Author Archives: khan.178


Singularity is far ahead? Maybe it is not in terms of intelligence augmentation. Human exoskeletons to enhance physical abilities are no longer in the research and development process; they are now in the production process for disable athletes (parathletes). Cybathlon is the championship for robot-assisted parathletes, and in this case the parathletes are racing pilots with disabilities, who are using advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. Cybathlon comprises of different sports and people with different kinds and levels of disabilities. The equipment being used includes powered exoskeletons, removable powered limbs, powered knee, electrically simulated muscles and “brain-computer interfaces” Cybathlon is being organized by Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics), which claims that the event is being used to remove barriers between the public, the disabled, people with disabilities and science.
This cyborg type of technology is definitely going to change the lives of the people with disabilities; it might also make them more able than the normal people. Are normal everyday individuals going to want such technologies to enhance their lives? Will all military personal be asked to use this technology? Would there be any regulations as to who gets to use this technology with robotics and brain-computer interface? Are we going to need people for physical labor? Are we responsible enough to use this technology?

Facial Recognition Software being adapted and utilized by the FBI

Singularity University updated their website with an article, THE FBI’S MASSIVE FACIAL RECOGNITION DATABASE RAISES CONCERN yesterday. The article talks about FBI beginning to use the facial recognition database with facial recognition software, even though the algorithm written for it continues to produce false positives and false negatives very frequently. FBI stance is that basically they will continue to use it anyways according to papers obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a FOIA (Freedom of information act) lawsuit. Right now there are 16 million images mostly from non-criminal records like driver’s licenses; however, the number is expected to hit 52 million face images by 2015. The FBI’s criterion for accuracy is that the search should give out top 50 top images about 85% of the time! Furthermore, the FBI is going to obtain about 200,000 images from repositories, not mentioning what these repositories might be. The law enforcement agencies will also drop in 700,000 images, while the images on social media are off-limit.
As the database grows, the number of false positives will increase with it, and some innocent person might end up in the FBI’s interrogation room. Another ethical question arises by using the driver license data in this process; these people will be presumed guilty until proven innocent. How responsible is this action, and how to use this technology responsibly, and ethically?

Studying Behavior Or Socially Constructing an Artifact?

In January, Ellen Coulter of ABC news in Australia covered CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) latest micro-technology in her online article: “CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behavior.” Ellen underlines the whole procedure, and explains that 5000 bees are put to sleep, are then shaved, and a tiny sensor is placed on their head. These sensors record the movements and the behavior of the bees and are going to help the scientists understand optimal reproducing conditions, and to understand the effect of pesticides on bees. Article also explains that the future goal is to decrease the size of the sensor and fit it on flies and mosquitoes. The research covered in this article can be looked at the social construction (constructivism) of micro-sensors. Originally, the sensors were bigger and only a few bees were used; however, now 5000 are being used, and plans are being made to minimize the size of the sensors and to use them on flies and mosquitoes. The article leaves the reader with questions like what are the benefits of sensors on the flies and mosquitoes? The reader has a different technological frame, and based on his or her metaphors, may propose that the sensors could be used to not only gather agricultural data, but can be utilized in a wide variety of applications; for example, monitoring weather, surveillance, monitoring traffic, floods, etc. However, this artifact is socially constructed based on the needs of the scientific community working on the project. Although not explained, it is clear that planning to make the sensors smaller is going to serve important purposes far beyond the welfare of flies and mosquitoes. This type of development of an artifact by different actors in different technological frames, using their respective interpretative flexibility, into a technology that could be used in their specific fields is an example of constructivism. How these sensors are developed over time and are stabilized into a beneficial artifact by different social groups corresponds to the definition of constructivism: society constructs how science shapes our lives.


Bijker, Wiebe. 2012 [1987]. “The Social Construction of Bakelite: Towards a theory of invention.” In The Social Construction of technological systems, Anniversary Edition. Wiebe E. Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds. PP 155—182. Cambridge: MIT Press.


ABC News (2014). “CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behavior.” Online Article, <, > accessed 15 March 2014.