimensions to his thought, seeing the same problem through different lenses- not just eyetaps but the big picture view.

The basic premise for ISTAS13 was- if the numbers of people wearing cameras grew substantially by 2015 what would be the ensuing social implications? Rather than wait to answer that question in 2015, we decided to begin proactively with our intent, so as outcomes from the conference would be considered as viable feedback into the design process of these emerging devices that would be worn on the body much like a watch or arm band.

The opportunity to deliver the proposed conference under IEEE SSIT’s annual conference, the IEEE Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), was an opportunity we could not pass up, and after gaining approval from the board of governors of SSIT in October 2012, we went full steam ahead.

I don’t know too many people who would bravely put an international conference of standing together within a 9 month timeframe but I was astounded by the passion of everyone I came into contact with- from Ryan Janzen our youthful and switched on Organising Chair, to Steve Mann our powerhouse engineer who seemed to be available all day and all night at times as General Chair, our absolutely dedicated dynamic duo Alexander Hayes and Susannah Sabine as publicity chairs and web developers/masters, to Russell Verbeeten who managed to seal some very important and outstanding patronage and exhibits for us to enjoy at the conference. I also cannot forget the amazing volunteerism of members of the EyeTap Laboratory, most of them students of Steve Mann. These young men and women are our future, and it has been refreshing to see firsthand their approaches to philosophy, deep thinking about society, and how they will contribute both great innovations and imagination to the tech sector. I also thank Doug Nix who was there at the vital beginning and organized all our sponsors and submitted IEEE paperwork, and former chair Rabiz Foda enthusiastic within IEEE Toronto Chapter, and Purav Patel our former treasurer who left us in excellent condition before some personal matters presided in priority. Thanks also to the patient staff at IEEE Conferences.

Of my program committee, I say especially a thank you. You never tired of my messaging to you, for additional reviews when they were needed, and in re-reviewing on occasion to ensure that the appropriate changes had been made. Despite that we have 80 or so papers on the program, 40 full papers were finally accepted, and another 40 abstract only papers through invitation, plenary or otherwise. We received over 110 submissions for the conference which was substantial given the timelines. To our ad-hoc reviewers, I thank you too- even when you could not offer substantial commentary you did provide us with feedback which in turn helped our authors submit stronger pieces of work.

Thank you to the keynotes of Steve Mann, Marvin Minsky, Ray Kurzweil, Gordon Bell, and David Brin. On occasion I have had to pinch myself to remind myself that such a line up was possible. To our top class invited and plenary speakers- (I): Thad Starner, Ann Cavoukian, Colonel Lisa Shay, Isabel Pedersen, Cathal Gurrin, Monique Morrow, Teemu Leinonen, Natasha Dow Schull, Jeremy Pitt, Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, Carolyn McGregor, Emil M. Petriu, Ori Inbar, Nikola Serbedzija, Clint Zeagler, Rob Manson, Helen Papagiannis, (P): Matthew Schroyer, Jeff Robbins, Martin Kallstrom, Susan Herman, Daniel Kish, Ellen M. McGee, Corey Manders, Leigh Blackall, and Pia Waugh… I am privileged to call you friends. You all share one amazing quality- of course your expertise goes without saying, but you all wanted to be a part of this debate from the instant I asked you to be a part of the event. I will also say openly to the academic community, that you paid your own way to get to ISTAS13, and that goodwill won’t be forgotten especially during these economic times.

Our program represents diversity- on day 1 at Hart House we have a day dedicated to engineering; day 2 and 3 will be at the Bahen Centre respectively addressing topics to do with application development/design methods and the socio-legislative implications of wearables.

As an indication of the internationalization of this conference delegates and paper submissions have come from the following nation states: Australia, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United States of America, Uruguay. We also have representation from a full range of sectors including commercial, government, non-government organisations, and users. We appreciate the participation of the Privacy and Information Commissioner of Ontario, the American Civil Liberties Union, companies like EPSON, APX Labs, META, CISCO, Microsoft, ESRI, Memoto, Autographer, buildAR, Streamfolio, Augmate and Infinty Augmented Reality, Institute for Infocomm Research; as well as institutions and industry research and development units, such as the University of Wollongong, uberveillance.com, Optinvent, Singularity Weblog.

Our co-sponsors and technical sponsors also need to be acknowledged including: IEEE SSIT, IFMBE (International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering), University of Wollongong, University of Toronto, PSES (Product Safety Engineering Society). The breadth and depth of the patrons and sponsors indicates the growing importance of such dialogue today. Our delegate list also welcomes participation from Sony, Samsung, Qualcomm, Gartner, Verizon, Blackberry, Thalmic Labs, Ambient Ease, Telepresence Systems, OMG Life, Myplanet Digital, BMC Software, Smart Street Worlds, Illuminating Concepts, KIWI Wearables, LG Electronics. It is great to see this industry involvement and we hope we can really provide some substantial food for thought as we all contribute to technologies with ever-changing impacts on our life.

