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Archive for the ‘surveillance’ category

May 17, 2018

Selfish Ledger: Google’s mass sociology experiment

Posted by in categories: big data, complex systems, DNA, ethics, evolution, genetics, information science, internet, surveillance

Check out the internal Google film, “The Selfish Ledger”. This probably wasn’t meant to slip onto a public web server, and so I have embedded a backup copy below. Ping me if it disappears. I will locate a permanent URL.

This 8½ minute video is a lot deeper—and possibly more insipid—than it appears. Nick Foster may be the Anti-Christ, or perhaps the most brilliant sociologist of modern times. It depends on your vantage point, and your belief in the potential of user controls and cat-in-bag containment.

He talks of a species propelling itself toward “desirable goals” by cataloging, data mining, and analyzing the past behavior of peers and ancestors—and then using that data to improve the experience of each user’s future and perhaps even their future generations. But, is he referring to shared goals across cultures, sexes and incomes? Who controls the algorithms and the goal filters?! Is Google the judge, arbiter and God?

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May 13, 2018

Artificial intelligence is changing everything, ‘We need a different mentality’

Posted by in categories: information science, military, robotics/AI, surveillance

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military got is first big taste of artificial intelligence with Project Maven. An Air Force initiative, it began more than a year ago as an experiment using machine learning algorithms developed by Google to analyze full-motion video surveillance.

The project has received high praise within military circles for giving operators in the field instant access to the type of intelligence that typically would have taken a long time for geospatial data analysts to produce.

Project Maven has whetted the military’s appetite for artificial intelligence tools. And this is creating pressure on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to jump on the AI bandwagon and start delivering Maven-like products and services.

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May 6, 2018

Race of the war machines: Russian battlefield robots rise to the challenge

Posted by in categories: drones, military, robotics/AI, surveillance

The battlefields of the future look set to be the province of robots duking it out on the field as their operators sit pretty, miles away. Russia is moving in leaps and bounds towards fielding its own unmanned forces.

Modern robots are nothing like the Terminator: Fielding human-shaped automatons for combat is much more trouble than it’s worth, so most ground robots are more or less tank- or car-shaped. They aren’t fully controlled by an artificial intelligence, either – not just yet, at least.

With its enormous war budgets and military industrial sector, it’s no surprise the US has been at the forefront of unmanned combat vehicle development. Its Predator drones have been raining death on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen for over 15 years now, and it has been employing small, ground-based firing platforms like SWORDS for years, not to mention the multitude of bomb disposal and surveillance robots.

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Apr 22, 2018

GomSpace Successfully Commissions GOMX-4 Nanosats

Posted by in categories: space, surveillance, transportation

STOCKHOLM (GomSpace PR) — As part of a mission to demonstrate interlink communication on nanosatellite tandem formation flights and data retrieval, including surveillance of the Arctic area, the Danish nanosatellite specialist GomSpace launched two nanosatellites in February.

Twelve weeks later, GomSpace for the first time showed the possibility of live data capture from the two nanosatellites in space at a press conference held in Aalborg, Denmark. At the same time, the press conference marked the official transition to the so-called demonstration phase, following the mission’s test phase. The latter has thus been successfully completed, and the mission is now ready to carry out its scheduled tasks.

On February 2, 2018, GomSpace launched two nanosatellites mounted on the Chinese missile Long March 2D from a launch station in the Gobi Desert. The objective of the two nanosatellites, based on GomSpace’s 6U platform, is in part to monitor the Arctic area. It is an area where ice has melted significantly in recent years, meaning that the area sees more and more activity in the shape of aircraft and ships, researchers and tourists.

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Apr 16, 2018

Team develops face recognition technology that works in the dark

Posted by in categories: military, privacy, robotics/AI, surveillance

Army researchers have developed an artificial intelligence and machine learning technique that produces a visible face image from a thermal image of a person’s face captured in low-light or nighttime conditions. This development could lead to enhanced real-time biometrics and post-mission forensic analysis for covert nighttime operations.

Thermal cameras like FLIR, or Forward Looking Infrared, sensors are actively deployed on aerial and ground vehicles, in watch towers and at check points for surveillance purposes. More recently, thermal cameras are becoming available for use as body-worn cameras. The ability to perform automatic face recognition at nighttime using such thermal cameras is beneficial for informing a Soldier that an individual is someone of interest, like someone who may be on a watch list.

