Surveillance cameras bolted to buildings have proliferated in recent decades, but the adoption of wearable devices like Google Glass heralds an age of uberveillance.Read More
This performance art piece was delivered by Katina Michael at the Intelligence Squared (IQ2) debate at the City Recital Hall, Sydney, Australia, on August 12, 2014. The topic of the debate was “Are we becoming enslaved by our technology?” Joining Katina on the affirmative side was the Crikey (an Australian e-magazine) correspondent for politics, media, and economics, Bernard Keene, and Dimension Data's general manager of security and internet safety Alastair McGibbon. On the negative side was Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, backed by journalist, filmmaker and blogger, Antony Loewenstein, and by Asher Wolf, a self-described information activist. The debate was moderated by Dr. Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre and broadcast on Australia's ABC Radio National and ABC Big Ideas television program. The debate is available for viewing in full at: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/bigideas/stories/2014/09/04/4081183.htm. The results of the online vote can be found at http://www.iq2oz.com/debates/we-are-becoming-enslaved-by-our-technology-/. As of October 31, 2014, 807 online votes had been received from the general public: 53% of online votes indicated we are becoming enslaved by technology.
First there was darkness
Then came the light
And the darkness was called night
And was separated from the light
And that was called day.
First came the knife
And then fire
Shelter, spear and clothing
The boat and the wheel
And then eventually the quill.
First came the printing press
The steam engine
The Spinning Jenny
Analytical and differential engines
And the light bulb
And the television.
Communications and electronic highways.
Mega-cities as big as countries
Why the census, of course-
Sensor-rich big data
An Internet of Everything
Atomised bits and pieces
Of things and people
Creating because we can
Wars and bombs
Brain in a vat
Let's see how far we can go.
From inventing for survival
Then for the shareholders
Then for convenience
And finally for the sheer sake of inventing.
It's called need
No, it's actually greed
No, it's called optimisation and efficiency
No, no, no, it's called freedom and liberation
Yes, yes, enslavement in disguise.
This is the upgrade generation
The throwaway generation
Buy a new printer
It's cheaper and faster than getting a new toner for your old one-
Leave it on the scrap heap of e-waste
It's somebody else's environmental problem.
We're the consumption generation
Soldering whitegoods for a few dollars each
Impoverished workers suicide
Unable to cope with production demands
But that's over there, and we're over here.
We're the all you can eat fast food and frozen pizza generation
The Genetically Modified quantifiable generation
Like the lifetime of DDT-
We're the plastic generation
We can't be bio-degradably broken down that easily.
We're the Do-It-Yourselfer generation
Equipped with 3D printers
And electronic checkouts,
We currently scan out our goods on our own
While they're all-too-busy scanning us!
We're the “always on” generation
Living in the cloud.
We're the generation that witnesses cyberbullying and viral videos
And as a result 13 years olds who take their own life.
We're the generation that hears about 3 month old babies dying of dehydration
While their parents raise the perfect online child.
We're the generation where 30-somethings forget themselves at Internet Cafes
And can't keep a 9 to 5 job.
We're the generation that manufactures toxic toys for kids under 3.
We're the generation that wirelessly broadcasts
Music that glorifies
We are living a locked-in syndrome
Like the moth effect
Look for the light
It's coming from over there
Let me go to it and see what it is about
Oh, I am alive
Reaffirmation I'm not alone
Well, I'm lonely, but at least I have-
1,007 online Facebook friends following me
And I don't know most of them,
But who cares it gives me something to do
Better than being bored.
I'm coming to you, oh screen, where art thou?
Watch out—don't get too close
Because if you get too close, then you are no longer
Like the moth that is drawn to the light-
All this technology
Surely some good can come from it!
In touch every second of every day
Out of touch however physically–
I text you “I luv u”
But I'm too tired and too scared to
And embrace you
And make love to you
This technology is desensitising
“Hang on love-just another email from the boss”
The clock is ticking but that “thing” is pinging
Yet another status update
[Message received - whistle sound from Android device.]
What a nightmare-
The botnets are coming!
Oh-another virus, I've accidentally executed.
I wonder why my supervisor hasn't replied yet-
I wonder if they got my message,
If they'll respond,
If they hate me,
Oh, I get so anxious these days
That I cannot cope with all the traffic buzzing in my head,
It's terrifying really.
Oops!- I didn't mean to press SEND.
Long hours behind the computer
Burning back aches
Red eyes from red alerts
I've got to get home-
Hang on I'll just relax a little and play some Minecraft or Starcraft
Oh, I wonder what's happening on World of WarCraft
No one will notice if I am using the board room to strategise for my
17 windows open all at once
Why can't I concentrate like I used to?
Why can't these new recruits pen something that makes sense?
So many spelling errors
I'll have to redo their work, but what's the time?
— Oh she's onto me again
I should ignore her instant message
But I just can't say NO.
“I'd like to get it on with you”
“How old are you?”
“Do you use Skype?”
“Wanna do some Google with me and let it Hangout?”
It's not real
Don't worry, everybody does it!
It won't lead to anything
It doesn't mean anything
What the missus doesn't know won't hurt her-
She cannot give me the same fix
The real is just so boring
The virtual is limitless
But why do I feel so damn guilty?
I'm sure the police will never find out
Just in case she's not 18.
But anyway it's just a game
Everything's a game these days
Even the trolls are making light of it!
But what if she's really a he?
Oh, what have I got myself into!
Oh, this is too hard to fight against
I hate myself-
I'm so addicted.
[Sound of child throwing tantrum over ipad.]
Oh these kids
I just fell asleep again after YouTubing all night-
–“I wan iPad” can't be coming from my two year old, can it?
“Get off the computer
You've got to go to football”!
I tell my 10 year old off.
He responds throwing a tantrum:
“I wan iPad!”
“I wan iPod!”
“I wan Google Glass.”
“I wan iPlant!”
“Is that what they're talking about now?”
No, it's probably the mark of the beast…
Embedded implants for single sign on log-ins
That will save so much time-
But there's never enough time
And there's never a winner or
An end to those massively online multiplayer
Role playing games.
I wonder if they'll invent more than just a kill-switch …
What embedded security hacks?
How'd that work?
What do you mean I just jack in?
Aha-no choice to remove
A total loss of control!
They know who you are
Where you are
Where you're going
And what condition you're in
And they can even prove it biometrically!
Michael had dubbed it uberveillance long ago.
Big dog beckons as do the microscopic drones
A world of watchers about to explode-
Some of the hubots will even be paid to watch you
What you do as you go about your business.
Manipulation of the masses
We believe Wikipedia
And rely on Google search
We want to share our GPS coordinates
And take pictures of our food
And our nakedness
That's what it's about
Benchmarking how fit we are
Or how unfit in mind and body we are.
But wait till our every day objects come alive-
Like the smoke detector that never lies and
Answers all your questions from the ceiling of your own home.
Let me demonstrate:
[Looks up to ceiling and then questions.]
“What should I eat for breakfast?”
“What is the fastest animal on earth?”
“Now tell me the truth-who or what should I believe in?”
It's all propaganda.
No body knows you're a dog on the Internet
And soon no one will know the difference
Between virtual and physical
Illusion and reality.
It started with the ENIAC
And then from the ENIAC to the mainframe
From the mainframe to the minicomputer
From the minicomputer to the desktop
From the desktop to the laptop
From the laptop to the netbook
From the netbook to the wearable
From the wearable to the implantable!
Can't you see the pattern my dear friends?
Can't you see what we've become,
And are becoming?
Marching to the beat of the machine
It's the elephant in the room.
Look, can't you see it?
It's the emperor parading naked down the street
Look, there he goes-
Really, there he is.
Internet addiction is real
Mobile addiction is real
Gaming addiction is real
The social implications are real
We all know their real because
We all know someone who is suffering!
It's like the Elephant and the Emperor
We all know it's around us
So when, when are we going to take responsibility?
To the question, “Are we becoming enslaved?”
I say “no” we're not becoming enslaved,
Because we're already deeply enslaved.
And instead of saying “STOP”
We keep asking for more?
But more surveillance does not equate to transparency
More information does not give us knowledge and wisdom.
For the loyalty cards
For the barcodes
And for the CCTV cameras in every street.
For the 16 likes I got yesterday and 3 retweets
For the 167 iTune Apps I downloaded and never use
But which are probably tracking me.
For the gift of metadata and for data retention regimes
For the electronic gulags we are building
Enslave us even more
So we can fulfil the algorithm.
