Heyya! *Waves with hand open like Dr. Spock* Ever since I attended the first BCM 325 Seminar of the Autumn session, the concept of a ‘novum’ has intrigued me. Not suprisingly, a search through instagram reveals that there is indeed a large audience who also enjoy exploring various elements within the sci-fi and speculative genre […]
Since my last post discussing my interest in researching the future use of robots in mental health treatment, I have received feedback from the audience of the Future Cultures blog and Chris Moore which has lead to me altering the nature of my area of research to examining the use of robotics in the sphere of healthcare, in present day, whilst also speculating upon the potential future uses of robotics in the medical field, based upon representations in popular culture.
In this post, I will discuss the current state of robotics used in healthcare and the academic research shaping the future of medical robotics and share any newsworthy information related to the applications of healthcare robots.
A quick Wikipedia search reveals that there are several types of medical robots currently in use, these include:
Surgical Robots: robots capable of assisting or performing surgery
Rehabilitation Robots: robots like PARO who assist…
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Every parent worries about their child. In an age of mobile phones, microchips and other advanced technology that can be utilised to pin point locations, why would parents not track their children? We are in a world where cybernetics and growing technologies supply us with the power of knowledge and information beyond our own physical, human capabilities. What then is made of the ethical implications of ‘stalking’ a child, their internet usage and willingly allowing ourselves to be programmed by this technology into thinking that this kind of behavior is normal?
Cyber-cultures refers to “issues and concerns which have arisen as a result of the proliferation of digitally-enabled communication, networked computation and media technologies and internet practices.” (Moore, 2018). Truly within this relationship between a digital and a reality complex, we can identify that technology is making considerable bounds in becoming increasingly prevalent in human activities.
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If you’ve read my previous post (which, to be honest, I’d totally understand if you hadn’t), you’d know that for my digital artefact I’m looking into the way that advancements in technology are being used around the world to solve important problems. This post is my place to summarise and your place (beloved reader) to understand the scope of the project, where it’s currently at and why it’s important. Basically, read on to discover a summary of CyberSolutions: tech used for good not evil.
Reasoning behind project:
On a slight aside, my favourite thing about my university degree is the flexibility I have throughout my assignments: I am given the space to research a topic of my choosing within most subjects. As such, I like to centre my assignments around my (hopeful) career. As someone with deep passions in social justice and a deep hope to contribute towards social justice within my career, I am fascinated with the way technology and marketing can be used to overcome some of the issues our world faces. And so, this project is a way to collect informative examples of tech being used for social good. Originally, as outlined in my previous post, I was specifically hoping to focus on CyberPoverty, however, as I’ve now found out, sadly there isn’t an overwhelming amount of tech that’s sole purpose is to alleviate poverty. So, to broaden the project and provide more examples, I am now focusing on tech for all sorts of social purposes. I am hopeful that this project will create a space where examples can be easily seen, compared, and maybe even inspire more change.
The project itself:
The project takes shape in the form of a website. Within the (work-in-progress) website is a world map with pins dropped on countries with tech examples. Clicking on that pin will then bring up a page of information about the example. Initial plans were for either a Prezi or a blog. I decided against a Prezi as I want the reader to have full control of which countries they are looking at, and Prezi’s don’t allow for huge amounts of text, which aspects of this project requires. A blog also didn’t seem right as I feel as though a blog really incorporates the writer a lot into the content, whereas this project is really about the information, not about the writer.
Other features of project:
An interesting almost spin-off from the main information in my project, is the paradox that comes with technology. My previous post touched on this aspect, however, the final website will have an entire section on this so I’ll collect the thoughts here.
The paradox exists between technology, the rich and the poor. As my project investigates, there are technologies out there being used to help those that struggle the most, notably, those living in extreme poverty. However, as the richer countries create mind-blowing, seemingly impossible technologies everyday, this means the poorer countries fall further and further behind in advancements. As such, technology widens the divide between the richer and poorer countries but one day it may also close, or at least lessen, the same divide. This is the paradox.
