Go Get Chipped - Part 2

Go “Get Chipped” A Brief Overview of Non-Medical Implants between 2013-2017 (Part 2)

The original "Get Chipped" campaign by the Verichip company.

The original "Get Chipped" campaign by the Verichip company.

In Part 1 of “Go Get Chipped” we covered the inception of microchip implants for non-medical applications from 1997 to 2012 [1]. This period demonstrated the breadth of applications that implantables could be used for [2]. This was a time of intense novelty, early hype, a bit of magic for magic’s sake, and proposing a future that very few genuinely wished to engage with, save for severe sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, Tourette Syndrome, major depressive disorder (MDD), amputation, or quadriplegia [3]. Until then, few academics, some keen biohackers, and radical start-ups had taken the idea of “microchipping people for non-medical applications”(not just dogs and cats) seriously, but things were about to drastically change when some big brands got behind the broader concept of a paperless and cashless society.

Well known to most of us in the auto-ID industry were two IBM commercials produced in the mid-2000s that showed off radiofrequency identification (RFID) for “grab and go” shopping at a smart supermarket [4], and increased visibility in the supply chain [5]. In fact, the “cutesy” nature of these commercials were a step away from the original “shock and awe” of the Applied Digital Solutions VeriChip “Get Chipped” campaigns that were a response to national security (i.e., 9/11) and America’s healthcare crisis [6]. IBM instead evoked a “look how cool and fun this new tech can be — join us” kind of sentiment with their very slick and somewhat mischievous marketing approach.

In 2007, MG Michael delivered an invited talk at Terra Incognita in Montreal, Canada [7], where he showed these IBM clips as part of his uberveillance delivery, and the response was quite unexpected. At the conclusion of the meeting, this presentation was highlighted in the presence of the delegates as one of the responses contra the top heavy surveillance keynote that had been delivered earlier in the week by the second United States Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff [8]. Some years prior, MG had delivered a paper at the British Computer Society [9] where Ken Wood of Microsoft Research in Cambridge [10] and the current CTO of CISCO Monique Morrow were present [11]. It did not take long on that occasion, for the discussion on microchipping of humans to zero in on the potential for an “onoff” switch for implantables located somewhere in the human body, perhaps on the forearm. Soon after, we had chance meetings, first at an airport in India with a Nokia chief who beckoned MG to become a tech evangelist for them. There was another in 2010 in our little hometown with a longstanding InQTel employee who stated that what we were working on was the future [12]. Business cards exchanged, what were the odds we thought of all of these “touchpoints.” I too, spoke to an employee from Ericsson over breakfast about implantables at IEEE ISTAS’15 in Dublin and again, as karma struck once more, he was the very same man who wrote the article I was pointing to in our discussion [13]. So what to make of all these primary, face-to-face links, save to say that our research trajectory had been on target and this was an area of research now preoccupying the time of big business? Informal validations from very formal players — and these persons weren’t just your “think outside the box” hackers, they were executives of large multinationals who still hold major influence today.

Industry Deregulation

Initially, I had studied the historical emphasis on back-end interoperability for fundamental financial transactions in Europay, MasterCard and VISA, or what was known as the EMV alliance [14]. But dramatic things were to follow beyond “standards” and “specifications” — a wave of fullblown deregulation of the telecommunications and banking sectors across the globe then occurred bit by bit. It had become evident that traditional providers were being pre - ssured by non-traditional players [15]. Credit card companies now had competitors who were information and communication technology (ICT) giants. It did not take long after the MONDEX card and other failed smart card initiatives for the mobile telephony revolution to gather steam and come head to head with companies like VISA. I recall the attempt in Australia to launch the “mini” VISA that one could wear as a necklace or bracelet which was literally the size of a semiconductor chip. But the horse had bolted, and soon Apple and Samsung were offering their own payment gateways [16], circumventing the need for banks or credit card companies to play any part in customer transactions. On the occasions I’ve spoken on financial payments or financial crime in Australia, again the em - phasis has been on what the future of e-payments might look like [17]. Almost always, the focus has been on how to capture the consumer’s loyalty. In some of my talks here, I have described the steady technological trajectory from luggables to wearables to implantables. Of course, big players are well aware of the trends and have sometimes denied the possibilities on the one hand [18], only to subsequently engage in the very same research they have said to sideline [19]. Scenarios are crucial for these companies. I don’t fault them for thinking about what might come next [20]. We should all be thinking with such foresight. But all of this leads to what Foster and Jaegar called “murky ethics” in one IEEE Spectrum paper I reviewed in 2007 [21]. On the one hand, big corporations saying “we’d never do it,” and on the other hand, “it’s inevitable.” This reminds me of the forthcoming volume by transhumanist commentator Lazar Puhalo on the Ethics of the Inevitable [22].