A note on the peer review process that was followed in this conference. Authors had the opportunity to either submit “abstract only” presentations, short papers of no more than 2,000 words or full papers of 5,000 words or more. Papers were sent to external reviewers and each paper received at least two blind reviews. Where there was a discrepancy in opinion an individual author may have received three or even four reviews. A list of reviewers can be found in this booklet. A note, that full papers were the only papers to undergo peer review. Abstracts and short papers were however vetted by an individual member from the program committee for technical accuracy.

What the general chair, organizing committee, and program committee can promise you all, is that this is just the beginning of the discussion on VEILLANCE. With Roger Clarke’s dataveillance conception, Steve Mann’s sousveillance conception, and MG Michael’s uberveillance conception, the stage is set for “watching”. All of these perspectives are vital and their historical contributions must reflect a new language of understanding, as technology far outstrips our current laws and value systems. Where to next? We hope you will join the discussion!

Citation: Katina Michael, "Welcome Message from The Program Committee Chair", International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13), 27-29 June 2013, University of Toronto, Canada, Info7-Info9, DOI: 10.1109/ISTAS.2013.6613093 

 

 

 

 ISSN Information:

Risk, complexity and sustainability

This special section is dedicated to risk as understood within our society, in which we depend upon increasingly complex and interconnected technologies for even our most basic needs-water, food, shelter, electricity, gas, sewage, communications, and banking.

Natural disasters and their impact on vital services has been a research area that has flourished, especially since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in South Asia. This research has yielded a plethora of strategies for addressing short-term and geographically defined disasters. While such disaster preparedness systems are vital to minimize the loss of life during a natural disaster, we turn to consider what some would call of even greater value to society at large. That is, how to reduce the vulnerability of everyday citizens by understanding better how their essential supply lines interconnect, which supply chains are intertwined and, how this might impact the individual, regardless of whether they are living in a crowded city or remote village.

By developing a clear understanding of what makes us all vulnerable in our particular context, we can be better prepared to reduce these exposures, and build a more resilient society in the process. As one example, “survival” literature suggests that one of the most problematic repercussions of a serious “incident” is disruption to food supply. Y et during the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand in February 2011, food supply was much less problematic than sewage disposal. In another example, residents of a rural town threatened by earthquake were unconcerned at the possible disruption of landline phone services - but were disturbed to learn that ATM and banking communications, cell-phone data, emergency calls (as well as landline phone services) were all carried on a single fiber-optic link!

Classically, we have built models that calculate the probability of an event occurring and measure its theoretical impact if the event does indeed occur - but these models are limited. They might reveal to us a ranking of probable incidence, and the estimated loss in dollar figures as a result, but they do not provide insight into how interdependencies in various supply chains play out during an incident (whether caused by natural or human-made mischief).

For instance, we know that in a simplistic scenario, if water supply is disrupted, then our electricity system will not operate effectively, and if our electricity system does not work then all additional services that require power, such as the crucial ATM network also does not work, and people are left without the ability to purchase fuel, food, etc. The financial sector will certainly consider the effect of ATM systems failure, but (as with most supply chain managers) their assessments of brand damage and corporate losses are likely to receive higher weighting than end-user problems.

A very strong argument exists that we need to be building vulnerability models so that we can at least know where the weakest points in an operational community (of individuals) lie. By identifying the weakest points, we can overcome them with strategies well in advance of a major incident. This does not mean that we can eradicate vulnerability completely from our communities, but we can minimize the level of exposure - both to anticipated and unanticipated threats.

Technology is a double edged sword - on the one hand it offers advanced, efficient, and economical services, but on the other it exposes us to both technological and also ethical risks. Therefore a crucial role exists for engineering ethics and social responsibility in higher education curricula. Additionally, we need better mechanisms with which to comprehend the full dimensions of risk and exposure - and a desire to move towards a future that offers real (individual) people both security and service.

This special section addresses some of these issues, including fundamental definitions of technique vs. technology, complex systems of systems, and planning for future technologies and policy repercussions well in advance.

IEEE Keywords: Sustainable development, Strategic planning, Risk management, Complex networks, Disasters

Citation: Lindsay Robertson, Katina Michael, 2013, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Vol. 32, Issue: 2, Summer, p. 12, 05 June 2013, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2013.2265145

High-Tech Lust

Are you in love with your Android or Apple device? Do you have a deep affection and suffer from separation anxiety [1] when your smartphone is not within arm's length of your bed at night?

Don't worry, you're not alone. Rossiter [1] differentiates between “brand love” and “brand liking” which is significant. When it comes to our high-tech gadgetry people are likely to be able to cope better with being separated from a partner or child than being separated from a vital piece of technology which goes with them everywhere.

I have been thinking much about what it means to be “in love” with an inanimate object - with a device that, lacking electrical pulses, would be completely “dead” and without function. At least a block of wood that serves as a dinner table facilitates the joy of a family meal, and is more visually appealing than a computer that is not plugged in. Well, at least to me anyway…

One reason why I believe some people are “in love” with their Android or Apple devices is because their contents reflect so much of who they are. Without these devices, they cannot be contacted instantly. Stored on these devices are montages, pictures and video snippets, favorites, lists, and contacts. They are in love therefore with aspects of the self, and this is not entirely negative. It is only that the high-tech device, e.g., the smartphone, is often misunderstood as being an extension of the body, when in fact it is the other way around [2].1 Meaning it is the smartphone that drives us because without the human it would not have any intrinsic value.