Oh yes, and how about that
Permanent delete feature you've been promising?
Ladies and gentlemen, does this make sense?
Have we forgotten what it means to be free?
I never told you to switch off your computer completely
To give away your dishwasher
Your washing machine
Your day job
Or to stop talking to your friends on the phone-
Or to stop using email altogether
I'm asking you to get real.
Go home and have a look in the mirror
Have a good look at your eyes
Are they sunken like you've been wearing an Occulus Rift?
Do you get my drift?
Think for a change, just don't do.
“Who am I?”
“Who have I become?”
“Who have we become?”
Switch off those devices-
Open your eyes.
Reclaim your life-
Your kids, your spouse, your friends
Go outside and feel the chill
And see the natural sunlight
You are alive
But the technology is dead
Your heart is beating
But the batteries are forever dying.
Do we really wish to be the ones to breathe life into the machine?
What will be the consequences of this homo electricus we're building?
The predators will become the prey
We will become victims of our own creations.
Yes, driverless cars,
But who is at the helm steering?
Out of control
Out of this world
Is this really what we mean by calculated progress?
Do you think we won't be harmed?
We just can't keep throwing technology at technological problems
What goes up must come down
Forget the singularity.
Where has all that precious time gone?
Sucked into vectors of nothingness.
I ask you to listen, to reflect,
To ask two questions:
“Why am I here?”
“What's my calling?”
It's to embrace
It's to look up
It's to be human, once again.
Citation: Katina Michael, "Enslaved", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 33, Issue: 4, Winter 2014, pp. 5 - 10. DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2014.2363980
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:
- What can governments use crowdsourcing for?
- How does government operate in a networked environment?
- Can Big Data help government solve problems?
- How will government respond to the empowered individual?
- How can governments effectively manage cities to meet the challenges of urbanization?
- 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:
- What can citizens use crowdsourcing for?
- 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.
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
In our last issue, i wrote about how we'd planned to expand the scope and audience of IEEE Consumer Electronics (CE) Magazine. After all, CE is not just about the design and manufacture of electronic systems and products. These devices and their ecosystems have been changing and altering our lives since the introduction of the TV set in the 1950s and 1960s.
But in today's Internet age, we are so interconnected that society and the economy respond at a much accelerated pace. Changes and disruption that would have taken years, or even decades, back in the 1960s and 1970s can now spread in months or even weeks. And today, their impacts are felt on a global scale, and not just in the developed world, but increasingly among those in the developing world.
As engineers, we are the electronic architects of tomorrow, but the scope and scale of impact that our designs and architectures can have on society and on the economy place significant responsibility on our shoulders. We are all responsible for broadening our perspectives and considering how our work might impact the lives of others. There is much for us to learn beyond the realms of pure science and engineering.
This section of our magazine, aptly titled “Impacts,” is being introduced to help facilitate a broadening of our perspective on the world of CE and to learn more of the various impacts of CE on society. It is introduced in partnership with the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT). Starting with this issue, SSIT members will also be receiving a copy of IEEE CE Magazine, increasing our distribution to IEEE Members in other Societies.
I would like to express a big thank you first to Stefan Mozar, president of the IEEE CE Society, for initiating this collaboration with SSIT and second to Katina Michael, the editor-in-chief of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, for working with me to put together this first “Impacts ” section.
This is a first attempt, but I think it is a pretty good start—at the same time, I'd much rather hear what some of you think. So please feel free to contact either me or Katina to give your feedback. And we'd welcome suggestions for topics or subject areas that should be addressed in future editions of “Impacts.”
Now a short introduction to our partners on “Impacts ”—the SSIT.
Introduction to the IEEE SSIT (Katina Michael)
CE has revolutionized the way we live and work. Most students that I know would rather forgo expensive clothing labels than do without their branded smartphone. In fact, some of them would forgo food altogether if it meant their phone could always be on and always with them, clipped onto their belt buckles, strapped into their pants or jacket sleeves, or held in the open palm of their hand. Something happens when our basic needs as humans are overtaken by some other need that was once a distant want at best—plainly, confusion in our ability to rightly determine what our priorities are as humans in any given context.
I have been around people who have lost or had their iPad or iPhone stolen. It is not a pretty sight to see a grown man or woman become frantic and then be reduced to tears over the loss of what is seemingly an inanimate object but in reality has become seamlessly integrated to every aspect of one's life. And lest I look all high and mighty, I had my own laptop stolen with invaluable unbacked Ph.D. research onboard, while working for Nortel Networks and visiting company headquarters in 1999. It took me months to recover from the ordeal, professionally, academically, and even mentally.
The SSIT, with its flagship magazine, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, explores not only the obvious trends toward CE but those aspects that are not given enough attention on the externality spectrum of potential issues—the threat of ever-increasing screen time for children at school and at home, the use of violent video games, and exposure to different types of online media to everyday consumers, consider even the wide ranging topics that go into supporting the development of such an innovation, tracking its existence from conception to the end of its product lifetime.
Taking the smartphone analogy further, as a typical CE device that affects the global population and that has now saturated the consumer market, SSIT would consider everything from the sustainable design of mobile phones to further investigation of the smartphone's posited harmful effects through the emission of electromagneticfields or the potential to do damage to the wearer's inner ear if played on a high volume daily. The Society would also be interested in submissions on the manner of operational health and safety obligations and conditions of companies during the assemblage of the CE components into the finished product in developing nations. The privacy and security of the data on the smartphone would be an area of interest, as would the ability to dispose of the device without producing ever-increasing e-waste mobile phone dumping grounds with hazardous materials thrown into a landfill.
But that is not all. SSIT's greatest focus is perhaps the economic, institutional, and organization infrastructure surrounding CE products. Aspects of this include how developing countries are adopting CE and their impact on equity and access to information toward international development out of the poverty cycle, the ability to offer remote health care and better access to health information services, the importance of public policy surrounding telecommunications in general, and the laws, standards, and regulations in existence to facilitate use, at the same time protecting the consumer. Herein, it is important to weigh the benefits of CE such as the smartphone—on the one hand, providing life-saving capabilities such as access to emergency services, as opposed to the potential to cyberstalk a stranger using mobile social media or even gather location data from a friend's phone to be used surreptitiously at a later date. Equally, we are interested in articles addressing functionality, such as the ability for human activity and condition monitoring from the dozen or so sensors in the smartphone, as well as the basic traditional applications of call patterns, texting, and usage patterns, with respect to communities of practice online. How might these communities be changing the dynamics between state and society both now and into the future?
One thing for certain is that IEEE SSIT shares some fundamental qualities with the IEEE CE Society—that it is one of the most interdisciplinary Societies within the IEEE, and membership spans across disciplines, with a wide spectrum of interests represented. We are actively seeking papers that tackle the social, environmental, economic, political, and ethical impacts of CE on households, businesses, and governments and how the application of such technology can improve the world around us but also how it may adversely affect the very users it was created to aid.
IEEE SSIT hosts the annual conference, the International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS), and, in 2013, the focus was wearable technologies, while in 2014, the focus will be on ethics and technology. The Society also supports and recognizes engineering ethics, presenting the Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest. With active international Chapters all over the world, IEEE SSIT provides a voice for topics that would otherwise not be addressed from all sides of the debate. It is this open discussion that makes IEEE SSIT and IEEE CE such vital Societies as we continue with the explosion of emerging technologies in all aspects of our home and work life. CE affects everybody—from the newborn baby, to the employee, to the elderly. Viewpoints and cutting-edge pieces on all these perspectives are not only welcome but highly valued.
IEEE Keywords: Social factors, Consumer electronics, Sociology, Economics, Media, Mobile handsets, Ethics, Design manufacturing
Citation: Peter Corcoran and Katina Michael, "Impacts: At the intersection between the worlds of consumer electronics and socioeconomics", IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, Volume: 3, Issue: 3, July 2014, pp. 57 - 58, Date of Publication: 26 June 2014, DOI: 10.1109/MCE.2014.2317897
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 . 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 .
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 . 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 , revolutionary capabilities of remote sensing and capture technology (e.g., LIDAR chip) , and decreasing costs to acquire devices .
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 . There are seemingly no limits .
Much like peer-to-peer security that has proven to be effective in society to reduce disorderly conduct in crowds , perhaps people will be paid for drone-like behavior . 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 . 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 . Suppose lifelogs lead to an environment in which we are fact-checked against the recorded medium . 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?” . 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 .
