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LifeLog - v - TIA
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2003-05-29
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Remember John Poindexter of TIA (Total Information Awareness) system fame?

No? Well, his TIA program was/is specifically designed to allow US law enforcement agencies to tap into private data. And Dr. John is, of course, the former 'Iran-Contra' convicted felon who heads (headed?) the seriously misnamed IAO (Information Awareness Office), an arm of DARPA, the central research and development organization for America's Department of Defense.

Dr. P and his TIA are not, any longer, HOT, and TIA is to become Terrorist Information Awareness instead of Total Information Awareness. But not to worry. DARPA has come up with something even worse.

Under space and naval system warfare expert Dr. Douglas Gage, DARPA is looking for people to develop LifeLog, something its FedBizOpps announcement here describes as, "an ontology-based (sub)system that captures, stores, and makes accessible the flow of one person's experience in and interactions with the world in order to support a broad spectrum of associates/assistants and other system capabilities."

Cool, huh?

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And the LifeLog's stated objective is to be able to trace the 'threads' of an individual's life, "in terms of events, states, and relationships".

'Threads' of an individual's life? hmmm.

It goes on (and read this carefully):

"LifeLog is interested in three major data categories: physical data, transactional data, and context or media data. "Anywhere/anytime" capture of physical data might be provided by hardware worn by the LifeLog user.

"Visual, aural, and possibly even haptic sensors capture what the user sees, hears, and feels. GPS, digital compass, and inertial sensors capture the user's orientation and movements.

"Biomedical sensors capture the user's physical state. LifeLog also captures the user's computer- based interactions and transactions throughout the day from email, calendar, instant messaging, web-based transactions, as well as other common computer applications, and stores the data (or, in some cases, pointers to the data) in appropriate formats.

"Voice transactions can be captured through recording of telephone calls and voice mail, with the called and calling numbers as metadata. FAX and hardcopy written material (such as postal mail) can be scanned.

"Finally, LifeLog also captures (or at least captures pointers to) the tremendous amounts of context data the user is exposed to every day from diverse media sources, including broadcast television and radio, hardcopy newspapers, magazines, books and other documents, and softcopy electronic books, web sites, and database access."

In other words, your friendly warlords (whoops - I mean scientific researchers) over at the Pentagon want to record every single bit of data and information as you actually experience it.

But not to worry - it's for you. Not them.

"LifeLog can be used as a stand-alone system to serve as a powerful automated multimedia diary and scrapbook," says DARPA. "By using a search engine interface, the user can easily retrieve a specific thread of past transactions, or recall an experience from a few seconds ago or from many years earlier in as much detail as is desired, including imagery, audio, or video replay of the event.

"In addition to operating in this stand-alone mode, LifeLog can also serve as a subsystem to support a wide variety of other applications [Right!], including personal, medical, financial, and other types of assistants, and various teaching and training tools.

"As increasing numbers of people acquire LifeLogs, collaborative tasks could be facilitated by the interaction of LifeLogs, and properly anonymized access to LifeLog data might support medical research and the early detection of an emerging epidemic. Application of the LifeLog abstraction structure in a synthesizing mode will eventually allow synthetic game characters and humanoid robots to lead more 'realistic' lives. However, the initial LifeLog development is tightly focused on the stand-alone system capabilities, and does not include the broader class of assistive, training, and other applications that may ultimately be supported."

Why do I think of snake-oil salesmen?

The LifeLog program also includes something DARPA calls a "Challenge Problem" - a, "system demonstration while taking a trip to Washington D.C. Travel combines physical activity (movement via a variety of conveyances) and a diversity of transactions (email, calendar, financial, itinerary, etc.) over the course of a trip. The Travel Challenge consists of an uncontrolled trip from the user's home to Washington, plus controlled trials involving travel over a government-prescribed course within the D.C. area, each trial lasting less than one day. Each proposer is encouraged to have at least three (3) LifeLog users participate in the Travel Challenge."

So if you see three people wandering about DC with probes inserted into various body cavities, and bearing cameras, mics, sensory gadgets, and so on, you'll know who they are.

Source: p2pnet.net


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