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« on: November 08, 2008, 12:28:32 PM »

CNN experiments with Hologram reporting
washingtonpost.com--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nearly 71 million viewers watched the United States elect its first African American president, across 14 television networks Tuesday night.

And about 13.3 million of them were treated to CNN star Anderson Cooper's historic interview with a hologram of Will.I.Am about the "Yes, We Can" video that the musician made for the Barack Obama election effort, and to Wolf Blitzer chatting with Chief Capitol Hill Hologram Jessica Yellin. She was beamed in from Chicago's Grant Park to talk about whether the crowd gathered there awaiting Obama's victory speech was excited. (They were, viewers learned while they pondered whether a CNN correspondent flickering blue around the edges was any less fair and balanced than a non-flickering CNN correspondent.)

CNN's 13.3 million viewers, garnered between the start of prime time at 8 and the end of President-elect Obama's speech at about 12:30 a.m., is not only the biggest audience in the cable net's 28-year history but also marks the first time the cable news network made a clean sweep of all the broadcast and cable networks on election night. Its closest competitor, ABC, logged 12.5 million in those same hours. NBC and CBS lagged with 12 million and 7.5 million, respectively.

Probably because the race was called so early -- 11 p.m. -- Tuesday's election night clocked about 10 million more people than watched 2000's controversial and endless matchup between George W. Bush and Al Gore. And it's about 12 million more than watched the 2004 election night face-off between President Bush and John Kerry.

More to the point, it's the biggest TV audience since February's Super Bowl, which averaged 97.5 million viewers.

During their Hologram Moment, Cooper asked Will.I.Am how he came up with the "Yes, We Can" video, which "really got an enormous play." But, again, here, it's unlikely anybody cared what Will.I.Am had to say in this, his gajillionth interview about the video -- nothing new, BTW -- being completely preoccupied as they were with the Black Eyed Pea in his new Beam-Me-Up-Scotty state.

The Post's Paul Farhi wondered whether Blitzer could have walked through Yellin, and yesterday asked CNN's senior vice president and Washington bureau chief David Bohrman, who was the guy behind the election-night bells and whistles.

Had Blitzer tried to walk through Yellin, besides being the height of rudeness, he would have blacked out, because in Hologram World, two people can't occupy the same space simultaneously, Bohrman assured Farhi.

Blitzer couldn't actually see Yellin standing a few feet in front of him, nor could Cooper see Will.I.Am. The two anchors saw their interview subjects via monitors, said Bohrman, who predicted it would be another dozen years before anchors could actually see their hologramterviews on the set. Right now, it's kind of like when your local weatherman points to clouds and low-pressure systems on the map he/she pretends to see but actually can't and is instead looking at the map on a monitor.

Had Blitzer walked behind Yellin, Bohrman noted, we could have seen a little of Blitzer through her. Try not to think about that; put it out of your mind.

And, the flickering blue edges were added to Yellin and Will.I.Am to make them look a little more like Princess Leia and a little less like Cokie Roberts in a trench coat over her evening dress pretending to be standing in front of the Capitol, Bohrman said.

The CNN exec said the hologramology technology makes sense when an anchor is trying to have a more intimate conversation with a correspondent than he can have if said correspondent is being mobbed by those annoying waving crowds. On the other hand, to make the hologram thing work, the correspondent, or Black Eyed Pea, has to be removed from the distracting crowd anyway, and put in a green-screen-ish tent in a studio, and surrounded by about 40 fixed HD cameras.

Bohrman said he had no plans to use hologramterviews again in the immediate future, calling them "an ornament on a tree" and not the centerpiece of CNN's election-night coverage.


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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 12:30:05 PM »


Enjoy surveillance while it is still visible 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Measures such as ID cards are a temporary measure before biometric technology becomes ubiquitous; That was the warning from security guru Bruce Schneier this week who claims that surveillance technology will get more sophisticated and, more importantly, smaller and harder to detect. "We live in a very unique time in our society. The cameras are everywhere and you can still see them," said Schneier, BT's chief security technology officer. "Five years ago they weren't everywhere, five years from now you are not going to see them."

As well as camera technology becoming less obtrusive, Schneier said that ID checks would also become less obvious and may not even require the obvious cooperation of the individual being checked. "Five years ago there weren't ID checks everywhere," he said. "But five or ten years from now they will happen in the background. It will be an Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip in your wallet, you won't even know its being checked."