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 ? 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 . 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 . 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
Each year, thousands of film buffs gather at the Sundance International Film Festival in Park City, UT, U.S.A., to see the offerings of the world's brightest filmmakers. If it's true that movies reflect the preoccupations and obsessions of the larger culture, it's eye opening that three of the twelve contenders for international documentary film this year address the dark side of screen technology.
Love Child, looks at the tragic 2010 death by neglect of a three-month-old baby named “Satang” (“Love” in Korean), when her parents spent up to twelve hours a day playing the game Prius, caring for their avatar child “Anima,” while leaving their real child alone to starve to death .
Web Junkie goes behind the scenes of a Chinese detox camp for adolescent video game addicts, documenting the draconian measures they employ. The Chinese declared Internet Addiction Disorder (lAD) to be a clinical disorder in 2008 .
Happiness documents the introduction of technology to one of the remaining “net-free” spaces on earth - rural Bhutan. The film centers on an eight-year-old boy raised to be a Buddhist monk, as he and his family take a three-day trek to the city to buy a television. When asked if the television will bring him happiness, he unhesitatingly exclaims “Yes!” Of course, we viewers, wiser and more jaded, think of the mind-numbing time waste of reality television and cluck our tongues, saddened to think how quickly he will learn that things are not as he might imagine them to be .
These issues are not just coming to a head in Asia, but everywhere screen technologies are in use. Israeli filmmaker Shosh Shlam of Web Junkie explains that lAD is “a universal issue that is becoming progressively all encompassing, as the boundaries between the real and the virtual become increasingly blurred” .
The Look Down Generation 
How many times have we said, “I'm just going to check my email”-only to find ourselves, two hours later, with papers ungraded, chores undone, and dinner unmade?
There is a reason this theme is playing out on the big screen: it reflects the drama playing out on little screens everywhere, in nearly every human life in the industrialized world. From smart phones to Wiis, from iPods and iPads to Xboxes - excessive screen time resonates with nearly everyone, especially those of us with children, or with even the slightest inclination towards addiction ourselves.
Let's face it, if not addicted, we've grown uncannily fond of the glowing mobile devices we carry with us all day long and the gaming consoles we plug ourselves into at night. The benefits of speedier communication, instant access to information, and cheap and plentiful entertainment make them almost too compelling to avoid. But we're beginning to see that these benefits come at a considerable cost. If we lose our spare time to these machines, is that too high a price to pay?
Artists are often the first to sound the alarm at society's excesses, but you don't have to go to Sundance to see that we've all been collectively mesmerized. Nor do you need a research grant to see the socio-ethical impacts all around you. You can do your own field observations on your way to work, in a coffee shop, on campus. How many people, young and old, are immersed in the screen ? Closer to home, consider how your own family life has been affected by the hours you, your children, and your spouse spend online instead of relating to each other .
Of course we are not writing this editorial from an Amish village . We've been down the same road of time-wasting, mind-numbing technology use, and like everyone else, we've watched our own screen time increase at an alarming pace in the last few years. In 2009, the average U.S. adult spent 8.5 hours a day on digital devices, but tablets and smart phones have raised that figure to a staggering 11.5 hours per day. Barring sleep, we have just 16 hours each day to live our conscious lives. If we spend 11 of them online, at a console, or in a game, that's 69% of our waking lives. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of screen time . Even those figures may underreport the problem. A recent study from comScore and Jumptap shows total U.S. Internet use nearly doubled between 2010 and 2013, from 451 billion minutes to 890 billion minutes .
Horror stories in the news abound, of parents disregarding their kids to the point of starvation, students flunking out of school, gamers dying from heart attacks, even kids poisoning their parents to get online . We shake our heads at these previously unimaginable stories of excess, but lately they've begun hitting closer to home. How many readers have seen close friends, even family members seduced away from their meaningful relationships by the promise of a Second Life or a tryst in World of Warcraft? It's the elephant in the room, the skeleton in the closet, the emperor parading naked down the street. Clearly something is going on.
Although the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) in 2012 identified Internet Addiction as “an issue deserving of further study” , we're not here to debate that topic. Nor do we want to argue about whether screen time can be instructive, or useful, etc., as those discussions are already raging elsewhere, with both sides ably defended. Instead we're concerned about the millions of everyday users - male and female, adult and child - who would never consider themselves Internet addicts, yet still spend countless hours staring into a flickering screen or wiggling a game controller - perhaps long after common sense has told us to stop.
Most of us legitimately require screen time for work, but we often get stuck there. How many times have we said, “I'm just going to check my email, or update my professional profile, or play one more quick round of this game,” only to find ourselves, stiff and aching, two hours later, with papers ungraded, chores undone, and dinner unmade? And even though we recognize this, we keep repeating the cycle.
The Great Sucking Sound
At the end of the day, the main currency of a human life is time, and time spent engaging the virtual world displaces real life activities. This tendency to be time-sucked by our devices seems to be a universal feature of the technology, experienced by all cultures that have adopted it. It's not just South Korea and China, but all of us who are allowing our real lives to fade into secondary importance as we spend ever more time locked-in by the always-on, ever beckoning digital world. Filmmaker Shlam gets it right when she warns that “something is getting lost” in our physical, real, everyday lives .
The great sucking sound associated with these technologies is the wholesale waste of billions of hours of productive and meaningful living time from the world's people into fruitless pastimes that yield few tangible rewards . The productivity void of all these wasted hours is already beginning to alarm U.S. employers, as analysts bemoan that employees spend one quarter of their online time at the office on non-work related Internet surfing, thus squandering an average of five hours per week . Yet where are the experts calculating the loss of quality parenting hours? Marriage hours? Study hours? Playing, tinkering, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, music-making, lovemaking, stargazing, living hours ?
We're just beginning to realize that time spent in the electronic vectors of nothingness is contributing to the decay of our meaningful, face-to-face, heart-to-heart, and skin-to-skin relationships . Does this surprise anyone?
All those online hours come at a high cost. We feel pressured, like there is never enough time to get everything done . And kids suffer when their parents are not there for them. “Time, time, there's never enough time.” It's ironic that all of our labor saving devices and technologies, especially since the arrival of the personal computer, have not liberated us. Instead, where they give us additional time on the one hand, they steal it back with the other .
Ask the Difficult Questions
The real concern is whether we can leave the screen behind when we need to. To see if we are in control, ask yourself a few of the following questions.
- Is your phone or computer the first thing you go to in the morning after you get out of bed?
- Do you turn to the screen out of boredom or habit?
- Does your screen time seem to expand to fill the available space?
- Do you go on “sprees” or “benders” of screen use that you later regret?
- Do you often say, “Just a moment,” to loved ones when you are using technology?
- When online, do you get annoyed with family members when they ask for your attention?
- If you reduced your non-necessary screen time, would other area of your life improve?
Take Control of the Screen
Mostly everyone would answer “yes” to at least of a few of these questions. So what is the answer? We've Got to do Better. There is still a chance to recapture our human value and our dignity, reaffirm the rights of our children to have undistracted parents, and get back to a time when our children looked us in the eye clearly and brightly when we spoke to them . We still have time to reaffirm the value of reality ! We can change. We can do better.
The next time you tell your children and your spouse you love them, do it in the real world, not just over SMS or email. In fact, if you're reading this at home, get up off your chair right now and go searching in the physical space to reach out to that family member who is absorbed with a screen. If it's not easy to get them to look up and make eye contact with you, take that as a sign that you need to make some necessary changes. , . Consider planning your next family vacation to an unspoiled paradise and leaving the devices behind . When you return, tell yourself you will not go back to your old ways and hold your ground . Be patient with yourself and your family members as you find new ways to relate to one another and discover new activities to fill your time. Take courage. The hardest journeys begin with resolve, and then taking those first decisive steps.
The title of this paper was inspired by Eric Bibb's single “Got to do Better,” produced in 2007 and featured in the album, Painting Signs.
1. "Love Child", Indiewire, Jan. 2014, [online] Available: http.//www.indiewire.com/film/love-child.
2. "Web Junkie", Indiewire, Jan. 2014, [online] Available: http.//www.indicwirc.com/film/web-junkie.
3. "Happiness", Indiewire, Jan. 2014.
4. R. Williams, "China recognises internet addiction as new disease", The Guardian, Nov. 2008, [online] Available: http://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2008/nov/11/china-internet.
5. T. Larrua, "The look down generation", The PRsenal, Dec. 2009, [online] Available: http.//thewhole9.com/blogs/theprsenal/2009/12/17/the-look-down-generation/.
