Why was it so easy to beat the CIA’s best analysts? To some extent, the answer has more to do with humans than machines. Imagine the agency’s Indonesia expert, for example. He wants to make accurate predictions, but he’s also subject to a range of biases that never show up in the data. He wants his work to be exciting and relevant, earning the attention of his superiors; he wants Indonesia to be important in the world. Predictions are also used to direct resources within the CIA, and he may want to attract more of the resources than the Indonesia bureau would otherwise receive.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) will soon propose rules for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications on U.S. roads, it announced yesterday. The agency is now finalizing a report on a 2012 trial with almost 3000 cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and will follow that report with draft rules that would “require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year.” A car changing lanes, for example, might get a warning from its V2V system that another car is fast approaching in the driver’s blind spot.
To ensure that only North Korea’s finest gamers are allowed across the border into South Korea, the South Korean military is now securing the DMZ (demilitarized zone) with Microsoft’s Kinect sensor. Just kidding — it has nothing to do with gaming, and all about keeping the border secure. It turns out that Kinect is a very good and cheap way to differentiate between animals and errant North Koreans trying to cross the border, and triggering automatic alerts at nearby South Korean military outposts if a human is detected.
Fears within the Obama administration and Congress are mounting about Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s plan to build a wireless network in South Korea. The Obama administration and Congress are turning up the pressure on South Korea to turn back from a pending deal with Huawei Technologies, a Chinese firm that the U.S. intelligence community believes is linked to the Chinese military. Top administration officials have begun quietly talking to Seoul about U.S. national-security concerns over the pending deal, which would see Huawei help build South Korea’s new broadband network.
Intelligence agencies, like businesses and political campaigns, recognize the value of social media in track trends, public sentiment and the kind of emerging public uprisings that took place during the Arab Spring. Agencies from the Homeland Security Department to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have looked to use social media analytics for signs of terrorism or as a conduit during emergencies. The challenges have included the size of the data and the fractured language used on the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
Last fall Rutgers University ocean researcher Oscar Schofield headed a collaborative experiment called Gliderpalooza, which coordinated 15 aquatic, submersible research drones to sample the deep waters off the coastal Atlantic. About 5 feet long and shaped like tomahawk missiles, the gliders beam home their data every time they surface. The propellerless drones, jam-packed with scientific instruments, swim by changing their buoyancy—taking on and expelling a soda can’s worth of water to sink and float. And they navigate under the waves by themselves.
“The system presents distillations of the present situation, prospects, and strategies to address issues ranging from climate change to governance, science and technology, economics, ethics, education and other areas, with more than 10,000 pages of research, charts, and graphs available.” “This is a fabulous tool to clarify the complexity of the world; you don’t have to go all over the Internet to understand something; this gets it all together,” said Philippe Destatte, Director of The Destree Institute (Namur, Wallonia) and a sponsor of the Brussels launch of the Global Futures Intelligence System.
The latest top secret unmanned spy plane to be uncovered isn’t just a design idea, it’s already flying at the Air Force’s famed Area 51. Unlike the recently announced SR-72, the new RQ-180 from Northrop Grumman is believed to be currently in flight testing according to Aviation Week and Space Technology. The RQ-180 is a new design aimed at intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR, a.k.a. spying) and incorporates stealth technology, in addition to an efficient new design that’s tailored to flights over countries where the red carpet isn’t being rolled out for current U.S. spy drones.
Officially dubbed the K5 Autonomous Data Machine, the 300-pound, 5-foot-tall mobile robot will be equipped with nighttime video cameras, thermal imaging capabilities, and license plate recognition skills. It will be able to function autonomously for select operations, but more significantly, its software will provide crime prediction that’s reminiscent, the company claims, of the “precog” plot point of “Minority Report.” “It can see, hear, feel, and smell and it will roam around autonomously 24/7,” said CEO William Santana Li, a former Ford Motor executive, in an interview with CNET.
Last October the Mexico City Public Security Secretariat – its police authority – began testing little cuadricopters intended to supervise street demonstrations. In June, O Globo, a Brazilian daily, used the contraptions to do some overhead “reporting” of protests in Sao Paulo. In February the Tigre municipality in Argentina outside Buenos Aires began using the devices to track and film criminal acts and natural disasters. Indeed, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police is developing its own drone,the Metrocopter!
Based on requirements weapon elements will have to be ready for laboratory test by October 2014, while they must reach readiness for test on a plane and in simulated operational environment by 2022. Three new laser devices are to be created: small power marking laser, that would act as a marker and as a blinding weapon against the optical sensors of the enemy planes; medium power laser that is to be used against air-2-air missiles; and a high power device to act as an offensive weapon. The weapon is to be operable up to 65,000 feet of altitude and within a speed envelope of Mach 0.6 – 2.5.
Using 3D printing, A British artist has produced prototypes of “frankenstein-esque hybrid organs” that could hypothetically solve a variety of serious human health problems. Agatha Haines from the Royal College of Art 3D-printed organs utilizing advantageous features of rattlesnakes, leeches, and electric eels. Using the electrolyte cells from an electric eel, Haines created an ‘organic defibrillator’ (she dubbed it Electrostabilis Cardium). If this hybrid organ recognized signs of cardiac failure, it could deliver a shock of 600 volts to restart the heart.
