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“People have physical bodies in physical spaces . . . and the quality of care-taking place in physical space is of paramount importance.”
- DR. FEI FEI LI Standford
Transcription & Footnotes
Caseysimone Ballestas  0:04  
So you found this link at the foot of my email and thought, "An audio bio? What's that?" Which is a very valid question. So thanks for joining despite the uncertainty; you can think of the next eight minutes as an audio companion to my LinkedIn. 
I've always loved buildings. And I've always had this nagging sense that the spaces we inhabit impact us far more than we're aware. It is this lifelong fascination with the built environment that led me to study architecture, and then on to do consulting for companies like Nike and Cisco around rapid prototyping environments, and why I am now a researcher of Spatial Computing at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. 
But what is Spatial Computing? The hallmark of spatial computing is that the technologies that fall under this umbrella are spatially aware (virtual, augmented and mixed reality devices, as well as ambient intelligent devices like autonomous vehicles and certain products from the Internet of Things world are spatial computing artifacts), and they track and react in real time to ever changing environments. And to illustrate the focus of my work within spatial computing, I'm going to tell you a story about a time when Spatial Computing went awry.
In the fall of 2020, Facebook's newest VR headset hit shelves across the world. But folks were a bit concerned about the fact that to use their new headsets, they would have to log in with a Facebook account. Facebook's track record being what it is, people who were a little bit concerned. What folks did not expect to happen, happened only two days after the Oculus went on sale. On October 15th, 2020, Nature published a study from Stanford outlining how anonymized data from a virtual reality headset, this one from the company HTC, could actually identify the user. 

Kent Bye  2:08  
So the study is called 'Personal identifiability of user tracking data during observation of 360 degree VR video.' 

Caseysimone Ballestas  2:16  
That's Kent Bye who, since 2014, has avidly documented academic progress in the field of virtual reality on his podcast Voices a VR. 

Kent Bye  2:26  
So the larger context is that a lot of this motion track data is considered to be de identified. It's not like taking a picture of yourself. But what research like this is showing is that it's kind of like taking a picture of yourself.

Caseysimone Ballestas  2:39  
And this is Mark Miller. 

Mark Miller  2:41  
I'm Mark Miller.

Caseysimone Ballestas  2:43  
Mark I computer science PhD at Stanford is the first author behind the study.

Mark Miller  2:48  
So the way I describe the study, if I'm explaining it to someone for the first time, is go through what we did. So we had over 500 people come in each of them watched five different 360 degree videos out of a set of 80. So we have all this data and Professor Jeremy bailenson. He goes, "Hey, you know, why don't you throw some machine learning at the problem, see if you can identify people with this data."

Caseysimone Ballestas  3:13  
And he succeeded with 95% accuracy marks machine learning algorithm that he trained on only 20 seconds of individual data could determine which of the 500 users the data was from 

Mark Miller  3:27  
The machine learning algorithm is given 80% of the data. But the end result is a mathematical function that outputs its best guess of who the participant is. It says, "Oh, hey, I recognise that person, that's parciticipant Q." 

Caseysimone Ballestas  3:40  
So what I love about this study is how it highlights the proximity between cybersecurity and ethics in the spatial computing domain. See, on the one hand, hearing about the study might have surfaced some fear in you because the VR headset can figure out who you are, and that feels like a violation, which is understandable. As researchers, we classify this as an ethical concern. But on the other hand, you might have picked up on the absence of any blaming, this has to do with the fact that there is no indication that HTC either intended or was aware of this vulnerability. Thus, we would classify this as a cybersecurity concern. 
This is just the tip of an unknowingly large iceberg of vulnerabilities of spatial computing. As a researcher, my work is focused on the ways in which these computing artifacts from virtual reality headsets, to checkoutless shopping experiences can fail us. I do this by systematically mapping strategies for the mitigation of insecure and unethical outcomes. 
But how did I get here? Well, firstly, I grew up in San Francisco's Mission District in the 90s. So technology was everywhere. And you'll also remember that I said "I love buildings." Growing up, I attributed my passion for the built environment to nurture as my mom wasn't I have a decorator and the vast majority of the other adults in my life, they were architects. But in my teens, I discovered I had an underlying neurological condition, which to this day impacts the way I perceive space. It's called synesthesia.

Imogen Malpas  5:16  
Synesthesia is a neurological condition, sometimes called the cross wiring of senses. Whereas a stimulation of one sense, touch taste, sound sight, causes the experience of another.

Caseysimone Ballestas  5:30  
This is an Imogen Malpas, a University of Oxford medical anthropologist in her TED talk on the kind of synesthesia that I have, Time-Space synesthesia.

Imogen Malpas  5:40  
For people with time spaces easier. Time itself has a form, and this form takes physical shape around the person.

Caseysimone Ballestas  5:50  
So how does all of this relate to buildings though, to spatial computing? Individuals with timespace synesthesia are more spatially perceptive and quicker to respond to stimuli in the space where their years start. Unless you too have time-space synesthesia, in which case, "Hi, there!" what I just said, it probably doesn't make any sense.  For us synesthetes, the abstract concepts of time and space collapse and are made both figuratively and literally tangible to our brains. And it is this vivid perception of how all of our interactions are temporal that I've spent my career attempting to capture. 
I want to close off by telling you about my favourite type of spatial computing technology, ambient intelligence, sometimes called smart environments. Why do I love it? Because I think it's full of good hearted and fundamentally human opportunity. I'll let Dr. Fei-Fei Li introduce the domain.

Fei-Fei Li  6:46  
There's a lot of talk about AI replacing human labour.

Caseysimone Ballestas  6:51  
Dr. Li is one of the foremost ambient intelligence scholars. She's also the former vice president of Google, and a current professor at Stanford, where she is co director of the Institute for Human centred artificial intelligence. 

Fei-Fei Li  7:06  
I've really believe that AI has a far more important role to play than replacing our experts. But when we think about all the talks of the potentials of AI machine learning, we don't often hear about the physical space. People have physical bodies in physical spaces, whether it's your own home, or a primary care office, and the quality of care taking place in physical space is of paramount importance.

Caseysimone Ballestas  7:39  
Ensuring spatial computing facilities experiences that are secure and supportive, like those found in Dr. Li's work, rather than insecure and concern inducing, like those found by Miller's team, is a seriously complex challenge with very high stakes. On the bright side, it seems like more and more people are finding way into this work, and we need them for those a lot of important and exciting work to be done. 
With that, this is me Caseysimone Ballestas signing off. 
I look forward to connecting soon. 
Thanks for stopping by.


Caseysimone Ballestas  0:44  
Rapid Prototyping Environments


Caseysimone Ballestas  1:37 

Kent Bye  2:08  
Caseysimone Ballestas  2:24








Mark Miller  2:41




















Caseysimone Ballestas  4:27
@inproceedings{
    title={A Framework for Centralizing Ethics in the Design Engineering of Spatial Computing Artifacts}, 
    author={Ballestas, Caseysimone and Chandrasegaran, Senthil and Kim, Euiyoung}
    conference={ASME 2021 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference}
    year={2021},
    publisher={The American Society of Mechanical Engineers}}



Imogen Malpas  5:16


















Fei-Fei Li  6:46  
  
“The hallmark of spatial computing is that the technologies that fall under this umbrella are spatially aware . . . and they track and react in real time to ever changing environments.”

- CASEYSIMONE BALLESTAS