My editorials and opinions on the topic of...

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

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:

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

The Idio-Technopolis

The rapid rise of social media has brought with it an emphasis on the distinct dimensions of the whole person. Social media recognizes that the individual has a personal network of extensions - a home life, a work life, a social life, a study life, a hobbyist life, and much more-some of these identities even hidden from full view. Each of these online value networks are now accessible by big business, where opinion leaders and early adopters are easily distinguishable, and where brand commentary between consumers matters manifold more than any form of targeted advertising.

When I started out as a pre-sales network engineer I would dimension traffic based on parameters such as the number of homes passed as in the case of cable television networks, or the amount of upstream and downstream data traffic going between the head office and the remote office branches typically measured in T1s. These measures while still important in the realm of availability, redundancy, optimization, expansion, and unification of networks can be for the greater part now considered legacy thinking.

The next generation of networks will not be about the number of homes and businesses passed or about the school, bank, hospital, or government building that need services-these will be all catered to by fiber-to-the-curb technologies and high-speed mobile broadband. Rather, the next generation of networks are about the “you” in the equation. The “you” encapsulates your mind space and your bodily space, everything that constitutes your life and every other life or thing it touches. In computing speak, it is about the person-to-person relationships, person-to-system relationships, and person-to-object relationships. The “you” becomes an integral component in the web of things and people (WoTaP).

 By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29289503

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29289503

You cannot explicitly share ownership of the new applications. It is individuals who own Twitter accounts and LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages and Skype contacts. And more often than not, technologies also belong to the individual-it is the “I” that maintains his/her own ipod, digital camera, smart phone, laptop, television, and more.

Social media like location -based services have micronized the technopolis (i.e., the science park) to embody that which is distinct, separate, and different in the anthropos (the human). Yet the paradox of servicing the idio-technopolis has meant that everyone is seemingly on the same level playing field. Everyone is theoretically a “friend,” or a “contact,” or a “member,” despite that they might actually be your own father or mother, brother or sister, best friend or acquaintance, employer or work colleague, or even total stranger. In this flat hierarchy there is a great opportunity for expression but there is also the possibility of the complete loss of respect and potential for abuse. Social media allows for the externalization of the personal and at the very same time the monetization of the human being. Thus, the “member” becomes the product that is “for sale.”

The paradox is that “one's own” connections while “private” and “personal” (i.e., idio) are being made quite “public” and “common.” Not just in terms of accessibility by anyone/anywhere but in terms of becoming explicit. New mashups and data aggregation engines can tell you things about yourself that you didn't even know, let alone knew existed. The risk in this type of profiling is that you are ranked and rated for just being “you.” The greater your online activity, the greater importance you are to the network in all its forms. What does this idio-technopolis mean for the individual? For the family? For society?

I am excited about this special issue for the reason that the benefits and concerns of the new technologies are highlighted. I would like to thank Professor Michael Loui for guest editing this special issue. I know first-hand the many hours he took to put the papers through a rigorous two-stage review process seeking feedback from experts in the field and ensuring the papers met all the expected requirements. May I take this opportunity to ask you to place ISTAS'12 on your calendar. It promises to be a great gathering. (See announcement on p. 4.) I hope to see you there.

Citation: Katina Michael, The Idio-Technopolis, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Year: 2012, Volume: 31, Issue: 2, pp. 5 - 12, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2012.2202011