Power & Surveillance

Photo: Alexander Hayes

Photo: Alexander Hayes

On the 5th July 2019 I presented at SAE Institute in Perth, Western Australia. The topic was power and surveillance and as a visiting researcher I was invited to speak of the findings of my PhD research investigation.

ANZ Mlearn Symposium

The Google Glass phenomena was a key theme at the ‘ANZ Mlearn Symposium’ held at the Sydney Institute of Technology 2012 with the Researcher presenting a paper published by The Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Mobile  Learning Group titled ‘Reflections: Glass & Mobile Learning’ 

“... Point-of-view (PoV) or body worn video (BWV) prototypes have been trialled extensively in a cross- sector education and training context across Australia and New Zealand since early 2005. A national  snapshot  conducted  in  2010  (Hayes,  2010)  revealed  an  avid  interest  in  how  location  enabled  body   worn technologies could be used in an educational context.(Hayes, Frawley, et al. 2012)

Google Plus Communities

In all their wisdom, Google shut down its own history as is common in the tech world.

Google decided to close its G+ communities in 2019 which to the researchers disappointment also kills off those communities and the content which historically I had used extensively to engage with the Google Glass community as well as to host events through Google Hangouts and so on.

Here are some of the communities which I was the owner, co-administrator or participant.

Significant History

So tonight I’ve discovered that seven layers deep in the bowels of my iPhone I have a list of every single location I’ve ever visited since the history of me purchasing and using an Apple iphone product. In my case that goes back 11 years.

I have the choice to delete the lot of it but as far as I can tell all this is doing is deleting it from my device and the location history will still be stored on Apple’s cloud.

It states that the data is encrypted and Apple cant read it but what’s the purpose of collecting the data and hiding it if they have no intention of ever using it in the first place? Its a bit like putting cameras in the backs of plane seats (Singapore Airlines) and claiming these are not ever going to be turned on.

Here is how I found this magical mystery tour through my iPhone.

Settings App > ‘Privacy’ section > Scroll down to ‘Location Services’ > Scroll right down to ‘System services’ > Navigate to ‘Significant Locations’

The most interesting thing to me is that they are collecting data from before the location marker and after it to, suggesting to me that predictive analysis is being drawn from where I have been, likely to go and whom I am likely to see.

More chilling effects. More reasons why surveillance capitalism must be considered in each and every case of each and every provider we now engage with.

Given how closely tied my digital memory is tied to this provider I question how I can escape alive and still able to function in a society should I choose to ditch Apple too.



I have been invited to connect with participants in the 'Electronic Village Online' (EVO) upcoming events sometime in February 2018 [ change the date here and link to the online event ]

As a presenter I am going to explore the notion of how Minecraft is affecting our method of loci, reshaping (eroding?) our memory palace skills and with the onset and convergence of mixed reality wearable technology in this space how it may be contributing to the shift in humanity as we know it, especially in younger children who are heavily involved in that space (not place).

The following is how I plan to deliver my presentation and connect with that community of adults online as far afield as Dubai and Canada with me located in Australia.

  • Introduction - formal titles, past experience, current projects, links

  • Caveat - technological skeptic / techno-optimist statement

  • Concepts - realities - augmented / virtual / augmendiated / mixed

  • Technologies - MagicLeap, Hololens, Occulus Rift et al.

  • Notions - Place, country, memory, time (relative)

  • Frameworks - method of loci, memory palace, Kalara, dadirri, socio-ethical

  • Hypothesis - Factions (Minecraft) as neural brain wash, placeless corporations

  • Discussion - power, control, privacy, politics, policing and perception

  • Context - based on links provided

  • Questions - open discussion

Presentation Title

Minecraft: My Experience and Your Dilemma


As active agents of sociological change children now challenge the researcher stereotype amidst a battleground of virtual, augmented and mixed reality wearable computing. Fractals once closer to philosophical ramblings of the mathematical in the field of chaos theory are now an educative and neurological rearrangement as STEAM gets creative in Minecraft. A dilemma has emerged as participatory netnography reveals the longer term socio-ethical effects of corporations punching through our privacy firewalls, programming our minds and harvesting our creativity. 


Recommended Reading / Viewing


The comment above was made in my Facebook publication of the link to the article by Nicolas Beriot, Former Secretary General, ONERC - National Observatory of the Effects of Climate Change, French Ministry of the Environment, Engineer.