Getting Real

Yet, I am often surprised by the fact that so many people that should be in the know about the latest technologies consider most of this implant talk within the realm of “mark of the beast” or “conspiracy theory” talk. MG Michael presented a paper on anti-chipping laws in the U.S. [23] in 2009, and was bewildered by the lack of awareness of the conference audience when they are foremost ahead in social implications of technology generalist discussions. The same thing happened to me at IEEE Sections Congress 2017, when I delivered my talk more recently. Many people were stunned at the use cases I was showing. Yet, increasingly, now, due to the reach of content platforms like YouTube, awareness of what is possible is growing, as is validation of what people are claiming is happening or indeed, wanting to normalize. For those of us keeping abreast of the latest developments day in day out, we also seem somewhat desensitized as a result of having watched endless piercings, “live” in action, streamed over the Internet. The format goes a little bit like this:

1) some nervous jokes to begin with,

2) surgical gloves come out in full view,

3) a discussion ensues about the importance of sterilization to keep infection at bay,

4) a sharp needle,

5) a tiny transponder,

6) breaking the skin,

7) a bit of blood,

8) some ad lib from the body piercer who is wearing tattoos and ear implants,

9) a hefty grin by the implantee who comments in passing “it doesn’t hurt,”

10) and then a band-aid and “that’s it” [24].

But that’s not it, and transformation takes more than just sporting an implant, although the outward bodily transfigurations cannot help but to have an inward-facing metaphysical and existential impact on the human person.

Caption: Initial implants were conducted by general practitioners (i.e. medical doctors) early in the 2000s. Over the last decade, we've replaced the white gown and clinical hospital-style backdrop with black gloves, tattoos and piercing professionals conducting the implant procedure, DIY style, with audiences looking on- a real public spectacle.

Recent Non-Medical Implantable Use Cases

32Market Campaign for chipping employees and linking implantable chips to vending machines for epayment

32Market Campaign for chipping employees and linking implantable chips to vending machines for epayment

An overview, not exhaustive, of some of the more significant implant usecases in the last few years, includes: GoogleX’s swallowable chip [25], dangerousthings.com (myUKI re - branded as Vivokey) [26], [27], Tim Cannon [28] and Wetware Groundhouse [29] NorthStar and Circadia, the Swedish chipping parties [30], biohacker Hannes Sjoblad [31] and co-founder and CEO of Epicenter Patrick Mesterton [32], Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed and his epayment chip [59], the launch of DeusEx (USA and Australia) [33], chipmylife. com [34], Andreas Sjostrom (implant boarding pass) [35], Biohax International (Swedish body piercers) [36], SJRAil Priority customers (Sweden) [37], Biofoundry’s Founder Meow Meow and his Opal Card implant [38], 32Market (Wisconsin, USA) [39], [40], etc.

Among the implantees seem to be a growing list of journalists who are getting implanted for the millisecond shock factor of their online audiences. This trend will soon subside, the spectacle of something going into the body “for the first time” completely replaced by the potential flood of active nonmedical use cases. Journalists will also soon figure out that their body capacities are limited, and any future implantable will likely be taking up important “real estate” space. To the non-techy onlooker, this might seem like some form of human digital revolution (aka augmented humans), or some very extreme form of self-harm [41]. But then what of claims, from large companies like Medtronics who foresee a sensor implanted in everyone [42]? This is the normalization of the weird into the wonderful into the “cannot live without.” Companies like Cochlear in 2017 have described the potential to fuse their hearing implantable device with a service that delivers entertainment like music straight to the ear [43]. Why not? This is the blurring of the prosthetic with the amplified, the medical with the entertainment as I had once noted in a TEDXUWollongong scenario [44].