When we couple lust with technology it becomes an overwhelming desire or craving to be “with” our device, all the time.

These days we are so habituated to getting that instant message, whatever form it takes, that it has become a welcome distraction from the everyday and mundane. I see many mothers at parks on smartphones welcoming the relief from baby talk, even if only for a few minutes. But at the same time, at home, it can be used as an excuse to be taken away from household responsibilities. Who wouldn't prefer to talk to a friend or write on someone's wall instead of cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing floors, or vacuuming?

Some months ago I came across an article on Lew Terman, current IEEE SSIT Secretary, and former President of IEEE. In this article [3], Lew reflects on his late father Fred Terman, who many people consider to be the “father of Silicon Valley.” Of his father, Lew reflects on childhood memories: “He would drop what he was doing, answer the question, make sure I understood the answer, whatever it was. I would leave, and he would go right back to work … He never said, ‘Wait a minute, I am in the middle of writing this thing, could you come back when I've finished the page?’ or, 'don't bother me now, but I'll talk to you later.'”

I was convicted by this paragraph. I recollect the number of times I have told my own young children that I am busy with “work,” and that I will be with them as soon as I finish this email or that call, while they are hanging off my legs. They tell me at these times that “I am not listening.” I retort that I can hear them, and that I am listening, it is only that my actions fall short. I know it is time to stop, when they come over to me and place their hand in front of my computer screen or hit the keys randomly on the keyboard so as to bring my activity to an abrupt halt.

So I go back to thinking about “high-tech love.” And I reckon we have it wrong with our premise. Today, I think we shouldn't be thinking brand liking or brand love, but be defining “high-tech lust.” Lust can be defined as: “an overwhelming desire or craving.” When we couple it with technology it is an overwhelming desire or craving to be “with” our device, all the time.

I have seen first-hand and on numerous occasions, people become strongly agitated or extremely fidg-ety, emotionally fall apart, and constantly crave to be reunited with their high-tech device when they have left it behind or it is misplaced. I cannot describe it in any other way than there every thought is obsessed by its absence. It is an acute attack, and it can go on for hours until the device is found and they are holding it in their hands again. Most of us, whether we like to admit it or not, have experienced something of this “separation anxiety.”

Corporations know this they see it in our daily smartphone activity monitoring logs which tell them about our behaviors. If you think no one is watching, every time you pick up your handset, let alone press a button on it, then think again. We are being sold the idea that we can now wear this technology so it is always with us and we cannot forget it behind accidentally. Soon, we will be told we can have a corporal union with it, and be one with these utilities, and have it reside inside of us too! We will indeed become bearers of technology, not just wearers of technology.

We are moving too quickly. Desires and cravings if not tempered can work to have negative consequences. We are being locked into a life of electronic chains. We might not yet be wearing GPS monitoring bracelets like parolees, but that too will come even if in the guise of a pair of digital glasses.

The folly is in that we are willingly beckoning in these times without thinking about the social implications for us and for future generations. Rather than lusting for our high-tech gadgetry we should be lusting for life - there is a difference.

We once complained of the working conditions in large factories or even underground mines. Today we have excellent lighting, the most advanced ergonomic furniture, and yet we have become enslaved to the mobile office. Just before day breaks we are working on our computer or smartphone; night comes and we are still there pounding out messages. The darkness can resemble being underground.

The discerning Rafael Capurro has written of this information overload in a keynote speech [4]. He uses words like: “burnout,” “surmenage” (i.e., “excessive work”), and being “completely exhausted.”

When high-tech lust turns ugly it becomes high-tech disdain. We can develop a dislike, and even disgust for technological apparatus. We may even seek in-part or total separation away from it. It becomes the opposite of brand love; it becomes brand hate.

Some parents regret the day they handed their child an Internet-enabled computer, registered an e-mail address or bought a smartphone for them. But we should never be surprised at the usage patterns of the younger generation. They are only mimicking our behaviors and at even greater speeds.

References

1. J. R. Rossiter, "A new C-OAR-SE-based content-valid and predictively valid measure that distinguishes brand love from brand liking", Marketing Letts., vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 905-916, 2012.

2. E. Kac, Time Capsule, 1997, [online] Available: http://www.ekac.org/timec.html.

3. "First a technologist then a leader among them a Terman seeks to spur humanitarian engineering", Stanford Engineering: Meet our Alumni, Apr. 2010, [online] Available: http://engineering.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/terman_lew.pdf.

 4. R. Capurro, "Medicine in the information and knowledge society" in Eur. Summit for Clinical Nanomedicine and Targeted Medicine (CLINAM), pp. 23-26, June 2013.

Citation: Katina Michael, 2013, "High-tech Lust", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine (Volume: 32, Issue: 2, Summer 2013 ), pp. 4 - 5, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2013.2259652