Creative or invasive? A controversial new technology allows retailers to gather information about customers through their smartphones as they shop. The technology taps into shoppers’ wifi signals, and can detect a shopper’s location in the store, how long they spend in certain departments, and how often they visit the store. It’s a deal for marketers looking to collect information, but it’s a deal-breaker for privacy advocates. “It’s just one layer of privacy after another being peeled off,” said Mark Bonner, associate professor of law at Ave Maria School of Law. “The potential for abuse is gigantic.”
The network will use “behavior-based analytics” to monitor the activity of soldiers, according to National Defense Magazine, citing Maj. Gen. Alan Lynn. In particular, the army plans to target employees who have just started or are about to leave their job, as they are seen as most likely to leak information. The system will be able to detect a range of behaviors, including how many emails someone sends per day, and the amount of information that person downloads.
Satellite imagery has revealed two unusually large artillery pieces, measuring about 80 ft and 110 ft respectively, at a test centre for armour and artillery northwest of Baotou in China. China has historically shown interest in large calibre, long-range artillery. It experimented with the Xianfeng ‘supergun’ in the 1970s as part of Project 640 anti-ballistic missile programme. Approximately 85 ft long, Xianfeng may be the smaller of the two objects retained for experimental use after its cancellation in 1980.
ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection system used in roughly 80 cities around the globe (70 of them in the U.S.), is joining the game. An unnamed Oakland charter school will be the first one in the country to use the ShotSpotter SiteSecure system, which is capable of detecting that a gun has been fired and where it was fired by using a network of microphones, then communicating that information to law enforcement. in the event a gun is fired, a strategically placed acoustic sensor—in a hallway, classroom, or cafeteria—will send a gunshot report to an “incident review center,” where an “acoustic expert” will be responsible for determining whether the detected noise is actually a gunshot.
The “OptimEyes” system will be rolled out into 450 Tesco gas stations. They will be exposed to millions of customers a week, and privacy advocates are up in arms. Amscreen chief executive, told industry magazine The Grocer: “Yes it’s like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible.” Among the creep-outs of the OptimEyes technology: it lumps you into one of three age brackets based on gender. And, there is technology already available that can match people’s faces to their Facebook profiles and create custom ads based on their Likes.
DARPA is seeking to understand more about how the brain works in the hope of developing effective therapies for troops and veterans. It has announced a new project called the Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS). SUBNETS is inspired by Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a surgical treatment that involves implanting a brain pacemaker in the patient’s skull to interfere with brain activity to help with symptoms of diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. DARPA’s device will be similar, but rather than targeting one specific symptom, it will be able to monitor and analyse data in real time and issue a specific intervention according to brain activity.
South Korea has developed its first radar-absorbing paint to camouflage its warships, fighter jets and tanks to help them bypass detection, a local university institute said in its latest efforts to arm the nation’s weapons with stealth features. Stealth technology has been considered one of the key features that raise survivability during wartime, with many countries developing related technologies, designs and materials. The radar-absorbing material can be applied with a spray to make it lighter, durable and cheaper than the current tile- or sheet-type electromagnetic wave absorbers made of an iron mixture.
While the revelations of Snowden open new fronts of Datagate for Usa, interesting details emerge on electronic intelligence system of Russia. Different lenses but a common risk, you need to stop now. Thus there are at least 3 versions of the Russian system: Sorm-1 for the interception of fixed and mobile phones; Sorm-2 for the surveillance of the Internet; Sorm-3 that collects information from all forms of communication that are stored for a long period of time. Among the information collected there are both content (recordings of telephone conversations, text messages, email) and metadata (time, duration and location of the call or connection, etc..).
E2V has developed a non-lethal weapon that can disable the engines of motor vehicles and small boats at a distance of up to 50m in under three seconds. Dubbed RF Safe-Stop, the unit, which weighs approximately 350kg, has so far been integrated into Nissan Nevara and Toyota Land Cruisers and is designed to temporarily disable a vehicle’s electronic systems and bring it to a halt. Such systems are said to be particularly suited to stopping vehicles suspected as being used as car bombs.
While police departments today aren’t even close to eliminating crime altogether, they are developing something akin to digital versions of precogs. Thanks to innovations in data analysis and surveillance technology, law enforcement officials are increasingly able to predict who will commit crimes, when they will be committed, and where — long before they have occurred. And as these technologies become more widespread among law enforcement agencies, they’re raising some serious questions about the implications of pre-emptive policing.
Thanks to personal genomics companies like 23andMe, it’s becoming quicker and easier for us to find out who we are. But will the same technology one day allow us to decide who our babies will be — before they’re even born? That’s the question raised by a newly issued patent, which grants 23andMe rights to a system that allows parents to pick and choose their children’s traits prior to undergoing fertility treatment. The system, according to the patent, could be used to “[identify] a preferred donor among the plurality of donors,” based on genetic information.
