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 Description of Ambient intelligence (AmI)


Executive Summary

According to many authors the aim of the Ambient Intelligence (AmI) environment is to provide a context aware system, using unobtrusive computing devices, which - in their vision - will improve the quality of people’s lives by acknowledging their needs, requirements and preferences and thus acting in some way on their behalf. Additionally, pervasive computing should enable immediate access to information and services anywhere, anytime. 

To be able to offer such personalised operation, the ‘intelligent’ environment needs to build a profile of each individual, and be able to subsequently link the profile with the correct individual. In essence, the environment must become the interface to the distributed and invisible AmI. Thus profiling is an essential part of the idealised AmI. In a world where computing is truly ubiquitous, profiles will seamlessly follow the individual to whom it is linked. 

This report provides a first analysis of actual and possible profiling techniques in the field of AmI and aims to describe some implications of such profiling techniques within AmI for privacy and security.  

In Chapter an initial description of AmI is provided, starting from a simple example concerning a ‘Smart Home’, presenting some of the definitions from the available literature, inferring the key notions of AmI: ubiquitous computing and communication; intelligence or adaptive systems; and personalisation or user empowerment. At the end of this chapter some of the fields of application are indicated as envisioned by the Information Society Technology Advisory Group. Chapter focuses on the process of profiling in relation to AmI, referring to FIDIS deliverable 7.2 (descriptive analysis of profiling), to discriminate between group and personalised profiling and to discuss the difference between automated and predefined profiles. Chapter gives a first overview of the technological aspects of profiling in an AmI environment. Chapter indicates some of the privacy and security issues raised by the proliferation of personal data and real time - often personalised - profiles that seems inevitable in the current visions of AmI. Chapter contains a first attempt to develop solutions to privacy and security issues via technologically facilitated end user control. In a sense such technological designs are pertinent if data protection legislation is to have any effect. Chapter gives a first elaboration of the relevance of EU legislation concerning profiling, demonstrating that data protection legislation was written for the protection of personal data without much awareness of the intricacies of group profiling based on anonymised personal data, applied to non-identifiable persons.

This deliverable should be understood as a first venture into a domain that is yet to come into existence, argued on the basis of visions that depend on prototypes as yet not in full operation. We are dealing with a vision that is nourished by technological optimism while it nourishes technological dystopia. The full extent of the social and cultural implications that will determine whether and how something like AmI will come into existence should be dealt with in subsequent deliverables, starting with FIDIS deliverable 7.7 on RFID, AmI and profiling. 


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