ICT
March 13, 2015

From wireless to wearables

For skeptics, Google’s recent decision to abandon sales of its current iteration of Google Glass is mere confirmation that wearing technology is a step too far. To underscore the point, last year an Australian public servant was asked to leave upon entering the office armed with one such pair (alas the story, it turned out, was an April Fool’s hoax).

Yet an alternative perspective quickly presents itself. When one British survey found people checking their smart phones as many as one hundred and fifty times a day, the distinction between wearing and carrying gets murky. Add to the mix the imminent launch of Apple’s smart watch (not the first to market but expected to be the most widely sought) and a myriad of fitness, recording, and medical devices, we’re clearly on the cusp of a new era of wearable technologies.

There’s no reason, however, for digital pioneers to accept technology as an outer layer of the human body. Biometrics, much discussed in recent years though largely limited to a few beachfront bars and amusement parks, are slowly gaining traction. One Toronto start-up, Bionym, is piloting an identity management solution based on the unique rhythms of a heart beat (and all the while provinces struggle with the privacy implications of combining a driver’s license and a health card…).

More profound health transformations are taking shape. In 2014, for example, scientists embedded a “Neurobridge” solution into the brain of a 23-year-old man paralyzed from the neck down following a severe diving accident. Ian Burkhart’s ability (viewable on YouTube, naturally) to clench his fist is a medical breakthrough that carries profound hope for millions. Indeed, deep-brain implants (known as “brain pacemakers”) already help alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s for thousands of sufferers.

In an October 2014 article published in the British daily, The Telegraph, Arthur House explores the implications of such innovation and the prospects for a “post-human” future. He profiles a community of emerging “cyborgs” enthusiastically blurring the line between humanity and technology, and asks: should we stop them or join them?

The article explores the notion of “transhumanism,” essentially a commitment to overcome the limits of human biology, and its growing popularity, that had especially deep roots, not surprisingly, in Silicon Valley. Ray Kurzweil, widely regarded as the futurist responsible for popularizing the “singularity” concept (a point in time estimated at approximately 2045 when artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence) is Google’s director of engineering. San Francisco is home to a burgeoning neuro-gaming community and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus reflects a major investment into virtual reality and the “possibility of completely new kinds of experiences,” to quote Mark Zuckerberg.

Governments, already overwhelmed at the complexities of deploying wireless devices, have barely begun to scratch the surface of wearables. Health care and policing and security are two areas with massive public expenditures and obvious potential for wearable innovation: patient self-tracking will underpin mobile health solutions, whereas video recording devices on frontline service providers has been much discussed in the aftermath of recent racially-tinged shootings in the U.S.

Debates about privacy and the potential for a surveillance society will only grow more pronounced and polarized. Biometrics offer potential alternatives to incarceration for criminal offenders; more controversially, they can enable the monitoring of public service clients in order to incentivize behaviour and lessen fraud, monitoring that can also apply to public servants themselves.

Looking ahead to longer term issues of whether a cyborg future awaits (or more accurately, what sort of future unfolds), governments and legislatures must craft public spaces to openly deliberate and prepare the groundwork for what’s to come. Traditionally, in Canada such matters may have been the purview of the Senate, at one time less constrained by partisanship and electoral calculus, but now adrift in a sea of dysfunction and public indifference.

As the technology treadmill accelerates, alternative mechanisms must be forged, such as Finland’s Committee for the Future, to facilitate societal learning and readiness for the complex and ethically divisive choices ahead. A new form of democratic observatory is urgently required to engage both thought-leaders and every day citizens in preparing for humanity’s next chapter.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

ICT
 
Very soon, two of the world’s largest privately-held companies will go...
 
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...
 
Disruption, for the most part, always used to be seen as...
 
While most of my focus here is on IT and digitization...
 
When data.gov launched in May of 2009, the site seemed to...
 
In 2017, identity theft cost Americans $16.8 billion, and, in just...
 
Risk management is top-of-mind for many organizations and executives. It seems...
 
Most articles you’ll read within the pages of Canadian Government Executive...
 
Today’s global and local environments require public servants at all levels...
 
For over two days at the end of January this year,...
 