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics or Is It?

It is very difficult to predict what the future has in store for us. Table 1 shows some of the key surveys to have been conducted over the last 14 years. Perhaps most confusing is the disparity of the findings between the studies, though they have all measured different things, and have sourced respondents in various markets with varying levels of technology awareness. As readers we need to be aware of the message being sold to us by companies with vested interests, and a variety of emerging stakeholders. Survey bias is ever present and as consumers we need to always ask the fundamental questions before we make our own minds up about the latest technology rewards. This is our future. We will make of it what we will. But the strategic techno-spin boiler engine rooms will just continue to grow in sophistication making it harder for consumers to believe in something other than what they are projecting. It’s time to vote with our wallets, not just our voices [60]. Perhaps the bigger issues at hand, as I am constantly reminded by my biohacker friends, is not whether or not some government will forcibly implant us all for social security purposes and surveillance, but what is presently happening with the mass scale big data collection strategies using social media intelligence, CCTV, behavioral biometrics using facial recognition and visual analytics to monitor human activities, the keystroke-level tracking of end-users by third parties on Internet websites, the use of in-bound technology devices that conduct ICT surveillance and home monitoring, and even fitness trackers we carry alongside our mobile phone that are set to control our health insurance premiums. I will always riposte, wait till all of these are applied together as in the full-blown Uberveillance scenario [45], [46]. We predict the integration of invasive token and non-token based payment schemes for two-factor authentication (e.g., Alibaba’s use of facial recognition payment systems in KFCs in China [47]). Already one trial that Baidu led at the beginning of this year used facial recognition technology to predict customer orders [48]. Now that’s one way to speed up transactions at the point of sale, and potentially ensure calorie controlled intake as well!

What Kind of World Do You Want to Live In?

As my last editorial as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, I leave you with these final thoughts. What kind of world do you want to live in? I hope together we have continued to trail-blaze this question as a community of conscientious voices in my six years as EIC. Please never underestimate the significance of all your contributions. These don’t stem solely from scholarly works, but most likely might be in everyday discussions over a coffee to unexpectedly raise awareness about social implications of technology, or helping others harness the power of technology when there is real benefit. Personally, I have been inspired by these everyday conversations with people: with neighbors, with mums and dads, with the elderly in aged care, with young kids, with nurses, with teachers, and with those suffering from some of the negative backburn of the new technologies. Social implications of technology is not an “exclusive” topic that belongs to scientists, or academic researchers, or inventors alone, but to all of us who can observe the impacts in our own homes, our workplaces, dwellings we frequent like clubs, and even governments.

A long list of thank yous, I will need to cut short given space. Thank you to the authors who took time to research on pertinent topics of SSIT. Thank you to reviewers who freely gave of their time to offer their insights and ensure a top class benchmark was retained. To my outstanding Associate Editors and columnists who were there as a sounding board and who offered their own expert opinions, so often. To Terri Bookman who I know firsthand works round the clock to bring you the publication you see today — you have been sensational and the reason we have won so many awards. To my predecessors, Keith W. Miller and Joe Herkert, for always being there when I needed advice and practical help. And to the Vice Presidents/Presidents and Board of Governors of IEEE SSIT for all their ongoing support and direction, which I’ve always tried to incorporate. What an unforgettable experience for me! I will forever cherish the opportunity and pinch myself that it all happened. I was interviewed for the role just after my youngest child was born … I must confess it’s not always been easy, but oh so worth it! Thank you to my selfless husband whose discernment I would call upon and to my three young kids who were forever patient. I leave you in safe hands. To the forthcoming editor, Professor Jeremy Pitt of Imperial College London of whom I have the utmost respect. The trailblazing will continue on topics not previously covered, I am sure. And if his previous special issues and sections in IEEE Technology and Society are anything to go by — get ready for some spectacular work with an extensive new trusted network for SSIT to embrace. References


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[2] A. Masters and K. Michael, “Lend me your arms: The use and implications of humancentric RFID,” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 29-39, 2007.

[3] K. Michael, “Mental health, implantables, and side effects,” IEEE Technology and Society Mag., pp. 5-7, Jun. 17, 2015.