Biometric technologies such as face recognition, or systems based on a particular type of mobile phone owned or even clothes, may also be used for identity checks. The increase in background ID checks means that the current debate around national ID cards in the UK is only a short-term issue, according to Schneier. "I know there are debates on ID cards everywhere but in a lot of ways, they are only very temporary. They are only a temporary solution till biometrics takes over," he said.

Eventually, even airports won't actually require people to show ID, as the checks will just happen in the background while you queue for check-in or move through the terminal. "When you walk into the airport they will know who you are. You won't have to show an ID – why bother? They can process you quicker," he said.

Schneier also amused the audience by admitting that he used an ID card that he had made himself to gain entry to the security event he was speaking at. "We all had to show an ID before we got our RSA badge. I actually showed one I made at home. They asked for a photo-ID not an ID that was endorsed by anyone. It is endorsed by me and I guarantee that it is correct," he said. "It works everywhere but airports I find."

The UK recently launched the first batch of its proposed national ID card scheme which is being mandated for foreign workers from November. The cards will slowly be applied to other groups, including eventually a voluntary national distribution but which will also include the addition of driving licences to the national ID database.
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2008, 01:47:59 PM »

First 'humanoid' robot that can mimic the facial expressions and lip movements of a human being
dailymail.co.uk
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scientists have created the first 'humanoid' robot that can mimic the facial expressions and lip movements of a human being.

'Jules' - a disembodied androgynous robotic head - can automatically copy the movements, which are picked up by a video camera and mapped on to the tiny electronic motors in his skin.

It can grin and grimace, furrow its brow and 'speak' as his software translates real expressions observed through video camera 'eyes'.

Jules is the first humanoid robot who can realistically mimic a real person's expressions merely by watching their face

Jules mimics the expressions by converting the video image into digital commands that make the robot's servos and motors produce mirrored movements.

And it all happens in real time as the robot can interpret the commands at 25 frames per second.

The project, called 'Human-Robot Interaction', was devised at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), run by the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.

A team of robotics engineers - Chris Melhuish, Neill Campbell and Peter Jaeckel - spent three-and-a-half years developing the breakthrough software to create interaction between humans and artificial intelligence.

Jules has 34 internal motors covered with flexible rubber ('Frubber') skin, which was commissioned from roboticist David Hanson in the US for BRL.

It was originally programmed to act out a series of movements - as can be seen in the video - where 'Jules' talks about 'destroying Wales'.

The technology works using ten stock human emotions - such as happiness, sadness, concern etc - that the team 'taught' Jules via programming.

The software then maps what it sees to Jules's face to combine expressions instantly to mimic those being shown by a human subject.

'We have a repertoire of behaviours that somehow is dynamic', Chris Melhuish said.

'If you want people to be able to interact with machines, then you've got to be able to do it naturally.

'When it moves, it has to look natural in the same way that human expressions are, to make interaction useful.'

Peter Jaeckel, who works in artificial emotion, artificial empathy and humanoids at BRL, said: 'Realistic, life-like robot appearance is crucial for sophisticated face-to-face robot-human interaction.

'Researchers predict that one day, robotic companions will work, or assist humans in space, care and education.

'Robot appearance and behaviour need to be well matched to meet expectations formed by our social experience.

'Violation of these expectations due to subtle imperfections or imbalance between appearance and behaviour results in discomfort in humans that perceive or observe the robot.

'If people were put off, it would counteract all efforts to achieve trustworthiness, reliability and emotional intelligence.

'All these are requirements for robotic companions, assisting astronauts in space or care robots employed as social companions for the elderly.

'Unlike most research projects, the focus lies on dynamic, subtle, facial expressions, rather than static exaggerated facial displays.

'Copycat robot heads have been created before, but never with realistic human-looking faces.'

But not everyone is impressed by Jules's mastery of mimicry.

Kerstin Dautenhahn, a robotics researcher at the University of Herefordshire, believes that people may be disconcerted by humanoid automatons that simply look 'too human'.

'Research has shown that if you have a robot that has many human-like features, then people might actually react negatively towards it,' she said.

'If you expose vulnerable people, like children or elderly people, to something that they might mistake for human, then you would automatically encourage a social relationship.

