Straight from a horror story: human "homeless hotspots"

Straight from a horror story: human "homeless hotspots"
SXSW is where tech, pop culture and bad taste meet. That’s the only conclusion you can arrive at after seeing this horrific idea become reality: the human hotspot. Oh yes, it’s real - BBH, a (sick) New York ad company, is converting homeless people into 4G mobile hotspots. Yes, that “campaign” is seriously aimed to “benefit” the homeless and create jobs for them. All the proceeds from those paying for 4G access goes to the homeless. We're sure they will thank BBH later.

The company didn’t just overlook the fact that this is beyond immoral and degrading for us as humans - it’s actually defending its position.

"The worry is that these people are suddenly just hardware, but frankly, I wouldn't have done this if i didn't believe otherwise. We're very open to this criticism," BBH stated openly.

Dumbfounded doesn’t describe our reaction well enough. If that’s creating jobs for the homeless we wonder where we’re headed next - homeless people as moving touchscreen displays (trivial!), a human chair, or maybe a parade, a homeless human circus? Whatever’s next, we’re sure BBH has a better idea about the future than we do.

source: FWD via Gizmodo

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53 Comments

48. Ray.S

Posts: 464; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

In my opinion, the problem here lies in the wording and the way this campaign is presented. The problem is that they are willing to call these people "human hotspots", which is disgusting and, as Victor said, simply a form of bad taste. In case they put it like this: "OK, we decided to do give some jobs to the homeless people during the conference. Their job will be to provide the attendees here with 4G hotspot service.", I think it wouldn't have been such an issue. But the way they've decided to do it is somewhat unethical.

50. hepresearch unregistered

Alright, that I can absolutely agree with. You've hit it on the head, Ray. The concept, in its basic form, could help participants out if it is administered properly. However, Ray is correct in that the vernacular used by the company operating this, to describe and support their actions, is absolutely deplorable. The quote in the article by the spokesperson about how these people "are, quite frankly, hardware" (slightly paraphrased) is extremely troubling. I would not want to be too quick to write off an idea that could actually help people to reach up out of bad circumstances, but the wording they use here really quashes my hope. I hope that they did not mean what the context emerged to be... and I suppose we will see where this goes. If it works to help less fortunate folks to get back to work and eventually, but in a shorter-term way, achieve a better life, then I see little problem with it if they improve the language they use as well. However, if this really does end up looking more like a scheme to just use people as "hardware", and the company doesn't stop talking like that is indeed the case, then I'm all for protesting their operation until they get shut down.

53. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Agree 100%. Like with most thing in life... " its not what you say...its how you say it"

46. Mimsyborogove923

Posts: 8; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Where do i sign up?

41. Mandroid

Posts: 209; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

Maybe I am missing something, but the article didn't say how this works. How exactly do you use a human being as a hot spot? Regardless I support it, I cant believe you people are against this. At least they are giving them a way to earn money, instead of all you keyboard activists that haven't done a thing to help but are quick to shoot down anyone elses idea.

40. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

While it is controversial.... whats the difference between this and handing out papers, putting papers on windshields, spinning a sign promoting some business, etc? I seen those 3 things being done by homeless ppl and high school kids. As long as they are not inserting hardware into their bodies....whats the problem? The company can save money on rent, building expenses, employee benefits, etc. Win - Win for both. As a matter of fact....my kids mother doesnt have a job. I hope this gets to our area to let her know about it. I just thought of something...what about doing this for ppl that have homes? Place the hardware by the window for the best signal... If that happens...we might all look back on this day as the beginning of something very nice.

45. Victor.H

Posts: 1117; Member since: May 27, 2011

Yes, valid points about the often meaningless handing out of papers and holding a sign. That scratches deeper problems, but the one I found very alarming here is that the value of a mobile hotspot is put above the value of the person. This sends the wrong message, actually no, let's make it clear - this IS the wrong message, this is the wrong thinking. A line of thought that we are here for technology, not the other way around. If you want to go deeper, think about Foxconn and staff in manufacturing working in worse than slave-like conditions. It's not really about the unregulated overtime and the fact that many are underpaid. Jumping out of a building comes from utter despair and utter despair comes when you lose your human value. So, essentially that's what's worrisome. It's not about the money, really.

38. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

This comment section is all over the place, people with one sentence replies and crying exploitation and other things and have nothing to support it. This whole thing seems to be geared toward taking advantage of the homeless who are basically just littering the streets as they have no place to be or to go. It is giving them something to do with pay, therefore a reinforcement of trade, not a damn handout that so many like to receive. If you keep giving people things without them actually having to work for it, it slowly becomes something that they expect and that isn't what you want. Work for pay, sure from the outside it looks like it's taking advantage of homeless, but it's more or less giving them something to do while providing a service. This company has come up with an idea, what is everyone else doing? Nothing, complaining, finding fault claiming all sorts of things but in the end still doing nothing. I do hope that somehow this can be spurned to create a place to educate the homeless that need educating, not all homeless are uneducated, heck seen some college grads living on the streets, yea it can happen to anyone. Just needs to keep it's promise to not take advantage and needs to be kept visible so we can see what's going on and lets assume they have a goal road map. Before you complain perhaps ask yourself about the plethora of other programs that have been offered to the homeless and have they helped? You can't stop at just a few, have to keep trying as some people find things that help them within different programs but then you have to figure out the cost. Let's wait and see how this works before we cast judgement on it huh?

37. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

I dont see a problem with it as long as proceeds are going to the Homeless like they claim.. Would you rather they beg you for money? I think that is more demeaning personally. Plus they get a snazzy shirt out of the deal too, most homeless dont have the luxury of clean clothes.

35. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You guys are ridiculous. Homeless people don't need handouts, that's the whole homeless attitude. If you've lived in the bronx or harlem you understand. Handouts make the situation worse. They expect it to be given to them so they sit back and do as little as possible to get by. The social security, food stamps, all that stuff is abused and I'd say 70% of the people who receive it, don't need it. It's infuriating to see those people lay back and make a mockery of the system because the other 30% really do need it. They are the reason that the system is in place, but for those that abuse it, good riddance. Anyway, I think this is a great idea. At least it's some semblance of a job. Although the job is probably just given to them too. No one earns anything these days...

30. avgjoe

Posts: 15; Member since: Aug 31, 2010

This man Im sure was made fully aware of what was going on. We have no idea if he was part of a back-to-work program, or he may be in a better position than the story was written. He may have been 10 days off the street & his giving back to help people he knows get to where he is. There are plenty of people who are "less fortunate" and simply need a chance. If your family was in need, that could be you too. Be thankful for what you have...namely this smartphone and service you can afford being negative

27. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Something i think everyone has overlooked here is that for this idea to work long term, the homeless people being used for this have to remain homeless. Either that, or there has to be more homeless people taking the jobs after the previous homeless get out of their situation.

29. hepresearch unregistered

Why bother to see this as a long-term solution? I don't. I can't wait for the day when there are no more homeless people because they have all become able to support themselves, and when they have trouble their neighbors are charitable enough to help them out for as long as they need to get back on their feet. But, for the purpose of helping the homeless to have hope of gainful service to others and rewards for their service, I see this as possibly a decent thing to do. They should run this as a program that, through charitable giving of opportunity and career education/training to the homeless, is designed to put itself out of existence in time. By then, there will likely be much more 4G infrastructure that is permanent, anyway.

31. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

You don't understand. Either this idea will crash and burn, or the company will end up finding ways to keep the homeless on the streets and providing signal to their customers. In other words, this bulls**t will only serve to enslave those who are already disenfranchised.

33. hepresearch unregistered

... or the company will start creating permanent infrastructure to replace the folks who work their way up through the program and move on to other employment, so that they will not need to rely on a constant stream of new homeless people. The only way this works is if they are charitable enough to see these people as people, and not as exploitable hardware... and yes, I saw that statement in the article, too, but hopefully it was not meant to be taken in that context entirely... otherwise, they will either succeed, as you say, at enslaving impoverished people, which I would hope we would stand up and say something against it, and get them shut down, or they WILL crash and burn on their own. I don't think we have heard enough, or know enough, yet to be able to make that call right away. We have not yet seen the results of how this works out for those who are now the early partcipants. Treat this like an experiment at first, and then judge it by the product in terms of how well participants are elevated (or how badly they are not elevated)... then act accordingly. The results will be easy to figure out... just take the time to ask someone who is a participant how they feel it is working out for them in meeting their needs, and how they feel they are being treated. The answer, one way or the other, will become obvious in time.

36. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

No Sniggly, this is not to keep the homeless, homeless. They ultimately make that choice. Remember some people are homeless because of the times. The economy is really bad at this moment. Some people just can’t function in a working society, some people have mental problems, or some people will simply choose to be homeless. In history in every civilization there have been homeless. During good times & bad. The homeless will never truly go away. Who knows this can be a stepping stone to the right person in bringing them back from a time in their lives where they lost all hope, or it can be just an enabler for the lazy homeless person who is content with this life style. Either way this falls on the individual to make that choice & I for one am happy that the homeless at the very minimum have that choice!

42. Gotchafone

Posts: 23; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

How about this BECOMES the homeless persons dayjob. They find a place to live and commute to wherever they think they can get the most people to connect to them. HOLY MOLY BUSINESS

17. Tarzan

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

Not a perfect job but hey something is better than nothing .... What about clowns at circus who make us laugh ? Or teams mascots who we make fun of ? Or those young kids at super markets carrying their employers name on the chest and back ? Those are also REAL people. I remember a saying, God helps those who help themselves.

11. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

iDoubt that any of the proceeds garnered by this malevolent endeavor will actually go towards the Homeless. This is just another way to milk the generosity of humanity to create revenue stream for a corporation. If you truly want to help out the Homeless hand out P&J sandwiches with fresh juice or give the downtrodden something clean to wear.

13. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

This isn't about hand outs. This is about the company profiting from their service in a way that also happens to employ homeless people. I support it. No where did they say "we are doing this with the sole intention of helping the homeless!"...

14. hepresearch unregistered

Endless hand-outs? Seriously? They do need things like that on a daily basis, but if all we do is give hand-outs, then how do they ever get a chance to pull themselves up and out of their desperate situation? In order to become employed, they need a shelter where they can receive mail or have telephone access, and then they need free/low-cost/subsidized job training and opportunities to enter the local workforce. Hand-outs are necessary in the short-term, but if you want to make a long-term difference, then education and workforce integration is a necessity. Hand-outs do not build up a person, but better opportunities taken and experienced often do. "If you can't give a man what he needs, then at least give him hope. If you can't give a man hope, then at least give him something to do."

20. tward291

Posts: 559; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

i do agree with you on this endless handouts will not work it just puts a bandaid on the situation. there needs to be stubility reducation a real investment. if we teach them help them back in the work force than things would change

19. Gotchafone

Posts: 23; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

What? How about the money THEY ARE PAYING THE HOMELESS! Nothing you described does more than put a band aid on a festering wound. Keep thinking you're really helping people by donating your ratty old tshirts.

7. hepresearch unregistered

Are these people being forced into this human hotspot servitude by BBH, or are these folks choosing to do this? I would say this looks like a conscious choice on the part of the participants... no forced labor here. I would hope they can benefit from it if they are choosing to be a part of this. Is this reprehensible? I would agree that it is demeaning, but if I were homeless (and I almost was on a couple of occassions... I was very lucky and blessed to be able to avoid that, though) I would sure want something to do that was worthwhile and of service to others, especially if I got some benefit, even if a small one, from it. It is like the old saying... "Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime." I would hope, although this is a humbling and demeaning thing to choose to endure, that these folks could use this stumbling-block as a stepping stone to get to a better place in life.

9. tward291

Posts: 559; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

taking advantage of someones desperation is no different than force

12. hepresearch unregistered

So, what are YOU doing to allevaite the desperation of the homeless?

15. tward291

Posts: 559; Member since: Feb 14, 2012

all it takes it an act of kindness i always give whenever i see someone on the side of the road take time to just care i am bless that i didnt lose everything i had when i came back from my deployment for more reasons than you can understand so me and my mother always go out and hand out gift cards and such. couple months ago i met a homeless guy and i knew him i had served with him in afghanistan long story through the grace of god i was able to contact va and now his in a treatment center im always striving to help homeless vet because that could of been me do yourself a favore and do some goodwww.nchv.org/howtohelp.cfm

24. hepresearch unregistered

Awesome! It is good to see someone being proactive in helping others. And thank you for your service, sir. I would not have liberty today without people like you over the years who have risked all to stand between our loved homes and the war's desolation.

16. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

Taking advantage? "Hey, Joe-Schmo... what are you standing on that street corner for?" -"Well, sir. I stand here at least 12 hours a day begging for change and then I take the $3 and buy a shooter." ~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Hey, Joe-Schmo... what are you standing on that street corner for?" -"Well, sir. I stand here for at least 12 hours a day providing internet for people in the area and a company pays me $xx.yy for my time. Then I take the $xx.yy and buy myself a bottle and a burger." Situation two includes not only a larger quantity of alcohol but also food! No one is taking advantage of anyone. These people are not qualified to hold normal jobs as mentioned above (in most cases)...

23. hepresearch unregistered

Then let's help them get qualified for better jobs... I contribute to charities that my church operates which benefit people here and in other nations. I contribute to the Perpetual Education Fund, a charitable fund which helps people in impoverished nations to get better education through no-interest loans, which they pay back after they are able to obtain a job in their chosen career field, often in their native countries... it is funded by charitable donations of members of the church I attend from around the world, and all loans are eventually repaid, becoming available to fund the next group of prospective students. I also contribute to the church fund that is used for disaster response both in the US and across the world. I also contribute what are called "fast offerings" which I give once a month when we have a special Sunday service in which we skip two meals and give the money we would have spent, or more if we have the means, for the purpose of helping those in our area who have unmet needs. I also participate regularly throughout the year in service projects locally and in nearby states where we feed people who come to us seeking a meal, and at food banks as well. I do other charitable activities and giving as well, but I am sure there are more ways for me to help others than I am currently doing, so I am striving to do more whenever opportunities present themselves. So, I do my best to do my part. Until a person has been "taught how to fish", they still need some "fish" given to them... so hand-outs are a necessity at first, but they are not the entire solution. The government loves to give hand-outs, but very rarely do I see them try to do anything beyond that... so I am a little hopeful to see someone offering people the opportunity to do something, rather than just receive hand-outs. It has to start with little steps somewhere...

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