An estimated 79% of the people in the ‘Third World’ – the 50 poorest nations of our world – have no access to electricity. The total number of individuals without power is listed at about 1.5 billion – a quarter of the world’s population. Mostly in Africa and southern Asia (Gronewold). So, if fundamentally a huge, huge, chunk of people in our world don’t even have access to electricity, how are they meant to keep up with technological innovation? And this is the digital divide that Manuel Castells discusses in his book, The Internet Galaxy. He talks about the rapid diffusion of the internet and how it is spread unevenly throughout the globe: the Internet presence for some individual countries, especially in those classified as developing, is much lower. This lack of internet in the ‘developing world’ is being driven by the huge gap in telecommunications infrastructure, internet service providers, and internet content providers as well as by the strategies being used to deal with this gap. We, in richer countries, are basically saying to the poor that “you can’t sit with us”, technological social exclusion of millions of people, sounds like the worst high school playground of all f**king time. Poorer countries are kept reliant on first-world innovation, adding to the viscous cycle of ‘white-saviors‘ and poverty. Castells discusses how the Internet is not just a technology, its an organizational and connective community. Most of us use it every single day for multiple purposes, we can’t imagine our lives without it. But what we need to imagine is the wide divide that exists because of these differences in technologies around the world.
What this project has made me decide about the cyber paradox is that these technological advancements are going to happen regardless. And so, even though this might add to the digital divide, it might also help to close the gap between developed and developing if the tech is powerful enough to solve some serious social stuff.
The biggest challenge I have faced within this project is actually finding the relevant examples. I’m not sure if the examples are hard to find because a) there isn’t much tech being used to solve problems (hopefully unlikely) b) the examples aren’t being broadcast to the rest of the world or c) I’m real crap at researching (probable). Regardless, I’ve found it to be a bit of a struggle to locate, and verify, purposeful technologies.
It’s also been a challenge to present the project exactly how I originally wanted. In my mind, the project ideally would be an interactive world map where users could hover over and a small box would appear with the country and the title of the tech, then they could click in and bring up a pop-up box with more info about the technology. However, since I’m not very experienced in the website-producing area, I’ve struggled with hover-over abilities. So, to adapt, users can now just click on a pin to see the example.
Examples so far:
- Nima: The World’s 1st Portable Gluten Tester
This neat lil piece of tech is used to test food or drink for the presence of gluten. Coeliac and gluten intolerances are heavily present within Society, so to save people the risk of eating something that contains gluten, people can test their food in 3 minutes with this technology to be sure. A handy little tool for solving a prominent social issue.
775 million people in the world are illiterate, and as the population grows, the problem is worsening. Worldreader uses inexpensive e-readers with extended battery life to provide books to children and young people. The program support the e-readers with extensive training and capacity building for teachers, facilitators, and librarians, and features fun activity plans that are designed to nurture a love for reading. The project has reached more than 200,000 people in 27 countries, providing them with more than 5,000 book titles in 23 languages. – Gharib 2014
- Invisible Donations
Philippe Douste-Blazy, a French cardiologist and a special adviser to the secretary general of the UN tested the theory that people wouldn’t notice a small amount of money coming off as a tax on expensive things they purchase. He tested this using a service charge of €1 on tickets for flights out of France. Between 2006 and 2014, they made US $2 billion and received no complaints about the levy. This money has been spent on initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in third-world countries – Grimminck, 2015
- Human rights technology – NONPROFIT: Polaris Project
Slavery affects 20.9 million people in the world. Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman were appalled when they encountered an article on the terrible state of a brothel near their campus during their senior year at Brown. When police raided the building they came across six Asian women who were “being held in a situation of debt bondage.”