'They might easily be fooled to think that this robot not only looks like a human and behaves like a human, but that it can also feel like a human. And that's not true.'

It is hoped that the technology developed in Jules will help create robots for use in space, to accompany astronauts on solo missions, and in healthcare settings and nursing homes.

Watch a video of Jules here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S-fmKqwa98
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2008, 01:51:02 PM »

Australian web filter to block 10,000 internet sites

www.news.com.au/heraldsun
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Australia's mandatory net filter is being primed to block 10,000 websites as part of a blacklist of unspecified "unwanted content".

Some 1300 websites have already been identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Communications Minister Senator Conroy revealed details of the Rudd Government's proposed web filter as he called for expressions of interest from internet service providers (ISPs) for a live trial of the technology, the Courier-Mail reports.

ISPs will test ways to filter the web using volunteer subscribers. The trial will start before Christmas and is expected to last six weeks.

"The pilot will specifically test filtering against the ACMA blacklist of prohibited content, which is mostly child pornography, as well as filtering of other unwanted content," Senator Conroy told Parliament today.

"While the ACMA blacklist is currently around 1300 URLs, the pilot will test against this list - as well as filtering for a range of URLs to around 10,000 - so that the impacts on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined."

A spokesman for Mr Conroy later said: ''The pilot will provide an invaluable opportunity for ISPs to inform the Government’s approach.

''The live pilot will provide valuable real-world evidence of the potential impact on internet speeds and costs to industry and will help ensure we implement a filtering solution that is efficient, effective and easy for Australian families to use.''

An ACMA trial of web-filtering technology this year found it could slow internet access by as much as 87 per cent and by at least 2 per cent.

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Colin Jacobs said his civil liberties group was concerned at what would be deemed "unwanted content".

"It is unclear how ACMA will scale up their blacklist to 10,000 websites and what will go on the list," he said.

"Conroy said the list would contain illegal and unwanted content but we still have to see what would end up on that list.

"Under the current mandate that includes adult material, which would mean most material that could be rated R and, in some circumstances, material rated MA15+."
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2008, 01:54:28 PM »

Google Trends - What The World Is Searching And Thinking

canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/editorials/story.

Collective intelligence might be the most unreliable and elusive resource on the planet. But when someone does manage to tap it, it can be powerful.

Just think of Wikipedia, which has proven to be a broad, flexible and surprisingly accurate source of information, because anyone can edit it.

One of the most exciting new experiments in collective intelligence comes from Google. (Where else?) It's called Google Flu Trends. It monitors how often users in various parts of the United States enter certain phrases into its search engine: "flu symptoms", for example, or "chills."

Over time, the graph of flu-related searches is strikingly similar to the graph of documented flu outbreaks. If there's a spike in flu cases in late November in Maine, it will show up in Google searches as well as doctor's offices.

But the really exciting thing is that Google might know about the spike a week or two before public health authorities do, because people tend to search the Internet before they call their doctors. This means that by monitoring search engines, governments can predict outbreaks earlier. Google suggests the tool might even help governments mount an early response to a pandemic.

It's worth remembering that the effectiveness of a tool like Google Flu Trends depends on the computer literacy and access to technology of a given population. It might also be skewed by fears (see "Massive Surge in traffic for keyword “antichrist” since Obama victory")  and misperceptions.

It's also worth asking what uses authoritarian governments might find for search-engine monitoring. But while any tool can be misused or misinterpreted, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be used at all.

Besides, when it comes down to it, Google's latest toy is really cool. That in itself could inspire more innovative collaborations between public-health agencies and technogeeks.
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2008, 01:56:30 PM »

Packs of robots to hunt down uncooperative humans 

newscientist.com

The latest request from the Pentagon jars the senses. At least, it did mine. They are looking for contractors to provide a "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" that will let packs of robots "search for and detect a non-cooperative human".

One thing that really bugs defence chiefs is having their troops diverted from other duties to control robots. So having a pack of them controlled by one person makes logistical sense. But I'm concerned about where this technology will end up.

Given that iRobot last year struck a deal with Taser International to mount stun weapons on its military robots, how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralysing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed? I asked two experts on automated weapons what they thought.

Both were concerned that packs of robots would be entrusted with tasks - and weapons - they were not up to handling without making wrong decisions.

