Be Vigilant: There Are Limits to Veillance

The Computer After Me: Awareness and Self-Awareness in Autonomic Systems

Chapter 13: Be Vigilant: There Are Limits to Veillance

This image was taken from the BioShock video game series or from websites created and owned by 2K Games, the copyright of which is held by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

Katina Michael, M. G. Michael, Christine Perakslis

The following sections are included:

  • Introduction

  • From Fixed to Mobile Sensors

  • People as Sensors

  • Enter the Veillances

    • Surveillance

    • Dataveillance

    • Sousveillance

    • Überveillance

  • Colliding Principles

    • From ‘drone view’ to ‘person view’

    • Transparency and open data

    • Surveillance, listening devices and the law

    • Ethics and values

    • The unintended side effects of lifelogging

    • Pebbles and shells

    • When bad is good

    • Censorship

  • Summary and Conclusions: Mind/Body Distinction

13.1 Introduction

Be vigilant; we implore the reader. Yet, vigilance requires hard mental work (Warm et al., 2008). Humans have repeatedly shown evidence of poor performance relative to vigilance, especially when we are facing such factors as complex or novel data, time pressure, and information overload (Ware, 2000). For years, researchers have investigated the effect of vigilance, from the positive impact of it upon the survival of the ground squirrel in Africa to its decrement resulting in the poor performance of air traffic controllers. Scholars seem to agree: fatigue has a negative bearing on vigilance.

In our society, we have become increasingly fatigued, both physically and cognitively. It has been widely documented that employees are in­creasingly faced with time starvation, and that consequently self-imposed sleep deprivation is one of the primary reasons for increasing fatigue, as employees forego sleep in order to complete more work (see, for example, the online publications by the Society of Human Resources1 and the Na­tional Sleep Foundation2). Widespread access to technology exacerbates the problem, by making it possible to stay busy round the clock.

Our information-rich world which leads to information overload and novel data, as well as the 24/7/365 connectivity which leads to time pressure, both contribute to fatigue and so work against vigilance. However, the lack of vigilance, or the failure to accurately perceive, identify, or an­alyze bona fide threats, can lead to serious negative consequences, even a life-threatening state of affairs (Capurro, 2013).

This phenomenon, which can be termed vigilance fatigue, can be brought about by four factors:

·       Prolonged exposure to ambiguous, unspecified, and ubiquitous threat information.

·       Information overload.

·       Overwhelming pressure to maintain exceptional, error-free per­formance.

·       Faulty strategies for structuring informed decision-making under con­ditions of uncertainty and stress.

Therefore, as we are asking the reader to be vigilant in this transformative – and potentially disruptive transition toward – the ‘computer after me’, we feel obligated to articulate clearly the potential threats associated with veillance. We believe we must ask the challenging and unpopular questions now. We must disclose and discuss the existence of risk, the values at stake, and the possibility of harm related to veillance. We owe it to the reader in this world of increasing vigilance fatigue to provide unambiguous, specified threat information and to bring it to their attention.

13.2 From Fixed to Mobile Sensors

Embedded sensors have provided us with a range of benefits and conve­niences that many of us take for granted in our everyday life. We now find commonplace the auto-flushing lavatory and the auto-dispensing of soap and water for hand washing. Many of these practices are not only conve­nient but help to maintain health and hygiene. We even have embedded sensors in lamp-posts that can detect on-coming vehicles and are so energy efficient that they turn on as they detect movement, and then turn off again to conserve resources. However, these fixtures are static; they form basic infrastructure that often has ‘eyes’ (e.g. an image and/or motion sensor), but does not have ‘legs’.

What happens when these sensors – for identification, location, condi­tion monitoring, point-of-view (POV) and more – become embeddable in mobile objects and begin to follow and track us everywhere we go? Our vehicles, tablets, smart phones, and even contactless smart cards are equipped to capture, synthesize, and communicate a plethora of information about our behaviors, traits, likes and dislikes, as we lug them around everywhere we go. Automatic licence plate scanners are mounted not only in street­lights or on bridges, but now also on patrol cars. These scanners snap photos of automobiles passing and store such data as plate numbers, times, and locations within massive databases (Clarke, 2009). Stores are combin­ing the use of static fixtures with mobile devices to better understand the psychographics and demographics of their shoppers (Michael and Clarke, 2013). The combination of these monitoring tools is powerful. Cell phone identifiers are used to track the movements of the customers (even if the customer is not connected to the store’s WiFi network), with the surveillance cameras collecting biometric analytics to analyze facial expressions and moods. Along with an augmented capability to customize and person­alize marketing efforts, the stores can identify how long one tarries in an aisle, the customer’s reaction to a sale item, the age of the shopper, and even who did or did not walk by a certain display.

