Friday, March 26, 2004

A 21st-century protest

From the Guardian: Pass it on. It spread first across the city and then the country, multiplying itself through mobile phones, emails and the internet. You have one new message. "Today at 6pm, Genova Street, to find out the truth. Pass it on."
And they did, in their thousands. Genova Street is the location of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) headquarters in Madrid, the party in power in Spain until March 14. From 6pm the day before, until long into the evening, 5,000 people gathered in the Spanish captial to vent their anger at what they saw as a deliberate government cover-up regarding the perpetrators of the recent bombings.
The message stretched far beyond Madrid. By that evening, PP branches all over Spain were being harangued on the night before the general election by demonstrators not allied to any political party. In Spain, the PP appeared on television to denounce the demos; the number of protestors subsequently soared. There were 7,000 protesters in Barcelona, 1,500 in Galicia and hundreds more in city centres across the country. Most remarkable of all, the protests were organised in just a few hours, via text message and email, by a disillusioned electorate that had decided to take matters into their own hands.
It was a political extension of the phenomenon nicknamed "smart mobs" by American author Howard Reingold - and it's happened before... As more facts emerged, many people felt they had been deliberately lied to by their government. By 3pm Saturday, the first messages had been sent, talking about a non-party gathering against the PP. According to mobile phone operators Vodafone and Amena, 20% more text messages than usual were sent that day. The technological enfranchisement didn't end there. The main government-owned television channel TVE practically ignored the demonstrations that evening, so people were relying on the internet to keep them informed about what was going on.

United Nations ponders Net's future

From CNET: At a summit here this week [see Global Forum on Internet Governance], delegates from around the world gathered to take a preliminary step toward U.N. involvement in some of the areas that are bedeviling Internet users and governments alike, including spam, network security, privacy and the regulation of the technical underpinnings that control the sprawling global network.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan set the tone in a speech Thursday, criticizing the current system through which Internet standards are set and domain names are handled, a process currently dominated by the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Such structures "must be made accessible and responsive to the needs of all the world's people," Annan said. Most delegates used Thursday's summit to dress up their arguments in high-minded rhetoric about democracy and equality, but one recurring theme was a bit more practical: money. Delegates from poorer countries repeatedly cited the digital divide, arguing that it was widening, not narrowing, and that more foreign aid and investments from corporations would be vital over the next decade. Many delegates to the Global Forum on Internet Governance appeared to favor the a U.N. agency assuming an important role in running the Internet.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

International Workshop on Inverse Surveillance - April 12 - Toronto

Cameraphones, Cyborglogs, and Computational seeing aids;
exploring and defining a research agenda

Date: 2004 April 12th.

Time: 12:00noon to 4pm, EST (a working lunch will be served)

Location: Colony Hotel (1-866-824-9330), 89 Chestnut Street, Toronto

* Camera phones and pocket organizers with sensors;
* Weblogs ('blogs), Moblogs, Cyborglogs ('glogs);
* Wearable camera phones and personal imaging systems;
* Electric eyeglasses and other computational seeing and memory aids;
* Recording experiences in which you are a participant;
* Portable personal imaging and multimedia;
* Wearable technologies and systems;
* Ethical, legal, and policy issues;
* Privacy and related technosocial issues;
* Democracy and emergent democracy (protesters organizing with SMS camphones);
* Safety and security;
* Technologies of lifelong video capture;
* Personal safety devices and wearable 'black box' recorders;
* Research issues in 'people looking at people';
* Person-to-person sharing of personal experiences;
* End of gender-specific space (e.g. blind man guided by wife: which restroom?);
* Subjectright: ownership of photograph by subject rather than photographer;
* Reverse copyright: protect information recipient, not just the transmitient;
* Interoperability and open standards;
* Algebraic Projective Geometry from a first-person perspective;
* Object Detection and Recognition from a first-person perspective;
* Computer Vision, egonomotion and way-finding technologies;
* Lifelong Image Capture: data organization; new cinematographic genres;
* New Devices and Technologies for ultra miniature portable cameras;
* Social Issues: fashion, design, acceptability and human factors;
* Electronic News-gathering and Journalism;
* Psychogeography, location-based wearable computing;
* Augmented/Mediated/Diminished Reality;
* Empowering children with inverse surveillance: Constructionist learning, creation of own family album, and prevention of both bullying by peers and abuse by teachers or other officials.

