Assault Against a Cyborg

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The core of this post is discussing an incident which is old news: six months old news in fact, and is probably familiar reading to quite a few of you here. However, I would like to extrapolate from it, to a more general case scenario.

This is Steve Mann:

He is, amongst other things, a professor of computer engineering and HCI, at the University of Toronto. That device he is ‘wearing’, isn’t being worn at all. The EyeTap augmented reality system is one of his own creations, and has been surgically implanted into his skull. He invented this particular HUD, to augment his vision systems with overlaid virtual data, including the ability to record everything he sees.

That has come in handy on numerous occasions. However, it was less than handy this July just gone. He’d been attending a couple of expos and a museum display with his family, in Paris, France. His kids were with him, and kids being kids, they wanted to eat at McDonalds. So this is what the family did.

He went up to order his meal, and the clerk looked at him rather oddly, and demanded he remove the strange device as it was against company policy. Steve explained that it was surgically attached, and produced the surgeon’s letter explaining it. (He’d been showing off the EyeTap at an expo, so he had it with him by chance. )

This did not molify the employee, who went and got another employee to discuss the matter further. This employee brought a third over with him, who demanded the device be removed – surgically attached or not. When Steve refused – obviously so, as the request was ludicrous – the third employee, who was holding the surgeon’s letter at the time, tore the letter in half, and decided to remove Steve’s vision device for him. He succeeded in wrenching it partially out of Steve’s skull, and smashing the device, rendering Steve very blind for the duration.

Unfortunately for the employee, when he smashed the device, the recording function ceased, and so the last images it took – the face and actions of the McDonald’s employee reaching forwards to perform physical assault, were indelibly etched on the EyeTap’s memory.

The legal battle for damages from this incident has still not yet been resolved, as Steve is seeking damages from McDonalds, in order to pay to have his vision surgically restored. However, the wider implications are what are of interest to me.

Given that his case is so-far unique, all is well. However, increasingly we find ourselves adding technology surgically to the human body. Prosthetic arms, legs, eyes, ears, the list goes on and on. As these devices become increasingly interconnected with the nervous system- increasingly permanent and literally a part of that person’s body, are we going to see a cultural shift among the ‘cruddy’ end of society?

These people with part machine bodies do tend to look a bit different from the norm. In the case of limbs, we often try to do everything we can to make them blend in. However, a fair few individuals now, are choosing to put their prosthetics on display, loud and proud. Are these individuals setting themselves up as targets for those of a mob-mentality afraid of anything different?

More pertinently, if you encountered one of these individuals, with a rather noticable prosthetic attached to any part of their body, would you feel justified in demanding it be removed, or forcibly removing it if the person does not comply?

Would you be okay with any of the people you are with doing such? Would you bat an eyelid if you were out having a meal (in a McDonalds say) and the prosthetic device of one patron was was deliberately damaged by another patron who was not comfortable with it being there?

It is obvious that destruction of property comes into play when the device is smashed. However, when it is as completely a part of the body as this, such as it cannot be removed save in a surgical environment, does it become something more than mere property damage, to attempt to destroy the machinery that is letting the person see, or letting them walk? Destroying that which is sending information directly into their brain?


Link to the specific incident in full.
Most techies will be very familiar with it by now, but one of the beautiful things about SD is there’s such a range of non-techies here as well, and everyone’s input is welcome. Paticularly that of the non-techies

 
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Personally, I don’t mind the prosthetic devices. I’d be medically curious, even.

So I’mma throw it on another “bodily” modification, gender changes and people who flaunt those.
I now imagine Michael Jackson at its creepiest.
Even when I compare it with that, I still think that you are not allowed to damage the person or property.
You are, however, allowed to not provide services for him – non-action, as it were.

In my opinion, the McDonalds employee should have requested the man to leave.
In that case, you might argue that he wanted a potential troublemaker gone.
But he didn’t, and as such, it is assault.

Looking at the picture, I can’t help but imagine the Google Glasses (Goggles?) project. Why would such a thing be against company policy?
At best, I can say that the employee would have had the right to demand that Steve stops recording (yes, he’d lose his eyesight by doing so).

 
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I can’t work out if this device is additional to or a replacement for his right eye.

The Parisians are famous for their rudeness, but I find it astonishing that even by their standards someone would consider that to be acceptable behaviour. Bearing in mind that it was a surgically attached functional item, I can see a legal minefield here when deciding the boundaries between damage to property and bodily assault. No doubt that will be resolved as these kinds of devices become more commonplace.