Canadian Government Executive (CGE) media team is excited to announce a...
 
Today on CGE Radio, John Jones interviews Alex Miller the President...
 
Canadian Government Executive is honoured to have Michael Wernick, Clerk of...
 
For many years now, the buzz in government has been around...
 
The adoption of new technologies provides many opportunities, poses unique challenges...
 
Earlier this month I had the privilege of testifying as an...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media, (CGE) publisher of Canadian Government Executive magazine...
 
Public sector managers from all levels of government across Canada increasingly...
 
Does your organization have a very narrow view of what digital...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Blockchain. There’s probably no other technology trend in recent years that...
 
In the last few years, we’ve seen various federal governments warning...
 
Over the last two years, an ever-growing number of organizations around...
 
Canadian Government Executive is excited to announce the agenda for TechGov...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the...
 
Have you ever met a virtual human being? By common definition,...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) is pleased to announce its first batch...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) is pleased to welcome Microsoft as its Platinum Sponsor for...
 
Innovation is vital in every sector; public service is no exception....
 
Canadian government agencies and departments are modernizing the way they do...
 
In this episode, J. Richard Jones talks about the appointment of...
 
Facebook Pages can be an essential tool for businesses and charities,...
 
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA Alliance) is Canada’s One Voice...
 
Over the decades, technology has been grafted into governments around the...
 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 28 independent member countries...
 
Governments around the world are seeking to tap technologies such as...
 
Yes, according to the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence...
 
In a little more than a year, Canadian banks and lending...
 
The government is spending $3.5 million to improve an existing immunization...
 
A research project at that explores the design and feasibility of...
 
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) yesterday heard from several...
 
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today begins a public...
 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it has managed to...
 
IT organizations, especially those in healthcare facilities and government institutions that...
 
The Ontario government and telecom gear maker Huawei Canada yesterday announced...
 
Huawei is bringing back to Canada and expanding its information communication...
 
The Province of British Columbia is doubling down on deepening its...
 
Last week the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported that...
 
Written By Jason McNaught Contrary to what you may have heard,...
 
The good news is that the Government of Canada recognizes the...
 
In late July, Amazon startled investors with the tiniest of profit....
 
Many Canadian government websites were knocked offline last month including Canada.ca,...
 
High profile individuals are always under scrutiny, especially when it comes...
 
Canada’s penchant for oligopolies is understandable: a vast territory and sparse...
 
The International Open Data Conference kicks off this week in Ottawa....
 
As politicians prepare for the upcoming elections, leveraging mobile devices and...
 
Before the Internet, video was largely synonymous with television, supplemented by...
 
This past August, the Toronto Star reported that in the four...
 
In Budget 2015, the federal government earmarked $58 million over five...
 
Cyber-attacks. From the public perspective, where its a frequent headline, we’re...
 
New technology and the move to mobile are transforming the way...
 
On May 7, British voters will cast ballots and decide the...
 
Team Niew Labs was crowned grand champions of CODE 2015 last...
 
Technology has opened the door. Now governments have unprecedented opportunities to...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) announced today that Patrice Dutil has...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) announced today that Patrice Dutil has...
 
For skeptics, Google’s recent decision to abandon sales of its current...
 
And then there were 15. Of 125 apps built from open...
 
After early success as a world leader, Canada’s e-government performance has...
 
If you missed the Digital Governance Forum, hosted by the Institute...
 
Digital and mobile technologies are transforming politics, especially the ways in...
 
Adobe is encouraging public sector organizations to take a big leap...
 
There are, of course, thousands of public servants who deliver services...
 
It’s a well-known fact that websites are driven by content. Public...
 
Each year, IBM makes five bold predictions about technologies that “will...
 
During a panel discussion held at GTEC 2014, senior executives from...
 
Westminster parliamentary democracies like Canada’s are widely credited with a high...
 
There was a time when reporters played a significant “gatekeeper” role...
 
In what ways are digital culture and technology affecting our democratic...
 
Connection: governments want it, citizens demand it, technology facilitates it and...
 
How can CIOs set up their teams to be able respond...
 
In both private and public sectors, the management of information has...
 
Our annual GTEC conference, exhibition and distinction awards wrapped up at...
 