IWIS 2004 will be a small intimate discussion group, limited to 25 participants.

Email your name, the name of your organization, and what you might add to the meeting, as part of a one page extended abstract, outlining your position on, and proposed contribution to the theme of inverse surveillance. Submissions should be sent by email to hilab at Alternatively, authors may email up to four pages, in IEEE two column camera-ready format that address the theme of inverse surveillance. Prospective participants wishing to submit a full paper may also contact the workshop facilitators prior to submission.

All participants (accepted papers or extended abstracts) will have the opportunity to contribute to the published proceedings.

There is no workshop registration fee. There is no submission deadline; reviews will continue until there are sufficient numbers of high quality theme-relevant contributors.

* Dr. Jim Gemmell, MyLifeBits (lifetime data storage) project with Gordon Bell; author of various publications on lifelong personal experience capture.
* Joi Ito, Japan's leading thinker on technology; ranked among the "50 Stars" by Business Week; commended by Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications; chosen by World Economic Forum as one of the 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow"; Board member of Creative Commons;
* Anastasios Venetsanopoulos, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto; author on hundreds of publications on image processing.
* John M. Kennedy, Chair, Department of Life Sciences, UTSC; author of Drawing and the Blind: Pictures to Touch.
* Dr. Stefanos Pantagis, Physician, Hackensack University Medical Center; Geriatrician, doing research on wearable computers to assist the blind, and clinical work on brainwave EyeTap interfaces for Parkison's patients.
* Steve Mann, author of CYBORG: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer; 30 years experience inventing, designing, building, and wearing devices and systems for personal imaging.
* Douglas Schuler, former chair, Computing Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR); founding member SCN.
* Stephanie Perrin, Former Chief Privacy Officer of Zero-Knowledge Systems; Former Director of Privacy Policy for Industry Canada's Electronic Commerce Task Force; responsible for developing domestic privacy policies, new technologies, legislation, standards and public education; recipient of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award.
* Dr. Jason Nolan, Senior Fellow, Mcluhan Program in Culture and Technology
* Dr. Nina Levent, art historian, Whitney Museum; works with visually impaired; collaboration on using EyeTaps and wearcamphones in museum education.
* Elizabeth Axel, founder, Art Education for the Blind, Inc. (AEB); collaboration on using EyeTaps and wearcamphones in museum education.

ORGANIZERS: S. Mann; S. Martin (; and J. Nolan.
IWIS 2004 arises from planning over, the past 2 years, at Deconference 2002/2003.

ADMINISTRATION: PDC, 416-978-3481 or toll free 1-888-233-8638

When we can talk to animals...

"Doctor Dolittle for Real? Raising Questions About Interspecies Communications"

THE FUTURIST Cover Story (excerpt), March-April 2004

Real communication with animals could happen sooner than you think.

By Bruce Lloyd and Susan Clayton

Human beings have long studied the myriad ways by which animals communicate and interact with one another. Significant research has explored body language and vocalization; the importance of color, scent, and touch; the significance of territorial and mating rituals; and a host of other communications patterns that signify health, environment, and relationship.

In recent decades, researchers all over the world have studied animal communication patterns that appear to approximate human communication. Work on hummingbirds, songbirds, and parrots has shown their ability to learn and continue learning new sounds and to use syntax to arrange them in ever more complex ways. With higher animals, scientists continue to make great strides in understanding the more sophisticated communication patterns of such animals as dolphins, whales, and great apes.

For decades, the human race has invested substantial resources in exploring the depth of the universe while searching for extraterrestrial intelligence but, so far, there has been no contact. What would happen if, instead of focusing on communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence, we used our resources and computer technology to make the fictional achievements of Doctor Dolittle a reality?

This possibility is not science fiction; it is quite likely to become a reality on a significant scale within a decade or two. Many aspects of technology—from the speed of computing to more-intelligent sensors to nanotechnology—are coming together to make a breakthrough increasingly likely. And this breakthrough could happen even sooner than we think if humanity has the will and foresight to make it happen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

More signs of the anti-Kass resistance in American bioethics

Ethics of Human Cloning

May 25-26

San Francisco, California

Friends Research Institute

On May 24 there will be a pre-conference workshop on: Advanced Methods on Human Research protections.

