Censoring with Glass - Yes, Video Has Its Limitation Too

This morning while speaking with MG Michael we talked about the limitations of wearables.

Those who argue that they wear their video recorders 24x7 need to start qualifying their statements.

There were the embarrassing Google StreetView lessons learnt when Google first began its mission- people caught in the field-of-view from a public road using their "outside dunny (toilet)" while reading their newspaper, people caught drunk to oblivion on the front of their home lawn, bus drivers "peeing" by the side-walk 'behind' a bus while thinking no one was watching and much more... Here are some examples to trigger your memories. And here is how to get yourself removed if you found yourself in a compromising photo.

Source: Her.ie http://her.ie/story/nsfw-the-awkward-moment-when-google-street-view-catches-you-in-a-compromising-position-598014  Caption reads: The good news is that Google has since blurred out the image, so there’s no chance of the couple being identified by their pants.

Source: Her.ie http://her.ie/story/nsfw-the-awkward-moment-when-google-street-view-catches-you-in-a-compromising-position-598014

Caption reads: The good news is that Google has since blurred out the image, so there’s no chance of the couple being identified by their pants.

Now, it's really important to note that Google don't just use cars, they also have other form factors recording- e.g. bicycles, as depicted below.

Courtesy: New York Daily News

Courtesy: New York Daily News

Here are some 2009 images from Australia!

Courtesy: Google

Courtesy: Google

The images above are conservative as opposed to some I have chosen NOT to embed into this blogpost for fear of further privacy breach to the individuals concerned.


As I've said in a previous post on this site, introducing Digital Glass means that we are to some extent going beyond Google StreetCars, Google StreetBicycles and the like. We are wardriving on foot now with Digital Glass, sousveilling the streets now with mobile drones; these drones just happen to be voluntary human subjects wearing one or more cameras.

But what happens when people use the toilet and the record button is on their digital glass? What happens when people go to bed? Do they take off their glass? What happens when someone is disciplining their child about an incident- are they recording the wrongdoings of the child as they try to make them understand why their actions were inappropriate? What happens when people are having an argument, and things that should never be uttered come into the fore disclosing very personal details or behaviour that was irrational in speech? What happens when you learn the news that someone has died, and feel like your whole world has collapsed around you? What happens when you are visiting a sick person in hospital who is terminally ill, and they are reduced to skin and bones? Visiting a friend in jail? The list goes on and on. Surely the camera MUST be turned off.

In our discussion this morning, MG Michael deliberated on such events, that are of a highly personal and intimate nature. He has written previously about the need for privacy in such moments in life. This does not mean, as we have written in numerous articles, that one seeks for cameras to be turned off because they are doing something wrong or wish to commit a crime but because some things are just "no-go" zones for outside viewing.

Don't be fooled- cameras on people WILL not reduce crimes! Criminals will just get better at corruption, in its manual or digital form. The more digital the corruption, the greater the potential that the stakes are higher and the corruption is of a more sinister and gross form. And I'm not just talking corporate fraud here.

So "point of eye" (PoE) as Professor Steve Mann rightly calls it, inspired some additional thoughts in MG Michael about censorship, exclusion, deletion, information representation, which are all core concepts of the limitation of living in an uberveillance society. In fact, PoE can be the manner in which one decides to censor their field of view.

Consider the following simple scenario. A male goes to the toilet. As he goes about his business he does not look down while wearing a digital camera but he looks straight ahead. This is selective recording, in a way, a type of censorship. Even worse, while the male goes to wash his hands, he takes a look into the mirror, and the reflection records someone else going to the toilet with their crown jewels in full view.

By nature, our own PoE will capture ourselves in the best light, but the other person either deliberately or accidentally in the worst light. Of course, all this will depend on prior relationships. If they are family, likely we will record them in the best light, if they are friends much the same, if they are strangers we might be indifferent...

Taking the scenario further, body worn video recorders that will soon be worn by some police and citizens alike, may/may not take footage of a given incident, depending on the lifeworld of the wearer. The incident may be 100% in their field of view, but because their "point of eye" neglects to record it by the turn of their head, the evidence is not gathered and stored for further inspection. You see, digital glass does not have a 360 degree camera view, it is not a headband that has embedded cameras at the back of our head, side, looking up and down etc. The camera is STILL in the control of the wearer, and he or she can decide what they wish to gather or exclude. This has huge implications, and till now, has not been addressed by any other academic researcher to our knowledge.

