Surreal dystopian science fiction come to life: from the PBS Rise of the Drones series, the Pentagon’s ARGUS 1.8-billion-pixel surveillance sensor allows airborne drones to capture unending, minutely-detailed video streams of everything occurring far down below on Earth. The idea is to avoid “mistakes” like the killing of 23 Afghan civilians because a drone detected that one was holding an indeterminate object shaped somewhat like a rifle:
Tag Archives | Technology
This seems a little too pat and self-assured to me. Might as well be a prediction from The Amazing Criswell.
Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to take warfare to the next level of science fiction by integrating lasers into planes within two years. Gizmodo reports last week the Defense Department’s research wing announced it would integrate the HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) system, a solid state laser system light enough to be installed in bombers and fighters which would act as a defense mechanism, before the year is out. HELLADS delivers a 150kW charge which would be able to take out incoming surface-to-air missiles and other anti-aircraft ordinance. According to Dvice, the lasers would be usable on the ground as well and in an air to ground attack role.
Ah, the open road…no one around but you and the drone watching you. Via Yahoo! News:
Drones could help human workers safeguard the 4 million miles of U.S. highways crisscrossing the country. The flying robots could inspect bridges and roads, survey lands with laser mapping, and even alert officials to traffic jams or accidents.
One such project focused on studying the use of drones recently received $74,984 from the Federal Highway Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation. Researchers plan to spend the next year figuring out how drones could help workers as they go about inspecting and maintaining the safety of public roads and highways.
Georgia represents one of several states considering how civilian drones could do some jobs for transportation departments, the police and firefighters. Drones of all sizes and shapes could help safeguard state roads and bridges, said Javier Irizarry, director of the CONECTech Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The gadgets that you paid for control you, not the other way around. The Atlantic on the most ridiculous law of 2013:
Starting this weekend it is illegal to unlock new phones to make them available on other carriers. Seriously: It’s embarrassing and unacceptable that we are at the mercy of prosecutorial and judicial discretion to avoid the implementation of draconian laws that could implicate average Americans in a crime subject to up to a $500,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
When did we decide that we wanted a law that could make unlocking your smartphone a criminal offense? The answer is that we never really decided. Instead, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 to outlaw technologies that bypass copyright protections. In practice it has terrible, and widely acknowledged, negative consequences that affect consumers and new innovation. The DMCA leaves it up to the Librarian of Congress (LOC) to issue exemptions from the law, exceptions that were recognized to be necessary given the broad language of the statute.
In the near future, in certain regions of the world, denying someone internet will be considered a barbaric, criminal act. Computer World UK reports:
Internet access is crucial to everyday life and the loss of connectivity is deserving of financial compensation, the German Federal Court of Justice has ruled. Because having an internet connection is so significant for a large part of the German population, a customer whose service provider failed to provide connectivity between December 2008 and February 2009 is entitled to compensation.
The plaintiff was erroneously disconnected and demanded that the unnamed telecommunications company pay for costs that incurred in switching to a new provider. The plaintiff also demanded compensation of €50 per day for the period his was unable to use his DSL service.
Are you ready for a virtual personal assistant which “knows better than you” constantly injecting itself into your life? A preview of things to come, via Technology Review:
Famed AI researcher and singularity forecaster Ray Kurzweil recently shed some more light on what his new job at Google will entail. It seems that he does, indeed, plan to build a prodigious artificial intelligence, which he hopes will understand the world to a much more sophisticated degree than anything built before–or at least that will act as if it does.
Kurzweil’s AI will be designed to analyze the vast quantities of information Google collects and to then serve as a super-intelligent personal assistant. He suggests it could eavesdrop on your every phone conversation and email exchange and then provide interesting and important information before you ever knew you wanted it.
Body scans seem poised to move from the airports to the street corners. ANIMAL New York reports:
Just when we thought it was safe to assume that the NYPD’s decidedly unconstitutional Stop-and-Frisk policy might be on its way out, Commissioner Ray Kelly announced a major development yesterday: New York City, meet Scan-and-Frisk.
A new scanning device– which detects heat energy naturally emitted by humans– is to be deployed sometime in the near future. The device can fit in a police car or on a “suspicious” street corner, and can supposedly detect concealed weapons, which would block the natural radiation, from a great distance. Activation of the device will be considered probable cause for an officer to search a suspect more thoroughly.
The device is already being tested “with encouraging results at the NYPD range Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx,” with more testing soon, at unknown public locations. Whether the scanner can be activated by other (less lethal) inanimate objects has yet to be known.
It will be hard to resist robots if they are as adorable as these ones seem to be. CNET Asia writes:
The Robot Restaurant opened in Harbin in June and has taken the food and beverage industry in China further into the mechanized world. Robot Restaurant staffs a total of 20 robots as waiters, cooks and busboys.
Upon arrival, Usher Robot welcomes customers to the restaurant and directs them to the seating area. Patrons can then place their order, which is relayed by humans to one of the four the robot chefs who are able to cook various styles of dumplings and noodles. Waitress robots carry the food to customers by following a track that uses sensors placed under the floor for spatial awareness.
Venkat writes at Ribbonfarm:
Both science fiction and futurism seem to miss an important piece of how the future actually turns into the present. They fail to capture the way we don’t seem to notice when the future actually arrives.
Sure, we can all see the small clues all around us: cellphones, laptops, Facebook, Prius cars on the street. Yet, somehow, the future always seems like something that is going to happen rather than something that is happening; future perfect rather than present-continuous. Even the nearest of near-term science fiction seems to evolve at some fixed receding-horizon distance from the present.
There is an unexplained cognitive dissonance between changing-reality-as-experienced and change as imagined, and I don’t mean specifics of failed and successful predictions.
My new explanation is this: we live in a continuous state of manufactured normalcy. There are mechanisms that operate — a mix of natural, emergent and designed — that work to prevent us from realizing that the future is actually happening as we speak.