6. J. Brown, K. Michael, , , "Interview 16.1: The screen culture" in Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies, IGI Global, 2013.
7. K. Michael, "High-tech lust", IEEE Technology & Society Mag., vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 4-5, 2013.
8. J. M. Wetmore, "Amish technology: Reinforcing values and building community", IEEE Technology and Society Mag., vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 10-21, 2007.
9. J. Loechner, Loechner, "Screenjumpersdouble time online", Center for Media Reserach, Sept. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/209156/screeniumpers-double-time-online.html.
10. "Jumptap and com Scorereport 14 percent of women 25–49 access internet only through mobile", Jumptap, Sept. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130905005184/en/Jumptap-comScore-Report-14-Percent-Women-25-49#.UuvGPfmSxHU/.
11. D. Kupfer, Darrel Regier, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) American Psychiatric Association, 2012, [online] Available: http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx.
12. D. Lurie, "Interview with Web Junkie director ShoshShlam", Film-maker Mag., Jan. 2014, [online] Available: http://filmmakermagazine.com/83773-interview-with-web-junkie-director-shosh-shlam/.
13. L. D. Rosen, iDisorder: Understanding our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, Palgrave Mac-millan, 2012.
14. "Wasting Time at Work? Finding the Productivity Sweet Spot", NICE, 2012, [online] Available: http://www.nice.com/nice-productivity-infographic.
15. K. Albrecht, K. Michael, "Connected: To everyone and everything", IEEE Technology and Society Mag., vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 31-34, 2013.
16. K. S. Young, Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction-and a Winning Strategy for Recovery, Wiley, 1998.
17. S. Kamb, "Why I don't have time is a big fat lie", NerdFitness: Level Up Your Life, Jul. 2012, [online] Available: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/07126/priorities/.
18. R. A. Tejeiro Salguero, "Measuring problem video game playing in adolescents", Addiction, vol. 97, pp. 1601-1606, 2002.
19. K. Young, C. Nabuco de Abreu, Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment, Wiley, 2006.
20. J. Lin-Liu, "China's e-junkies head for rehab", IEEE Spectrum, Feb. 2006, [online] Available: http://spectrumjeee.org/telecom/internet/chinas-ejunkies-head-for-rehab.
21. S. Cherry, "Are we addicted to out smartphones?", IEEE Spec-trum, Sept. 2011, [online] Available: http://spectrumjeee.org/podcast/geek-life/tools-toys/are-we-addicted-to-our-smartphones.
22. L. Kutner, Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do, Simon & Schuster, 2008.
23. K. Roberts, "Cyber junkie: Escape the gaming and Internet trap", Hazelden, 2010.
24. M. Skoric, L. Ching Teo, R. Neo, "Children and video games: Addiction engagement and scholastic achievement", Cyber Psychology and Behavior, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 567-572, 2009.
25. D. Sieberg, The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life, Three Riv-ers, 2011.
26. H. Cash, Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control, Issues Press, 2008.
27. D. T. L. Shek, , "Internet addiction" in Neuroscience in the 21st Century: Springer Reference, Springer-Verlag, Nov. 2012.
28. "Girls drug parents to use Internet: Cops", Huffingtonpost.com, Jan. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/girls-drug-parents-to-use-internet_n_2402309.html.
Citation: Katherine Albrecht, Katina Michael, "We've Got to do Better", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 33, Issue: 1, Spring 2014, pp. 5 - 7, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2014.2300948
High-tech robots called PackBots will be unleashed during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil to help boost security and examine suspicious objects.Read More
The activist group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) was founded in 1999 by Katherine Albrecht. The very same year Kevin Ashton, co-founder and executive director of the then Auto-ID Center at M.I.T., made a presentation to Proctor & Gamble with a title that included the phrase “Internet of Things.” According to Ashton, “the most numerous and important routers of all” are people , but people have limitations and are not very good at capturing data about objects in the physical world.
By 2001, Ashton's automatic identification vision became a lot clearer. At the Auto-ID Center during a Forrester Executive Strategy Forum he stated: “In nature, identification is a matter of life and death. If you can't identify things, you can't count them, you can't work out whether or not you can eat them, you can't work out whether or not they are friends or foe” . All this was in the context of a discussion with an African tracker, emphasizing how a predator decides to attack a herd of zebra to “singulate,” “hunt,” and finally to “exhaust” .
It is true that the “connectedness” offered by the Internet of Things is extremely powerful, and has tremendous possibility, but as far as people are concerned, there are two fundamental, and potentially fatal, flaws to its vision. The first flaw is that people are not “things” but as soon as they are incorporated into the Internet of Things, they become things, at least in the eyes of the system. In addition, people potentially become prey as well, as we have seen in recent events - prey for marketers, for overzealous security arms of government, and for a whole lot more.
People are not mere “objects.” Placing numbers on individuals and putting them on equal footing with cans of cola and bags of dog food is simply dehumanizing . At one point, Kevin Ashton was planning a book tentatively titled Soda with Souls , implying that an RFID sensor could imbue inanimate objects with a spiritual essence. Of course the reality is just the reverse, because an underlying trajectory of all these sensors is human beings. Far from numbers enhancing the soul, putting a number onto a person all but denies that persons humanity. The terrible evidence for this is still with us from our not too distant past , .
The second flaw is that linking objects to subjects en masse may someday sound the death knell to our fundamental human right to privacy . Ashton's vision of people becoming the most important “routers” of all indicates this. Routers act like gateways and are devices that forward data packets on between networks, which is likely where the “people as sensors” paradigm is headed . Recently, Cisco Systems ratcheted up the original language of the Auto-Id Center's vision. Rather than simply call it the Internet of Things, they now enthuse that we are headed toward an Internet of Everything. In light of this, we should perhaps now be considering the Internet of All Things, in other words, the Web of Things and People (WoTaP) .
Relationships today are more relevant than ever - that is, truly meaningful human relationships - because of all the clatter of social networks that would try to reduce them to marketing links and data mining insights and other detritus of the machine that is consuming real love between people.
Relationships have become a key currency for all these new technologies - the fuel that makes them run: relationships between people and things, between people and their environment, but especially between people and each other. Social science researchers look at the complex taxonomy of online social networks and shout “hooray,” believing that these relationships herald a new era of connectedness . Marketers also shout for joy with dollar signs in their eyes. Witness the recent changes at Google and Facebook for a case in point “now we can connect photos with product endorsements” . Unless we can count people, unless we can number and track them, not only can we not hunt and track them, but we can't monetize them. So-called “smart” technologies and ubiquitous sensors make this easier than ever before.
The changes that have taken place in the 14 years since the Auto-Id Center and CASPIAN were founded represent a profound shift. Rather than shy away from the dehumanizing aspect of numbering and tracking people, instead of opposing it with boycotts and legislation, we the “watched,” the information prey, have welcomed this technological invasion into our midst like a Trojan horse, bringing surveillance tools into the very inmost private centers of our lives.
This should not surprise us. The agenda has been set by big companies like IBM, which has been referring to a “smart planet” since 2008 , . Plans around this smarter planet were already well underway as far back as 2001, when IBM received a patent for the “Person Tracking Unit” (#20020165758 Identification and Tracking of Persons Using RFID-tagged items) , and laid the groundwork for visual surveillance through its People Vision research project, now renamed IBM Smart Surveillance System .
Where this truly becomes interesting (or alarming, depending on your world view) is in plans tolink up technologies for tracking and surveillance of people with near total omniscience of their environment. This is the essence of the smart planet, or the “planetary skin,” as a partnership between Cisco and NASA R&D has claimed . But while smart planets are supposed to have everything to do with cities, and smart grids, and smart meters, and monitoring bridges, and weather patterns, their real potential is in the feedback mechanisms that pass human-centric data through wireless sensor networks (WSNs). These sensors, sprawled all over our built and natural environment, affixed to people, animals, trees, transport vehicles, lamp-posts, and eventually everything, are designed to send back messages to the cloud and in turn drive smarter analytics. In sharing this data openly, we are promised new efficiencies of scale and a revolution of data-driven innovation.
Predictive analytics, machine learning, and big data  will allegedly give us greater insights than ever before on how we can maximize our limited resources. We are promised a fairer distribution of energy, better emergency warning systems, a reduction in criminal activity, and the power of crowdsourcing to lead us to a better, safer, and more informed world.
