'“…The U.S. military’s top intelligence officer is increasingly worried about China’s research into “human performance enhancement,” including efforts to merge human and machine intelligence. It’s a “key area” of disruptive technology that will affect national security, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, told an audience at the Association of the U.S.Army’s annual conference this week.” - read more at Defence One
Sweden has a global reputation as a leader in developing innovative technologies. But will a trend for inserting microchips in the human body catch on? The Local spoke to one of the first Swedes to choose an implant to unlock her office door.
Emilott Lantz, 25, from Umeå in northern Sweden, got a microchip inserted into her hand last week.
She became a guinea pig during Sime 2014 in Stockholm – a conference about digitalism, the internet, and the future. In line with the goals of the event, participants were offered to get a microchip fitted for free – an opportunity Lantz jumped at.
“I don’t feel as though this is the future – this is the present. To me, it’s weird that we haven’t seen this sooner,” she tells The Local.
There is evidence that the number of chip-wearers in Sweden is growing rapidly.
"This has very much been an underground phenomenon up until now, but there are perhaps a 100 people with the chip in Sweden," says Hannes Sjöblad from the Swedish biohackers group BioNyfiken.
In the last month alone 50 people from the group underwent the procedure.
The technology has previously been used for key tags or chips in our pets’ necks to let them through cat flaps. What is relatively new is inserting the chip in human hands.
The idea is that instead of carrying keys or remembering pins or passwords for our phones or doors, people fitted with microchips can use them to unlock rooms or lockers, by placing their hand against a machine that reads the information stored in the chip.
It was the appeal of minimizing the number of keys she needed to carry around that was the deciding factor for Lantz.
But her decision to go through with the procedure has brought mixed reactions from her friends and family, some saying she’s been foolish while others argue it’s a cool idea.
“The technology isn’t new but the subject becomes sensitive just because it’s in the human body,” she says.
The chip, which is the size of a grain of rice, has been designed to stay in Lantz’s hand for the rest of her life.
“I’m not surprised that people think it’s a big deal – it’s not that common yet, but I think it will be. We’re already modifying our bodies, why should this be different?”
Lantz first came in contact with the idea while attending the conference Geek Girl Meetups last year, where she heard speaker Carin Ism talk about transhumanism.
Transhumanism is a movement that explores science and technology innovations and their relationship to humanity. Its goal is to challenge humanity by using emerging technologies that enable humans to go beyond their current limitations.
“I’m super stoked to have had this done – I can’t wait for the property agent to get back to me about letting me into the system so that I can use my chip instead of my keys to get into the office,” says Lantz.
BioNyfiken's Hannes Sjöblad says it makes sense that Sweden is starting to embrace the technology.
"There's a reason that this is happening in Sweden first and not anywhere else. Swedes have a proven track record of being very early adapters of new technologies and the current mood is very conductive to this type of experimenting," he says.
Lantz adds: “besides having a chip in my hand, I’m a pretty normal person."
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"When Google first announced the project they didn't discuss how the nanoparticles would relay their findings. But, in a video from The Atlantic, employees explain that they'll be using light signals to talk to the wristband through the superficial veins on the underside of the wrist. Of course, shining lights through the skin means factoring in a range of skin types and colors, and so Google's scientists have built fake arms with "the same autofluoresecence and biochemical components of real arms." Thus the fake skin."
"...I still don’t think I’ll have wasted my time. There’s something poetic about having the present so firmly fixed into you that you can feel it become the past. I don’t have any interest in artistic or even visible body modification; there’s already enough pressure around figuring out how to look and dress. But give me something with even the thinnest veneer of usefulness, and I don’t care whether it makes any practical sense. It’s a symbolic way to declare my apostasy from nature, a first step towards becoming something that evolutionary psychologists can’t neatly box up with stories about cavemen and cavewomen. Maybe this is what being very slightly posthuman is — being able to get a new ability and say, "What’s the big deal?"
"...Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges. Now rapid advances in technology are resulting in efforts to develop fully autonomous weapons. These robotic weapons would be able to choose and fire on targets on their own, without any human intervention. This capability would pose a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and to compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law."
"The research examined the six distinctive types of wearable tech user, and how businesses need to take advantage of them:
1. Curious: people who have no specific need, but are more interested in playing with the technology. Rackspace argues businesses need to focus on simplicity of use and attractiveness of design in order to keep these customers.
2. Controllers: people who will only purchase once they know exactly what they want to do with it, and that they can manage their data in an appropriate fashion. The paper advocates that this demographic is going to be vital when considering second and third generation devices
3. Quantified sellers: people who want to track themselves as they live their lives; an academic interest. Rackspace notes that these people are “e-hoarders”, needing their data in two or more places, particularly the cloud.
4. Self-medics: users who wish to utilise wearable tech for m-health. Rackspace argues that, for these users in particular, the data gathering methods need to be spot on – ensuring the “how, when and why” of data collection is transparent.
5. Finish line fanatics: those for whom the gloss of a shiny new device soon wears off. Understandably, the report advocates that businesses need to capitalise on the initial excitement, advocating giving “real meaning from the data”.