Canada Post’s phasing out of home delivery in many urban dwellings...
 
As Canadians, it’s in our DNA to be helpful and to...
 
The role of today’s Chief Information Officer is one of technical...
 
When you think of email management, you probably envision a pristine,...
 
Every member of society craves information that is clear and accessible....
 
A study done by the Social Science Research Network looked at...
 
A significant challenge for Canada in the digital government era is...
 
With its ability to continually evolve and innovate to meet and...
 
As a municipality that truly believes in fostering a culture of...
 
The Green Governance Award won by the City of Grand Prairie...
 
Ottawa’s GTEC 2014 event is in full swing, and its theme,...
 
Social media presents new challenges for all organizations and for government...
 
GTEC honoured the best in government information and communications technology Monday...
 
Fifteen years ago, citizen-centric e-government drove transformation efforts. Today, the new...
 
In Canada’s public sector, the rise of Big Data has meant...
 
For those interested in open government, October could shape up to...
 
In an increasingly connected and fast-paced world, much has been made...
 
More and more of us are watching high profile events such...
 
Is there a gamified approach to citizen engagement by the public...
 
The act of linking people and ideas through communication and relationship...
 
Claims of a social media transformation in politics and government are...
 
For the past two-three years, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has...
 
On time, on budget and in scope! How often do you...
 
On July 2nd, Richard Pietro packed up his things and set...
 
Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, created a stir in the...
 
Nine former members of the CBC board of directors were reported...
 
The government of Canada is in a constant state of evolution...
 
With a seemingly ubiquitous Internet and mobile devices at every turn,...
 
Technology is moving at such speeds that at times it seems...
 
In the digital age, companies are more than ever looking for...
 
Open data is gaining momentum. A recent hackathon, supported by federal...
 
It’s no secret that we’re all rapidly going mobile. The rate...
 
Adobe held its third annual Digital Government Assembly on Thursday at...
 
The world is going mobile and governments must adapt. Underscoring the...
 
Media Sonar is a London, Ont.-based start-up that works with public...
 
To engage and serve their citizens, public sector organizations are looking...
 
The digital age has changed everything-including governments. Citizens expect the same...
 
Ontarians will now have access to court information online, thanks to...
 
The Canadian healthcare system is famously slow to adopt new technologies....
 
The big issue on the table now is big data and...
 
The government of Canada’s 2013 budget pledged to reduce public service...
 
It has long been recognized in the federal public service that...
 
According to a report by the Ottawa Citizen today, the federal...
 
It may not seem immediately obvious, but public safety is an...
 
Border control is an important element of modern society. We live...
 
Health care is one of the most important services that governments...
 
It may not always seem so, but government and business go...
 
Canada has recently witnessed several important debates concerning the Internet’s widening...
 
In 2011, eight countries signed on to an Open Government Partnership,...
 
Public safety has gone through some significant changes since modern technology...
 
With the rise of “smart power,” distinct from “hard” and “soft”...
 
How much is your property worth? In times past, you would...
 
It has been estimated that each year the Wheel-Trans Department of...
 
Recordkeeping requirements designed for the work environment of the 1990s are...
 
As all eyes turn toward Russia for the Winter Olympics, the...
 
The same power of digital communication that is disrupting the commercial...
 
In August 2013, Shared Services Canada (SSC) posted a notice on...
 
Over the last few months there has been tremendous speculation in...
 
The Royal Canadian Mint has been busy developing a new digital...
 
At the end of November, the Council of Europe hosted the...
 
Do you think technology is something that should be ubiquitous in...
 
commentEmail””:””peter.karwacki@servicecanada.gc.ca”” Related posts: Battling the complexity of a...
 
Governments have taken a page from their private counterparts and started...
 
There is no doubt that advances in information technology have paved...
 
When a public sector IT project is featured on Saturday Night...
 
In 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency won the top honours in...
 
It’s no secret that governments are trying to make social media...
 
It’s hard to believe it’s been just a few months since...
 
Chapter 2 of the Auditor General’s fall 2013 report looks at...
 
In 2001, the government of British Columbia initiated a number of...
 
British Columbia’s Citizens@TheCentre service transformation strategy calls for a shift toward...
 