Steve Wright of Leeds Metropolitan University is an expert on police and military technologies, and last year correctly predicted this pack-hunting mode of operation would happen. "The giveaway here is the phrase 'a non-cooperative human subject'," he told me:

"What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs. Once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.

We can also expect such systems to be equipped with human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat. These are technologies already developed."

Another commentator often in the news for his views on military robot autonomy is Noel Sharkey, an AI and robotics engineer at the University of Sheffield. He says he can understand why the military want such technology, but also worries it will be used irresponsibly.

"This is a clear step towards one of the main goals of the US Army's Future Combat Systems project, which aims to make a single soldier the nexus for a large scale robot attack. Independently, ground and aerial robots have been tested together and once the bits are joined, there will be a robot force under command of a single soldier with potentially dire consequences for innocents around the corner."

What do you make of this? Are we letting our militaries run technologically amok with our tax dollars? Or can robot soldiers be programmed to be even more ethical than human ones, as some researchers claim?
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2008, 11:59:11 AM »

Consumers give thumbs up to fingerprints        

Consumers have given the thumbs up to the use of fingerprint scanning as a preferred way of using biometric identification to verify their identities with banks, government agencies and other organisations.

Analysis of data collated by Unisys Corp alongside the latest instalment of its bi-annual Security Index concludes that people felt reassured by fingerprint scanning more than any other biometric.

Some 67% of consumers surveyed around the globe said they trusted fingerprint scans, which is far higher than any other type of biometric identification method, the company said.

“Biometric and other identity-based measures are one of the more visible approaches organisations can take to reassure customers that their personal information is protected” said Neil Fisher, VP ID management for Unisys. There are understandable implications for businesses in the financial services sectors, with Unisys finding that worry about the fraudulent use of credit or debit cards ranked the number one or two highest concern in 11 of 13 countries surveyed.

The findings of the study give IT directors all the more reason to consider the option as an acceptable and effective way of protecting high value data and customer identities.

To date the technology has made only slow inroads at the enterprise level and is being variously deployed as a replacement for swipe cards in time and attendance applications, to secure entry to hospital wards and airports, and at banking ATMs to verify chip-and-PIN based transactions.

But the global market for biometric products is projected to surpass $7 billion by 2012, according to Business Intelligence.

One of the key areas for growth is non-automated fingerprint identification biometrics systems, driven by government ID management programmes, criminal ID and surveillance and private sector initiatives such as employee ID.

Unisys reported that acceptance of such ID schemes was found to be higher in regions where governments and other organisations already embrace biometrics such as Malaysia and Australia, and in the UK with its proposed national ID card.
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2008, 12:00:10 PM »

3D TV revolution: Sky promises images that leap out of the screen      

Sky is promising to 'blow away' viewers by introducing 3D television to millions of living rooms within the next year.

The satellite broadcaster demonstrated the technology this week - showing images shot at rugby and football matches which made the action appear to leap out of the screen.

Viewers will need to wear special glasses which allow the brain to process images so that they appear to be in your living room.

The images are a world away from the first black and white TV pictures screened from Alexandra Palace in North London more than 70 years ago.

Gerry O'Sullivan, Sky's product development director, said the proposed service would be piped to the firm's existing high-definition (HD) set-top boxes.

'Lots of people have seen a 3D film - we want to bring that experience into the living room,' he said.

'Everyone who has seen the 3D service has been blown away by it.'

Filming in 3D involves using two separate cameras which are placed close together as they mimic the behaviour and alignment of the human eye focusing on the left and right angle of an image.

The images are then edited and converted into a 3D picture through a processor.

Brian Lenz, the company's head of product design and innovation, added: 'We're just exploring right now but the next step is going to be to find out whether 3DTV is something people are going to be interested in.'

It emerged that Sky has spent months secretly filming sports events for 3D processing.

It has also produced a 3D version of the show Gladiators.

While the Sky+HD set-top boxes will be able to deal with 3D images, when they are eventually broadcast, viewers will also require special three-dimensional TVs.

These cost around £2,500 but it is hoped that cheaper models will be introduced and that manufacturers will also produce screens which will not need viewers to wear special glasses.

The impending 3D revolution follows the success of HDTV.

'We are ready to go,' added Mr O'Sullivan.

'It is now a question of whether customers actually want this service.

'But we are confident there will be a lot of interest and that a 3D service could be launched relatively quickly.'