[4] IBM, “The future market: Business innovations,” 2007; https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=eob532iEpqk, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[5] IBM, “Inventory off track: IBM can help,” 2007; https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=oAvQcYcvyaw, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[6] Applied Digital Solutions, “The VeriChip: HealthLink information,” 2006; https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms-XLxIi7Xo, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[7] M.G. Michael and K. Michael, “Uberveillance” in Proc. 29th Int. Conf. Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. Privacy Horizons: Terra Incognita, Location Based Tracking Workshop (Montreal, Canada), 2007;http://works.bepress.com/ kmichael/146/, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

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[9] L. Perusco, K. Michael, MG Michael, “Location-based services and the privacy-security dichotomy,” in Proc. 3rd Int. Conf. Mobile Computing and Ubiquitous Networking (London, British Computer Society), Oct. 11-13, 2006, pp. 91-98.

[10] K. Wood, “Ubiquitous computing at Microsoft Research in UK,” Channel 9, Sept. 29, 2004; https://channel9.msdn .com/Blogs/TheChannel9Team/Ken-WoodUbiquitous-computing-at-Microsoft-Researchin-UK, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[11] S. Chan, “Monique Morrow aims to give others identity — and her identity is built on helping others,” CISCO: The Network, Sept. 7, 2016; https://newsroom.cisco.com/ feature-content?type=webcontent&article Id=1785844, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[12] IQT, “National security: Identify, adapt, deliver,” In-Q-Tel, 2017; https://www.iqt .org/sectors/national-security/, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

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[14] K. Michael, The Automatic Identification Industry Trajectory, Ph.D. thesis, School of Information Technology and Computer Science, University of Wollongong, 2003, ch.

[15] C.A. Allen and W.J. Barr, Eds., Smart Cards: Seizing Strategic Business Opportunities. McGraw-Hill, New York. 1997.

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[17] K. Michael, “A brave new world of ‘under the skin’ payments,” presented at Technology & Innovation — The Future of Payments (Sydney, Australia), Sept. 19, 2014; http://fst.net.au/conferences/technology-innovation-future-payments.

[18] G. Storey, “Bringing the ease of contactless payments to the virtual marketplace,” presented at Technology & Innovation — the Future of Payments (Sydney, Australia), Sept. 19, 2014; http://fst.net.au/ conferences/technology-innovation-futurepayments.

[19] H. Francis, “Chip implants beneath the skin bring a new meaning to ‘pay wave’,” Sydney Morning Herald, http://www .smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/ chip-implants-beneath-the-skin-bring-a-newmeaning-to-pay-wave-20150528-ghbq71. html, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[20] K. Michael, G. Roussos, G.Q. Huang, R. Gadh et al., “Planetary-scale RFID services in an age of uberveillance,” Proc. IEEE, vol. 98, no. 9, pp. 1663-1671, 2010.

[21] K.R. Foster and J. Jaeger, “RFID inside: The murky ethics of implanted chips,” IEEE Spectrum, pp. 24-29, Mar. 2007; http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~markhill/cs252/ Fall2013/handouts/spectrum07_rfid_ethics .pdf, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[22] K. Michael, “A conversation with Lazar Puhalo,” IEEE Technology and Society Mag., vol. 34, mo. 3, pp. 25-28, Dec. 17, 2014; http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/ document/7270450/, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[23] A. Friggieri, K. Michael and M.G. Michael, “The legal ramifications of microchipping people in the United States of America- A state legislative comparison,” in Proc. IEEE Int. Symposium on Technology and Society (Tempe: AZ, U.S.A.), May 18-20, 2009, pp. 1-8.

[24] M. Aslander, “At the Singularity Summit in Amsterdam, Peter Diamandis gets an NFC implant,” Singularity Summit, Nov. 20, 2014; https://vimeo.com/112366539, accessed Aug. 29, 2017.

[25] K. Lachance Shandrow, “Swallow This ‘Password’ pill to unlock your digital devices,” Entrepreneur, Feb. 3, 2014; https://www .entrepreneur.com/article/231182, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[26] VICE Staff, “VICE Motherboard covers Project UKI (now Vivokey),” Motherboard, Oct. 17, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=GSv0hb0GeBQ, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[27] K. Michael, “RFID/NFC implants for bitcoin transactions,” IEEE Consumer Electronics Mag., vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 103-106, 2016.