This is an excellent conference! It has most of the leading names in American bioethics including:

- Opening keynote: Harold Shapiro, the chair of Clinton's bioethics committee which recommended that therapeutic stem cell cloning be federally funded and a voluntary moratorium on repro cloning of humans until it was safe

- Greg Pence, a leading defender of (safe) reproductive cloning

- John Robertson, who coined the term "procreative liberty" to defend parents' rights to use reproductive technology

- Bonnie Steinbock, a liberal feminist defender of reproductive rights

- Michael West, the CEO of Advanced Cell Technologies (no intro needed on these lists)

- Closing keynote: Ruth Macklin, who recently penned an attack on Kassian/bioLuddite uses of "human dignity" in the BMJ

This conference represents the emerging anti-Kass backlash in liberal bioethics.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Arranging a marriage: Pro-choice and infertility tech activists

Hazy Conceptions - Pro-choice activists are flummoxed by the high-tech baby-making industry. By Liza Mundy in Slate
Both of these movements are dedicated to helping women control their reproductive lives; both have closely monitored the Kass deliberations; both deeply oppose greater federal involvement in reproduction. 'We don't want the government touching, monitoring, getting involved with our eggs, our sperm, our embryos,' says Pamela Madsen, the head of the American Infertility Association. 'It's ours, not theirs. Get their bloody mitts off of them.'
Why is the idea that reproductive rights includes the right to use technology to have a baby such a difficult idea? Once we get these two groups on the same page we next have to convince them that the right to germinal choice is included under reproductive rights.

Global Space for Peace Conference, Portland ME April 23-25

Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

April 23-25, 2004

In the midst of Bush administration efforts to wage war around the world, hundreds of activists from more than 12 countries will gather at the Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland on April 23-25 for the 12th Annual International Space Organizing Conference sponsored by the Maine-based Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (GN).

Events will begin with a protest rally on Friday, April 23 at Waterfront Park in Bath at 2:00 pm. Following the rally the assembled will march to Bath Ironworks at the time of a worker shift change. The Aegis destroyer, now being built at BIW, will be outfitted with new Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) systems and forward deployed in the Asian Pacific region surrounding China. These deployments are not intended to protect the American people but instead will provoke China to build more nuclear missiles. Today China has 20 nuclear missiles capable of hitting the continental U.S., while the U.S. has 7,500 nuclear weapons.

On Saturday, April 24 at the Woodfords Congregational Church (202 Woodford Street) the GN will hold its day long conference entitled Resisting Empire: Understanding the Role of Space in U.S. Global Domination featuring plenary sessions and educational workshops. Featured as the keynote speakers at the conference will be Dr. Helen Caldicott founder of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute and Dr. Craig Eisendrath, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy. Dr. Caldicott, a long time leader in the anti-nuclear movement, years ago founded the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Dr. Eisendrath helped write the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that outlaws the placement of weapons in space.

“George W. Bush is now building the costly and destabilizing Star Wars system, that once deployed, will throw the door wide open to a new arms race,” said Global Network Convener Dave Webb from Leeds, England. “We are told that Star Wars is supposed to make the U.S. and its allies more secure but we know that turning space into a battlefield can only lead to greater threats. The only people to benefit from the weaponization of space will be the aerospace corporations and their congressional friends.”

The Bush administration is embarking on the controversial deployment of yet proven “missile defense” systems in Alaska and California before the next election. The U.S. had to withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty in order to carry out these deployments.

The Global Network was founded in 1992 to stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space and today has 185 affiliate groups all over the world. Each year the GN meets in a different part of the world. For more information about the conference visit:

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space PO Box 652 Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-0517
(207) 319-2017 (Cell phone)

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Rights for Cousin Flipper

The Dolphin Society's

All whales and dolphins are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and act towards one another in a spirit of brother and sisterhood.

Every whale and dolphin is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind such as species, sex or other status.

Every whale and dolphin has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

No whale or dolphin shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

No whale or dolphin shall be subjected to misfortune or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

No whale or dolphin shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Every whale and dolphin has the right to freedom of movement and residence in the sea and the right to return unhindered to its home territory.

Every whale and dolphin has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Every whale and dolphin has the right to a clean environment for the health and well-being of self and family and the right to the bounty of the ocean, ie. food.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.