Katherine and Derek created a victim outreach program to locate trafficking places and networks, and help victims obtain services. They soon worked with other partners to bring bills to Congress and introduce legislation that protects victims while penalizing offenders. Polaris made the National Human Trafficking Resource Center into a national anti-slavery hotline in 2007, which is available in over 200 languages, and a place where callers can report a tip or receive anti-trafficking services; in March 2013 they established a texting option where victims can text HELP or INFO to “BeFree.” – Goodnet 2015
- Gun control technologies
Whilst not a widespread technology in use yet, a proposed solution to gun violence in America is the introduction of smart gun technology. These smart guns would ensure that only an individual, or a few people, could fire the gun. “One technology utilizes fingerprints. Another company uses a wristwatch that sends off a frequency to the gun and activates it. Yet another uses hand biometrics, and those are just a few. These guns could significantly cut down the 11,000 deaths caused by stolen guns. That number doesn’t even include police officers who are killed in the line of duty with their own gun.” Grimminck 2015
- Operation ASHA
Tuberculosis is a global health problem focused on the poorest people of the world. TB is difficult to treat effectively in this population, given limited access to healthcare and the long course of antibiotics necessary to cure the infection. Operation ASHA created the eCompliance project to combine biometric technology, deployed by community health workers to ensure continuous and effective delivery of antibiotics to TB patients in India. Fingerprint log-ins allow nurses and health workers to accurately identify every patient, and record their ongoing compliance with treatment. Operation Asha has facilitated treatment of more than 30,000 TB patients to date, with over 5,000 patients currently under care through 159 clinics in India. – Gharib 2014
These are just a few examples I have found so far. Check back in a few weeks for the final project 🙂
Transhumanism as a movement is interested in enhancing the human condition and the lives of humans with man-made technologies. In previous posts, I discussed some radical examples.LED lights under the skin, RFID chips – one artist even had a camera attached to his head to turn colours into sounds.Technologies like these make transhumanism seem scary and confronting to others.
But transhumanism covers so much more than just implanted cameras and creepy glasses. That cup of coffee or can of energy drink you grab in the morning, the prescription medication you take with breakfast, even the clothes on your back are all examples of man-made technologies that improve human life and allow us to operate on a higher level, live longer than imagined by societies of the past.
In my last blog, I said I wanted to understand the day-to-day of transhumanism. It was this article that made me realise I am living the experience every day, alongside most of the women I know. A while ago, I was implanted with a tiny piece of technology that allows me to control my biological functions to improve my life – an IUD. Whether it’s the pill, the Implanon or an IUD, most girls I know have been hacking their bodies since their teens. My brother, who has a Ritalin prescription for ADHD, has been hacking his body since he was a child.
Transhumanism aims to improve the human condition through “genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, anti-aging therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable computers, and cognitive techniques” (Bostrom, 2003, 2)
Most people are already living the H+ lifestyle. In fact, we couldn’t imagine our lives without some technologies. The idea of creating solutions to the inefficiencies of the human experience is as old as the wheel, and transhumanism is here. The future approaches, and the biggest decision we have to make is how much we want to freak out about it.
Bostrom, N. 2003. The Transhumanist FAQ, v. 2.1. Oxford: World Transhumanist Association
By User:Ash (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gene therapy image
In the popular 1993 thriller ‘Jurassic Park’, Jeff Goldblum’s character says to Richard Attenborough’s character ” your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The reason I quote this, is that in this post, I intend to focus on the ethical aspect of AI. However, before I focusing on the ethical issues of relating to Artificial Intelligence, I will first attempt to differentiate ethics and morals, as they are often intertwined and confused with each other.
Separating the ethical and moral aspects of any particular topic is incredibly difficult, as ethics and morals often cross-over and are almost one of the same. Now for those of you who don’t know, the word ‘ethics’ originates from the Greek word ethos and ethikos and the word ‘morals’ is derived from the Latin word mores and moralis. In an article for The Conversation, Walker & Lovat state that “‘ethics’ leans towards decisions based upon individual character” whilst ” ‘morals’ emphasises the widely shared communal or societal norms about right and wrong” (Walker & Lovat, 2014). So, if we follow these differences, where does that leave us, in regards to the various issues regarding Artificial Intelligence?
In regards to Artificial Intelligence, it is incredibly difficult to the ethical and moral issues, as they are often intertwined. The moral (societal) issues are well-known to us: what happens if robots turn on us? what happens when we lose our jobs to robots? Can we feel truly safe in the presence of robots? However, what are the ethical (individual) issues that are associated with Artificial Intelligence?
One ethics-driven issue that seems to be prevalent amongst the scientific community is that of technological singularity. Technological singularity refers to a hypothetical moment in the future when artificial intelligence surpasses the limitations of mankind and would therefore be the ones developing new technologies, rather than scientists. Why is this an ethical issue? Well, if you think about it, the scientists who are developing the technology for artificial intelligence are essentially helping create a possible future where humans are no longer useful and are no longer in control. There are many ongoing arguments as to whether technological singularity is something we should fear or embrace. Which is why it can be considered to be an ethical issue of artificial intelligence and is arguably the most important.