Chris John, Sky's chief engineer, told how programme-makers were equally excited about using 3D technology.

Earlier this year, the BBC broadcast a 3D version of England's defeat by Scotland in the Six Nations rugby championship.

The match was watched by an invited audience at a cinema in London.

One of the people watching recalled: 'One of the first shots showed a fan waving a large flag back and forth.

'It seemed to come right into the room and I had to resist the urge to reach out and touch it.'

In America, an NFL football match was recently broadcast live in cinemas and in Japan cable stations are showing 3D programmes four times a day.

Pixar, the animation studio that made Toy Story and The Incredibles, has announced that from next year all its films will be produced in the 3D format.
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2008, 12:01:22 PM »

The Bill Nobody Noticed: National DNA Databank      

In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out. Congressman Ron Paul states that this bill is the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database.

S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a "national contingency plan" in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency. The bill states that the federal government should "continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening" and "maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening... ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly". Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests.

Twila Brase, president of the Citizens' Council on Health Care warns that this new law represents the beginning of nationwide genetic testing. Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:

• Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
• Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.
• Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.
• Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study "secondary conditions" of individuals and their families.
• Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.

Brase states that under this bill, "The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research." All 50 states are now routinely providing results of genetic screenings to the Department of Homeland Security and this bill will establish the legality of that practice plus include DNA.

Ron Paul has also vigorously argued against this bill making the following comments before the US House of Representatives:
"I cannot support legislation...that exceeds the Constitutional limitations on federal power or in any way threatens the liberty of the American people. I must oppose it."

"S. 1858 gives the federal bureaucracy the authority to develop a model newborn screening program. Madame Speaker, the federal government lacks both the constitutional authority and the competence to develop a newborn screening program adequate for a nation as large and diverse as the United States. …"

"Those of us in the medical profession should be particularly concerned about policies allowing government officials and state-favored interests to access our medical records without our consent … My review of S. 1858 indicates the drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children, in fact, by directing federal bureaucrats to create a contingency plan for newborn screening in the event of a 'public health' disaster, this bill may lead to further erosions of medical privacy. As recent history so eloquently illustrates, politicians are more than willing to take, and people are more than willing to cede, liberty during times of 'emergency."
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2008, 12:58:01 PM »

Consumers give thumbs up to fingerprints        

Consumers have given the thumbs up to the use of fingerprint scanning as a preferred way of using biometric identification to verify their identities with banks, government agencies and other organisations.

Analysis of data collated by Unisys Corp alongside the latest instalment of its bi-annual Security Index concludes that people felt reassured by fingerprint scanning more than any other biometric.


But have they given a thought to the fact that although popular belief is that there are no two fingerprints or snowflakes alike, this was never scientifically provable and in the last few years has actually been disproven by science? Even DNA only gives a high degree of probability, not absolute proof of identity.
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2009, 11:29:20 AM »


Solider of the Future

www.nypost.com

It's the year 2030. As a soldier enters a crowded marketplace, sensors mounted on his helmet automatically scan faces in the crowd, identifying a known insurgent; a cursor in the heads-up display highlights the target and cues the weapon, which can be set to stun or kill; a simple voice command unlocks the trigger.

Aided by "smart drugs," enhanced with prosthetics, and protected by a lightweight suit of armor, this soldier of the future possesses near super-human capabilities and weapons that would make even Iron Man jealous. He's suited up in an "exoskeleton" - essentially a Storm Trooper-esque external shell - that allows him to carry heavy loads. Electronics integrated in his outfit allow for simultaneous language translation, automatic identification of potential foes, and video-game-like targeting. If the soldier is tired, overworked, or injured, neural and physiological sensors automatically send an alert to headquarters.

It's all part of the Army's starry-eyed vision of grunts 20 years from now, and it's just one aspect of the Pentagon's ambitious thinking about technologies that will transform the way the military fights. There are also plans for advanced robotic aircraft; missiles that travel seven times the speed of sound; and ship- and aircraft-based laser weapons that could blast missiles out of the sky.

These aren't fantasy. Many of these technologies are plausible, or in development. Whether the military can afford them is an entirely different question.

Each branch of the military has its own plans, but the Army concept of tomorrow's soldier borrows heavily from nearly every genre of science fiction. Dubbed "Future Soldier 2030," the vision is the brainchild of the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts, an Army organization responsible for researching and developing new technologies for the individual fighter.