Make no mistake, while this technology may limit the extent of complaints against police regarding brutality, the limitations of video will always exist. The PoE is in the control of the beholder who comes endowed with his/her own lifeworld- it is their subjective reality. This has a great impact on evidence gathering/direct evidence in a court of law, in how police will manage prosecutions and complaint handling, and how crowdsourcing will becoming increasingly important in the field of policing to corroborate stories. We will not be complacent in the future with just ONE field of view, but multiple, and even then we will never have omniscience.

Courtesy: JesusDiaz Gizmodo

Courtesy: JesusDiaz Gizmodo

DIY Drones

The place to be if you are talking DIY Drones is here.

Just one of many "success" stories- from tinkering/hobbyist to commercial organisation. Read the post below by Robero Navoni from "diy drones" posted on 17 Feb 2013.

"After more than five years of experimentation the comunity of VirtualRobotix decided to grow up and turn into a cooperative company.
In the coming months in Italy, you can use our drones not only for scientific or fun, but also for commercial purposes.
Within VirtualRobotix we have assembled the best Italian companies with the ability to develop drones, very appasionate and expertise, today I present to you, the first professional product: a frame  in full carbon developed by the group that designs SpecialDrones.
In these video is possible to see different configuration , and the advanced application where our frame can do great performances"

Drones R Us

As I was growing up, my older brother who was an avid follower of all things "U.S. Air Force", delighted in making me and my siblings watch reruns of jet fighters, bombers and the like on videos he would tape from the world news and documentaries. By the age of 10, I knew what a B1 Bomber was, certainly what a B52 looked like, even what artillery each carried. I would often marvel in my own ability to recollect each just by watching them in flight. But on hindsight I think it had to do with the fact that I grew up within walking distance of Sydney Airport and could not only hear aeroplanes during the day but I could see their underbelly as they came into land at Kingsford Smith.

But there was one plane on the documentaries which always stood out. It wasn't fast, and it wasn't flashy, and it didn't have a pointy nose. It wasn't brutal looking and it could never be described as awesome... The AWACS was always easy to remember. It was white with a black dish-like feature near the tail end. I would think, if AWACS was a planet it would be Saturn!

Courtesy: NATO Web Site

Courtesy: NATO Web Site

The AWACS stands for Airborne Warning & Control System aircraft and technically is Boeing's E-3A 'Sentry'. NATO uses 17 AWACS from its NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany. According to NATO, the AWACS provides:

"immediately available airborne command and control (C2), air and maritime surveillance and battlespace management capability."

The AWACS is often dubbed "Eye in the Sky" and in 2012 it allegedly played an important role in the security of the Euro 2012 Football Tournament. I find it so interesting, that such an old reconnaissance airplane is still doing what it did decades ago, despite that it has undergone numerous upgrades in technology.

This gets me to the point of my blogpost...

What have we become?

Ok. Drones are usually uninhabited... they are getting smaller and smaller by the day... anyone can build one for a couple of hundred dollars (much less if you know where you go to buy the parts)...

So now in an analogous way we can do what the AWACS does... we can buy a device that logs everything we see... "click --- click --- click" every three seconds... We don't even have to press the camera trigger, it just does it automatically for us and sends the data back to some kind of command and control centre, called our "lifelog storage device in the cloud."

In some ways these cameras we might wear 24x7 (and might one day even bear) are "uninhabited" or "unmanned" because there is no conscious decision to make about what photograph/video to take, beyond the decision to wear the device to begin with and press the "on" button.

Thus what have we become? Drones ourselves? Have we become a type of "mule" like those carriers in the smuggling drug trade? "Click --- click --- click." Who are we clicking for? Or video recording for? Is it really ourselves? Our children? History?

We are close to having every street and every dwelling captured... but are we really on a quest to discover every "nook and cranny"? And then what? Once we've got the whole world mapped out, and every human located on a map (even when their mobile), and got a precise view of what people's homes look like from the "inside" not just the "outside", what next? 

"Living under drones" is one thing, but ponder a world filled with human drones. And here, I'm not just referring to your common 'garden variety lifeloggers' but those who will be paid for drone-like behaviour.