[28] Vice Staff, “Experimenting with biochip implants,” Motherboard, Oct. 31, 2013; https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=clIiP1H3Opw, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[29] T. Johnson, “Dawn of the bionic age: Body hackers let chips get under their skin,” SecurityInfoWatch, Aug. 7, 2017; http://www.securityinfowatch.com/news/12357686/dawn-of-the-bionic-agebody-hackers-let-chips-get-under-their-skin, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[30] R. Troup Buchanan, “Swedish firm microchips employees,” The Independent, Feb. 27, 2015; http://www.independent .co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/swedishfirm-microchips-employees-10075400.html, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[31] H. Sjoblad, “The coming Age of Human Augmentation,” TEDxBerlin, Nov. 22, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= EmxFrf8vMnE, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[32] SIME, “Sime Stockholm 2014: Corporate Innovation, Anne Nahkala, Patrick Mesterton,” presented at SIME Conf., 2014; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 5GceQHYYotA, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[33] DeusEx, “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided presents Human by Design,” DeusEx, April 24, 2015; https://www.twitch.tv/ videos/81526366, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[34] S. Stevens and S. Korporaal, Chipmylife.com, Sept. 6, 2017; https://chipmylife .io/, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[35] A. Sjöström, “Boarding a flight with an NFC implant,” Sogeti, Jan. 8, 2016; https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORDjQU5pBc0, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[36] M. Astor, “Microchip implants for employees? One company says yes,” NYTimes, July 25, 2017; https://www .nytimes.com/2017/07/25/technology/ microchips-wisconsin-company-employees .html, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[37] C. Weller, “A Swedish rail line now scans microchip implants in addition to accepting paper tickets,” Business Insider, June 20, 2017; https://www.businessinsider .com.au/swedish-rail-company-scansmicrochip-tickets-17-6-2017-6, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[38] N. Dole, “Sydney man has Opal card implanted into hand to make catching public transport easier,” ABC, June 27, 2017; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017- 06- 27/sydney-bio-hacker-has-opal-travelcard-implanted-into-hand/8656174, accessed Sept. 11, 2017.

[39] C. Swedberg, “Wisconsin company plans NFC chip implant party,” RFID J., July 27, 2013; http://www.rfidjournal.com/ articles/view?16407, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[40] K. Michael, A. Aloudat, M.G. Michael, and C. Perakslis, “You want to do what with RFID?: Perceptions of radio-frequency identification implants for employee identification in the workplace,” IEEE Consumer Electronics Mag., vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 111-117, July 2017.

[41] S.R. Bradley Munn, K. Michael, and M.G. Michael, “The social phenomenon of body-modifying in a world of technological change: past, present, future,” in Proc. 2016 IEEE Conf. on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW), Melbourne, Australia, July 13-16, 2016; http://ieeexplore .ieee.org/abstract/document/7547463/.

[42] K. Michael, “Implantable medical device tells all: Uberveillance gets to the heart of the matter,” IEEE Consumer Electronics Mag., vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 107-115, Oct. 2017.

[43] E. Hinchliffe, “This made-for-iPhone cochlear implant is a big deal for the deaf community,” Mashable, July 27, 2017; http://mashable.com/2017/07/26/cochlearimplant-iphone/#9ijsleSJqaqJ, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[44] K. Michael, “Microchipping people,” TEDxUWollongong, May 5, 2012; https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnghvVR5Evc, accessed Sept. 4, 2017.

[45] M.G. Michael and K. Michael, “Toward a state of Überveillance,” IEEE Technology and Society Mag., vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 9-16, 2010; http://ieeexplore.ieee .org/document/5475070/.

[46] K. Michael and R. Clarke, “Location and tracking of mobile devices: Überveillance stalks the streets,” Computer Law and Security Rev., vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 216-228, 2013.

[47] T. Ong, “KFC in China tests letting people pay by smiling: Pay using your face and cellphone number,” The Verge, Sept. 4, 2017; https://www.theverge .com/2017/9/4/16251304/kfc-china-alipayant-financial-smile-to-pay, accessed Sept. 5, 2017.

