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AP Article On Cyborg Steve Mann 342

Vellmont writes "Slashdots favorite Cyborg, University of Toronto Engineering Professor Steve Mann has an AP article about him out. You can read the article on Salon or Yahoo (as well as many other places). The article is well done, and I particularly love Prof. Mann's way of dealing with stores who prohibit videotaping. Slashdot ran a previous story about Prof. Mann's troubles with Airport Security in March 2002."
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AP Article On Cyborg Steve Mann

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  • Eeeegads! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BoldAC ( 735721 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:30PM (#7941567) much so that going without the apparatus often leaves him feeling nauseous, unsteady, naked

    This is the way I feel too sometimes... if I forget to leave my pager, cell phone, lap-top, sidekick, and laptop behind...

    Honestly though, this guy is addicted to information. If you tried to take google away from me, I would feel the same way. Information is addicted... there's no way around it.

  • Internet Link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vpscolo ( 737900 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:31PM (#7941574) Homepage
    One thing that I think most people would benefit from is a link to the net, or prehaps better a secure enclopedia. How many times have you thought "I must look up xys" and then forgot. To just have that information at your fingertips would be excellent. However of course it depends on how deep it all llinks in. The last thing you want is a hacker breaking into your brain and controlling you. An army of zombies? No thankyou Rus
  • Is he - (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ir0b0t ( 727703 ) * <mjewell&openmissoula,org> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:31PM (#7941576) Homepage Journal
    - linked to the net through his gear? I couldn't tell from the story.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:34PM (#7941590)
    ya see, this is why us hackers (in the original "total freedom of information" sense) taking the long view are so totally opposed to intellectual "property".

    When the computer is so tightly integrated with your mind that it's effectively become a part of you, intellectual "property" law enforcement amounts to thought crime enforcement. And DRM is mind control. Just plain evil.

    The right to know should be a basic human right. The right to say should be a basic human right. And if human is expanded to man-machine, that should apply to our computers too.

    So, WAKE UP. Fight for your right to know. Do NOT hand people power to "own" YOUR copy of some information just because it's like THEIR copy. THEIR copy is NOT DIMINISHED by your having a copy.

    It's NOT WRONG to copy information, any information. Let no person, natural or legal, tell you it is.

  • Re:Not a cyborg. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Poeir ( 637508 ) <> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:38PM (#7941611) Journal
    But according to this article [], linked to in the summary, some of it is implants, so he is a cyborg.
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @09:38PM (#7941613) Homepage Journal
    Mann, a 41-year-old engineering professor at the University of Toronto, spends hours every day viewing the world through that little monitor in front of his eye -- so much so that going without the apparatus often leaves him feeling nauseous, unsteady, naked.

    I think it's called anxiety. I get it alot when i'm away from my computer, I don't have that clickly click click of the keyboard (it's bordering on OCD now)

    I would also think the nauseous side effects he's experiencing when he takes his headgear off might be what I suffer from too. I think my eyes are used to focusing on my CRT a foot away from my eyes since i'm in front of the PC so much. Also my cochlea in my ear is used to my head not moving so much. When I go outside I get the double whammy of viewing objects that are not in my average focus, and i'm moving around.
  • by Cska Sofia ( 705257 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:03PM (#7941753)
    Since the device only covers one eye, it would surely lead to asymmetrical vision problems. Rather quickly, I'd imagine, given how close the image is.
  • Re:Eeeegads! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neop2Lemus ( 683727 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:14PM (#7941805) Journal
    I agree.

    I was at the Toronto Film Festival a few years ago and they'd done a film about him (here) []

    We walked out on that film. What made the hour we sat in that theatre more offensive than interesting was that this guy wore his gear around, really had no idea what to do with it, and had a huge ego because he had toys on his head that other people didn't. It wasen't that it was a hobby: cool, but possibly inapplicable to real life, but that he thought he was onto something important and he wasen't. I mean, he'd walk into a WalMart and set up a fuss when they told him no cameras in the store.

    Why the university keeps him on I have no idea. If someone can tell me, I'd like to know (seriously, I would like to know).

  • by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:30PM (#7941873)
    That doesn't make much sense. By that logic, people who spend a lot of time reading books would have the same issues.