The human has now become an extension (voluntarily or involuntarily) of these location-based and affect-based technological breakthroughs; we the end-users are in fact the end-point of a complex network of net­works. The devices we carry take on a life of their own, sending binary data up and down stream in the name of better connectivity, awareness, and ambient intelligence. ‘I am here’, the device continuously signals to the nearest access node, handshaking a more accurate location fix, as well as providing key behavioral indicators which can easily become predictors of future behaviors. However, it seems as if we, as a society, are rapidly in de­mand of more and more communications technology – or so that is the idea we are being sold. Technology has its many benefits: few people are out of reach now, and communication becomes easier, more personalized, and much more flexible. Through connectivity, people’s input is garnered and responses can be felt immediately. Yet, just as Newton’s action–reaction law comes into play in the physical realm, there are reactions to consider for the human not only in the physical realms, but also in the mental, emo­tional, and spiritual realms (Loehr and Schwartz, 2001), when we live our lives not only in the ordinary world, but also within the digital world.

Claims have been made that our life has become so busy today that we are grasping to gain back seconds in our day. It could be asked: why should we waste time and effort by manually entering all these now-necessary pass­words, when a tattoo or pill could transmit an 18-bit authentication signal for automatic logon from within our bodies? We are led to believe that individuals are demanding uninterrupted connectivity; however, research has shown that some yearn to have the freedom to ‘live off the grid’, even if for only a short span of time (Pearce and Gretzel, 2012).

A recent front cover of a US business magazine Fast Company read “Unplug. My life was crazy. So I disconnected for 25 days. You should too”. The content within the publication includes coping mechanisms of senior-level professionals who are working to mitigate the consequences of perpetual connectivity through technology. One article reveals the digital dilemmas we now face (e.g. how much should I connect?); another article provides tips on how to do a digital detox (e.g. disconnecting because of the price we pay); and yet another article outlines how to bring sanity to your crazy, wired life with eight ways the busiest connectors give themselves a break (e.g. taking time each day to exercise in a way that makes it impossi­ble to check your phone; ditching the phone to ensure undivided attention is given to colleagues; or establishing a company ‘Shabbat’ in which it is acceptable to unplug one day a week). Baratunde Thurston, CEO and co­founder of Cultivated Wit (and considered by some to be the world’s most connected man), wrote:

I love my devices and my digital services, I love being connected to the global hive mind – but I am more aware of the price we pay: lack of depth, reduced accuracy, lower quality, impatience, selfishness, and mental exhaustion, to name but a few. In choosing to digitally enhance lives, we risk not living them.
— (Thurston, 2013, p. 77)

13.3 People as Sensors

Enter Google Glass, Autographer, Memoto, TrackStick, Fitbit, and other wearable devices that are worn like spectacles, apparel, or tied round the neck. The more pervasive innovations such as electronic tattoos, nanopatches, smart pills, and ICT implants seamlessly become a ‘part’ of the body once attached, swallowed, embedded, or injected. These technolo­gies are purported to be lifestyle choices that can provide a myriad of con­veniences and productivity gains, as well as improved health and well-being functionality. Wearables are believed to have such benefits as enhancements to self-awareness, communication, memory, sensing, recognition, and logis­tical skills. Common experiences can be augmented, for example when a theme park character (apparently) knows your child’s name because of a wrist strap that acts as an admissions ticket, wallet, and ID.

Gone are the days when there was a stigma around electronic bracelets being used to track those on parole; these devices are now becoming much like a fashion statement and a desirable method not only for safety and security, but also for convenience and enhanced experiences. However, one must consider that an innocuous method for convenience may prove to create ‘people as sensors’ in which information is collected from the envi­ronment using unobtrusive measures, but with the wearer – as well as those around the wearer – possibly unaware of the extent of the data collection. In addition to issues around privacy, other questions must be asked such as: what will be done with the data now and well into the future?

The metaphor of ‘people as sensors’, also referred to as Citizens as Sen­sors (Goodchild, 2007), is being espoused, as on-board chipsets allow an individual to look out toward another object or subject (e.g. using an im­age sensor), or to look inward toward oneself (e.g. measuring physiological characteristics with embedded surveillance devices). As optional prosthetic devices are incorporated into users, devices are recognized by some as be­coming an extension of the person’s mind and body. New developments in ‘smart skin’ offer even more solutions. The skin can become a function of the user’s habits, personality, mood, or behavior. For example, when inserted into a shoe, the smart skin can analyze and improve the technical skill of an athlete, factors associated with body stresses related to activity, or even health issues that may result from the wearer’s use of high-heeled shoes (Papakostas et al., 2002). Simply put, human beings who function in analog are able to communicate digitally through the devices that they wear or bear. This is quite a different proposition from the typical surveil­lance camera that is bolted onto a wall overlooking the streetscape or mall and has a pre-defined field of view.

Fig. 13.1 People as sensors: from surveillance to uberveillance

‘People as sensors’ is far more pervasive than dash-cams used in police vehicles, and can be likened to the putting on of body-worn devices by law enforcement agencies to collect real-time data from the field (see Fig­ure 13.1). When everyday citizens are wearing and bearing these devices, they form a collective network by contributing individual subjective (and personal) observations of themselves and their surroundings. There are advantages; the community is believed to benefit with relevant, real-time information on such issues as public safety, street damage, weather obser­vations, traffic patterns, and even public health (cf. Chapter 12). People, using their everyday devices, can enter information into a data warehouse, which could also reduce the cost of intensive physical networks that oth­erwise need to be deployed. Although murky, there is vulnerability; such as the risk of U-VGI (Un-Volunteered Geographical Information) with the tracking of mass movements in a cell phone network to ascertain traffic distribution (Resch, 2013).