For example, in some schemes a DNA “fog” might be used to spray violent protesters when there are not enough law enforcement personnel to immediately subdue the lot of them. That tag will be unique, and mark anyone who bears it, at least for a while. Over time however, the signal will spread and degrade. Multiple tags could be used to mark multiple events or increase reliability of a single event. Clearly though, finding a way to contain your marking agent at the outset is the cleanest option.
With an eye toward letting drones share the nation’s common airspace, the Air Force has set out to find the technology that will let unmanned aircraft sense and avoid other airplanes in flight. The ability to sense and avoid – common on all manned aircraft that fly the national airspace — is one of the trickier issues for drones which do not support such technology. It will be a major hurdle to jump as drone vendors and others press for common drone access to national airspace.
From the FBI: “Beta Bot infection vectors include an illegitimate but official looking Microsoft Windows message box named “User Account Control” that requests a user’s permission to allow the “Windows Command Processor” to modify the user’s computer settings. If the user complies with the request, the hackers are able to infiltrate data from the computer. Beta Bot is also spread via USB thumb drives or online via Skype, where it redirects the user to compromised websites.
We all know that, since the end of the Cold War, the US military has vastly expanded its ability to precisely strike targets on the land. The dirty secret is that we’ve unilaterally disarmed our capability to strike ships at sea.
The military calls this a “capability gap,” but it’s more like a gaping hole. Specifically, it’s a hole in the long-range arsenal required to wage a future “Air-Sea Battle” against an “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD) defense-in-depth backed by a capable naval force like China’s.
From DARPA: “The objective of the XS-1 program is to design, build, and demonstrate a reusable Mach 10 aircraft capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that inserts 3,000- 5,000 lb. payloads into low earth orbit (LEO) at a target cost of less than $5M per launch. The XS-1 program envisions that a reusable first stage would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude. At that point, one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into Low Earth Orbit.
DARPA’s Insight program aims to take defense intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to the next level by creating the capability to meaningfully integrate disparate “stovepiped” source information into a unified picture of the battlefield. As DARPA’s capstone ISR processing program, Insight seeks to enable analysts to make sense of the huge volumes of intelligence-rich information available to them from existing sensors and data sources.
Eugenics is alive and well in British academia. Stephen Wilkinson, of Lancaster University, recently published “Eugenics and the Ethics of Selective Reproduction”, together with another bioethicist, Eve Garrard. Their focus is the moral challenges that IVF and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) offer to parents who want a child of a particular type. After carefully framing the arguments, they endorse: embryo selection techniques to avoid disease and disability in children, selecting embryos to produce a child with a disability such as deafness, and sex selection.
Neurobiologists at UC Irvine (UCI) have succeeded in creating new memories in the brains of rats. The same process should allow scientists to create memories in human (and other mammalian) brains, too. The UCI neurobiologists say that this is the first evidence that memories can be created by directly altered neurons in the cerebral cortex. To create the memory, the researchers played a series of test tones to the rodent test subjects. When a specific tone played, the researchers stimulated the nucleus basalis, releasing acetylcholine (ACh). This jolt of ACh then causes the cerebral cortex to turn that specific tone into a memory.
NATO is developing a device that stops suicide bombers’ vehicles before they can reach their targets. In a video released today, NATO researchers in Norway demonstrate the effectiveness of the weapon against cars, a jet ski, and a drone. The high-intensity electromagnetic beam stops a vehicle by interfering with its controls and turning off its engine. In the video above, you can see the beam halt an approaching car in a simulation of a military checkpoint. In another test, the beam-emitting device is mounted inside the back of a vehicle, and stops another car approaching from behind.
The PAK-DA is Russia’s answer to the newest stealth bombers being built in the United States by Boeing and Lockheed Martin . Equipping them with hypersonic weaponry just puts Russia on par with air defense technologies already being tested in the U.S. “PAK-DA will be equipped with all advanced types of precision guided weapons, including hypersonic,” the source told the newswire, adding that the bomber itself will be subsonic. Last week, Boris Obnosov, general director of the Tactical Missile Systems Corporation, revealed that Russia has developed a hypersonic missile.
Conventional satellites may be decent at their jobs, but they do have some drawbacks – the spacecraft themselves are quite expensive, getting them into orbit is also a costly process, and they can’t be reclaimed once they’re in use. Titan Aerospace, however, is offering an alternative that should have none of those problems. The company’s Solara unmanned high-altitude aircraft is intended to serve as an “atmospheric satellite,” autonomously flying in the sky’s upper reaches for as long as five years continuously.
“The promising S-500 air defence missile system is at the development stage. It’s planned to be deployed in 2017,” the source was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. The long-range system will be able to destroy targets even if they are in space and cover the whole Russian territory, the source added. Russia is developing more and more effective missile defence systems for use as a deterrent while opposing plans by the United States to build a missile defence shield in Europe.
The experts, looking at the scope for neuroscience in future military conflict, said researchers on the cutting edge of medical science should remember that their work could have other, more harmful uses. “However, understanding of the brain and human behavior, coupled with developments in drug delivery, also highlight ways of degrading human performance that could possibly be used in new weapons.” Rapid progress in the ability to map brain activity and manipulate its responses with stimulants could change the face of warfare, a panel of experts said.