    I would guess his issue is actually that he's become used to focusing his eyes on a screen in front of him when moving around. Ordinarily, feeling motion when not seeing it causes nausia (such as when sitting in a bus or train where there is no visible motion but your inner-ear can feel the motion. This is because (I remember hearing on the Discovery Channel or somesuch) that situation--feeling but not seeing motion--is a symptom of some poisons and your body has evolved to heave up the toxins.

    Anyway, in his case, he has become used to seeing something always in front of his eyes which is not moving, even when walking about. Perhaps the rapid motion of the world around him, when he isn't wearing his glasses, makes him nauseous? Then again, you'd think you'd see this with people who wear glasses, too, when they remove them (I just got a prescription for farsightedness--guess I'm getting old--so I'll be able to tell you shortly).

    Either that or he's just a kook.

  • Why not use a PDA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:40PM (#7941929)
    According to this [], the current design uses a PC104 100MHz 486 board with all sorts of hacked-up components (4 lithium batteries at like $600 alone). But plenty of PDA's are available at 400MHz or better with decent power consumption, etc.

    Seems to me that that'd be a better place to start. Rewire the LCD output to go to his glasses-screen, find CF modules for things like the video cam, GPS, WiFi, and what-have-you, and you're good. The only big issue I see is the storage space, which, with an IBM microdrive, is probably limited to 5GB or so.

  • by farrellj ( 563 ) * on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:41PM (#7941931) Homepage Journal
    When he gets sick from not viewing the world through his video camera, he is suffering a form the same thing people who spend a lot of time in Virtual Reality do...their brains adapt to the slight lag caused by the electronics, and I theorize that they do so quickly because video is a much "hotter" medium...that is, it is like a firehose for the real visual field that the eye is used to. When that lag is eliminated, by taking the display off, it takes a while to adapt back to the visually cooler natural environment...and until it adapts, your inner ear and your visual perceptions are out of sync, and that can cause nausia. ...based upon observations from being the techie at a Virtual Reality Gameing place for 6 months.

  • by Sargerion ( 712886 ) <blah AT fucknuts DOT com> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:50PM (#7941973)
    While I admit the whole cyborg thing is cool, with constant information and survailance, I have to say this guy is just a bit paranoid. Especially if he lives in Canada. I mean, sure things aren't always fair between companies and consumers, the people and the government, but he has some fairly absurd ideas. I read the article, and there was a part stating:

    Then he tells the employees that "HIS manager" makes him film public places for HIS security -- how does he know, he tells them, that the fire exits aren't chained shut? -- and that they'll have to talk to HIS manager.

    His behavior in such showdowns generally provokes hostility, confusion or resigned shrugs

    Well, of course it does, because that's ridiculous...

    But don't try telling Mann that the complaining employees are just doing their jobs, and that his real beef is with executives who make store policy. Mann believes everyone should fight The System, those powerful institutions lurking behind the one-way mirrors.

    Oh please, the execs of huge corporations are only human, too. Are you saying that corporations are some kind of sentient beings, having no trace of the true human limbs that support them? Lurking behind one-way mirrors... puu-leese. Sure, corporations are greedy, most don't give a crap about their customers, and they have their own little worlds, but there's humans behind those corporations, not idiot machine-humans like you. In the end, you're probably just as greedy and stupid as the execs are. I can see it now: "All humans who do not conform the cyborg initiative will be assimilated by force. Buy Powerade"

    Not everyone can afford your life style, Mr. Mann, some people have to make an honest living, and can't go around being ridiculous the whole day. Some people aren't going to "fight The System" because they have a family to support and lives to lead. This Professor just needs to get a freakin' life, seriously. I think this is just a case of a guy with absurd ideas having the means to realize his equally bizzare notions that everyone should be walking around like a f**king cyborg in order to be more human.

    A cyborg could, say, take pictures of hostile police officers during a political demonstration and instantly post them on the Web -- to spur others to join in the protest, perhaps, or to simply provide alternative documentation of the scene. Mann calls such postings "glogs" -- short for "cyborg blogs"

    Shut the hell up. Wow. "Glogs"? Who the hell do you think you are? The logical progression of human evolution may indeed be through machine integration, but not right now. Just stop it, you pri*k. You know why they have cameras in stores? So if some punk comes in and robs it, they'll have evidence against them. And why don't they allow cameras in stores? Well, I'm not too sure about that one, but why the hell would you want to video tape in a store anyway? I'm sure the exits are chained up, you paranoid piece of crap. And we have police to keep order, not to beat down innocent citizens. Although that may happen in other countries, you live in CANADA!! Canada you idiot! Probably one of the most passive counties in the world! And if there was a demonstration where people got hurt, there's a good chance they deserved it for being stupid radicals with too much time on their hands, like you (but I'm not against demonstrations. There are entirly legitimate demonstrations to be had, such as one against the Iraq war).