What is wrong with this model of advancing our potential humanity? We seem to want not only to quantify the planet, our countries, our cities, our neighbourhoods, but even - and perhaps especially - ourselves! But these are also, as readers of Gilles Deleuze have recognized, technologies of control .
We now return to the humble frequent shopper card, which, along with the credit card, was the earliest form of a numbering system designed primarily for the monetization of the individual . We claim here that not too many have ever profited from such a scheme, save for the retail companies who issue them . Again, like a Trojan horse, however, these devices have found their way into the wallets and onto the keychains of a majority of consumers in the U.S. and across the industrialized world. Adoption rates of frequent shopper cards stand at nearly 90% of U.S. and U.K. households that have enrolled in at least one, whereas adoption in Australia of the Fly-Buys scheme in 2009 was more circumspect with one in four adults registered into the scheme . However, consumers do not knowingly volunteer their personal shopping information to big business and government; they do so unawares . By the time people realize these tools cut both ways, they have already become entrenched, accepted and (*yawn*) business-as-usual. Of course, that is also the case today with many of the other whiz bang gadgets the data captors would like us to adopt. From search engines and “free” email to smartphone apps and toll transponders, like TVs that watch us and store shelves that take our photos - everything is bugged. Soon they'll be watching the very bread we eat. Oh wait, they already are! Voluntary uberveillance now pervades most of our society .
The marketing pitch, of course, is that the quantified movement will herald the solution to the world's problems - and our own individual personal problems. Monitoring our weight and exercise levels, recording our every thought and sniffle, tracing our every movement and location, all promise to make us better, safer, and stronger as we forge a brave new world of data-driven human perfection. Our new ability to quantify the self, to segment the self, to disembody individual parts, and to provide all that data effortlessly is indeed a revolution. But will all that quantification really improve the experience of living - of breathing, worshiping, raising children, interacting, marvelling, loving - for those who are being sliced and diced ? It is sadly all too true, as Ashton well pointed out, that computers do reduce people to bits and bytes: “you can't eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank” . And you can't love them, either.
We challenge the idea that the Internet of Things will usher in a new era of human health and happiness . This does not mean we do not embrace positive computing initiatives. We clearly do - as we are using them to write this paper. The creative genius and pioneering spirit of our innovators and engineers is also not in dispute here. But at the same time we shouldn't be fooled. At its core this perceived utopia contains both a danger and a deadening.
The danger is the very real threat it poses to our safety and privacy . At the end of the day there is very little difference between tracking and surveillance. Remove the watcher, and tracking and surveillance are one and the same thing. We, the information predators and the information prey, must ask who is made smarter and who will ultimately be empowered by these so-called intelligent systems . Whether by radio-frequency identification (RFID), nearfield communications (NFC), bar codes (e.g., Quick Response codes), global positioning systems (GPS), or sensors of all types (including for image capture) - someone is watching. What we carry, or even bear, and the data we collect thereby, may be used either to help us, or to cause us irreparable damage .
Secondly, it poses a threat to the very things we hold dear and claim to be trying to use it to protect - precisely, our human dignity and our happiness . These are things that cannot be quantified - at least not yet, and we suspect they never will be! These include the light in the eyes of our children, the ineffable beauty of the natural world, the joy of a hug from a friend, the exhilaration of a cold, snowy morning. Blanketing the earth and injecting each other with sensors will do little to enhance these experiences, and would even threaten to do harm.
We should not don rose colored glasses (or Google glasses, for that matter) thinking all this technology will lead us to a better, happier world. Independent of how clever machines will soon become, it's hard to truly believe that a world governed by automata would be better than one with a rhythm and agenda set by people - democratized, functioning organically from the bottom up rather than systematically from the top down. While technology promises to put the power into all of our hands, it has a tendency to wind up as a one way, top-down control street (like aerial drones, and the NSA's prism surveillance program, to name just two examples).
The Internet of Things may well lead to a “better” and “smarter” planet, but we challenge the notion that we as human beings will be improved as a result . The regular you's and me's may think we're in charge of our shopper cards and our mobile apps and our smart fridges - but they all feed into the same voracious machine - the global brain. The contents of that brain may be comprised of our data, and bits of our lives, but let's not fool ourselves, it's not ours. It belongs to Google, and IBM, and Cisco Systems, and the NSA, and the TSA, and the global Mega-Corp that owns your local supermarket. If you don't believe us, just try removing “your” data from their database. We have rich myths about such things as Greeks bearing gifts. We need a new mythology - a new myth - about the people who sought total control over themselves, and wound up having none.
K. Ashton, "That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing: In the real world things matter more than ideas", RFID J, June 2009, [online] Available: http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?4986#sthash.nsraiwel.dpuf.
2. K. Ashton, "Kevin Ashton Auto-Id Center at Forrester Executive Strategy Forum", Spychips Nelson Current 2005, pp. 7-9, Nov. 2001.
3. K. Albrecht, "RFID tag - You re it", Scientific American, pp. 72-77, 2008.
4. Mr. Kevin Ashton, ZoomInfo, [online] Available: http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Kevin-Ashton/4435917.
5. P. Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, Vintage, 1989.
6. A. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.
7. K. Albrecht, "RFID: The doomsday scenario", RFID: Applications Security and Privacy, pp. 259-273, 2006.
8. M.F. Goodchild, "Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography", Geo J, pp. 211-221, 2007.
9. K. Michael, G. Roussos, G.Q. Huang, R. Gadh, A. Chattopadhyay, S. Prabhu, P. Chu, "Planetary-scale RFID services in an age of uberveillance", Proc. IEEE, vol. 98, no. 9, pp. 1663-1671, [online] Available: http://works.bepress.com/kmichael/l86.
10. M.G. Michael, K. Michael, "Privacy- the times they are a-changin‘", IEEE Technology & Society Mag, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 20-21, 2012.
11. Google. Terms of Service update Google: Policies and Principles, [online] Available: http://www.google.com/policies/terms/changes/.
12. IBM Smarter Planet, Oct. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet.
13. A. Kamanetz, "IBM‘s ‘Smarter Planet’ initiative to be announced today", Fast Company, Nov. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.fastcompany.com/107/1950/ibms-smart-planet-initiative-be-announced-today-you-heard-it-here-first.
14. K. Albrecht, L. McIntyre, Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID, pp. 32-35, 2005.
15. K. Michael, M.G. Michael, "Converging and coexisting systems towards smart surveillance", Awareness Mag, pp. 2012-06, June 2012, [online] Available: http://www.awareness-mag.eu/view.php?article=003989.
16. "PSI. “PSI: About us (History)", Planetary Skin Institute;, Oct. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.planetaryskin.org/about-us/history.
17. K. Michael, K.W. Miller, "Big data: New opportunities and new challenges", IEEE Computer, vol. 46, no. 6, pp. 22-24, 2013.
18. M. Poster, D. Savat, Deleuze and New Technology Edinburgh U.K.: Edinburgh Univ. Press, pp. 120, 2009.
19. K. Albrecht, "Supermarket cards: The tip of the retail surveillance iceberg", Denver Univ. Law Rev, pp. 534-539, 2002.
20. K. Michael, "The land of milk and money", The Drum, pp. 09-25, [online] Available: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013.
21. C. Williams, Research - Unley Business Loyalty Card Program, [online] Available: http://www.unley.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/USLT_Item_21_Attl.pdf.
22. K. Albrecht, "Supermarket ‘loyalty’ cards and consumer privacy education: An examination into consumer knowledge about cards' data collection function", 2006.
23. M.G. Michael, K. Michael, "Towards a state of uberveillance", IEEE Technology & Society Mag, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 9-16, 2010.
24. M. Eldred, "Technology technique interplay Questioning Die Fragenach der Technik" in IEEE Technology & Society Mag, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 13-21, 2013.
25. K. Pretz, "Exploring the Impact of the Internet of Things: A new IEEE group is taking on the quest to connect everything", The Institute, Oct. 2013, [online] Available: http://the-institute.ieee.org/technology-focus/technology-topic/exploring-the-impact-of-the-internet-of-things.
26. K. Albrecht, "Keynote address: RFID and Privacy", Proc. RFID Privacy Workshop, Nov. 2013, [online] Available: http://www.media.mit.edu/events/workshop-rfid.html.
27. P. Gautier, "Interview with Michel Quesnel about the book: Internet des Objets Internet mais en mieux (Internet of Things a better Internet?) by P. Gautier and L. Gonzales", 2001, [online] Available: http://www.i-o-t.org/post/Interview_with_Michel_Quesnel_Internet-of-Things.
