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

Welcome Message from The Program Committee Chair (ISTAS13)

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

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

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

THREEPIO: Come along, Artoo.

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

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

LUKE: What?

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

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

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

"We don't serve their kind here!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Living in the Age of Uberveillance

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to the article written by Katherine Danks titled: “Keeping crims on track from space” which appeared on the 12th of September on page 16. I am all for security for the sake of the common good but the widespread introduction of these kinds of tracking technologies without the commensurate consideration of socio-ethical implications means they are not a viable solution. Our human rights are at stake if we do not assess these technologies properly before deployment.

Since 2006, some Australian cricketers have been using location-based body wearable technologies, strapped to various parts of their bodies, to record their match fitness levels and productivity on the field. Observers have noted that some players may even have attempted to alter their match stats by keeping their heart rate up in between deliveries, or trying to run faster between wickets! The bottom line is that these technologies are not infallible. They can be duped.

The problem with attempting to play God is that we can never have total knowledge of proceedings, no matter what technologies we use to look up people remotely to ensure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. At best we can have near-presence, everywhere and simultaneously but this too cannot solely be relied upon due to technical and other resource limitations.

In short, technology cannot be trusted because the complete picture will always be missing. Ironically the new technologies will be susceptible to manipulation, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation of information. The impairment of data in this new breed of high-tech gadgetry is a risk that many have underestimated, if at all considered.

While we are not all wearing a “ball and chain” yet- our smart phones are strapped to us all day and at arm’s length at night. These devices are already monitoring our identity through a SIM card, our location through onboard GPS chipsets, and our activities through accelerometers. The only thing that’s left really is for us to herald in the age of the almighty implant through radio-frequency identification.

microchipping.jpg

Recently, South Australia’s Police Commissioner Mal Hyde stated that there were quite a few different groups of people he’d like to see microchipped despite the acknowledgement that this kind of proposal would never see the light of day. But he did add that the future might bring a lot of different possibilities. A Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington was also cited as saying that he would like to see child sex offenders microchipped.

And it was only a few months ago that wearable GPS monitoring devices were embraced by the Queensland State Government for use in paedophiles, and sufferers of mental illness. Which will be the next minority group in society to be tagged before the track and trace technology is widely diffused into society?

Katina Michael, Associate Professor, School of Information Systems and Technology, University of Wollongong

Unpublished work. SMH did not print.