When Kazakhstan’s Central Reference Laboratory opens in September 2015, the $102-million project laboratory will serve as a Central Asian way station for a global war on dangerous disease.“DOD’s involvement in biosurveillance goes back probably before DOD to the Revolutionary War,” Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, told American Forces Press Service last year. “We didn’t call it biosurveillance then, but monitoring and understanding infectious disease has always been our priority, because for much of our history, we’ve been a global force.”
Sit down for this one. Researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to send commands from one person’s brain to control a different person’s muscle movement. In technical terms, it’s the world’s first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface. How’d they do it? Vulcan mind meld? Nope, just the regular ol’ internet. What in the hell? Here’s how it went down: In one building, computational neuroscientist Rajesh Rao sat wearing an electroencephalography cap, which measures the brain’s electrical activity. Dr. Rao watched a simple computer game, firing a cannon at a target. At the right moment, Dr. Rao imagined moving his right hand to hit the “fire” button, being sure not to actually move his hand.
DARPA’s Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) program aims to provide an alternative approach to the top down focus of most military networks, which provide content over a common operating environment from the strategic to tactical level. Unfortunately, the tactical level is still a severely constrained communications environment, and often when deployed, networks may not have connectivity to higher headquarters and servers needed to provide the latest updates from other units in the area.
The federal government is perfecting software that will be able to pick suspects out of a crowd through facial recognition, and while we’re sure it’ll prove itself very useful for finding terrorists, it’s kind of horrifying all the same–especially since they might make it available for use by your neighborhood police. The crowd-scanning project is called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System, the New York Times reports, and will be known as BOSS, because if there’s one thing our government loves more than chipping away at our privacy, it’s hyper-masculine acronyms.
“We’re developing fully adaptive and autonomous capabilities that aren’t currently available in jammers,” said research engineer Stan Sutphin. “We believe a cognitive electronic warfare approach, based on machine-learning algorithms and sophisticated hardware, will result in threat-response systems that offer significantly higher levels of electronic attack and electronic protection capabilities, and will provide enhanced security for U.S. combat aircraft.” As the engagement progresses, the next-generation system is designed to adapt. It will assess how effective its jamming is against the threat and quickly modify its approach if necessary.
The military’s advanced research group recently put out a call, or Request For information, on how it could develop systems that go beyond machine learning, Bayesian techniques, and graphical technology to solve “extraordinarily difficult recognition problems in real-time.” What DARPA is interested in is looking at mimicking a portion of the brain known as the neocortex which is utilized in higher brain functions such as sensory perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language. Specfically, DARPA said it is looking for information that provides new concepts and technologies for developing what it calls a “Cortical Processor” based on Hierarchical Temporal Memory.
This week, Boeing announced that its “Thin Disk Laser” system surpassed the DoD’s requirements for the RELI system. It takes a series of commercial solid-state lasers and integrates them to produce one concentrated high-energy beam. Leveraging commercially available lasers provides a number of benefits like keeping costs down and ensuring they need minimal support and maintenance. Boeing said blasts from its Thin Disk Laser surpassed 30 kilowatts in power, more than 30 percent over DOD standards and enough to do some serious damage to a battlefield threat.
The US Department of Transportation has high hopes of standardizing the way autos talk to each other and with other intelligent roadway systems of the future. The department recently issued a call for public and private researchers and experts to help it build what the DOT called “a hypothetical four layer approach to connected vehicle devices and applications certification.” The idea is to develop certification ensures that different components of intelligent travel systems that are manufactured according to connected vehicle technology requirements will be trusted by the system and by users, the DOT stated.
ShotSpotter, the dominant gunfire detection technology on the market, gathers data from a network of acoustic sensors placed at 30-foot elevation under a mile apart. To cut costs, most cities use the sensors only in selected areas. The system filters the data through an algorithm that isolates the sound of gunfire. If shots are fired anywhere in the coverage area, the software triangulates their location to within about 10 feet and reports the activity to the police dispatcher.
The operation, “Project Quantum Leap,” is run by the Washington office of the Tampa-based command. Under the program, officials experimented with using social media monitoring tools in a major money laundering case being investigated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s bulk cash smuggling center, according an unclassified report obtained by Aftergood. Special Operations Command used tools from roughly a dozen companies. The report said the first experiment “was successful in identifying strategies and techniques for exploiting open sources of information, particularly social media, in support of a counter threat finance mission,”
A taste of the future: Bionic eye will receive software updates to enable color vision, increased resolution
Providing us with a delightful glimpse of the future of humanity and bionic implants, Second Sight — the developer of the first bionic eye to receive FDA approval in the US — is currently working on a firmware upgrade that gives users of the Argus II bionic eye better resolution, focus, and image zooming. The software update even provides users with color recognition, even though the original version of the device only provides black and white vision. The Argus II, to give its proper classification, is a retinal prosthesis.