New technology is changing the way the public service manages offices...
 
The City of Ottawa and a Ryerson University spin-off company called...
 
As a political federation with a sparse population spread unevenly across...
 
As the Canadian government pursues its goal of creating IT efficiencies...
 
Governments have a historical and natural propensity to manage organizations in...
 
Finding federal and provincial agricultural programs and services is just a...
 
As governments seek to improve service delivery for citizens, it is...
 
The CIO Association of Canada, or CIOCAN, is a self-managed, not-for-profit...
 
For the casual observer, openness and transparency are terms that can...
 
Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist at Citrix, was at GTEC 2013...
 
In the past decade, technology has been pushing the boundaries in...
 
GTEC’s theme this year is Agile Government: Open, Collaborative, Mobile. The...
 
Shared Service Canada was launched just over two years ago with...
 
The report in January 2013 of a lost portable hard drive...
 
The government of British Columbia recently launched iMapBC 2.0, an upgraded...
 
This is the best of times for the CIO community. Our...
 
The U.S. State Department, of all departments, has an Open Government...
 
Imagine, for a moment, a world without radio and television (much...
 
The government of New Brunswick has recently taken several steps to...
 
None of us likes the feeling of being watched. This is...
 
Over 80 percent of Canadians are now living in urban areas....
 
You have undoubtedly seen the ad (on TV or YouTube, depending...
 
In the past 20 years, technology has caused a rapid change...
 
Have you ever thought about working from home? Now that most...
 
Researchers led by a network scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of...
 
The government’s increasing reliance on technology to engage with the public,...
 
Cool. Dry. Secure. Since the first data centers came into existence...
 
With cuts in budget, there has been a significant decrease in...
 
PR Newswire contends that silent advertising is sometimes the best advertising:...
 
With the proliferation of social media, governments must ensure they’re taking...
 
This month, the United States government approved Instagram as a social...
 
The federal government has announced that, as of July 2013, all...
 
Sometimes it seems that governments are mesmerized – like deer in...
 
and sometimes to others Related posts: The digital...
 
What can government learn from the private sector on big data?...
 
Modern Times is the 1936 comedy starring, written, and directed by...
 
CIOs, like others in back-office functions, need to start thinking and...
 
A joint study conducted by Symantec Corp. and the Ponemon Institute...
 
For normal day-to-day work in the office, most people have no...
 
In the midst of cutbacks and crisis, efficiency is vital to...
 
At stake is the evolving apparatus enjoining Canadians with the information...
 
Chances are, when you think about printing you think of large...
 
When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is asked about his company’s volatile...
 
therefore it is only natural that the workforce will change. Trying...
 
It’s no secret that an organization’s people are critical to its...
 
Government is entrusted with the responsibility to shelter and safeguard a...
 
In the summer of 2012, I realized that if I wanted...
 
As the pace of technological change quickens and the demands on...
 
The authentication model for the Internet is changing. We have hit...
 
If technology is the driver, then the management of information must...
 
Faced with the Newtown tragedy, President Obama has sought to make...
 
February 23rd marks the 2013 International Open Data Hackathon day. It’s...
 
The now, seemingly distant 2012 holiday season proved to be fertile...
 
You’re a government security IT professional and you’ve taken the steps...
 
We built it. They came. They left. The reason? Open data...
 
In 2008, President Obama refashioned American politics for a more digital...
 
With real lives on the line, analytics technology helps improve every...
 
As governments seek transformational change to shift from austerity to agility,...
 
Why is it so difficult for governments to implement an enterprise-wide...
 
Canadians are the most digitally engaged country on the planet, by...
 
In recent months, Apple and Samsung have been clobbering one another...
 
When GTEC begins on November 5 in Ottawa, British Columbia will...
 
Steve Jobs once said: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a...
 
Why was the IT Shared Services Branch (ITSB) of Public Works...
 
The Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP) mobile application is challenging the...
 
commentEmail””:””suebegin4@gmail.com””...
 
With the Treasury Board Secretariat’s release of the Guideline for External...
 
With the initial internet boom of the 1990s now firmly behind...
 
There are several key principles that organizations can use to guide...
 