The idea driving this vision is a "soldier as a system," a sort of man-as-machine concept that looks at soldiers as you would an aircraft or tank. "We're building an F-16 [fighter] on legs," says Natick's Dutch DeGay. Does that vision run the risk of making soldier look like some sort of science fiction villain? DeGay notes the Army is aware of this potential pitfall: "We work hard to be cognizant of what the overall ensemble looks like." While some of the technologies are already under development - prototype exoskeletons exist, for example - others, such as an elaborate, light-weight power system needed to power all these fancy gadgets, are still many years away. There are also some provocative ideas behind the plans: the Army envisions "neural prosthetics" and drugs that aid cognitive ability. Such things may be "controversial now, but perhaps ubiquitous in 2030," officials note.

With all those advanced sensors, electronics, and weapons systems, such a suit, the Army realizes, would be a potential bonanza for enemies if captured. For that possibility, the Army has another solution: If a soldier is killed, the outfit will "zeroize" itself - that is, wipe out its own electronic systems - so the equipment can't be exploited by enemy forces.

Beyond individual soldiers, the Pentagon has other big ideas: the Air Force, for example, is working on a hypersonic missile that could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour; a prototype, dubbed the X-51 "waverider," will be flight tested later this year. Laser weapons are also popular. The Pentagon plans for a megawatt-class laser that would fit on the nose cone of a Boeing 747 and capable of blasting North Korean or Iranian ballistic missiles out of the sky. After over a decade of work, the Pentagon plans to finally test the weapon against missiles later this year. The Navy is also working on its own missile-blasting weapon that would go on ships, called the Free Electron Laser.

Another major initiative for the future is replacing manned aircraft with drones. In Pakistan, for example, armed Predator drones are conducting air strikes that would have once been carried out only by piloted aircraft. But these unmanned aircraft are still ultimately controlled by human operators. In the pipeline are armed drones that could operate with no human intervention. Northrop Grumman is working on a Navy-funded project called the X-47B, which would take off and land from carriers ships, and Boeing recently unveiled Phantom Ray, another unmanned combat aircraft that the company hopes will interest the Air Force.

This is not to say that that the future military will necessarily be equipped with the latest and greatest in weaponry. With the costs of weapons skyrocketing, and the Pentagon under pressure to fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of the military's big ideas have simply proved too costly. The Army's Future Combat System, a $160 billion program that included robots, sensors, drones and ground vehicles, is now slated for cancellation.

Likewise, the Navy's dreams for its future fleet have been dramatically scaled back. And the Air Force's plans for a new bomber are also on the chopping block, another victim of the latest round of cutbacks in the new Pentagon budget. Even equipment for the commander-in-chief is in jeopardy: the Navy recently canceled plans to buy a fleet of new presidential helicopters.

So how much, for example, would the outfit for the future soldier of 2030 cost and can the Army really afford it? The Army won't say. Although many of the component technologies are under development through various research efforts, the Army isn't actually putting any money into the full ensemble yet. But history may be a guide. One of the Army's more recent attempts to create a high-technology soldier outfit, called the "Land Warrior System," produced mixed results and a price tag of over $30,000 each. After spending over 10 years and half a billion dollars, the Army was forced to scale back or cancel many of the technologies.

That brings to mind an old joke that cynics use about all-ambitious technologies, be they laser weapons, hypersonic missiles, or super-human soldier suits: These are the weapons of the future - and they always will be.
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2009, 02:00:53 PM »

GPS Shoes?

news.com.au

A shoe-maker and a technology company are teaming up to develop footwear with a built-in GPS device that could help track down "wandering" seniors suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.

"The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 9m (30 feet), anywhere on the planet," said Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University who served as an advisor on the project.

"Sixty per cent of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease will be involved in a 'critical wandering incident' at least once during the progression of the disease - many more than once," he said.

The shoes are being developed by GTX Corp., which makes miniaturised Global Positioning Satellite tracking and location-transmitting technology, and Aetrex Worldwide, a footwear manufacturer.

Carle said embedding a GPS device in a shoe was important because Alzheimer's victims tend to remove unfamiliar objects placed on them but getting dressed is one of the last types of memory they retain.