Sailing off Virginia Beach, Va., from July 13 to 18, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Research Vessel (R/V) Knorr explored ocean and atmospheric weather variations that can change the angle that radar and radio waves bend, making it more difficult for ships to remain undetected and hindering their ability to communicate or locate adversaries. Researchers used ONR-owned ScanEagle UAVs—along with unmanned undersea and surface vehicles—to obtain accurate, real-time measurements of variations in atmospheric and ocean conditions.
Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone
Researchers at Harvard University have created the first noninvasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) between a human… and a rat. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.
Early Warning System (EWS), and its adjunct, Early Response (ER) have had their origins since olden times when in primitive societies people were keen to know about future untoward developments that could cause harm and destruction to their peaceful way of life. However after the World War II, the concept matured and saw its application and practice in a more systematic way. Following globalisation and increased use of technology the ability to forecast incipient disasters (natural and man-made) together with social conflicts these EWS have considerably improved.
‘Neural dust’ brain implants could revolutionize brain-machine interfaces and allow large-scale data recording
In a potential neuroscience breakthrough, University of California Berkeley scientists have proposed a system that allows for thousands of ultra-tiny “neural dust” chips to be inserted into the brain to monitor neural signals at high resolution and communicate data highly efficiently via ultrasound. The neural dust design promises to overcome a serious limitation of current invasive brain-machine interfaces (BMI): the lack of an implantable neural interface system that remains viable for a lifetime.
Few outside the intelligence community had heard of activity-based intelligence until December, when the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency awarded BAE Systems $60 million to develop products based on this newish methodology. But ABI, which focuses not on specific targets but on events, movements and transactions in a given area, is rapidly emerging as a powerful tool for understanding adversary networks and solving quandaries presented by asymmetrical warfare and big data.
Now that both Microsoft and Sony have announced new platform offerings, details are starting to slowly emerge, and biometrics have come up in conversations more than once –most recently, in regards to the Xbox One and its use of facial recognition ad-targeting.
According to an interview in SickTwiddlers, through the system’s Kinect camera, ads can be targeted based on who is seen sitting in front of the console and is something the company has considered very seriously. Dashboard advertisements are a core part of the Xbox experience.
ShotSpotter’s main target is criminal violence. It can report the street address, as well as number of shots, type of weapon used, and even the speed and direction the shooter is moving. All this happens even if no one has called 911 — allowing police to more effectively respond to both reported and unreported incidents. This is more important than you might think, since less than 20% of all gunshots in cities are reported. Even when shots are reported, the caller is often uncertain of exactly where or when they occurred. SST reports crime decreases of up to 40% in cities where its system is in use.
It sounds like a high tech gadget out of a James Bond movie: a telescopic contact lens that lets you zoom in on the world. But it’s real, and it could soon be available to everyday consumers, according to New Scientist. Developed by Eric Tremblay and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the cyborg-like contact lens’ utilize a central unmagnified optical path that is surrounded by a ring of optics. Liquid crystal shutters, which would be controlled by the user, can then block one or another of these optical paths, so the view can be magnified. In other words, the user can effectively zoom in and out on objects like a camcorder.
Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed what could become low-cost, X-ray vision. The system, known as “Wi-Vi,” is based on a concept similar to radar and sonar imaging, but rather than using high-power signals, this tech uses reflected Wi-Fi signals to track the movement of people behind walls and closed doors. When a Wi-Fi signal is transmitted at a wall, a portion of that signal penetrates through and reflects off any humans that happen to be moving around in the other room.
In an attempt to “secretly sicken opponents of Israel” and presumably star as the bad guys in a barely believable action movie, two guys from New York have been accused by the FBI of assembling a portable X-Ray weapon that would shoot lethal doses of radiation. Seriously. They were going to sell it to Jewish organizations or the KKK. The two guys—49 year old Glendon Scott Crawford, a GE industrial mechanic, and 54 year old Eric J. Feight, a GE contractor—had actually managed to assemble the damn thing.
By 2045, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers — or at least that’s what some futurists believe. This notion formed the basis for the Global Futures 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 14-15.
The conference, which is the brainchild of Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov, fell somewhere between hardcore science and science fiction. It featured a diverse cast of speakers, from scientific luminaries like Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and Marvin Minsky, to Swamis and other spiritual leaders.
The popular image of modern warfare is the digital battlefield where cyber soldiers have Terminator-like video displays and can call in an airstrike with the shine of a laser beam. While information technologies are revolutionizing the military, when it comes to calling in Close Air Support (CAS), it’s still World War One – where a misread or misheard grid reference can end up with soldiers being hit by their own artillery. DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program hopes to improve this.
A smartphone app that launches this week gives the health insurance company Aetna access to detailed user health-tracking data. As costs spiral upward, health-care companies could turn to such apps as a way to monitor customers and encourage healthy behavior.
At MIT Technology Review’s Mobile Summit in San Francisco last week, Martha Wofford, consumer platform vice president at Aetna, said the company would launch an app called CarePass to serve as a portal for an individual’s health-related activity and, if he allows it, his medical records, too.
Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ has been covertly gathering information from leading internet companies through a secret US spy programme, it was reported today.
