Home > Uncategorized > Autographer – A New wearable camera that takes photos automatically

Autographer – A New wearable camera that takes photos automatically

Autographer wearable automatic camera
This post is meant as a follow-up on my recent post about Jim Gemmell and Gordon Bell’s talk about total recall through a collection of data input and recording devices, and their book about it, “Total Recall.” In the video we hear about, see and see photos from a wearable camera that automatically takes snapshots based on sensor events. The Autographer is the next generation device of this type, based on development of the same technology they discuss. Autographer is said to be scheduled for release this month, November 2012, as of this writing, and is reported to be priced around $650.

We are clearly in the process of growing adoption of technologies like these by a large segment of the population, of Western countries, and the rest of the world is not far behind. And the implications of this are interesting in terms of the consequences for memory augmentation, as well as for freedom and privacy, law enforcement and security issues.

In my opinion, it is already difficult to the point of completely impractical for anyone outside of the TSA, or perhaps a tyled lodge, to prohibit cameras or picture-taking anywhere. This will only make it more difficult. Widespread reliance on wearable and implanted technologies will probably force security checkpoints to come down, or allow more people to go through with technologies passively monitored and often misunderstood. But, while many people like to point out the use of such personal surveillance equipment as a tool for law-enforcement personnel, I see its greater potential as a sousveilance device, which is more likely to serve as a powerful counter force against police-brutality, the credibility of police as reliable witnesses, selective enforcement of laws, and general capricious petty abuses of authority. In fact, it will probably lead to a future in which police are seen as largely redundant.

Police will certainly use these technologies to collect evidence against people for prosecution. But I think it will probably simultaneously force them to a higher standard of behavior. They will be able to turn off their own devices, but as total recall becomes a standard we expect in more situations, gaps in their own recordings will be harder to accept, especially when there is the ever-present possibility that someone else will have recorded what they did not. Most of the reasons for patrolling or interviewing by police officers will seem to become unnecessary when there is a greater vigilance by the non-law-enforcement population, to say nothing of the efficacy of data mining. The age-old question of who watches the watchers, is getting its answer.

The unfortunate effect of this is that it will also tend to force a different standard of behavior on all of us. There is some good to this. People when they are observed are more polite and conscientiously honest, but will probably also experience more stress to conform. I’m afraid that it will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and many innovative and adaptive behaviors may be foreclosed to us. In my opinion the vastly diminished sphere of privacy and the vastly increased powers of detection that are coming, means that radical liberalization and vastly increased tolerance are essential.

The use of cameras driven by sensors and algorithms to augment the human memory raises questions of cybernetics. These kinds of devices face some of the same problems as do our systems of perception and memory. We are aware that our memories are limited, that they work better on some tasks, as on remembering routes and locations and recognizing images and shapes, and less well on other tasks, like remembering names or numbers. In combining sensors and algorithms into the process of deciding what data to store, we are getting away from the old surveillance-camera idea of passively and objectively recording everything, towards imitating the biological tendency to omit, or discard data depending on a low estimate of its expected significance. The algorithms that our biology relies on to decide what to keep is tested by millions of years of evolution, so what information we might be able to rely on to grade the significance of data that we record is a question we can probably expect to be a difficult one, and one which it will take us some time to get right. One possibility might be to rely on our own judgment of what data is likely to be significant. Doing this consciously will be impractically time-consuming for the most part. Here is a mention of another wearable camera that relies on biometric information as part of its input into the algorithm for deciding what is important.

Though, if Jim and Gordon’s expectations about the storage capacities available to us are correct, the problems of attention algorithms are perhaps more a matter of search and retrieval than they are of deciding which data should be collected or stored. We could have both quick access to significant information, and the ability to replay everything, even the boring parts of our lives, at their full duration.

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