Volume 4, Issue 2
December 2009

Case Study: The Human Rights Travails of Prof. Steve Mann as a Partial Cyborg in 2008

Steve Mann, Ph.D.

Page 3 of 3

When we talk about telephone conversations, third-party recording is surveillance; but if one of the parties of the conversation records then it's sousveillance. In many states audio sousveillance is permitted but surveillance is not; audio sousveillance is often permitted and audio sousveillance it not. This more modern definition of sousveillance very much becomes a 20th Century 'us versus them argument,' and it's really not that. I mean a person driving a cab with a camera in their car photographing their passengers might the next minute be a passenger in somebody else's cab.

These are just roles that switch around. We have to adopt a more modern and simple definition of sousveillance as simply the capturing of an activity from a participant in the activity. There’s a much more human centered approach to that. It's very hard to have a heart-to-heart conversation with a lamp post that has a camera mounted to it.

It's much more reasonable to individuals who capture their life and so we have this greater social effect whereby people capture their own experience. It’s sort of the rights of their own experience; who owns my own bemes. I like to call this an electrovisualgram because I also have an electrocardiogram and I have an electroencephalogram, so I have the brainwave electrodes and all kinds of other sensors on my body. In some sense I regard the EyeTap[1] signal, which I call an electrovisualgram, as one of my physiological signals. In other words, I regard it as something that belongs to me, something that I'm experiencing and I decided that I'm going to capture my ECG[2] and my EVG[3] and my EEG[4] and store that into a closed-loop mindfile which we call a glog. A mindfile is this capture of everything that you might have in a closed-loop mindfile which is where you have a feedback mechanism, what we call a glog or a cyborg log. We have a community of more than 30,000 gloggers on the www.glogger.mobi site; this all started about thirty years ago.

The notion of a Web log, which sometimes people just call a blog (short for Weblog), is also kind of analogous to a cyborg log, which people sometimes abbreviate to say just a glog rather than a cyborg log. A cyborg log is a log file from a cyborg, it's a log file of all these physiologicals. The glogger site www.glogger.mobi is a community now of more than 30,000 open members. We've also white labeled the product to others who are using our system we developed so we have a million some users on some other sites that are using it within other capacities but not in closed groups. The cyborg log system is a new type of social networking like what we talked about, a Web 3.0 phenomenon of this kind of flow of information and interaction.

Basically the start of all this sort of sensory improvement and building devices was to help people see better and help people remember better. We're working with a number of organizations in the seeing technology. I'm working now also with a visually-impaired person implanting this system so it's going to be wholly contained inside his body and won't be visible in any external way. We've developed a number of those kinds of those systems which are completely inside the body and so it's very difficult to discern whether somebody...

The other eyeglasses that I had look like ordinary wire-frame eyeglasses with the laser inside the frames directing to this splitter.

Unfortunately, they got broken during an unfortunate incident. I was walking down the street when A film production company told me that I needed to go in a different direction and they sent me down a different path. I saw some wires there, a bunch of wires on the path, and I went back to ask them, "Are you sure that's safe? Are those live wires?" And they said, "Yeah, that's safe. That you can be reassured they're not live wires." So the security guard mandated a path for me, which turned out to be a path over the top of live electrical cables on a live three-phase electrical distribution station. The cables were all covered in grease, so I ended up slipping and falling on the cables and fried my computer and fell into a live three-phase electrical station.

When I finally got to the other end the guy said, "You shouldn't have walked down there, those are live wires. You should have stayed on the other path." I said, "Well, the other guard told me I needed to go this way." I decided I should photograph the accident scene. I had a normal camera with me, you know, just a pocket camera. I had my glog but I also thought I'd want some clear evidence with flash pictures. Then I was physically assaulted by a third guard for documenting the accident scene on a public sidewalk. I kindly asked them to pay the cost of repair and replacement of my other glasses, the nicely sort of shaped metal framed eyeglasses. It's interesting because I had the glog of the situation so had I just expressed the situation or explained what happened they might not believe it. I'm sure all of you must have had something that happened in your life where people say, well, that's unbelievable, nobody would believe and if something really crazy happened where it's your word against somebody else and nobody would believe it. A good glog or closed-loop mindfile makes a lot of sense in terms of resolving an issue.

Imagine if all the world's leaders were sort of at least wearing these systems. They might be able to see each other from each other's point of view. Could you imagine if I could look through the eyes of somebody else?

I call that seeing eye-to-eye, where we swap viewpoints. It might resolve a lot of tensions or there might be some merits in being able to share a connected collective humanistic intelligence. I talked about HI as we talk about what normally as an individual person, this feedback loop, the HI theory. In reality we're a connected society and we can think of others who are also connected in these various signal flow paths, all connected to one another in this connected collective humanistic intelligence. We can see that as a cyberconsciousness[5] that's sort of evolving from this community of cyborgs. We are starting to see a lot of that happen now within our community.


[1]EyeTap - a device that is worn in front of the eye that acts as a camera to record the scene available to the eye as well as a display to superimpose a computer-generated imagery on the original scene available to the eye. In order to capture what the eye is seeing as accurately as possible, an EyeTap uses a beam splitter to send the same scene (with reduced intensity) to both the eye and a camera. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EyeTap October 22, 2009 1:48PM EST

[2]ECG - An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings are called waves. See a picture of the EKG components and intervals. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/electrocardiogram October 22, 2009 2:20PM EST

[3]EVG – (Electrovisuogram) The EyeTap point is neither inside nor outside the eye, but exists exactly at the center of the iris, at the boundary between inside and outside [10]. It is for this reason that a recording from an EyeTap device is known as an electro-visuogram (EVG), and is conceptually related to other signals measured in or on the body, such as the electro-oculogram (EOG), ECG, EEG, etc..
http://wearcam.org/unplugged.pdf October 23, 2009 11:19AM EST

[4]EEG - An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain by using sensors (electrodes) attached to your head and connected by wires to a computer. http://www.webmd.com/search/search_results October 22, 2009 2:22PM EST

[5]Cyberconsciousness – is consciousness in a cybernetic medium. Cybernetics is the replication of biological control systems with technology. In 1984 Robert Gibson coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in his novel Neuromancer about an alternative reality existing inside computer networks. Soon thereafter, cyber became a prefix meaning anything computer-related. http://mindclones.blogspot.com/2009/07/5 October 22, 2009 3:05PM EST



Steve Mann, Ph.D., professor, author, and inventor, is considered by many to be the inventor of WearComp (wearable computer) and WearCam (EyeTap camera and reality mediator). He is currently a faculty member at University of Toronto, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dr. Mann has been working on his WearComp invention for more than thirty years, dating back to his high school days in the 1970s. He brought his inventions and ideas to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991, and is considered to have brought the seed that later become the MIT Wearable Computing Project. He also built the world's first covert fully functional WearComp with display and camera concealed in ordinary eyeglasses in 1995, for the creation of his award winning documentary ShootingBack. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1997 for work including the introduction of Humanistic Intelligence. He is also inventor of the Chirplet Transform, a new mathematical framework for signal processing, and of Comparametric Equations, a new mathematical framework for computer mediated reality.

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