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The dark side of ambient intelligence

David Wright (Co‐founder and managing partner of Trilateral Research & Consulting LLP, London, UK. He specialises in policy and regulatory issues relating to ambient intelligence, risk and impact assessment. E‐mail:


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




To survey ambient intelligence research in Europe, the USA and Japan and, in particular, in the context of the issues of privacy, identity, security and trust and the safeguards proposed to protect them.


This paper is based on research being conducted by the SWAMI consortium under the EC's Sixth Framework Programme. SWAMI stands for Safeguards in a World of Ambient Intelligence. The consortium comprises five partners: the Fraunhofer Institute (Germany), the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT Electronics), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) (Spain) and Trilateral Research & Consulting (UK). The 18‐month SWAMI project began in February 2005.


Most AmI projects do not take into account privacy, security and related issues. However, a reasonable number do (perhaps a quarter of those in Europe) to a greater or lesser extent and some have proposed safeguards.

Research limitations/implications

This paper references only a limited set of the research projects being carried out in Europe, the USA and Japan. More detailed information can be found on the SWAMI web site (

Practical implications

A mix of different safeguards will be needed to adequately protect privacy, etc. in the new world of AmI.


Until now, there has been no reasonably comprehensive survey of AmI research projects in Europe, the USA and Canada focused on privacy, security, identity and trust issues. None has considered the range of safeguards needed to protect privacy, etc.



Wright, D. (2005), "The dark side of ambient intelligence", info, Vol. 7 No. 6, pp. 33-51.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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