Consider it a type of warwalking on foot rather than wardriving.3 It seems that opt-in and opt-out features are not deemed necessary, perhaps due to the perceived anonymity of individual user identifiers. The ability to ‘switch off’, ‘turn off’, ‘unplug’, or select the ‘I do not consent’ feature in a practical way, is a question that many have pondered, but with arguably a limited number of pragmatic solutions, if any.

With ‘citizens as sensors’ there is an opt-in for those subscribing, but issues need to be considered for those in the vicinity of the bearer who did not consent to subscribe or to be recorded. Researchers contend that even the bearer must be better educated on the potential privacy issues (Daskala, 2011). For example, user-generated information yields longitude and lat­itude coordinates, time and date stamps, and speed and elevation details which tell us significant aspects about a person’s everyday life leading to insight about current and predictive behavioral patterns. Data could also be routinely intercepted (and stored indefinitely), as has been alleged in the recent National Security Agency (NSA) scandal. Even greater concerns arise from the potential use of dragnet electronic surveillance to be mined for information (now or in the future) to extract and synthesize rich het­erogeneous data containing personal visual records and ‘friends lists’ of the new media. Call detail records (CDRs) may just be the tip of the iceberg.

The quantified-self movement, which incorporates data, taking into ac­count many inputs of a person’s daily life, is being used for self-tracking and community building so individuals can work toward improving their daily functioning (e.g. how you look, feel, and live). Because devices can look inward toward oneself, one can mine very personal data (e.g. body mass index and heart rate) which can then be combined with the outward (e.g. the vital role of your community support network) to yield such quantifiers as a higi score defining a person with a cumulative grade (e.g. your score today out of a possible 999 points).4

Wearables, together with other technologies, assist in the process of tak­ing in multiple and varied data points to synthesize the person’s mental and physical performance (e.g. sleep quality), psychological states such as moods and stimulation levels (e.g. excitement), and other inputs such as food, air quality, location, and human interactions. Neurologically, information is addictive; yet, humans may make worse decisions when more information is at hand. Humans also are believed to overestimate the value of missing data which may lead to an endless pursuit, or perhaps an overvaluing of useless information (Bastardi and Shafir, 1998). Even more consequential, it is even possible that too much introspection can also reduce the quality of decisions of individuals.

13.4 Enter the Veillances

Katina Michael and M. G. Michael (2009) made a presentation that, for the first time at a public gathering, considered surveillance, dataveillance, sousveillance and überveillance all together. As a specialist term, veillance was first used in an important blogpost exploring equiveillance by Ian Kerr and Steve Mann (2006) in which the ‘valences of veillance’ were briefly described. But in contrast to Kerr and Mann, Michael and Michael were pondering on the intensification of a state of überveillance through increasingly pervasive technologies, which can provide details from the big picture view right down to the miniscule personal details.

But what does veillance mean? And how is it understood in different contexts? What does it mean to be watched by a CCTV camera, to have one’s personal details deeply scrutinized, to watch another, to watch one­self? And so we continue by defining the four types of veillances that have received attention in recognized peer reviewed journal publications and the wider corpus of literature.

13.4.1 Surveillance

First, the much embraced idea of surveillance recognized in the early nine­teenth century from the French sur meaning ‘over’ and veiller meaning ‘to watch’. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, veiller stems from the Latin vigilare, which means ‘to keep watch’.

13.4.2 Dataveillance

Dataveillance was conceived by Clarke (1988a) as “the systematic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons” (although in the Oxford English Dictionary it is now defined as “the practice of monitoring the online ac­tivity of a person or group”). The term was introduced in response to government agency data matching initiatives linking taxation records and social security benefits, among other commercial data mining practices. At the time it was a powerful response to the proposed Australia Card pro­posal in 1987 (Clarke, 1988b), which was never implemented by the Hawke Government, while the Howard Government’s attempts to introduce an Access Card almost two decades later in 2005 were also unsuccessful. It is remarkable that same issues ensue today, only on a greater magnitude with more consequences and advanced capabilities in analytics, data storage, and converging systems.

13.4.3 Sousveillance

Sousveillance was defined by Steve Mann in 2002, but practiced since 1995 as “the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity” . 5 However, its initial introduction into the literature came in the inaugural Surveillance and Society journal in 2003 with a meaning of ‘in­verse surveillance’ as a counter to organizational surveillance (Mann et al., 2003). Mann prefers to interpret sousveillance as under-sight, which main­tains integrity, contra to surveillance as over-sight (Mann, 2004a), which reduces to hypocrisy if governments responsible for surveillance pass laws to make sousveillance illegal.