28. M.G. Michael, K. Michael, "The fall-out from emerging technologies: On matters of surveillance social networks and suicide", IEEE Technology & Society Mag, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 15-18, 2011.
29. R. Capurro, M. Eldred, D. Nagel, Digital Whoness: Identity Privacy & Freedom in the Cyberworld, 2013.
30. P.-P. Verbeek, Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things, Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011.
The title of this paper was inspired by Eric Bibb's Troubadour Live single titled: “Connected” which was produced in 2011 (https://myspace.com/ericbibb/music/song/connected-81491541-89777198).
IEEE Keywords: Special issues and sections, Surveillance, Privacy, Radiofrequency identification, Internet of things, Commercialization, Marketing and sales, Tracking, Ethics, Human factors, Sensors
Citation: Katherine Albrecht, Katina Michael, "Connected: To Everyone and Everything", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 32, Issue: 4, winter 2013, pp. 31 - 34, 06 December 2013, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2013.2291170
Announcing Three New T&S Magazine Associate Editors
Beginning January 1, 2014, T&S welcomes three new Associate Editors:
Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D is an internationally recognized privacy expert with a Doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. She also received a Masters in Education from Harvard, in Technology, Innovation, and Education, and she holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and International Marketing from the University of Southern California.
Khanjan Mehta is the Founding Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program and Assistant Professor of Engineering Design at Penn State University.
Xi Chen, Ph.D., is a full professor in the School of Business at Nanjing University, China. Previously, he has been a Visiting Scholar of the Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, U.S.A.
Additional information will appear in the Spring 2014 issue of T&S.
Embedded sensors provide us with a range of conveniences that many of us take for granted in our everyday life.
They first appeared in static items — everything from auto-flushing the common lavatory to auto-dispensing of soap and water for handwashing.
Then these sensors — for identification, location, condition monitoring, point-of-view and more — were embedded in mobile objects. Our vehicles, tablets, smart phones, even contactless smart cards say a lot about our behaviors, traits, likes and dislikes as we lug them around with us everywhere we go.
In a way, we've become an extension of these technological breakthroughs. The devices we carry take on a life of their own — sending binary data upstream and downstream in the name of better connectivity, awareness, and ambient intelligence.
But it seems we want more — or at least that is what the tech giants are leading us to believe.
Enter wearable computers — digital glasses, watches, headbands, armbands and other apparel that can lifelog and record visual evidence — tell you where you are on the Earth's surface and how to navigate to your destination, alert you of your physical condition (heart and pulse rate monitors), and even inform you when you are running late to catch a plane, offering rescheduling advice. These devices are windows to others through social networking, are bridges to storage centers, and even on occasion are companions as they listen to your commands and respond like a personal assistant.
For example, Google Glass, is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that acts on voice commands like “take a picture” and allows you to record hands free. You can share what you see live with your social network and it provides directions right in front of your eyes. Glass even syncs your deadlines with speed, distance, and time data critical to forthcoming appointments.
Google is not alone.
Microsoft was in the business of life-logging more than a decade ago with its SenseCam device, which has now been replaced by the Autographer. Initially developed to help those suffering with dementia as a memory aid, the Autographer takes a five-megapixel picture about 2000 times a day and can be replayed in fast-forward mode in about five minutes. It is jam-packed with sensors that provide a context for the photo including: accelerometer, light sensor, magnetometer, infra-red motion detector, and thermometer, and also contains a GPS chipset.
The slim-line Memoto is the latest gadget to enter the wearable space. Far less obtrusive than Glass or Autographer, it can be pinned onto your shirt. It takes a snap every 30 seconds, and is so lightweight that you quickly forget you are even wearing it.
These devices make computers part of the human interface. But what are the implications of inviting all this technology onto the body?
What are the implications for individuals, families, businesses and society at large, if everywhere we go we are connected to the “web of things” and people, and we continue to thoughtlessly and almost unconsciously leave behind intricate and intimate digital chronicles of ourselves as we interact with the world around us?
We seem to be producing innovations at an ever-increasing rate and expect adoption to match that cycle of change. But while humans have limitations, technologies do not.
We can keep developing at an incredible speed, but there are many questions about trust, privacy, security, and the effects on psychological well-being, that if left unaddressed could have major risky and often negative societal effects.
In research we conducted into location-based services in Australia we found people trust technology and its conclusions more than they trust a first-person eyewitness account. This is especially true of locational information taken from GPS devices, despite that plotted coordinates are not always accurate or reliable.
For example, partners became suspicious of their loved one if they perceived them to be loitering for extended periods of time at points of interest (for example, a train station).
In other cases parents who used GPS location-based social networking apps were surprised how curious they were in tracking their children, even if they were young adults. What had been setup for an easy pickup capability was being used for secondary purposes.
The most invasive feature of all these wearables however, is the image sensor that can take pictures in an outward-looking fashion.
The claim is often made that we are under surveillance by CCTV even within leisure centers and change rooms. But having a Glass device, Autographer, or Memoto recording while you are in a private space such as a “public” washroom provides all sorts of nightmare scenarios. The camera is looking outward, not at you.
Consider the following simple scenario. A male goes to the toilet. As he goes about his business he does not look down while wearing a digital camera but he looks straight ahead. This is selective recording, in a way, a type of censorship. Even worse, while the male goes to wash his hands, he takes a look into the mirror, and the reflection records someone else going to the toilet with their crown jewels in full view.
Imagine now very different contexts. What happens when someone is disciplining their child about an incident — are they recording the wrongdoings of the child as they try to make them understand why their actions were inappropriate?
What happens when people are having an argument, and things that should never be uttered come into the fore disclosing very personal details or behavior that was irrational in speech and captured on Glass or triggering other command-based actions automatically? The list goes on and on. Surely the camera MUST be turned off.
Those who believe that they will remember to turn off the camera, or will not be tempted to keep the camera “rolling”, or will “delete” the data gathered at a later date, are only kidding themselves. We can hardly delete our email records, let alone the thousands of pictures or images we take each day.
The recording of sensitive data might also increase criminality rather than reduce it.
The power to exclude, delete or misrepresent an event is with the wearer and not the passive passer-by. There is an asymmetry here that cannot be rectified, unless the passive participant becomes an active wearer themselves. And this is not only unfeasible, but I would argue undesirable. At what point do we say then enough is enough?
We are challenging fundamental human rights through the adoption of new technologies, which are enslaving us to a paradigm of instantaneous reality-TV style living. We are seduced into providing ever more of our personal selves without any concerns for the protection of our personal data.
Who owns the data emanating from these devices, if the information is stored somewhere other than the device itself? Does that mean I lose my capacity to own my own set of histories relating to my physiological characteristics as they are sold on to third party suppliers?
Who will return my sense of self, after I have given it away to someone else? How do I ensure that I do not bring to myself those age-old computer problems that have plagued us already — the endless need for upgrades, the endless need for customer service call-backs, and that blue screen of death?
We need to face up to these real and proportional matters because they not only have lawful implications, but implications for our humanity.
Citation: Katina Michael, "For Now We See Through a Glass, Darkly", IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Volume: 32, Issue: 4, winter 2013, pp. 4 - 5, Date of Publication: 06 December 2013, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2013.2286423
Banking at the supermarket might seem convenient, but you should think twice before putting so much of your information into the hands of a single corporation, writes Katina Michael.Read More
With almost four billion people, Asia comprises about 55% of the world's population and 45% of the world's Internet users . Internet penetration in Asia is estimated at almost 28% compared with the rest of the world at 43% . 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% . 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 . 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 . However, between 1990 and 2008 the number of people living in poverty in the world halved . 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 . 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 , as do open data initiatives to give access to information to anyone who has an Internet connection of any type . 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 ; 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 .
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 . 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.
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
Embedded sensors provide us with a range of conveniences that many of us take for granted in our everyday life. They first appeared in static items — everything from auto-flushing the common lavatory to auto-dispensing of soap and water for handwashing.Read More
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
It's no secret that both private enterprise and government seek greater insights into people's behaviors and sentiments. Organizations use various analytical techniques-from crowdsourcing to genetic algorithms to neural networks to sentiment analysis-to study both structured and unstructured forms of data that can aid product and process discovery, productivity, and policy-making. This data is collected from numerous sources including sensor networks, government data holdings, company market lead databases, and public profiles on social networking sites.