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At the centre of what I have enjoyed for most of my life is as a creative, a teacher and the mixed and decadent world of the artist, the aesthete. When I see things, hear things, smell things, touch things I gain memory from the experience, not simply a reaction as some might without memory. Those experiences I’ve conveniently always thought of as attributes forming my own ‘self’, my own personality, not operating alone though rather individual as a member of a community and part of a greater society. 

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In 1984 whilst attending secondary school I read and was deeply affected by George Orwells ‘Nineteen Eighty Four” written in 1948 and published 1949 forecasting much of what we are now experiencing in a contemporaneous society. 

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The PhD Research Journey

For those who exist in the lockstep, sleepwalking world of consumerist society the research journey seems only a fast way to another ticket, another accreditation. That reality though is an experiential mission, through moments of critical reflection, the hovering self, the form that is part of the physical body on the ground but the spiritual capacity to see oneself out of body so to speak. Without that capacity to reflect on our actions, take responsibility for our behaviours and change our course in life regularly all we become are ground level dwellers, basement jacks with a lack of connection, tiptoeing around the real issues in life and making others life hell in the moral meantime.

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Connecting With Place

Connecting with place means living with one eye on the present moment and the other hovering around looking back and trying to avoid making new mistakes. It means that the world can be our ‘place’, that our birthplace never changes nor does the tie to moral culture restrict us to enacting, living out the expectation of others to conform to their own control structure. 

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The researcher was invited to attend the INTERSTICIA ‘Brave Conversations’ event at the Australian National University on the 10th and 11th April 2017.

Given the way the researcher was treated appallingly by the ANU who believe they are a law unto themselves and who harbour some nasty self-serving vipers who claim cultural connection with country (utter hypocrisy) I chose to contribute to this important summative event with a written response as follows.

I don’t care that I’ll never be invited back to their supposedly prestige Fellows bar and fully expect to be arrested for trespass on their stolen property.

Web Science Down Under

“Brave Conversations”

Australian National University
10th and 11th April 2017

1.  Introduce yourself to the group 

Greetings. Please is a better way to start your prompt. My name is Alexander Malkay Hayes. I am in a very tenuous position at present between completing a PhD, working with an Aboriginal community on a cultural database and renovating a house with five children to attend to. It will be quicker and more relevant to read all about me here - http://www.alexanderhayes.com/journey/malkay 

2.  What you would like to get out of attending our “conversations”?

I doubt I will get very much out of them as there is little impetus here to connect with those who cant attend in person. Given the day and age we are in you could have well have setup ‘virtual presenters’ as any other professional symposium would endeavour to do. I'm at that last critical point where everything is just a bloody distraction from the writeup of the thesis and I'm sure those of you have either been there or are in the middle of it then know exactly what I am talking about.

2.  What are you focusing on in your research?

I am focussed on the social and ethical implications of wearable technology as we descend into a dystopia of implantable, insertable technology and this disaster called the Singularity that corporations would have us believe is the answer for the anthropocene. I am working closely with Aboriginal and other first nation communities who believe that it’s about the law of the land, not the law of man and that this tech led discussion is simply another genocide. In short my focus is on what is taking our "instinct" away, where has our "liyan" gone and if we have lost our moral compass and even the ability to grasp at an ethical framework as individuals then what hope do our communities have ?

3. How would you like to connect your research areas to “business / real world” problems that we can unpack and focus on on Day One and then link to the broader conference conversation on Day Two?

Drive north from Sydney and into any mineral rich area of Australia and witness the rampant destruction of pristine ecologies which Aboriginal communities have protected and used purposefully without destruction for tens of thousands of years. Bear witness to the genocide, apartheid and rampant exploitation of the communities whose lands have been colonised, carved up and exploited with technologies playing a bigger and bigger role in their marginalisation from society. As far as big data is concerned have a look at the Australian Welfare Card and the disaster it is proving for Aboriginal communities, kinship, traditional law and couple this all with the current rhetoric for the Australian government who barbarically and constantly change Native Title policy to suit itself while facilitating and outright directly supporting mining magnates who are as fat as toads and as ugly as toads. Where "business" and "real world" sits amongst this is likely to be framed in conversations that are 99% western world development - "...oh look...a resource...get rid of the occupants and lets mine it to create every known capitalist looking good that we can fill our empty lives up with". It's obvious, I'm not there over three days to pay platitudes to socio-technical fanfare. Unpack, focus? I'm there in a waste management role and hopefully someone else will be awake in the audience. 

The Liminal Self

The following is what I'd originally written in defense of using the term 'I' or first person in my thesis. This decision was soon changed as I learned of the myriad of issues writing in first person causes for examiners and supervisors alike.