Whereas dataveillance is the systematic use of personal data systems in the monitoring of people, sousveillance is the inverse of monitoring people; it is the continuous capture of personal experience (Mann, 2004b). For ex­ample, dataveillance might include the linking of someone’s tax file number with their bank account details and communications data. Sousveillance on the other hand, is a voluntary act of logging what people might see as they move through the world. Surveillance is thus considered watch­ing from above, whereas sousveillance is considered watching from below. In contrast, dataveillance is the monitoring of a person’s activities which presents the individual with numerous social dangers (Clarke, 1988a).

13.4.4 Uberveillance

¨Uberveillance conceived by M. G. Michael in 2006, is defined in the Aus­tralian Law Dictionary as: “ubiquitous or pervasive electronic surveillance that is not only ‘always on’ but ‘always with you’, ultimately in the form of bodily invasive surveillance”. The Macquarie Dictionary of Australia entered the term officially in 2008 as “an omnipresent electronic surveil­lance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveil­lance devices in the human body”. Michael and Michael (2007) defined überveillance as having “to do with the fundamental who (ID), where (loca­tion), and when (time) questions in an attempt to derive why (motivation), what (result), and even how (method/plan/thought)”.

¨Uberveillance is a compound word, conjoining the German über mean­ing ‘over’ or ‘above’ with the French veillance. The concept is very much linked to Friedrich Nietzsche’s vision of the übermensch, who is a man with powers beyond those of an ordinary human being, like a super-man with amplified abilities (Michael and Michael, 2010). ¨Uberveillance is analogous to big brother on the inside looking out. For example, heart, pulse, and temperature sensor readings emanating from the body in binary bits wire­lessly, or even through amplified eyes such as inserted contact lens ‘glass’ that might provide visual display and access to the Internet or social net­working applications.

¨Uberveillance brings together all forms of watching from above and from below, from machines that move to those that stand still, from animals and from people, acquired involuntarily or voluntarily using obtrusive or unob­trusive devices (Michael et al., 2010). The network infrastructure underlies the ability to collect data direct from the sensor devices worn by the individ­ual and big data analytics ensures an interpretation of the unique behavioral traits of the individual, implying more than just predicted movement, but intent and thought (Michael and Miller, 2013).

It has been said that überveillance is that part of the veillance puz­zle that brings together the sur, data, and sous to an intersecting point (Stephan et al., 2012). In überveillance, there is the ‘watching’ from above component (sur), there is the ‘collecting’ of personal data and public data for mining (data), and there is the watching from below (sous), which can draw together social networks and strangers, all coming together via wear­able and implantable devices on/in the human body. ¨Uberveillance can be used for good in the practice of health for instance, but we contend that, independent of its application for non-medical purposes, it will always have an underlying control factor (Masters and Michael, 2006).

13.5 Colliding Principles

13.5.1 From ‘drone view’ to ‘person view’

It can be argued that, because a CCTV camera is monitoring activities from above, we should have the ‘counter-right’ to monitor the world around us from below. It therefore follows, if Google can record ‘street views’, then the average citizen should also be able to engage in that same act, which we may call ‘person view’. Our laws as a rule do not forbid recording the world around us (or even each other for that matter), so long as we are not encroaching on someone else’s well-being or privacy (e.g. stalking, or making material public without expressed consent). While we have Street View today, it will only be a matter of time before we have ‘drones as a service’ (DaaS) products that systematically provide even better high res­olution imagery than ‘satellite views’. We can make ‘drone view’ available on Google Maps, as we could probably also make ‘person view’ available. Want to look up not only a street, but a person if they are logged in and registered? Then search ‘John Doe’ and find the nearest camera pointing toward him, and/or emanating from him. Call it a triangulation of sorts.

13.5.2 Transparency and open data

The benefits of this kind of transparency, argue numerous scholars, are that not only will we have a perfect source of open data to work with, but that there will be less crime as people consider the repercussions of being caught doing wrong in real-time. However, this is quite an idealistic paradigm and ethically flawed. Criminals, and non-criminals for that mat­ter, find ways around all secure processes, no matter how technologically foolproof. At that point, the technical elite might well be systematically hiding or erasing their recorded misdemeanours but no doubt keeping the innocent person under 24/7/365 watch. There are, however, varying de­grees to transparency, and most of these have to do with economies of scale and/or are context-based; they have to be. In short, transparency needs to be context related.

13.5.3 Surveillance, listening devices and the law

At what point do we actually believe that in a public space our privacy is not invaded by such incremental innovations as little wearable cameras, half the size of a matchbox, worn as lifelogging devices? One could speculate that the sheer size of these devices makes them unobtrusive and not easily detectable to the naked eye, meaning that they are covert in nature and blatantly break the law in some jurisdictions where they are worn and operational (Abbas et al., 2011). Some of these devices not only capture images every 30 seconds, but also record audio, making them potentially a form of unauthorized surveillance. It is also not always apparent when these devices are on or off. We must consider that the “unrestricted freedom of some may endanger the well-being, privacy, or safety of others” (Rodota and Capurro, 2005, p. 23). Where are the distinctions between the wearer’s right to capture his or her own personal experiences on the one hand (i.e. the unrestricted freedom of some), and intrusion into another’s private sphere in which he or she does not want to be recorded, and is perhaps even disturbed by the prospect of losing control over his or her privacy (i.e. endangering the well-being or privacy of others)?