The Guardian said that it had obtained documents showing that GCHQ had access to the Prism system, set up by America’s National Security Agency (NSA), since at least June 2010. The documents were said to show that the British agency, had generated 197 intelligence reports through the system in the 12 months to May 2012 – a 137 per cent increase on the previous year.
A study out today from the University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Neural Engineering demonstrates that at least five humans/subjects are up to the task of steering a quadcopter through some balloon hoops in a gymnasium using just thoughts. The task is conceptually simple enough, but the team didn’t know if it would work at all. “I was not sure we were even able to do it,” Professor Bin He, the study’s lead author, but I was surprised by the excellent performance we were able to accomplish with this group of subjects.”
The Obama administration may be shifting control of the country’s drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Pentagon, but robots can still find jobs at Langley — as writers, apparently. Naturally, Narrative Science raised many questions about the impact on journalism: Will we still need writers to pen rote accounts of the day’s events if robots can do the job just fine? Should more journalists move away from the “here’s what happened” to the “here’s why it matters”? And so on.
A LEADING asteroid defense expert has claimed nuclear warheads could be sent into orbit on spacecrafts to destroy dangerous Earth-bound asteroids – and Nasa is already working on projects that could be developed for such events.
Bong Wie, director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Centre in Iowa, described the system at the International Space Development Conference in California last week, in which he explained that an anti-asteroid spacecraft would carry a nuclear warhead to destroy asteroids that were on a collision course with the planet Earth.
The Australian and German officials are concerned with the “always on” camera and privacy policies of Xbox One. Software giant Microsoft revealed in the unveiling of Xbox One is the console’s always ‘on’ Kinect camera is being questioned by activities concerned with privacy. While Microsoft maintains that the company has “very, very good policies around privacy,” it’s a fact that the Kinect camera is always listening and watching even in a low powered state.
India has launched an ambitious programme to use its array of geo-stationary satellites (G-sats) to monitor missile activities in an area of 6,000 km. With this, the country’s constellation of G-sats will become the first line of defence in its anti-missile shield. This programme is independent of the observation grid installed by defence and intelligence agencies. The advantage of using geo-stationary satellites is their fixed position at a height of 36,000 km and synchronised with the earth’s movement.
Like an army, science needs the high ground. This is true when it comes to oil exploration and especially so in the rugged landscape of Norway. The Virtual Outcrop Geology (VOG) group at the Norwegian Centre for integrated petroleum research (CIPR) is working to capture this vantage point in a distinctly 21st century way, by using UAVs to seek out oil by helping geologists build 3D models of the terrain. We tend to think of oil exploration as taking place on desert plains or out in the ocean, but finding oil deposits depends on having a comprehensive understanding of local geology
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wednesday offered to help private businesses zero in on the zero-day vulnerabilities being used to compromise their networks. The DHS pitch: We’ll share intelligence gleaned from the U.S. government’s vast stockpile of zero-day vulnerabilities — purchased from bug hunters and resellers — to help block zero-day threats. gPrivate businesses would pay for the service, which would be offered by telecommunications firms and defense contractors.
The process that created Dolly the sheep in 1996 has now been proven successful in humans. Scientists have made an embryonic clone of a person, using DNA from that person’s skin cells. In the future, such a clone could be a source of stem cells, for super-personalized therapies made from people’s own DNA.
It’s unlikely that this clone could develop into a human, say the scientists, a team of biologists from the U.S. and Thailand. The team plans to publish a paper in the future detailing why not, Nature reported.
Master Of All Remotes: (ONR) has developed a remote controller for military ground, air and undersea unmanned systems
This Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)-prescribed data model is a piece of software that enabled development of the Common Control System, which is comprised of many different common control services. TheUnmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Control Segment (UCS) software can be added to any unmanned system to make it able to communicate and work with any other. It will run on any type of platform or hardware, and it can overlay existing systems running on propriety software to make them work with any others.
Russia is developing a hypersonic weapon program. It involves more than 60 companies and is scheduled for completion this summer. Launched in the former USSR, hypersonic weapon research was resumed in post-Soviet Russia in 2009 under the umbrella of the state-owned Tactical Missiles Corporation.
Hypersonic missiles can travel at a speed surpassing that of sound (1,200 km/h) by ten or more times and are capable of penetrating any missile defense, says Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy head of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis in Moscow.
The FBI is asking for is the ability to fine those companies that don’t comply with a wiretap order, even if they’re technically unable to do so within a time limit set by the FBI.
In other words, if you can’t provide the feds with a back door to your system, the government will keep piling on fines until you go out of business. The idea, of course, is to compel companies that provide secure communications to also build in a means for the feds carry out get their wiretaps.
Enter the Drone Shield, created by an aerospace engineer who is seeking backing on Indigogo to bring the device to market. Essentially, the Drone Shield is built around the wildly popular Raspberry Pi, along with a signal processor, microphone and analysis software to scan for specific audio signatures. The Shield is apparently capable of comparing recorded audio signatures against sounds created by known drone aircraft. When the system identifies a specific drone, it alerts the user via e-mail or SMS.
