Scenarios of pervasive sensing & intelligent environments

Prof. Vic Callaghan of University of Essex (UK) brings to our attention a paper addressing issues of privacy and intelligent environments, which includes a number of scenarios that help make vivid what the future is bringing. His email is worth a read:

I just watched the video of your talk “Open Source Physical Security: Can we have both privacy and safety?“.

I think you raise a number of very important points about the potential for misuse of technology. I research in pervasive computing (Intelligent Environments, Pervasive Sensing, Digital Homes, Smart Homes etc) having previously been heavily involved in robotics. In this work I became aware of how technology could be misused, in a similar way to the nanotechnology you describe. We became so concerned that we gave a talk to the UN (as we felt it needed legislation or guidance at a very high level). More recently we wrote this up as an academic paper which suffered some opposition and modification before we were able to find and outlet willing to publish it (its a rather unpopular message). We are mainstream researchers in intelligent environments, that spent most of our life promoting this technology so it was, perhaps, a little unusual that we wrote an article that might be counter to its unfettered deployment.

The paper uses a style that describes current scientific work, interleaved with a set of short futuristic fictional vignettes that are intended to provoke thought so that researchers and the population at large might consider the personal and regulatory needs involved. We do touch a little on nano technology (one of the short vignettes is about the risks of nano technology in a medical application) but at the time we were, sadly, unaware of your excellent work and thus did not refer to you (I apologise for that as, having watched your video, it is clear that your work and ideas are excellent and would have greatly enhanced our arguments.

Anyway, in case you might be interested in knowing about our work, you can get the article (no cost) from

By the way, I organise a series of international conferences called “Intelligent Environments”. It was in Seattle last year. This year its in Barcelona (see, next year its in the Far East (Kula Lumpur, Malaysia). We would love to have you speak at our conference, so if you were interested I could try to arrange that next year.

Anyway, I just thought I would let you know your work is appreciated by many people around the world.

Best wishes,

Vic Callaghan
Professor of Computer Science
University of Essex (UK)

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