He said a "geo-fence" could be placed around a person's home and a "Google Map" alert sent to a cell phone, home or office computer when a programmed boundary is crossed.

"The shoe we intend on developing with Aetrex should help authorized family members, friends, or caretakers reduce their stress and anguish by enabling them to locate their loved ones instantly with the click of a mouse," said Chris Walsh, chief operating officer of GTX Corp.

The companies said they plan to begin testing the product by the fourth quarter of the year.
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2009, 02:01:44 PM »

IDF developing battlefield robot snake

jpost.com/

A robot snake, capable of recording video and sound on the battlefield, is on the way to join the the IDF's hi-tech arsenal.

The spying robot, which is about two meters long and covered in military camouflage, mimics the movements and appearance of real snakes, slithering around through caves, tunnels, cracks and buildings, while at the same time sending images and sound back to a soldier who controls the device through a laptop computer.

Able to bend its joints so well that it can squeeze through very tight spaces, the new device will be used to find people buried under collapsed buildings. The snake is also able to arch its body, allowing it to see over obstacles through its head camera.

Researchers studied the movements of live snakes in order to create the most natural and realistic robotic version.

The snake's cost has yet to be determined, as it is still being developed; however, according to Channel 2, the IDF plans to provide combat units with these devices.

Besides recording multimedia, the snake may also be used to carry explosives.

The Defense Ministry, with experts from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, based their intelligence-gathering robot on a previous project of Ben-Gurion University, which created a slew of robotic animals with special abilities.

The Ben-Gurion report also detailed other robot animals, including, a cat that climbs walls using its claws, and a "dog-droid" that responds to the human movements.

The idea of serpent-like robots is nothing new in the world of technology. Shigeo Hirose, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, has been working on "serpent robots" since the 1970s.

Hirose's ACM-R5 robot, which had the ability to glide through water, unlike the IDF version, debuted in the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan.
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2009, 05:19:44 PM »

Hello Grammyluv,

I just found this thread and think it's fascinating - also SCARY! Thanks for posting these articles. I might need the GPS shoes for seniors.   Grin  I certainly wouldn't want to be hunted down by a gang of robots.

On a serious note, the information gathering on citizens has the potential to be grossly ABUSED! I don't just think the information will be abused - I know it will be! The National Health Information Database is going to be a HORRIBLE EXAMPLE. This is one of the first steps in controlling masses. It won't be used JUST FOR HEALTHCARE! The same is going to be true for the outlandish information that will be collected in the next Census! The government will be demanding all kinds of information that's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS! Further, their demands will be ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL! AND - GET THIS - THEY WANT ACORN TO DO IT! DON'T WORRY - A CZAR WILL BE IN CONTROL OF IT!
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« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2009, 01:08:40 PM »

Cash to become extinct as chips take off    

news.com.au/

Cash is accelerating down the path to extinction as new technologies threaten to mark the end of loose change within a decade.

Bank and credit union bosses say cash won't be alone, with wallets and credit cards also likely to disappear too.

They told The Advertiser's round table forum that cash and cards will be replaced by computer chips embedded in mobile phones, watches or other portable devices.

Australian Central chief executive Peter Evers believes cash will be replaced for most transactions in five-to-seven years.

"Cash will disappear as there will be other forms of carrying cash, stored value in your phone or whatever it might be. It will transfer automatically," he said.

If you go in to Hong Kong or Singapore, the low-value transactions have already disappeared. You can't go anywhere, like on public transport, without pre-purchasing a card.

"I think the Australian Payment Systems Board is very much on top of it and is trying to move down a path, but hasn't publicly put things into place yet."

BankSA general manager strategy and operations Chris Ward expects Australia to follow the offshore lead, with small cash transactions disappearing first.

"So you can't go and buy a bottle of water from the deli with cash; you've got to go and buy it with your chip," he said.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank state manager SA/NT John Oliver said it was easier for retailers to use electronic transactions than manual cash transactions.

Savings & Loans chief executive Greg Connor said the concept of the wallet would go.

"Whereas now we have a wallet and purse, it will be a chip in your phone or your watch or something like that as your access," he said.

Mr Evers said credit cards were on the way out as well.

"The access to credit is still going to be there through the mobile phone, but you don't need the card because that's really only a means of identification," he said.

"There could be another way of identifying, but the product, revolving credit, will still sit there."
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