6. Ubiquitous future: digital natives that will grow up with the next generation of wearable technology. Rackspace argues that, for this generation, privacy will not be an issue, with boosting personal skills the key."
I very much enjoyed listening to the QS TED talk of Gary Wolf (below), esp given it was dated 2010.
But as I've gone on record as saying at IEEEISTAS13- what's so new about QS and inward reflection?
I don't buy the argument that QS gives us an ability to do "better" inward reflection. The average person relies on software written by someone else to do their analysis of the self.
Do I trust a program to tell me that I am doing OK? Simply "no".
Do I trust a program to tell me I am within a 'give or take' 20% over or under of a given average... "maybe"... depending on how the numbers were derived and analysed.
Would I change my lifestyle if I did not do enough "steps" in my day or didn't get enough sleep each night? "Possibly at times"... but I do this with/or without QS tools/applications/devices because I *try* to listen to my body.
Having spent many years engaged in experiments and field observations with my students at the University of Wollongong, I can go on record as saying that the use of these tools/devices/applications are not as effortless as some people might think. Sure I can run some off-the-shelf analysis on my human activity to monitor what I do, to improve the self but the collection of this data can also be stressful (ah that battery problem), and the results even for some "depressive" (even "addictive").
Left to my own devices, I could even pour into the data being collected and make up my own assessment of things, if I am mathematically inclined to do some basic descriptive stats analysis.
But I personally cannot see the value of all of this.
And I also don't buy the argument that quantified self is really deep down about telling you more about who you are. Do we really need these statistics to tell us when we are doing something or not? The QS movement for now might well be innocent, but I highly doubt this will be the case as commercialisation kicks in big-time and becomes outward facing to private business or even public health systems.
Self-awareness and spiritual intelligence and self-reflection is a practice deeply rooted in many "ways of life". Max Weber for instance talks of the "inside world", while others translate the German from Weber to mean: "inner-worldly".
Ascetism is an ancient practice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asceticism I spoke of "askēsis" (derived from the Greek) during question time in response to the brilliant talk delivered by Natasha Dow Schull from MIT.
In my open comments at ISTAS13, I also referred to the ancient practice of hesychasm. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychasm
No surprise- that the outcome of using these QS tools is usually striving for self-improvement etc. But who will ever reach the perfect physical state, if there is such a thing? And even if we do hit that equilibrium on doing x or y according to FITBIT or according to x or y device we are carrying, so what? What does that really mean? That our life is perfect? That our life is complete?
So we go back full circle- and no surprise there- wellness is not about the number of steps that you do, and success in one's life is not about hitting the "target" on human activity (it may be a part of it), but usually "wellness" has to do with mind and body and spirit. It is that last part, "the spirit", which is not handled well at all by QS, and yet the number of times I have heard individuals claim to me that QS *is* ultimately about the spirit...
So how do these devices "quantify" meditation / prayer? Simply they do not, and cannot, even if I flip a switch during my prayer sessions, what does that really mean to my QS totals/averages? Prayer, is that part of our inward life which is so very much important to aiding in our physical health- do I really need a sensor/GPS to tell me about my spiritual well-being?
It kind of reminds me of the movements within the Human Resource/psychology space... we began with rational intelligence and then moved onto emotional intelligence, then we moved onto the more funkier wisdom intelligence, and today people speak of spiritual intelligence... it often dumbfounds me to consider it took hundreds of thousands of scholarly hours of research to get to this final point of which we are now talking about spiritual consciousness.
- "Spiritual Intelligence is becoming more mainstream in scientific inquiry and philosophical/psychological discussion. It is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences because it becomes the source of guidance of the other three. Spiritual intelligence represents our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite.
Spiritual intelligence also helps us discern true principles that are part of our conscience, and are symbolized by the compass. The compass is an excellent physical metaphor for principles, because it always points north."
I do not discount the benefits of simple QS tools like "pedometers", such as the many that were handed out to employees during the Global Corporate Challenge, GCC, which give you an indication of whether or not you are walking enough each day, but devices that are connected to the Internet, are GPS-enabled, provide physiological monitoring are perhaps left best alone, or applied to niche fields like advanced athletic training. I don't personally see the point of all this information gathering that will ultimately be on-sold to third party providers. We can spend a lifetime worried about all of these aspects, and the usage of all this technology may/may not be beneficial to our life-expectancy. But ultimately it is our spiritual health that matters and that cannot be quantified.
I refer here to a post I wrote before ISTAS13 when my beloved father-in-law passed away... he hardly "stepped" out of his Reno Cafe in Newtown, NSW, Australia, but he had the most incredible and most fulfilling life. At 89 years of age, most would say he lived a full life- more than half of that was spent serving others in his 72-seat Cafe... http://veillance.me/blog/2013/3/10/memories
My father-in-law's death had a profound effect on me, especially because it was unexpected (despite his age), and it occurred during a time I was swamped in ISTAS13 conference preparations with Steve Mann on the theme of wearable computers in everyday life... When all is said and done, when we depart this earth, it has very little to do with QS, and more to do with the condition of our heart. The former we can achieve through technological means, the latter can only come from prayer and meditation and the like. QS can make us more self-aware, but true self-awareness will not come from technological apparatus but a spiritual inquiry stemming from within.