Although data mining in one form or another has occurred since people started to maintain records in the modern era, so-called big data brings together not only large amounts of data but also various data types that previously never would have been considered together. These data streams require ever-icreasing processing speeds, yet must be stored economically and fed back into business-process life cycles in a timely manner.
Since the Internet's introduction, we've been steadily moving from text-based communications to richer data that include images, videos, and interactive maps as well as associated metadata such as geolocation information and time and date stamps. Twenty years ago, ISDN lines couldn't handle much more than basic graphics, but today's high-speed communication networks enable the transmission of storage-intensive data types.
For instance, smartphone users can take high-quality photographs and videos and upload them directly to social networking sites via Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G cellular networks. We've also been steadily increasing the amount of data captured in bidirectional interactions, both people-to-machine and machine-to-machine, by using telematics and telemetry devices in systems of systems. Of even greater importance are e-health networks that allow for data merging and sharing of high-resolution images in the form of patient x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs between stakeholders.
Advances in data storage and mining technologies make it possible to preserve increasing amounts of data generated directly or indirectly by users and analyze it to yield valuable new insights. For example, companies can study consumer purchasing trends to better target marketing. In addition, near-real-time data from mobile phones could provide detailed characteristics about shoppers that help reveal their complex decision-making processes as they walk through malls.
Big data can expose people's hidden behavioral patterns and even shed light on their intentions.More precisely, it can bridge the gap between what people want to do and what they actually do as well as how they interact with others and their environment. This information is useful to government agencies as well as private companies to support decision making in areas ranging from law enforcement to social services to homeland security. It's particularly of interest to applied areas of situational awareness and the anticipatory approaches required for near-real-time discovery.
In the scientific domain, secondary uses of patient data could lead to the discovery of cures for a wide range of devastating diseases and the prevention of others. By revealing the genetic origin of illnesses, such as mutations related to cancer, the Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, is one project that's a testament to the promises of big data. Consequently, researchers are now embarking on two major efforts, the Human Brain Project (EU; www.humanbrainproject.eu/vision.html) and the US BRAIN Initiative (www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/02/fact-sheet-brain-initiative) in a quest to construct a supercomputer simulation of the brain's inner workings, in addition to mapping the activity of about 100 billion neurons in the hope of unlocking answers to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Other types of big data can be studied to help solve scientific problems in areas ranging from climatology to geophysics to nanotechnology.
While big data can yield extremely useful information, it also presents new challenges with respect to how much data to store, how much this will cost, whether the data will be secure, and how long it must be maintained.
For example, both companies and law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on video data for surveillance and criminal investigation. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is ubiquitous in many commercial buildings and public spaces. Police cars have cameras to record pursuits and traffic stops, as well as dash-cams for complaint handling. Many agencies are now experimenting with body-worn video cameras to record incidents and gather direct evidence from a crime scene for use in court, obviating the need for eyewitness versions of events. Taser guns also now come equipped with tiny cameras. Because all of these devices can quickly generate a large amount of data, which can be expensive to store and time-consuming to process, operators must decide whether it is more cost-effective to let them run continuously or only capture selective images or scenes.
Big data also presents new ethical challenges. Corporations are using big data to learn more about their workforce, increase productivity, and introduce revolutionary business processes. However, these improvements come at a cost: tracking employees' every move and continuously measuring their performance against industry benchmarks introduces a level of oversight that can quash the human spirit. Such monitoring might be in the best interest of a corporation but is not always in the best interest of the people who make up that corporation.
In addition, as big multimedia datasets become commonplace, the boundaries between public and private space will blur. Emerging online apps will not only enable users to upload video via mobile social networking but will soon incorporate wearable devices in the form of a digital watch or glasses to allow for continuous audiovisual capture. People will essentially become a camera. This publicly available data will dwarf that generated by today's CCTV cameras.
However, unlike surveillance cameras, smartphones and wearable devices afford no privacy protection to innocent bystanders who are captured in a video at the right place at the wrong time. For example, in the wake of the recent Boston bombings, images of several people photographed at the scene were mistakenly identified as suspects on social media sites.
In fact, one of the major challenges of big data is preserving individual privacy. As we go about our everyday lives, we leave behind digital footprints that, when combined, could denote unique aspects about ourselves that would otherwise go unnoticed, akin to digital DNA. Examples include our use of language and punctuation in blog and forum posts, the clothes we wear in different contexts, and the places we frequent-do we spend our Sunday mornings outdoors playing sports, indoors online, visiting friends, attending religious services, or cruising a bad part of town? Something as innocuous as when and how we use energy in our homes reveals many details about us. Outside our homes, drones could well be used for ad hoc monitoring, spotting unusual changes in land use patterns and feeding data back to operation centers about emergencies.
Big data analytics will draw on aspects of our home, work, and social lives to make assumptions beyond typical “market segmentations” and delve deep into ontological questions such as, “Who are you?” This has metaphysical implications. For example, people will consciously alter their online activity, and will modify their behavior in surveilled spaces, to protect their privacy. Big data will change how we live in both small and large ways. Are we on a trajectory toward an uberveillance society? Will pervasive and ubiquitous computing converge with underlying network infrastructure providing uber-views using advanced data analytics for convenience, care, and control purposes?
Finally, many big data applications will have unintended and unpredictable results as the data scientist seeks to reveal new trends and patterns that were previously hidden. For example, genetic screening could reveal the likelihood of being predisposed to an incurable disease like Alzheimer's that leads to long-term anxiety about the future, such as being ineligible for life insurance. Likewise, technotherapeutics could assist elderly patients in one way but assert unhealthy controls on others.
We can live with many of these uncertainties for now with the hope that the benefits of big data will outweigh the harms, but we shouldn't blind ourselves to the possible irreversibility of changes-whether good or bad-to society.
In this Issue
Members of the IEEE Society for Social Implications of Technology are actively engaged in exploring big data developments and their social and ethical implications. This special issue presents some of the subjects important to SSIT.
The five articles we selected represent perspectives from diverse interests from both operational and nonoperational stakeholders in the big data value chain.
Jess Hemerly provides us with an overview of public policy considerations for a data-driven future. Hemerly, a public policy and government relations analyst at Google, emphasizes the need to tread carefully in the regulation of data flows so as not to adversely impact innovation stemming from the data sciences.
Paul Tallon addresses the need for big data governance by positing that data does have a measurable economic value and that there are technical, reputational, and economic risks to manage. Tallon also presents an important discussion on the cost of big data to organizations.
Jeremy Pitt and his coauthors write on the need to understand big data within the context of collective awareness, as a smart grid infrastructure can have a positive impact on societal transformation toward sustainability. The authors argue that computational management of common-pool resources requires a new approach-institution science.
Marcus Wigan and Roger Clarke are more circumspect about the role of big data in society, pointing to the fact that underlying problems have been in existence since the inception of automated computers. Instead, the authors point to the consequences of big data, including legality, data quality, disparate data meanings, and process quality, as just a few of the bigger issues needing attention.
Finally, we include a case study on the hopes of big data in the health informatics space in an article written by Carolyn McGregor. This article focuses on discovery and the future possibilities that monitoring real-time physiological characteristics of humans may afford to health and well-being.
We need improved powers of discernment, as well as verifiable proof, to better understand big data's opportunities and risks. It will unquestionably become an integral part of our society, used in both commercial and government applications. Our challenge will be to maximize the benefits of big data while minimizing its harms. We hope that this special issue of Computer inspires readers to help meet this increasingly important challenge.
Keywords: Special issues and sections, Data handling, Data storage systems, Information management, Social factors, Data privacy, data handling, big data challenge, IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology, IEEE Technology and Society, International Symposium on Technology and Society, big data opportunity, social implications, big data, analytics, ethics
Citation: Katina Michael, Keith Miller, "Big Data: New Opportunities and New Challenges", Computer, Volume: 46, Issue: 6, June 2013, pp. 22 - 24, 7 June 2013, DOI: 10.1109/MC.2013.196
Are you in love with your Android or Apple device? Do you have a deep affection and suffer from separation anxiety  when your smartphone is not within arm's length of your bed at night?
Don't worry, you're not alone. Rossiter  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 .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 , 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 . 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.
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 new series of three TrackingPoint bolt-action rifles was developed with sport in mind – rather than combat or law enforcement...Read More
Our magazine is in a transformative period, not only because we are “Going Green” in 2013 but because we are experiencing tremendous growth in quality international submissions. This means that we are increasingly appealing to an international audience with transdisciplinary interests. This has not gone unnoticed by the media, nor by our SSIT readership or wider engineering community.