13.5.4 Ethics and values

Enter ethics and values. Ethics in this debate are greatly important. They have been dangerously pushed aside, for it is ethics that determine the degree of importance, that is the value, we place on the levels of our decision-making. When is it right to take photographs and record another individual (even in a public space), and when is it wrong? Do I physically remove my wearable device when I enter a washroom, a leisure centre, a hospital, a funeral, someone else’s home, a bedroom? Do I need to ask express permis­sion from someone to record them, even if I am a participant in a shared activity? What about unobtrusive devices that blur the line between wear­ables and implantables, such as miniature recording devices embedded in spectacle frames or eye sockets and possibly in the future embedded in con­tact lenses? Do I have to tell my future partner or prospective employer? Should I declare these during the immigration process before I enter the secure zone?

At the same time, independent of how much crowdsourced evidence is gathered for a given event, wearables and implantables are not infallible, their sensors can easily misrepresent reality through inaccurate or incom­plete readings and data can be even further misconstrued post capture (Michael and Michael, 2007). This is the limitation of an überveillance so­ciety – devices are equipped with a myriad of sensors; they are celebrated as achieving near omnipresence, but the reality is that they will never be able to achieve omniscience. Finite knowledge and imperfect awareness create much potential for inadequate or incomplete interpretations.

Some technologists believe that they need to rewrite the books on meta­physics and ontology, as a result of old and outmoded definitions in the traditional humanities. We must be wary of our increasing ‘technicized’ environment however, and continue to test ourselves on the values we hold as canonical, which go towards defining a free and autonomous human be­ing. The protection of personal data has been deemed by the EU as an autonomous individual right.

Yet, with such pervasive data collection, how will we protect “the right of informational self-determination on each individual – including the right to remain master of the data concerning him or her” (Rodota and Capurro, 2005, p. 17)? If we rely on bio-data to drive our next move based on what our own wearable sensors tells some computer application is the right thing to do, we very well may lose a great part of our freedom and the life-force of improvization and spontaneity. By allowing this data to drive our decisions, we make ourselves prone to algorithmic faults in software programs among other significant problems.

13.5.5 The unintended side effects of lifelogging

Lifelogging captures continuous first-person recordings of a person’s life and can now be dynamically integrated into social networking and other appli­cations. If lifelogging is recording your daily life with technical tools, many are unintentionally participating in a form of lifelogging by recording their lives through social networks. Although, technically, data capture in social media happens in bursts (e.g. the upload of a photograph) compared with continuous recording of first-person recordings (e.g. (Daskala, 2011). Lifelogging is believed to have such benefits as affecting how we re­member, increasing productivity, reducing an individual’s sense of isolation, building social bonds, capturing memories, and enhancing communication.

Governing bodies could also derive benefit through lifelogging appli­cations data to better understanding public opinion or forecast emerging health issues for society. However, memories gathered by lifelogs can have side effects. Not every image, and not every recording you will take will be a happy one. Replaying these and other moments might be detrimental to our well-being. For example, history shows ‘looking back’ may become traumatic, such as Marina Lutz’s experience of having most of her life ei­ther recorded or photographed in the first 16 years of her life by her father (see the short film The Marina Experience).

Researchers have discovered that personality development and mental health could also be negatively impacted by lifelogging applications. Vul­nerabilities include high influence potential by others, suggestibility, weak perception of self, and a resulting low self-esteem (Daskala, 2011). There is also risk that wearers may also post undesirable or personal expressions of another person, which cause the person emotional harm due to a neg­ative perception of himself or herself among third parties (Daskala, 2011). We have already witnessed such events in other social forums with tragic consequences such as suicides.

Lifelogging data may also create unhealthy competition, for example in gamification programs that use higi scores to compare your quality of life to others. Studies report psychological harm among those who perceive they do not meet peer expectations (Daskala, 2011); how much more so when intimate data about one’s physical, emotional, psychological, and so­cial network is integrated, measured, and calculated to sum up quality of life in a three-digit score (Michael and Michael, 2011). Even the effect of sharing positive lifelogging data should be reconsidered. Various reports have claimed that watching other people’s lives can develop into an obsession and can incite envy, feelings of inadequacy, or feeling as if one is not accomplished enough, especially when comparing oneself to others.

13.5.6 Pebbles and shells

Perhaps lifelogs could have the opposite effect of their intended purpose, without ever denying the numerous positives. We may become wrapped up in the self, rather than in the common good, playing to a theater, and not allowing ourselves to flourish in other ways lest we are perceived as anything but normal. Such logging posted onto public Internet archival stores might well serve to promote a conflicting identity of the self, constant validation through page ranks, hit counts and likes, and other forms of electronic exhibitionism. Researchers purport that lifelogging activities are likely to lead to an over-reliance and excessive dependency on electronic devices and systems with emotionally concerning, on-going cognitive reflections as messages are posted or seen, and this could be at the expense of more important aspects of life (Daskala, 2011).

Isaac Newton gave us much to consider when he said, “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then find­ing a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me” (Brewster, 2001). Society at large must question if the measurements of Google hits, higi scores, clicks, votes, recordings, and analysis of data to quantify ‘the self’, could become a dangerously distracting exercise if left unbalanced. The aforementioned measurements, which are multi-varied and enormously insightful, may be of value – and of great enjoyment and fascination – much like Newton’s peb­bles and shells. However, what is the ocean we may overlook – or ignore – as we scour the beach for pebbles and shells?

13.5.7 When bad is good

Data collection and analysis systems, such as lifelogging, may not appro­priately allow for individuals to progress in self-awareness and personal development upon tempered reflection. How do we aptly measure the con­tradictory aspects of life such as the healing that often comes through tears, or the expending of energy (exercise) to gain energy (physical health), or the unique wonder that is realized only through the pain of self-sacrifice (e.g. veritable altruistic acts)? Harvard researchers Loehr and Schwartz (2001) provide us with further evidence of how the bad (or the unpleasant) can be good relative to personal development, through an investigation in which a key participant went by the name of ‘Richard’.

Richard was an individual progressing in self-awareness as documented during an investigation in which researchers were working to determine how executives could achieve peak performance leading to increased capacity for endurance, determination, strength, flexibility, self-control, and focus. The researchers found that executives who perform to full potential, for the long­term, tap into energy at all levels of the ‘pyramid of performance’ which has four ascending levels of progressive capacities: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

The tip of the pyramid was identified as spiritual capacity, defined by the researchers as “an energy that is released by tapping into one’s deepest values and defining a strong sense of purpose” (Loehr and Schwartz, 2001, p. 127). The spiritual capacity, above all else, was found to be the sustenance – or the fuel – of the ideal performance state (IPS); the state in which individuals ‘bring their talent and skills to full ignition and to sustain high performance over time’ (op. cit., p. 122). However, as Richard worked to realize his spiritual capacity, he experienced significant pain during a two-year period. He reported being overcome by emotion, consumed with grief, and filled with longing as he learned to affirm what mattered most in his life. The two-year battle resulted in Richard ‘tapping into a deeper sense of purpose with a new source of energy’ (op. cit., p. 128); however, one must question if technology would have properly quantified the bad as the ultimate good for Richard. Spiritual reflections on the trajectory of technology (certainly since it has now been plainly linked to teleology) are not out of place nor should they be discouraged.

13.5.8 Censorship

Beyond the veillance (the ‘watching’) of oneself, i.e. the inward gaze, is the outward veillance and watching of the other. But this point of eye (PoE), does not necessarily mean a point of view (PoV), or even wider angle field of view (FoV). Particularly in the context of ‘glass’. Our gaze too is subjective, and who or what will connote this censorship at the time when it really matters? The outward watching too may not tell the full story, despite its rich media capability to gather both audio and video. Audio-visual accounts have their own pitfalls. We have long known how vitally important eye gaze is for all of the social primates, and particularly for humans; there will be consequences to any artificial tampering of this basic natural instinct. Hans Holbein’s famous painting The Ambassadors (1533), with its patent reference to anamorphosis, speaks volumes of the critical distinction between PoE and PoV. Take a look, if you are not already familiar with this double portrait and still life. Can you see the skull? The secret lies in the perspective and in the tilt of the head.

13.6 Summary and Conclusions: Mind/Body Distinction

In the future, corporate marketing may hire professional lifeloggers (or mo­bile robotic contraptions) to log other people’s lives with commercial de­vices. Unfortunately, because of inadequate privacy policies or a lack of harmonized legislation, we, as consumers, may find no laws that would pre­clude companies from this sort of ‘live to life’ hire if we do not pull the reins on the obsession to auto-photograph and audio record everything in sight. And this needs to happen right now. We have already fallen behind and are playing a risky game of catch-up. Ethics is not the overriding issue for technology companies or developers; innovation is their primary focus because, in large part, they have a fiduciary responsibility to turn a profit. We must in turn, as an informed and socially responsive community, forge together to dutifully consider the risks. At what point will we leap from tracking the mundane, which is of the body (e.g. location of GPS coordi­nates), toward the tracking of the mind by bringing all of these separate components together using ¨uber-analytics and an ¨uber-view? We must ask the hard questions now. We must disclose and discuss the existence of risk, the values at stake, and the possibility of harm.

It is significant that as researchers we are once more, at least in some places, speaking on the importance of the Cartesian mind/body distinction and of the catastrophic consequences should they continue to be confused when it comes to etymological implications and ontological categories. The mind and the body are not identical even if we are to argue from Leibniz’s Law of Identity that two things can only be identical if they at the same time share exactly the same qualities. Here as well, vigilance is enormously important that we might not disremember the real distinction between machine and human.


Abbas, R., Michael, K., Michael, M. G., & Aloudat, A. (2011). Emerging Forms of Covert Surveillance Using GPS-Enabled Devices. Journal of Cases on Information Technology, 13(2), 19-33.

ACLU. (2013). You Are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans' Movements. from

Adler, I. (2013). How Our Digital Devices Are Affecting Our Personal Relationships. 90.9 WBUR.