Living in London, it’s not unusual to see people wearing artificial limbs which are designed with functionality rather than aesthetics as their raison d’etre. Nobody takes any notice of them. Perhaps we just need to get used to seeing them. I found this company’s activities very interesting, moving prosthetics in the direction of being something to celebrate rather than being something to hide. There’s a BBC video here on youtube on a similar theme. When I was a small boy, there were still many survivors of WWI who were amputees, and they tended to be spoken of in hushed tones. Happily this is no longer the case.

As for reactions from the cruddy end of society, members of the underclass are just as likely to need prosthetics as anyone else, in fact, bearing in mind some of their lifestyles, maybe even more so. High end and/or artistic attachments are going to become part of their world too. No doubt there will be instances of morons attacking people with unfamiliar prosthetics, but those sorts of morons would very likely go on the attack anyway.

I can’t think of any circumstance in which I would feel justified in demanding that someone should remove their prosthetics. In the highly unlikely event of me resorting to McDonalds for a meal and seeing such an event taking place there, I’m getting a bit old to get involved in a fight, but I would certainly be happy to be a witness for the victim should the incident result in a court case.

 
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It’s his own fault for deciding to wear something surgically attached to his skull. That’s just asking for problems. If you wear a prosthetic arm and someone comes along and tugs it off, is it going to hurt? Maybe. probably not as risky though as someone tugging off something rooted in your brain.

 
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Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

It’s his own fault for deciding to wear something surgically attached to his skull.

He was wearing it for some expos, how was he supposed to know that if he brought his kids along they were going to ask to go to a McDonalds with employees who don’t know how to handle dissent in any other way than violence?

 
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How was it against company policy for him to be wearing that device?
I don’t think he was setting himself up to get his device torn from his skull, but I do believe that a confrontation about the device would be normal. Tearing it off the man’s face after being told that it was surgically attached to his skull is moronic and uncalled for. Considering he was calm and provided papers and such about the device they shouldn’t have taken any action against him.

I would not feel justified to ask someone to remove their prosthetics or enhanceing devices. That’s ridiculous. Maybe if it seemed way out of ordinary and strange I would ask for papers about it, but that’s it.

I would defend the man and try to help him as best as I can as a witness to what happened.

I’m not sure about the last question, we will have to deal with that sooner or later though.

 
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Originally posted by tenco1:
Originally posted by Jantonaitis:

It’s his own fault for deciding to wear something surgically attached to his skull.

He was wearing it for some expos, how was he supposed to know that if he brought his kids along they were going to ask to go to a McDonalds with employees who don’t know how to handle dissent in any other way than violence?

He was wearing it in public though. It almost sounds like he did it as a gag, like daring them to be PC about it. Well, that sorta backfired.

I have much less sympathy because of how the device is used. As I understand it, it’s a combination sousveillance device / Geordi’s visor. So it records everything the guy sees, and provides extraneous info about whatever he’s seeing. That’s pretty cool. It’s not, however, necessary to see with – he’s not disabled. It’s a gimmick that the general public clearly wasn’t ready for, anymore than they’d be cool with the guy pulling up to the mcd’s drivethrough in a hovercar.

 
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Requiring indication of recording, and requiring it be turned off in certain locations solves all of Jan’s silly concerns.

When I went to Japan and everyone was asked to remove their shoes and wash their feet/put on their socks to enter the buddhist temple, I had brought my walker along. They insisted I bring my chair in, and had a station connected to the entrance way for me to roll up on blocks while 3 monks wiped my wheelchair down cleaner than it has ever been before so I could roll around on their ancient carpets with clean wheels. They cleaned them after I left the monastery, as well. Their facilities were also the most accessible in my entire stay there, yet all of the ramps were incredibly well made by hand. Despite Japan’s modern genetic discrimination, their older traditions are of inclusion and betterment, and I appreciated that quite a bit.

 
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BSG,
The above post was a pleasure to read. Thank you.

Vika,
In all honesty that incident frightens and disturbs me. It just goes to show how animalistic, ignorant, and xenophobic the masses can be.