To those who have sent me personal messages of support, or have noted papers they have enjoyed reading, I thank you. The downside to the success we are experiencing means we have ended up with a slight backlog of papers awaiting publication. We also need more people to put up their hand to review papers from diverse areas of expertise, we have had to increase our overall rejection rate, sporadically increase our page count, and reduce the word count of some papers that have been accepted. We are looking into various ways that we can overcome some of these issues as we go online next year, especially by using the power Web 2.0 can offer to integrate various facets of our outreach activities. For instance, we are seeking the ability to use a single portal for SSIT news and events, ISTAS conferences, T&S Magazine (with full manuscript registration), SSIT-related social media, and an SSIT blog.
In this Winter (December) 2012 issue we also say thank you to our outgoing Associate Editors, Professor Ming Ivory of James Madison University and Professor Reza Djavanshir of Johns Hopkins University for their contribution to the Magazine over the years. Professor Ivory is now the Director of the Graduate Integrated Science and Technology program at JMU and Professor Djavanshir continues his work in the Innovation for Humanity course at JHU taking students to do research and help with underprivileged societies in Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, and India. I know their link to the Magazine will remain an important one.
It is my pleasure to announce that our incoming Associate Editors beginning January 1, 2013, are Professor Steve Mann of the University of Toronto, Canada, and Dr Jeremy Pitt of Imperial College London, England. Recruiting both Steve and Jeremy was a strategic decision for several reasons.
The first and foremost reason for their election has to do with their international standing in the engineering community. Steve who was an instrumental force at the M.I.T. Media Labs at the time that Nicholas Negroponte was director, has had an awesome impact on the field of wearable computing internationally, and Jeremy has been instrumental in key EU-wide activities on pervasive adaptation responsible for bringing thought leaders together from across the world. As a prolific inventor, Steve, has integrated his science, technology, engineering, and mathematics work with that of design and art (DASTEM), and has never shied away from speaking of the social implications of emerging technologies, especially those stemming from his own inventions. Jeremy’s current research focuses on the logical representation of computational justice in self-organizing networks and infrastructures, and the impact of ubiquitous and adaptive computing on society, commerce, and culture. In his latest edited book, This Pervasive Day (2012), he demonstrates the importance of continually asking the right questions in our quest for advancing humanity.
The second reason for getting Steve and Jeremy on board has to do with their physical locations and online presence. Steve is based in Toronto, Canada, and is well-known in the United States (in fact globally) for his work in DASTEM. Jeremy is based in the U.K. and has a large network into the EU in particular. We need to cultivate and encourage our global presence more broadly commensurate to the submissions we are receiving from authors residing internationally. Another growth market is in India, China and Japan and I look forward to introducing one more Associate Editor from one of these countries into the future. For now, please join me in welcoming both Steve and Jeremy to T&S Magazine. I know they will have a tremendous impact on the Magazine by their ongoing support and counsel.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Terri Bookman for being such a tireless Managing Editor for many years. While SSIT has been around for 40 years, Terri has been Managing Editor of the Magazine for 22 years! She has remained our single constant throughout. I feel extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such a great team, past and present, as I head into my second year as Editor.
Citation: Katina Michael, IEEE T&S Magazine: Undergoing Transformation [Editorial], IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Year: 2012, Volume: 31, Issue: 4, pp. 5 - 6, DOI: 10.1109/MTS.2012.2230072
This special section is dedicated to privacy in the information age. In particular, since the rise of mobile social media and the advent of cloud computing, few can dispute that the times have indeed changed. Privacy is now understood “in context” and within a framework that is completely different from what it once was. The right to be let alone physically seems to have been up turned by the right to give away virtually as much information as we like.
What kind of inherent safeguards can be introduced into the data driven society? We cannot argue for privacy as a natural right if we ourselves do not respect the laws that govern the use of personal information - except for those instances when we become the victims of our own folly (or otherwise through security breaches). We cannot ask for the application of law only on those occasions when we find ourselves on the wrong side of the new openness, so as to escape the consequences of being defrauded or having our identity stolen, or when we are the subjects of blackmail or cyber bullying.
Police services must also be held accountable when there are surveillance laws that are not being enforced as a consequence of new technologies. These laws do not suit the new range of high-tech policing capabilities - everything from body worn video recorders for “always on” surveillance of the citizenry to the use of opinion net monitors on social media such as Facebook. For the most part we are struggling with out-of-date and outmoded listening and surveillance device acts, privacy acts, telecommunications acts and interception acts, and we are moving toward data retention legislation that will make audit and compliance of every transaction mandatory in business and government. And if the laws are not outdated then they will often contradict one another or overwrite each other, providing those chartered with authority the continued ability to engage in mass surveillance.
Commercial entities create privacy policies that are seldom read - more a shortcoming of the trust and indifference of some subscribers and complete ignorance of others about the collection and use of personal information. Internet search giants are now joining numerous product-focused policies into a single policy, and in so doing limiting their liability while increasing that of their subscribers. It is evident enough that consumers cannot win, they go with the flow to keep au courant of the constant change, never quite being in control even if they believe themselves to be. The network increases in stealth and size as more and more personal data is fed into it.
We are told there are a number of solutions to the current privacy problems - 1) build in privacy to the design of new technologies at the engineering and commercialization stages, 2) ensure that appropriate crimes legislation and provisions are in place so that there are harsher penalties for people who breach the privacy rights of others, and/or 3) leave it to commerce itself to deal with using a number of ways to protect consumer privacy through technical standards and industry codes of conduct.
Some of the articles in this special section address these issues from a variety of stakeholder perspectives including government, non-government organizations, industry, and consumers. If we have privacy problems then we remain hopeful there must be solutions. But clearly the solutions are limited, if only because of the insatiable nature of the beast.
There is also a discernible movement between what was once considered a brave new world, to the open innovation model that is heralding an even “braver new world.” We are correspondingly doing away with the familiar George Orwell motifs and sentiments, and moving toward that of the Big Data “all you can eat and stomach” model. This new practice is supposed to give rise to a collective intelligence never before seen, a global brain of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate discoveries and increase productivity. Anyone still stuck on the existential and privacy concerns raised by 1984 might as well give up on the debate. at least this is what we are being pushed to believe by the transnationalist capitalist class which has globalized at unprecedented speeds. Recently G.T. Marx has again reminded us of the technique of normalization. And so for those gloomy students of Thomas Hobbes, for their numbers have also been increasing, Leviathan will take on newer and more sinister connotations.
There is for sure much to be gained from Big Data, from open innovation, from sharing our knowledge as one global community. Yet sharing openly might be the utilitarian approach that serves the greater good at the expense of the individual. In terms of consumerism, this is and will in all probability forever remain one of the great paradoxes of our post-industrial society. Making certain individual claims about health and disease for example will inevitably help communities overcome or become more resilient to them, but they will also impact the individual asymmetrically by lending them to even more detailed forms of scrutiny such as social sorting and potential insurance typecasting. Our online searches reveal more about us than what we might like to think - we could to some large degree be determining our own destiny by what we enter into that little space we call the search box.
So what are we supposed to do then? We cannot simply give up the battle for maintaining our right to privacy. This special section is not about giving it up without a good fight. It is about finding inspiration in how we can offer something that works for all parties - but mostly for citizens if we are to embrace user-centered engineering approaches that are secure and long lasting. There is indeed much to gain from new and imaginative online business models if they are used for the right purposes and in the right way. Conversely, we are headed for dangerous waters if these models are abused and mismanaged by those who are in charge.
We have endeavoured here to offer an international Special Section with a wide range of perspectives. Some articles digress on viewpoints, but all of our expert authors are willing to have open dialogue and to seriously engage in the public forum. We must capture these and other consonant opportunities to speak now while we can, that we might together come up with a global approach to arrest alarming developments that threaten to turn privacy into a thing of the past. Privacy does matter. It is both the stuff of dreams and of identity.
IEEE Keywords: Privacy, Data privacy, Security, Social network services
Citation: Katina Michael, 2012, Privacy- the times are a changin', IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 31(4),
Warfare, as we know, has gone digital, its volleys and counterattacks rattled out 140 characters at a time. Historically, nation states with superior military prowess have been in a position of influence, and are often dubbed superpowers.Read More
An electrophorus is thus one who becomes a bearer of technology, inviting nano and micro-scale devices into his or her body.Read More