ALD (Ed.). (2010). Uberveillance: Oxford University Press.

Australian Privacy Foundation. (2005). Human Services Card.   Retrieved 6 June 2013, from

Bastardi, A., & Shafir, E. (1998). On the Pursuit and Misuse of Useless Information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 19-32.

Brewster, D. (2001). Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) Volume II. Ch. 27: Adamant Media Corporation.

Capurro, R. (2013). Medicine in the information and knowledge society. Paper presented at the Conference Name|. Retrieved Access Date|. from URL|.

Carpenter, L. (2011). Marina Lutz interview: The sins of my father. The Observer   Retrieved 20 April 2013, from

Clarke, R. (1988a). Information Technology and Dataveillance. Communications of the ACM, 31(5), 498-512.

Clarke, R. (1988b). Just another piece of plastic in your wallet: the `Australian card' scheme. ACM SIGCAS Computers and Society, 18(1), 7-21.

Clarke, R. (2009, 7 April 2009). The Covert Implementation of Mass Vehicle Surveillance in Australia. Paper presented at the Fourth Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security: Covert Policing, Canberra, Australia.

Clifford, S., & Hardy, Q. (2013). Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell.   Retrieved 14 July, from

Collins, L. (2008). Annals of Crime. Friend Game. Behind the online hoax that led to a girl’s suicide. The New Yorker.

DailyMail. (2013). Stores now tracking your behavior and moods through cameras.   Retrieved 6 August, from

ENISA. (2011). To log or not to log?: Risks and benefits of emerging life-logging applications. European Network and Information Security Agency   Retrieved 6 July 2013, from

FastCompany. (2013). #Unplug. Fast Company, July/August(177).

Frankel, T. C. (2012, 20 October). Megan Meier's mom is still fighting bullying.   Retrieved 4 November 2012

Friedman, R. (2012). Why Too Much Data Disables Your Decision Making. Psychology Today: Glue   Retrieved December 4, 2012, from

Goodchild, M. F. (2007). Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. GeoJournal, 69, 211–221.

Greenwald, G. (2013). NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily. The Guardian   Retrieved 10 August 2013, from

Hans Holbein the Younger. (1533). The Ambassadors.

Hayes, A. (2010). Uberveillance (Triquetra).   Retrieved 6 May 2013, from

HIGI. (2013). Your Score for Life.   Retrieved 29 June 2013, from

Intellitix. (2013). Reshaping the Event Horizon.   Retrieved 6 July 2013, from

Kerr, I., & Mann, S. (2006). Exploring Equiveillance. ID TRAIL MIX.

Krause. (2012). Vigilance Fatigue in Policing.   Retrieved 22 July, from

Levin, A. (2013). Waiting for Public Outrage. Paper presented at the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, Toronto, Canada.

Loehr, J., & Schwartz, T. (2001). The Making of a Corporate Athlete. Harvard Business Review, January, 120-129.

Lutz, M. (2012). The Marina Experiment.   Retrieved 29 May 2013, from

Macquarie (Ed.). (2009). Uberveillance: Sydney University.

Magid, L. (2013). Wearables and Sensors Big Topics at All Things D. Forbes.

Mann, S. (2004a). Continuous lifelong capture of personal experience with EyeTap. Paper presented at the ACM International Multimedia Conference, Proceedings of the 1st ACM workshop on Continuous archival and retrieval of personal experiences (CARPE 2004), New York.

Mann, S. (2004b). Sousveillance: inverse surveillance in multimedia imaging. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 12th annual ACM international conference on Multimedia, New York, NY, USA.

Mann, S., Nolan, J., & Wellman, B. (2003). Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments. Surveillance and Society, 1(3), 331-355.

Masters, A., & Michael, K. (2006). Lend me your arms: the use and implications of humancentric RFID. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 6(1), 29-39.

Michael, K. (2010). Stop social network pitfalls. Illawarra Mercury.

Michael, K. (2013a). Big Data and the Dangers of Over-Quantifying Oneself. Computer Magazine (Multimedia)   Retrieved June 7, 2013, from

Michael, K. (2013b). Snowden's Revelations Just the Tip of the Iceberg.   Retrieved 6 July 2013, from

Michael, K. (2013c). Social Implications of Wearable Computing and Augmediated Reality in Every Day Life (IEEE Symposium on Technology and Society, ISTAS13). Toronto: IEEE.

Michael, K. (2013d). Wearable computers challenge human rights. ABC Science Online.

Michael, K., & Clarke, R. (2013). Location and tracking of mobile devices: Überveillance stalks the streets. Computer Law & Security Review, 29(3), 216-228.

Michael, K., & Michael, M. G. (2009). Teaching Ethics in Wearable Computing:  the Social Implications of the New ‘Veillance’. EduPOV   Retrieved June 18, from

Michael, K., & Michael, M. G. (2012). Converging and coexisting systems towards smart surveillance. Awareness Magazine: Self-awareness in autonomic systems, June.