 
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yeah, if you surgically attach such a device to your skull, you know that sooner or later this will happen. also attaching it to your skull means drilling into it, and then having this sturdy object connected…this leaves him a lot more vulnerable to further damage to his skull if he gets in an accident or just trips and falls.

it also shouldn’t be difficult, if you go through the effort of having such a device in the first place, to make most of it detachable. this is just begging for trouble. seriously, the surgeon that performed the operation should have send him to a psychiatrist for evaluation.

i respect any degree of nerdiness, but this is insane. walking around like that is pretty much like walking around with the hilt of a dagger sticking out of your chest, while the blade partially stuck in your skin between your ribs. and i doubt it makes him see any better, unless the other eye is disfunctional.

 
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Yeah, we should make the guy who wasn’t the one ripping out someone’s medically verified prosthetic device go to therapy because clearly he’s the one with normalcy issues with society. I can certainly be irreverent when I know I’m right, but are you really so entitled to your opinion that you have to assert absurd things like that? Women who wear low cut shirts better watch out for rape like it’s rain, right? If someone decides to shove a broom handle in my spokes because they think I should have to walk like everyone else, it’s my fault for being so delicate? Seriously, think for a single second before you post your professional opinion.

 
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no absolutely not. i think we can all agree on respecting physical handicaps, and just downright not beating people or bothering people on whims or discrimination.

but i was more-so responding to the technology than the incident. i read the link, and it reads like they tried to forcibly remove it before he told them it’s embedded into his skull, and they simply pushed him out of the establishment after they tore up his doctor’s letter. none of that is good, but that in itself is not a very interesting subject. what’s very interesting is the device, that’s what i responded to.

i mean he’s willfully giving himself a handicap, which is just… i mean i want to know how often he poked his wife’s eye out…or maybe i don’t since i don’t think they ever…

 
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Originally posted by OmegaDoom:

i mean he’s willfully giving himself a handicap,

It’s really not that much of a handicap, especially considering you now have a camera recording your life.

which is just… i mean i want to know how often he poked his wife’s eye out…

Because she doesn’t know that it’s there, so she couldn’t try to avoid it?

or maybe i don’t since i don’t think they ever…

He had kids, so yeah, I think they did.

 
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Actually, whether this EyeTap is considered a body part or not is not significant. It’s enough by telling that one of his senses is significantly impaired due to the assault.

 
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Originally posted by Uberfuchs:

what a fucking freak the guy shouldve ripped it out of his skull he needs to go to therapy or some shit you dont do that its not normal

Asshat, level: expert

 
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Originally posted by Uberfuchs:

what a fucking freak the guy shouldve ripped it out of his skull he needs to go to therapy or some shit you dont do that its not normal

Dude!
Punctuation!

 
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Originally posted by EPR89:
Originally posted by Uberfuchs:

what a fucking freak the guy shouldve ripped it out of his skull he needs to go to therapy or some shit you dont do that its not normal

Dude!
Punctuation!

I think punctuation is the least of his issues. :/

 
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Originally posted by Uberfuchs:
Originally posted by tenco1:
Originally posted by Uberfuchs:

what a fucking freak the guy shouldve ripped it out of his skull he needs to go to therapy or some shit you dont do that its not normal

Asshat, level: expert

wow r u a gay

Unoriginal, level: unoriginal

If you want, I could go with xenophobe.

 
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Let’s keep quoting the post that’s going to get deleted so the thread gets closed instead. Come on Tenco, EPR89, don’t trollbait.

 
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Originally posted by tenco1:
Originally posted by OmegaDoom:

i mean he’s willfully giving himself a handicap,

It’s really not that much of a handicap, especially considering you now have a camera recording your life.

which is just… i mean i want to know how often he poked his wife’s eye out…

Because she doesn’t know that it’s there, so she couldn’t try to avoid it?

or maybe i don’t since i don’t think they ever…

He had kids, so yeah, I think they did.

that was, i assume, before the implant. that or they’re adopted lol. but anyway, i’ve had glasses. they’re pretty difficult to avoid, especially when making out. that’s why you take them off.
you’ve never kissed someone with glasses? even kissing on the cheeks can almost put your eye out.

also he isn’t actually recording all the time, which would be illegal. i’d challenge him to play any ballgame with his kids, or any other such activity. does those 3D glasses in cinemas fit over it? diving glasses? helmets? there’s a lot of things he will not be able to do. eating at McDonalds without getting hassled would be one such thing.

ironically he claims to have helped create VR glasses like the Xbox uhm, thingy. but he can’t use it…

 
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