After a former NSA contractor revealed extensive US government data mining operations, pundits, activists, and journalists proclaimed “I’m outraged the government would do this!” But there was also another type of response, though more muted. Some of us said “I sure as hell hope the government is doing this.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to understand the science behind human violence; and then find ways to alter an enemy's thoughts by implanting false, but believable stories in their brains. The goal is to create a more peaceful scenario: We're your friend, not your enemy.
I was quick to tweet and post on Facebook about the Guardian and the Washington Post’s stories about the NSA’s PRISM program – a program described as giving the NSA access to the data of hundreds of millions of internet users via direct access to servers at Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and other internet companies.
Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious—and revealing—is “aiding the enemy.” The forces that top U.S. officials routinely denounce as “the enemy” will never threaten the power of the USA’s dominant corporate-military elites. But the unnamed “enemy” aided by Bradley Manning’s courageous actions—the people at the grassroots who can bring democracy to life beyond rhetoric—are a real potential threat to that power.
Warfare is no stranger to world history. It has become a byproduct of life itself, though is becoming less of a presence as greater activities emerge, i.e. new developing markets, scientific research, and exponentially growing technologies. For what’s left of warfare in our modern age is being coupled with the growing market of new advanced technologies, particularly that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka: drones.
Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee hearing on drones was not your usual droning and yammering. Well, mostly it was, but not entirely. Of course, the White House refused to send any witnesses. Of course, most of the witnesses were your usual professorial fare. But there was also a witness with something to say. Farea Al-Muslimi came from Yemen. His village had just been hit by a drone strike last week.
The US House of Representatives revitalized efforts to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which never got the approval of the Senate last year. Yesterday the bill passed by a margin of 288 to 127 after two days of debate, which included the potential of malicious cyber attacks raining down on American power grids and disrupting livelihoods.
In the year 2025, a rogue state—long suspected of developing biological weapons—now seems intent on using them against U.S. allies and interests. Anticipating such an event, we have developed a secret “counter-virus” that could infect and destroy their stockpile of bioweapons. Should we use it?
The National Museum of American History, and a billionaire who has funded a new exhibit there, would like you to know that we’re going to need more wars if we want to have freedom. Never mind that we seem to lose so many freedoms whenever we have wars. Never mind that so many nations have created more freedoms than we enjoy and done so without wars. In our case, war is the price of freedom.
The moment one argues in favor of liberalizing drugs people accuse him of being a drug addict: i have not drugs, do not do drugs and do not intend to do drugs. I care for my brain. Just like i do not smoke because i care for my lungs and i do not eat junk food because i care for my heart.
“The Terminator” is clearly science fiction, but it speaks to a deep intuition that the robotization of warfare is a slippery slope—the endpoint of which can neither be predicted nor fully controlled. Two reports released soon after the November 2012 election have propelled the issue of autonomous killing machines onto the political radar.
I have been asked to post a few “David Brin Classics”.... some of my older riffs and rants… here online for a new generation to share and ponder. I’ve been mulling which ones. Then the topic of the Second Amendment and gun control recently came up. Along with the observation that some liberals are starting to nurse fantasies of needing to be armed, themselves, in the era that they see coming down the road.
Earlier this month, a report funded by the Greenwall Foundation examined the legal and ethical implications of using biologically enhanced humans on the battlefield. Given the Pentagon's open acknowledgement that it's working to create super-soldiers, this is quickly becoming a pertinent issue. We wanted to learn more, so we contacted one of the study's authors. He told us that the use of cyber-soldiers could very well be interpreted as a violation of international law. Here's why.
Science fiction, or actual U.S. military project? Half a world away from the battlefield, a soldier controls his avatar-robot that does the actual fighting on the ground. Another one wears a sticky fabric that enables her to climb a wall like a gecko or spider would. Returning from a traumatic mission, a pilot takes a memory-erasing drug to help ward off post-traumatic stress disorder. Mimicking the physiology of dolphins and sled-dogs, a sailor is able to work his post all week without sleep and only a few meals.
This paper develops a mathematical modeling framework using fault trees and Poisson processes for analyzing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war from U.S. or Russian misinterpretation of false alarms in early warning systems, and for assessing the potential value of inadvertence risk reduction options. The model also uses publicly available information on early-warning systems, near-miss incidents, and other factors to estimate probabilities of a U.S.-Russia crisis, the rates of false alarms, and the probabilities that leaders will launch missiles in response to a false alarm. The paper discusses results, uncertainties, limitations, and policy implications.
I see a future that truly promises to change our world in imaginative ways. Already, nano-enhanced clothes have appeared with the look and feel of cotton, but stain-sweat-wrinkle free; offered by Dockers, Eddie Bauer, Gap, Old Navy and Perry Ellis. Future nano-clothes will be completely self-cleaning and will change texture and color on command.
As for the recent launch of a satellite by North Korea, upon a rocket with clear intercontinental potential, I can only repeat my earlier recommendation to the U.S. Administration. One important part of the solution to the “North Korea problem” would arise by announcing that the Hermit Kingdom’s actions will all be attributed and accounted to the legal responsibility of its biggest supporter, enabler and protector.
Telecommunications is an industry that is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, manifest not only in technological advances, but also the influence of regulation, legal policy, market forces, and security.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas extends into its second week, it has become quite clear that the renewed hostilities are markedly different that that ones that came before. Unlike previous engagements, this war has been characterized by the innovative use of new technologies — including rockets that target rockets, unmanned drones, and even social media. Given these early precedents, it’s fair to say that the means of war have changed yet again — but in a way that’s certainly not for the better.
In The American Way of War, historian Russell Weigley describes a grinding strategy of destruction employed by the U.S. military over the last 150 years. To end the Civil War, Grant felt he had to destroy lee’s soldiers; in World War I, Pershing relentlessly bombarded and wore down Germany’s proud fighting machine; and the Army Air Corps pulverized major German and Japanese cities to win World War II.
The democratic revolutions of the Middle East (Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and now Syria) actually started in Iran in 2009 when supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi protested loudly against rigged elections “won” by incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
If you’re anything like me, you grew up on Transformers, or maybe Gundam Wing; big battling robots that carved swaths of destruction wherever they went. While we’re not quite there yet, the military has been pouring a lot of money into robots, and the results might surprise you. The military has been pouring a lot of money into robots, and the results might surprise you. Let’s see what happens when the military gets into the robot game.
Exposure to some types of information can constrain one’s real options and impose responsibilities one might rather avoid. To set the stage for a flourishing culture of mind uploads, we need to enable people to live with a freedom from some kinds of potentially harmful information.
Expect increased nationalism, including the flexing of military muscle, from China between now and 2050. Although I predict a surge in nationalistic sentiment and policy-making, one cannot rule out the possibility that a great new peaceful Chinese civilisation could emerge towards the middle of the century which would benefit, rather than harm, humanity.