[48] A. Hawkins, “KFC China is using facial recognition tech to serve customers – but are they buying it?,” The Guardian, Jan. 11, 2017; https://www.theguardian .com/ technology/2017/jan/11/china-beijingfirst-smart-restaurant-kfc-facial-recognition, accessed Sept. 11, 2017.

[49] C. Perakslis and R. Wolk, “Social acceptance of RFID as a biometric security method,” in Proc. 2005 Int. Symp. Technology and Society, Weapons and Wires: Prevention and Safety in a Time of Fear, pp. 79-87.

[50] K. Johnston, K. Michael, and M.G. Michael, “Consumer awareness in Australia on the prospect of humancentric RFID Implants for personalised applications,” presented at. ICMB ’07 (Toronto, Canada), 2007; https://works.bepress.com/ kmichael/149/.

[51] EDRI-gram, “Survey on chip implants in Germany,” Digital Civil Rights in Europe, Mar. 10, 2010; http://history.edri.org/ edrigram/number8.5/study-human-chipsgermany.

[52] A. Donoghue “CeBIT: Quarter Of Germans happy to have chip implants,” Silicon, Mar. 10, 2010; http://www.silicon .co.uk/workspace/cebit-quarter-of-germanshappy-to-have-chip-implants-5590?inf_ by=59a906c7671db8300a8b46f4, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

[53] K. Michael and M.G. Michael, Survey conducted Jan. 2013; results not yet analyzed.

[54] K. Michael, and M.G. Michael, Survey conducted Oct. 2013; results not yet published.

[55] R. Boden, “Half of Brits expect to replace cash with new technologies,” NFC World, Aug. 28, 2015; https://www.nfcworld .com/2015/08/28/337345/half-of-britsexpect-to-replace-cash-with-new-technologies/, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

[56] PWC, “Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030,” PWC’s People and Organisation Practice, http://www .pwc.com.au/media-centre/assets/workforceof-the-future.pdf, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

[57] E. Hannan and S. Fox Koob, “Worker chip implants ‘only matter of time’,” The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com .au/business/technology/worker-chip-implantsonly-matter-of-time/news-story/1f9f9317cc 84f365410a089566153f51, accessed Sept. 1, 2017.

[58] D. Powell, “Two thirds of workers open to “physical and mental augmentations” like microchips, but are there ethical issues?” Smartcompany, Aug. 4, 2017; https://www.smartcompany.com.au/peoplehuman-resources/two-thirds-workers-openphysical-mental-augmentations-likemicrochips-ethical-issues/.

[59] C. Warzel, “I put a payment chip in my hand to replace my wallet,” BuzzFeed: The Future of Money, May. 21, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_ continue=3&v=hTBJ6OIGkzc, accessed Nov. 20, 2017.

[60] M.G. Michael and K. Michael, “Resistance is not futile, nil desperandum,” IEEE Technology and Society Mag., pp. 10-13, Sept. 2015; http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/ stamp.jsp?arnumber=7270446.

[61] K. Michael, C. Perakslis, and M.G. Michael, “Microchip implants for employees in the workplace: Findings from a multicountry survey of small business owners,” in Surveillance in Everyday Life, Gavin Smith, Ed. University of Sydney, Feb. 20, 2012.

[62] C. Perakslis, K. Michael, M.G. Michael, and R. Gable, “Perceived barriers for implanting microchips in humans,” in Proc. 2014 IEEE Conf. on Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century (21CW), 2014.

[63] A. Heber, “A quarter of Australians are OK having a chip implanted in them to pay for stuff,” Business Insider, May 26, 2015; https://www.businessinsider.com. au/a-quarter-of-australians-are-ok-having-a-chipimplanted-in-them-to-pay-for-stuff-2015-5, accessed Nov 20, 2017.

Citation: Katina Michael, 2017, "Go “Get Chipped”: A Brief Overview of Non-Medical Implants between 2013-2017 (Part 2) ", IEEE Technology & Society  Magazine, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=8169145, Vol. 36, No. 4,  pp. 6-12.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drones Humanus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predicting the socioethical implications of implanting people with microchips

Privacy, security, trust, control and human rights are all concerns that need to be addressed before widespread diffusion of advanced identification technologies. Implants for humans are not new... Today we have even realised the potential for microchip implants to be embedded inside the human body for the purpose of acting as unique lifetime identifiers (ULIs).

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