Michael, K., & Michael, M. G. (Eds.). (2007). From Dataveillance to Überveillance and the Realpolitik of the Transparent Society. Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

Michael, K., & Miller, K. W. (2013). Big Data: New Opportunities and New Challenges. IEEE Computer, 46(6), 22-24.

Michael, K., Roussos, G., Huang, G. Q., Gadh, R., Chattopadhyay, A., Prabhu, S., et al. (2010). Planetary-scale RFID Services in an Age of Uberveillance. Proceedings of the IEEE, 98(9), 1663-1671.

Michael, M. G., & Michael, K. (2007). Uberveillance. Paper presented at the 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. Privacy Horizons: Terra Incognita, Location Based Tracking Workshop, Montreal, Canada.

Michael, M. G., & Michael, K. (2010). Towards a State of Uberveillance. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 29(2), 9-16.

Michael, M. G., & Michael, K. (2011). The Fall-Out from Emerging Technologies: on Matters of Surveillance, Social Networks and Suicide. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 30(3), 15-18.

mX. (2013). Hard to Swallow.   Retrieved 6 August 2013, from

Orcutt, M. (2013). Electronic “Skin” Emits Light When Pressed. MIT Tech Review.

Oxford Dictionary. (2013). Dataveillance.   Retrieved 6 May 2013, from

OxfordDictionary. (2013). Surveillance.   Retrieved 6 May 2013, from

Papakostas, T. V., Lima, J., & Lowe, M. (2002). 5:3 A Large Area Force Sensor for Smart Skin Applications. Sensors; Proceedings of IEEE, 5(3).

Pearce, P., & Gretzel, U. (2012). Tourism in technology dead zones: documenting experiential dimensions. International Journal of Tourism Sciences, 12(2), 1-20.

Pivtohead. (2013). Wearable Imaging: True point of view.   Retrieved 22 June 2013, from

Pokin, S. (2007). MySpace' hoax ends with suicide of Dardenne Prairie teen. St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Resch, B. (2013). People as Sensors and Collective Sensing-Contextual Observations Complementing Geo-Sensor Network Measurements. Paper presented at the Progress in Location-Based Services, Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography.

Roberts, P. (1984). Information Visualization for Stock Market Ticks: Toward a New Trading Interface. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston.

Rodota, S., & Capurro, R. (2005). Ethical Aspects of ICT Implants in the Human Body. The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE)   Retrieved June 3, 2006, from

SHRM. (2011). from

Spence, R. (2009). Eyeborg.   Retrieved 22 June 2010, from

Stephan, K. D., Michael, K., Michael, M. G., Jacob, L., & Anesta, E. (2012). Social Implications of Technology: Past, Present, and Future. Proceedings of the IEEE, 100(13), 1752-1781.

SXSchedule. (2013). Better Measure: Health Engagement & higi Score.   Retrieved 29 June 2013, from

Thurston, B. (2013). I have left the internet. Fast Company, July/August(177), 66-78, 104-105.

Ware, C. (2000). Information Visualization: Perception for Design. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Warm, J. S., Parasuraman, R., & Matthews, G. (2008). Vigilance Requires Hard Mental Work and Is Stressful. Human Factors, 433-441.

Williams, R. B. (2012). Is Facebook Good Or Bad For Your Self-Esteem? Psychology Today: Wired for Success.

Wordnik. (2013). Sousveillance.   Retrieved 6 June 2013, from




3 Someone searching for a WiFi wireless network connection using a mobile device in a moving vehicle.



Citation: Katina Michael, M. G. Michael, and Christine Perakslis (2014) Be Vigilant: There Are Limits to Veillance. The Computer After Me: pp. 189-204. DOI: 

The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Eight The Auto-ID Trajectory: Converging Disciplines

Having studied the past and present applications of manual and automatic identification technology it is now feasible to investigate the likely future of auto-ID. While this chapter can be considered predictive in nature, it is based on leading-edge research, most of which has not been cited collectively as has been done here, in the auto-ID trajectory context. As identification techniques and devices have evolved incrementally since the 1900s, the turn of the twenty-first century has witnessed a new breed of auto-ID innovations; traditional devices that have found uses in non-traditional applications, many of which can be considered radical in their novelty. By tracing these developments the possible trajectories can be determined shedding light on the short-to-medium term course of auto-ID over the next fifty years. It should be noted that the trend towards digital convergence, shown within the auto-ID industry itself in chapter seven, is also present at a macro level, across different disciplines. Thus this chapter will inexorably be linked to showing how auto-ID devices have been utilised in other fields of study, such as medicine, and the innovative applications that have been born from these newly-formed relationships. This is a significant contribution to auto-ID research; not only being able to understand the autonomous nature of auto-ID but also being able to comprehend where new research dollars are likely to be spent, granting one the ability to ponder on the implications of subsequent developments. In addition, the chapter will present a view of complementary and supplementary peripheral technologies that are essential parts of this trend toward technological convergence. Finally, the human metaphor will be used to explore the auto-ID paradigm, beginning with auto-ID devices that are carried, to those that are worn, to those that penetrate the skin, and to those that wish to do away with the flesh altogether.

Read More