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Reluctance Of Interviewees

I’ve now compiled a detailed list of the interviewees (confirmed participants) and the general setup, tools, backups and so on.

To do’s;

  • Write about the ‘reluctance’ of interviewees including [ removed ] who declined to be interviewed;

  • [ removed ] was repeatedly not contactable despite immediate response for all IASTAS’13 preparations through his PR team;

  • Those who didn't wish to be identified for cultural, privacy and personal security reasons;

  • Those who didn't wish to be recorded ie. Professor Teemu Leinonen;

  • Those who wanted everything to be transmitted live rather than a written transcript!

As per my conversation as Researcher with [ removed ] about those who don’t wish to be identified, well it isn’t ideal at all !!

This creates an awareness for the Researcher that will be written into the Interview chapter, that of the reluctance of people to engage in formal discourse where they could be seen to be speaking "away" from their own socio-technocratic indulgent selves. It often happens with those people under constraint of their employer, their position in government and their own personal lives which hinge on them having a technology permeated existence on an hour by hour basis.

The Researcher gets them aside to have a conversation and ask them the drilling questions that I have and what does it reveal? It reveals that they have in fact great reservations about technology and its impact on their own lives and yet they contradict themselves and trip over their own position when it comes to standing by what they said in a probing interview.

Fair Game For The Same

I am sitting here in Broome, Western Australia next to a young Aboriginal Nyikina man who is wearing a GPS anklet bracelet which confines him to the city limits of this small and isolated city in the far north west of the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

I question myself, “…where are the papers written about the Aboriginal Australian’s in the context of colonisation of “body” by technological intervention (ie. the trajectory of ankle bracelets to the implantable) ?”

The room is bare except for a few mattresses and a huge television from which an Xbox gaming console is attached. An old woman lives in the same house and there is nothing to end in the fridge except a three quarter empty plastic container of Black & Gold margarine. To buy anything more means visiting the local service station that charges fifty percent more for every item other than cigarettes and Coca-Cola.   

The only way to purchase anything is with cash of the welfare ID card. I sit and listen outside with the old people on the front balcony to stories of hope and resilience despite the absolute carnage these human people suffer through on a daily basis.  

It occurs to me to ask myself as a researcher, in observance of human people simply struggling to cope with technologically facilitated genocide, to what degree does the State, the Government and more importantly the corporations who mine this country intend using these technologies against these very people? In observations of those humans in other parts of the world who wish to use this technology as a convenience by which to expediently and efficiently navigate and identify by in their lives, I sweat in the topics wondering how long it will be before all humans are subject to even the most “dumb” implantable to track, trace and trigger intervention in their lives.

To me it seems that the next level of intervention is not just of the lands that a community lives on, not the the possession of assets or control of movement of individuals but a colonisation of their own human transdermal state ie. implantable technology.

My partner points me to a book upon my return home, Joe Nangan’s Dreaming, and I turn to page 8 which contains a quote, “…because it was not tilled or harvested or grazed in European agricultural style it was considered ‘empty’ and available. The Government of the time recognised no Aboriginal land rights and encouraged the taking up of land for pastoral use.” 

It now begs the question whether what I am observing as a Researcher is now tied to the same concept where the ‘land’ is now the human body, that if the body is not being used productively then it is ‘fair game for the same’ and exploited by corporations and Government.  

Nyikina Collaborative Filmmaking


In October 2016 I worked with Filmmaker Magali McDuffie on visualising the collaborative process that she has employed when working with the Nyikina Community of Western Australia. The figures were created in an online visual editing tool called Gliffy.

These were developed and formed part of a higher degree by research (HDR) presentation at the end of that year.

  • Digital Humanities
  • Language
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Media Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology

Suggested Citation

McDuffie, Magali; Hayes, Alexander (2015): Nyikina Collaborative Filmmaking. figshare. https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1579433.v1


Figshare [ HTML ]

Living In Deep Time

Photograph: Alexander Hayes

Photograph: Alexander Hayes

On the 25th October 2016 I attended the Big History, Deep Time & The Age of Humans Symposium event on the 25th October 2016 held at the University of Technology Sydney as part of the Anthropocene Transition Project in the UTS Business School.

Dr. Anne Poelina was presenting ‘Living In Deep Time’ and also spoke on a panel at that event and made a great impression on myself.

“… to consider the anthropocene as Dr. Anne Poelina posits means contemplating the end of the anthropocene, where long after these ‘civilisations’ as we see them appear then they will also disappear and the only role we have as custodians and visitors to country is to leave it in as best condition as we found it, where the technologies of today must be considered in the fuller picture of what impact they have on each other now.”