Governments in Canada know they need to use the Internet better...
 
Our cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. In 1900, only...
 
With the federal public service in a state of budgetary retrenchment,...
 
Web 2.0 is here and it’s only going to get bigger....
 
It’s Saturday afternoon. I’m staring at my dice and a stack...
 
Governments are looking to online as the future of service delivery...
 
Did you know that a lot of white elephants roam the...
 
Call it the little research project that grew....
 
This fall, a select group of American college and university students...
 
In the beginning social media was uncharted territory for the Government...
 
CEOs and CIOs face significant challenges in managing IT budgets in...
 
With healthcare spending typically the single largest component of any government’s...
 
For organizations with aging or redundant IT equipment – like governments...
 
Canadians want smart spending, and to hear about project successes, rather...
 
One of the peculiarities of the 21st century is the correlation...
 
When President Barack Obama campaigns during the coming months for re-election,...
 
As the iCloud takes hold – along with numerous other private,...
 
A new year is a good time to reflect on the...
 
If only it were so. While Shared Services Canada promises simplicity...
 
The securing of a much-coveted majority by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives surely...
 
The federal election campaign has not been particularly kind to cities...
 
Despite the occasional ministerial tweet and public banter about the federal...
 
More than a decade ago, some enterprising folks at Industry Canada...
 
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are one of Canada’s most critical...
 
Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford, has pledged to cut city council...
 
As BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion negotiates with many governments around the...
 
To start with a timeless question: what do woman want? Presumably,...
 
One important consequence of climate change is rising ocean levels. The...
 
Shortly after the Quebec referendum of October 1995 that brought the...
 
As this column goes to print (literally or online as the...
 
Full disclosure – the Conservative government has serious problems with the...
 
Students of public administration struggle with an important contradiction of Westminster...
 
L’opération de promotion à laquelle l’Alberta s’est récemment livrée souligne les...
 
Alberta’s recent branding exercise underscores the tensions and risks inherent in...
 
La plupart des organismes se voient affecter des « directeurs des...
 
With Parliament once again open and a new federal budget in...
 
Two important global events are garnering much attention: the upcoming Winter...
 
The recent scandals plaguing Ontario’s e-health agency carry important lessons for...
 
The Obama administration is appointing “Directors of New Media” for most...
 
Y a-t-il de l’espoir? Une fois de plus, le gouvernement fédéral...
 
Dans le numéro de janvier, Ruth Hubbard et David Zussman nous...
 
In the January issue, Ruth Hubbard and David Zussman discussed the...
 
Combining the digital age with the current climate of financial austerity...
 
The economic downturn and subsequent loss of tax revenues are forcing...
 
Technology has fundamentally changed the way governments and their citizens interact....
 
Poet Rudyard Kipling famously described southeastern Alberta as having “…all hell...
 
As the IT needs of an organization evolve, and existing systems...
 
With 69 percent of IT operating budgets and 54 percent of...
 
From an asset management perspective, Cambridge is tackling infrastructure management with...
 
When Saskatchewan began a Cabinet Modernization Project in 2008, members of...
 
Referring to themselves as the G4, the cities of Ottawa, Toronto,...
 
The first provincial jurisdiction to establish social media guidelines for its...
 
When he was deputy attorney general, Allan Seckel was known for...
 
I’ve spent the better part of the last five years working...
 
Canada’s three national science and technology museums include the Canada Science...
 
In 2008, a project was undertaken by the Canada Science and...
 
Web 2.0 is more than a technology shift. It is a...
 
They say the line between love and hate is a thin...
 
Although it is widely recognized that Canada has great strengths and...
 
Moving to a paperless work environment is not as simple as...
 
Many governments and defence departments around the world have recently announced...
 
When citizens are ‘Googling’ for information about tax credit programs, employment...
 
Today’s Web 2.0 technology appeals to the drive to connect with...
 
A complicated doodle in red, green and black depicts frowning faces,...
 
As the showcase province at this year’s GTEC conference, Manitoba highlighted...
 
When the Canadian army and the Department of National Defence set...
 
The UN’s E-Government Survey for 2012 ranks Canada in a tie...
Very soon, two of the world’s largest privately-held companies will go...