    "Clerks should be confronted with their clerk-iness," Mann says one afternoon in the Deconism Gallery, an electronic-art studio he runs near Toronto's Chinatown"

    WHAT!?! What the hell are you talking about!? What is wrong with you!? Clerk-iness?! You mean their honest day's work to support themselves? Oh, oh, sorry, sorry. Wouldn't want to spoil your perfect world with laggarts who have to support themselves. Far be it from them to ask you for a bit of respect for a freakin' job, at least they're trying. You, on the other hand, were

  • Re:Ummm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Steve Newall ( 24926 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @10:58PM (#7942019)
    This is a cluster of borgs^h^h^h^h students at Prof. Mann's ECE1766 course at the University of Toronto. []
  • by Saeger ( 456549 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {jllerraf}> on Saturday January 10, 2004 @11:06PM (#7942048) Homepage
    How cool would it be to walk down any street in the country, and be able to call up the name, location, and menu of every Chinese restaurant within seven blocks?

    Very cool, since you could get that information ANONYMOUSLY (in an open mesh network), vs the current cell providers' plans to provide "location based services" because they know exactly who and where you are at all times.

    Augmented reality will open up all kinds of possibilities. Vernor Vinge's short story Fast Times at Fairmont High [] is great take on such a fast-paced and interconnected future.


  • MOD PARENT WAY UP!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @11:25PM (#7942125) Homepage Journal
    Not everyone can afford your life style, Mr. Mann, some people have to make an honest living, and can't go around being ridiculous the whole day. Some people aren't going to "fight The System" because they have a family to support and lives to lead. This Professor just needs to get a freakin' life, seriously.

    Thank you!

    Steve Mann is just a self-impressed geek who lugs around a portable computer. He's not some kind of visionary. His work isn't improving people's lives. It's not making him more intelligent, healthier, more physically capable, or longer-lived. In fact, about the time that he started drifting away to read e-mail while I was talking to him, I'd be tempted to drive that EyeTap 3" back into his cranium -- which couldn't possibly be good for him.

    Why doesn't Steve Mann take some of that energy and apply it towards systems that do real-time text-to-speech for blind people trying to get around in the sighted world? Why doesn't he put some effort towards a system that stimulates muscles so that paralyzed people could perform tasks we take for granted, like picking things up or turning door knobs? No, he's too full of himself to try to actually help someone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 11, 2004 @12:38AM (#7942525)
    Yes, these ideas have been discussed in [].
  • Re:Not a cyborg. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kungfuBreaks ( 537144 ) <> on Sunday January 11, 2004 @02:17AM (#7942944)
    You're thinking of Kevin "Captain Cyborg" Warwick [], a University of Reading (UK) professor. Steve Mann is at UofT (Toronto, Canada). Mann [] actually does quite a bit of legitimate research in wearable computing (not implants!), but he certainly enjoys the media attention ("Ooh! A cyborg!"). Personally, I find the way he roams the halls of the Sanford Fleming building late at night dressed in all black rather creepy.
  • The human computer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gary Destruction ( 683101 ) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @05:13AM (#7943520) Journal
    I've actually been accused of being a cyborg before. Due to psychiatic and emotional problems experienced earlier in my life, I've developed a sort of machine perspective on things. Embracing the machine side of things helped me to escape the emotional pain I was feeling. Since then, the machine side has very much been a part of me. It's really interesting. I feel more comfortable expressing myself as a machine. Call it weird or crazy. But it makes sense to me. I have a writing on my website called The Human Computer. [] It relates to this topic. It expresses the brain in terms of machine and computer parts. Fusing man and machine would be a fantastic marvel. Intelligence, processing power, efficiency, strength and other abilities of the human brain and body would be greatly enhanced.
  • Re:Eeeegads! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gujo-odori ( 473191 ) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @06:31AM (#7943707)
    I think this guy is more addicted to publicity than information

    Uh, yeah, I'd say. My favorite line from the article comes from the description of him starting to experiment with wearable computers in the 1970s, where it says "He wore one to a high school dance." I bet he was real popular with the ladies. No doubt he was noticed, though.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson