As technology advances, more and more people are going to be embracing cybernetic enhancements, this is simply inevitable. The need for such devices has already existed for those with disabilities long before the technology even was developed. Now these devices are actually real, they are actually here, and people are starting to use them. Not many people, but some, and in the future many more.
There are plenty of good reasons for the tech, not only for those who want to improve their natural ability, but more importantly for those who need to find ways to overcome disability. In my last post, I shared a video that was quite inspirational. A new exoskeleton that is coming to the consumer market will allow people who could not walk a chance to do so using robotic exoskeleton legs.
It is safe to assume that folks using these will be accommodated much like we already do for folks using wheel chairs. There really isn’t any reason to discriminate against folks who use this technology, unless you are just a complete jerk. Well, today I found a story in the news that brings up some new questions about cyborg discrimination. Although most people would not be offended by a person in a wheel chair, or a person using cybernetic exoskeleton legs/arms for mobility, what about when someone is using augmented sensory devices, such as cyborg eyes that can record what they see? For some folks, this sort of device can cause some unexpected reactions.
It is not exactly a surprise, I mean, many people do not like if a photographer in public is taking candid photos of them. Even if the photographer has the right to do so in public places it can still make some people very upset, enough that they might resort to violence. Apparently some folks are not ready to live in a world with people who have to rely on a digital camera for medical issues.
The issue of privacy comes up, and I do feel there are in fact legitimate reasons the technology should be monitored or regulated. A cyborg eye may be able to do a lot more than record video and in the future, they may even be able to see through objects, giving the user x-ray vision potentially. It will be a long time before that is the case, but more likely we will have people who can record what they see first. In the age of the smart phone, where everyone is taking a million pictures a month of everything they do and see that is interesting, sharing it with the world on social sites, maybe it is time to loosen up the restrictions on cameras and other recording devices.
So let me share my recap of the news story I found..
Steve Mann, a University of Toronto Professor who is also known to some as the worlds FIRST human cyborg, has been sporting his home made technology everyday since the early 1980′s. The current model is running the WearComp OS, and ‘temporarily’ captures 120 frames per second at 1080×1920. Which means I bet he can do some pretty cool slow motion effects with the footage if he wanted, although he claims his images are not kept permanently. Regardless of the coolness of these glasses, the device is actually attached to this fellows head in such a way that he cannot remove it without tools. Furthermore, it appears Mr. Mann has some legitimate reasons to use such a device beyond proving to the world how awesome of a geek he is. He has a note from his doctor, so respect should be due.
So this guy goes into a Paris McDonald’s with his family and while in line he is given warning from an employee about cameras not being allowed. He shows the person his doctor note and is allowed to continue. Now after getting his food and sitting down to eat, he is approached by an employee who then decides to assault him. This idiot tries to remove his gear which is permanently attached. After pleading with them and trying to provide his official documentation, his doctors note is crumpled and other papers torn. At this point three employees are messing with him and he is kicked out of the establishment forcefully. Apparently he ended up soiling his pants during the assault, which ended up frying out his technology.
Come on now McDonald’s, you really need to have your employees trained to handle situations like this better. The fact that they assaulted the man and broke his device in the process is unacceptable. They should NEVER have assaulted him. If they asked him to leave I am sure he might have, or they could call the police to remove him. Taking matters into their own hands is not the smartest way to go about it.
I know that it might be against company policy to allow people to record images or film on your private property, but times are changing and I think so should the policy. For people who are using augmented vision devices for disability or health purposes, there certainly needs to be an exception.
Many businesses have a policy of not allowing people to record video within their establishment. This policy exists simply to protect the establishment from being painted in a bad light, either intentionally or accidentally. Big companies are paranoid of having their image ruined by people who might film something that makes them look bad. After all, many companies like McDonald’s spend tons of money on advertisement to make you think they are a good company and they don’t want some fool with a camera spoiling anything they are spending so much money to maintain. Personally, I think they should allow filming, but go after people who make them look bad. After all, many people might actually make them look better if they were allowed to film. Rather than take the chance on free advertising, they would just eliminate all filming to avoid anyone from making them look bad. This policy doesn’t really work all the time. Plenty of us have seen videos on the Internet by now of crazy stuff happening in all sorts of establishments, McDonald’s included. So McDonald’s is still going to have to take legal action against those who are spreading these videos and filming in their establishments if they want to control the damage.
So lets boil this down.. Cyborg eyes are already here.. They can record pictures and video. Some folks are going to have cyborg ears, which can also possibly record sounds. Even less might get both. In the near future, I would not be surprised if everyone is enhancing life via some cyborg brains, which is already what we are doing with smart phones and the mobile internet. This trend is going to continue for some time, and I think companies are going to have to adapt their policies or risk making themselves look terrible. McDonald’s should be ashamed of how these employees treated this man, and I hope they find a way to turn this into a story of hope for those who wish to use cyborg enhancements to live a better life, especially those with disabilities.
If someone records a video that makes your company look bad, then you should take legal action if necessary against those specific individuals. Putting a ban on all recording is not just silly but actually rather stupid, but I am sure it is all tied up in some big legal cases I am unaware of. I just think there are many cases where people would paint the establishment in a better light than the owners might consider. Just to give one simple example, in the past you used to be able to have a kids birthday party at McDonald’s and people could bring their cameras to film the event. Who is going to want to have a party at McDonald’s for their kids if they are going to be kicked out of the establishment because they took a picture or video? With this anti camera policy so many companies have adopted, they are missing out on some of these human events which actually might make people feel more connected to their business.
Here is the blog article written by Mr. Mann himself..
techcrunch calls for ban on McDonalds..