Arguably the more recognized and acknowledged ethical issue, “The Frankenstein Complex” is an issue that remains significant even today and is one that can be discussed with enormous depth (on this note, this issue will be further explored in my podcast series). “The Frankenstein Complex” refers to the “almost religious notion that there are some things only God should know” (McCauley 2007, pg. 10). Although this idea may be more prominent in science-fiction than in everyday life, “The Frankenstein Complex” is still a prevalent issue amongst the scientific community and one that continues to cause debate.
To conclude, there are many ethical issues associated with artificial intelligence, yet many of them are intertwined with the moral aspects (which I will discuss in next week’s blog post). Having said this, technological singularity and “The Frankenstein Complex” are both issues that stand out from an ethical perspective and are issues that continue to divide.
McCauley, L. 2007, “The Frankenstein Complex and Asimov’s three laws”, AAAI Workshop – Technical Report, pgs. 9-14
Walker, P & Lovat T 2014, ‘ You say morals, I say ethics – what’s the difference?’, The Conversation, September 18th, viewed 19th April 2016, <http://theconversation.com/you-say-morals-i-say-ethics-whats-the-difference-30913>
To best present my research, I’ll be creating a digital artefact consisting of three podcasts focusing on different aspects of self-driving cars. The topics will include regulation, car culture and the technology needed to run these machines. Regulation will focus on the legislation that is currently put in place across Australia, America and Sweden as well as what needs to be considered in the future. With car culture, I will focus on what changes might happen in the future including the effect on jobs such as taxi drivers, mechanics and even police since there would be no need for RBT’s and the highway patrol when these driverless cars are made to obey the law in every situation. Also, it will be interesting to take note of possible changes in perception between cars and prestige as, in modern times, different models of cars can be a sign of wealth. Finally, I will be looking at the technology behind the self-driving car and the problems that could arise including the possibility of hacking and cyber-terrorism.
For now, I’ll focus on regulation in this post and give a general overview of what legislation is currently in action. In Australia, it seems that South Australia is ahead of the curve having just legalized driverless cars, paving the way for the country to move towards autonomous technology (Tucker, 2016). The state has already conducted self-driving trials with Volvo models late last year and this will allow driverless technology to further develop and help create safer roads – as long as people are willing to change their driving habits.
On the other side of the world in the country of Sweden, self-driving technology is taking a step forward by introducing 100 autonomous cars for willing commuters. Using “specially-picked roads that have no cyclists or pedestrians” (ONE News, 2016), drivers will have the chance to experience what it will feel like to keep their hands off the wheel on their daily routine. So far, the majority of trials have either had a test driver in the vehicle or had no humans in the car making Sweden a definite leader in improving autonomous technology.
With America being the base for Google’s self-driving cars, there has been an ongoing call to create “uniform rules across the country” (Naughton, 2016) since, at the moment, only 23 states have implemented important legislation to oversee their research. Although cautious of the developing technology, many are supporting the roll-out of autonomous vehicles due to the belief that they will help lower collisions on the road. Fatigue, drink driving and distracting factors such as eating and talking on the phone will no longer be an issue in driverless cars and automated vehicles also help improve mobility for the elderly and disabled. With this in mind, the benefits of this technology are worth considering, but their needs to be a nationwide shift to allow self-driving cars to be released for the masses.
It is interesting to see what countries will be the first to take up driverless cars on a mass scale and whether society will reach a point where people no longer drive. At this point, the technology itself has a lot of room for improvement and governments still need to consider what laws will have to change, but the potential for safer driving conditions and the ability to spend your commute doing other tasks makes it well worth the wait.
– Naughton, K. (2016), Driverless car rollout seen stalling without nationwide rules, Bloomberg. Accessed at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-15/uniform-u-s-rules-for-driverless-cars-urged-to-speed-rollout
– ONE News (2016), ‘Eyes of the road’: Driverless car experiment to send a whole new message, TVNZ. Accessed at: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/eyes-off-road-driverless-car-experiment-send-whole-new-message
– Tucker, H. (2016), South Australia has just legalised driverless cars, Business Insider Australia. Accessed at: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/south-australia-has-just-legalised-driverless-cars-2016-4