A team of scientists in China has created hybrid viruses by mixing genes from H5N1 and the H1N1 strain behind the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and showed that some of the hybrids can spread through the air between guinea pigs. The results are published inScience1. Flu hybrids can arise naturally when two viral strains infect the same cell and exchange genes. This process, known as reassortment, produced the strains responsible for at least three past flu pandemics, including the one in 2009. There is no evidence that H5N1 and H1N1 have reassorted naturally yet, but they have many opportunities to do so.
Should Facebook, Google and similar sites be forced to adapt their infrastructure so that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies can easily tap suspects’ communications in real time? That’s the impetus behind new wiretap guidelines being drawn up by a government panel, according to the Washington Post. The draft guidelines, championed by the FBI, would allow courts to impose escalating fines on any business that didn’t immediately comply with a court-ordered request for real-time communications interception, regardless of whether the Web service provider said such interception was technically feasible.
Areva has secured a contract from the Korean KAERI/DAEWOO consortium to supply nuclear fuel elements for the Jordan Research and Training Reactor (JRTR), which is currently being built in Jordan. Under the deal, Areva will supply nuclear fuel for the first reactor core and a reload batch. After completion, the JRTR will generate thermal power of about 5MW, which can be extended further to 10MW in the future. France-based Areva said the power will be used for neutron beam research, neutron irradiation services like medical radioisotope production, and training of Jordanian engineers and scientists.
The technologies of interest are potential “game-changers”: biotechnologies (e.g., human enhancements), energy (e.g., lasers and superefficient batteries), materials (e.g., 3D printing), hardware (e.g., robots), and software (e.g., electromagnetic and cyberweapons). But this particular wargame was dedicated to their ethics, policy, and legal issues, helping to identify friction points as well as to test how they can be integrated better in national-security planning and military-technology development.
The U.S. government is testing drones that are a civil rights double whammy – not only can they spy on you from above, but they can also determine whether you’re carrying a gun.
The drone will be able to “distinguish between unarmed and armed (exposed) personnel.” Citizens carrying around an assault rifle or a holster might send up a red flag, but people with concealed weapons will evade the drone’s gun-seeking camera. The Oklahoma Training Center for Unmanned Systems, a unit of the University Multispectral Laboratories under Oklahoma State University and Anchor Dynamics, has been performing research with the new drone.
After successful demonstrations of UAV shootdowns by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, the Navy looks to put laser systems to the test in the real world, installing a laser defense system on the U.S.S. Ponce. The U.S.S. Ponce is an amphibious transport dock class vessel used in joint land-sea operations with the U.S. Marines. The vessel was originally commissioned in 1971, built by Lockheed’s Lockheed Shipbuilding unit (which closed prior to Lockheed’s merger to become Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)).
The production of embryos using sperm and eggs generated with stem cells rather than through sex would also be useful in studying genetic diseases and for drug testing. But Dr Sparrow points out that it would be splendid for eugenics. Generations of people could be created in Petri dishes, eliminating unsatisfactory genes in the quest for better human beings. “In effect,” he writes enthusiastically, “scientists will be able to breed human beings with the same (or greater) degree of sophistication with which we currently breed plants and animals.”
In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner.The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners’ brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.
Electroencephalography, which is widely known as a medical diagnostic test has more potential uses. An EEG device is typically a headset with a small number of electrodes placed on different parts of the skull in order to detect the electrical signals made by your brainwaves.
One company, Government Works Inc., is developing BCI headsets for lie detection and criminal investigations. By measuring a person’s responses to questions and images, the company claims to be able to determine whether that person has knowledge of certain information or events (leading to conclusions, for instance, about whether that person was at a crime scene).
Whether it’s rescue rat-bots or bomb-sniffing beetle drones, electronics are helping us create new beasts of burden, allowing us to conscript creatures into the modern animal workforce. These animals’ brains are being taken hostage, their nervous systems forced to cooperate with our plans. As Maharbiz wrote in an account of his research, “[W]e wanted to be sure we could deliver signals directly into the insect’s own neuromuscular circuitry, so that even if the insect attempted to do something else, we could provide a countercommand. Any insect that could ignore our commands would make for a crummy robot.”
During his nearly half-hour talk, CIA CTO Ira Hunt said that the agency is interested in “really big data,” or storage capacity on a scale unlike anything currently existing on the planet, so they can “connect the dots” with what’s happening in real time.“Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”“It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information,” he added, explaining that nearly all mobile phones now contain a camera, a microphone, a light sensor, an accelerometer and GPS, among other sensors.
At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation’s intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Within a couple of generations, competing with the Chinese on an intellectual level will be like challenging Lena Dunham to a getting-naked-on-TV contest.
The researchers at the government’s “high-risk, high-payoff research” group, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) want to know how alternate reality environments such as games in particular can help it develop “high-quality behavioral and psychological research in near real-world contexts.”
The UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is said to be soon testing a superdrone called Taranis. The drone is designed to fly intercontinental missions at supersonic speeds, undected by radar—and almost completely free of human direction. Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is a £142.5 million ($223.25 million) project under development by British aerospace firm BAE and the MoD since December 2006. BAE says Taranis will “push the boundaries” of stealth and autonomy.
Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons. His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.
More than 10 years ago, U.S. Army researchers saw potential in flexible displays. With nothing in the marketplace, the Army decided to change that by partnering with industry and academia to create the Flexible Display Center at Arizona State University.
The Army’s goal was to get this amazing technology into the hands of Soldiers. The Army established a research center with industry and universities in 2004. Fast forward nine years. Teams of researchers have scored significant breakthroughs and racked up more than 50 patents. The original goal of the program may soon be met.
The increasing power and accessibility of genetic technology may one day give parents the option of modifying their unborn children, in order to spare offspring from disease or, conceivably, make them tall, well muscled, intelligent or otherwise blessed with desirable traits.
Would this change mean empowering parents to give their children the best start possible? Or would it mean designer babies who could face unforeseen genetic problems? Experts debated on Wednesday evening (Feb. 13) whether prenatal engineering should be banned in the United States.
Philadelphia Courts Begin Using Computer Forecasts to Predict Future Criminal Behavior, Determine Jail Time
Judges in the Philadelphia court system are now taking advantage of powerful new computer models to help determine how much jail time an offender should get. Computers have been forecasting weather and economic trends for years, but applying algorithms to human behavior is relatively new. University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Berk, a pioneer in the field, his forecasts, which use an algorithm to predict whether someone will offend again, have been used by city probation and parole officers for about three years, to decide how much supervision a defendant needs.
The EU and a large Israeli military contractor are co-funding research to build drones that can stop moving boats and cars.
Launched in January, the three-year-long Aeroceptor project, according to its own literature, aims to help law enforcement authorities to stop “non-cooperative vehicles in both land and sea scenarios by means of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”
Israel’s ministry of public security, global weapons manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries and Israeli-based Rotem Technological Solutions are among the list of 12 participants, most of which are based in the EU.
The U.K. plans to install an unspecified number of spy devices along the country’s telecommunications network to monitor Britons’ use of overseas services such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a report published Tuesday by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.
The devices—referred to as “probes” in the report—are meant to underpin a nationwide surveillance regime aimed at logging nearly everything Britons do online, from Skype calls with family members to visits to pornographic websites. The government argues that swift access to communications data is critical to the fight against terrorism and other high-level crime.
The European Commission has selected the Human Brain Project (HBP) as one of its Future and Emerging Technologies and will send it up to €1.19b over ten years so it can build a supercomputer capable of simulating the human brain.
The HBP wants to build a simulated brain because we don’t know enough about our grey matter. The project’s web site says we lack even a “casual understanding of the way [brain] events … produce cognition and behaviour,” while more than a century of research has yielded little understanding of “how changes in the synapses between neurons help us to remember important events in our past”.
All personal information stored by British internet users on major “cloud” computing services including Google Drive can be spied upon routinely without their knowledge by US authorities under newly-approved legislation, it can be disclosed.
Cloud computing has exploded in recent years as a flexible, cheap way for individuals, companies and government bodies to remotely store documents and data. According to some estimates, 35 per cent of UK firms use some sort of cloud system. But it has now emerged that all documents uploaded on to cloud systems based in the US or falling under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analysed without a warrant by American security agencies.
The United States of America is planning to establish a drone base in Niger, a country sandwiched between Nigeria and Mali, two nations that have been under attack from Islamic militants.
The drone base, according to a report in last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, will give the US military command increased unmanned surveillance missions on the activities of Boko Haram and other extremist groups in West Africa that are affiliated to Al Qaeda and other sectarian groups.
Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park and Towson University are reporting that they have created multiple universes inside a laboratory-created multiverse — a world first.
To be exact, the researchers created a metamaterial — like those used to fashion invisibility cloaks — that, when light passes through it, multiple universes are formed within it. These universes, called Minkowski spacetimes, are similar to our own, except they more neatly tie up Einstein’s theory of special relativity by including time as a fourth dimension.
A new DARPA program called VAPR, for Vanishing Programmable Resources, is seeking to create “transient electronics” that can ‘vapr’ize themselves when they’re no longer being used:
“Transient electronics developed under VAPR should maintain the current functionality and ruggedness of conventional electronics, but, when triggered, be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings. Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them.”
It’s ever so hard to not write about DARPA when it keeps doing so much cool stuff. Today, we’ve got an update on the Phoenix program, which aims to create a new network of communications satellites by sending up robots to harvest body parts from old communications satellites. Insert space zombie joke here.*
A big part of the reason that satellites are so expensive is that getting them from Earth into space takes rockets, and rockets don’t come cheap. And not matter how carefully you build your hardware, sooner or later it’s going to fail or go obsolete, and from that point on, your space-based investment is useless to everybody.
This startlingly orange gun isn’t something from a sci-fi film set. Instead, it’s a new firearm, from UK-based Selectamark, that fires non-lethal pellets—and marks its targets with DNA for later identification.
Designed for use by police and military, the gun fires soft little green pellets, pictured below. Weighing just one gram, when they hit a target they leave an enduring biological mark.