The motivations for this technology—developed by Drs. Benjamin S. Riggan, Nathaniel J. Short and Shuowen “Sean” Hu, from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory—are to enhance both automatic and human-matching capabilities.

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Apr 11, 2018

The world’s most valuable AI startup is a Chinese company specializing in real-time surveillance

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, finance, government, mobile phones, robotics/AI, surveillance

Artificial intelligence is being used for a dizzying array of tasks, but one of the most successful is also one of the scariest: automated surveillance. Case in point is Chinese startup SenseTime, which makes AI-powered surveillance software for the country’s police, and which this week received a new round of funding worth $600 million. This funding, led by retailing giant Alibaba, reportedly gives SenseTime a total valuation of more than $4.5 billion, making it the most valuable AI startup in the world, according to analyst firm CB Insights.

This news is significant for a number of reasons. First, it shows how China continues to pour money into artificial intelligence, both through government funding and private investment. Many are watching the competition between China and America to develop cutting-edge AI with great interest, and see investment as an important measure of progress. China has overtaken the US in this regard, although experts are quick to caution that it’s only one metric of success.

Secondly, the investment shows that image analysis is one of the most lucrative commercial applications for AI. SenseTime became profitable in 2017 and claims it has more than 400 clients and partners. It sells its AI-powered services to improve the camera apps of smartphone-makers like OPPO and Vivo; to offer “beautification” effects and AR filters on Chinese social media platforms like Weibo; and to provide identity verification for domestic finance and retail apps like Huanbei and Rong360.

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Mar 31, 2018

No-limits China sets its sights on AI top spot

Posted by in categories: drones, government, mobile phones, robotics/AI, surveillance

O n the outskirts of Beijing, a policeman peers over his glasses at a driver stopped at a motorway checkpoint. As he looks at the man’s face, a tiny camera in one of the lenses of his glasses records his features and checks them with a national database.

The artificial intelligence-powered glasses are what Chinese citizens refer to as “black tech”, because they spot delinquents on the country’s “blacklist”. Other examples include robots for crowd control, drones that hover over the country’s borders, and intelligent systems to track behaviour online. Some reports claim the government has installed scanners that can forcibly read information from smartphones.

In the last two weeks, Facebook has been mired in a privacy storm in the UK and US over potential misuse of personal data. But such an event might baffle many in China, where the country’s surveillance culture eclipses anything Facebook has done.

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Mar 28, 2018

Watch military swarm drones lock on and surround a target

Posted by in categories: drones, military, robotics/AI, surveillance

Autonomous weapon bans (previously) are currently being debated, but in the meantime, the US Department of Defense continues work with its Perdix Micro-Drone project. Ostensibly for surveillance, it’s clear these could easily be modded with lethal weaponry.

F/A-18 Super Hornets deploy the drones, which can then perform a series of tactical maneuvers based on post-launch commands.

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Mar 26, 2018

This blockchain-based surveillance startup detects crime in real-time

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, computing, neuroscience, security, surveillance

A security company wants to modernize the “backward-looking” and “inherently inefficient” video surveillance industry by offering a blockchain-based system which allows users to react to threats in real time.

Faceter’s decentralized surveillance technology – which it claims is a world first for consumers – “gives brains to cameras” by enabling them to instantly detect faces, objects and analyze video feeds. Although some B2B providers do offer similar features, the company claims they are currently too expensive for smaller firms and the public at large because of the “substantial computing resources” such technology needs.

According to Faceter’s white paper, Blockchain has the potential to make this solution affordable for everyone – as computing power for recognition calculations would be generated by a network of miners.

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Feb 26, 2018

Can High-Tech Drones Help Stop Mass Shootings?

Posted by in categories: drones, government, policy, surveillance

I’m excited to share a new article of mine via The Daily Dot on the future of so-called “gun control,” one that promises freedom and protects people from criminals and mass shooters. As usual, the answer is in technology to improve the world—and not in Congress changing or creating laws. This is a policy article of mine, and this is the technology you could expect to see in California if I was elected Governor:


High-tech drones and surveillance technology can offer a radically new type of gun control, helping detect possible the presence of guns and intervene in mass shootings.

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