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Mar 19, 2020

Making Sense with Sam Harris #191 — Early Thoughts On a Pandemic (with Amesh Adalja)

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health, security, terrorism

Sam Harris discusses the coronavirus withAmesh Adalja.


In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Amesh Adalja about the spreading coronavirus pandemic. They discuss the contagiousness of the virus and the severity of the resultant illness, the mortality rate and risk factors, vectors of transmission, how long coronavirus can live on surfaces, the importance of social distancing, possible anti-viral treatments, the timeline for a vaccine, the importance of pandemic preparedness, and other topics.

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Mar 6, 2020

Treatment of Neuroterrorism

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, military, terrorism

Bioterrorism is defined as the intentional use of biological, chemical, nuclear, or radiological agents to cause disease, death, or environmental damage. Early recognition of a bioterrorist attack is of utmost importance to minimize casualties and initiate appropriate therapy. The range of agents that could potentially be used as weapons is wide, however, only a few of these agents have all the characteristics making them ideal for that purpose. Many of the chemical and biological weapons can cause neurological symptoms and damage the nervous system in varying degrees. Therefore, preparedness among neurologists is important. The main challenge is to be cognizant of the clinical syndromes and to be able to differentiate diseases caused by bioterrorism from naturally occurring disorders. This review provides an overview of the biological and chemical warfare agents, with a focus on neurological manifestation and an approach to treatment from a perspective of neurological critical care.

The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13311-011‑0097-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Keywords: Neuroterrorism, Bioterrorism, Warfare Agents.

Feb 18, 2020

We cannot predict with any precision where technology will lead us

Posted by in categories: government, military, particle physics, privacy, robotics/AI, terrorism

Superb piece.

“But, I say we should pursue science and technology because, like Prometheus, the fires of invention burn bright, and although we may not always know where it leads us, a world darkened by the fear of treading upon the unknown, is unimaginable.”

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Feb 18, 2020

Exclusive: FBI document reveals local and state police are collecting intelligence to expand terrorism watch list

Posted by in categories: finance, government, law enforcement, terrorism

Despite a federal judge’s ruling last September that the U.S. government’s terror watch list violates constitutional rights, an FBI report obtained by Yahoo News shows local and state law enforcement agencies are being used to gather intelligence on individuals to collect information about those already in the database.

Law enforcement “encounters of watchlisted individuals almost certainly yield increased opportunities for intelligence collection,” says the FBI document, dated more than a month after the federal court ruling. The FBI says such encounters could include traffic stops or domestic disputes, which gives law enforcement “the opportunity to acquire additional biographic identifiers, fraudulent identification documents, financial information and associates of watchlisted individuals,” which might assist in thwarting terrorist acts.

The Terrorism Screening Database, widely known as the watch list, was created in 2003 and consists of names of people suspected of being involved with terrorism. Over the years, the list has grown to include the names of 1.1 million people, raising concerns that many of those on the list have no involvement in terrorism but have little or no legal resources with which to challenge the designation.

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Feb 14, 2020

Biologists Are Already Printing the Deadly COVID-19 Virus

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, terrorism

Still, the fact that many labs worldwide are capable of printing viruses is worrisome.

A few years ago, for instance, Canadian researchers alarmed the scientific community when they assembled synthetic horsepox in a lab — a virus closely related to smallpox, which killed hundreds of millions before researchers developed a vaccine.

The same technique, the researchers said at the time, could be be used to bring back smallpox, giving terrorists tools to set off a deadly pandemic.

Jan 28, 2020

Facing Up to Facial Recognition

Posted by in categories: education, robotics/AI, terrorism, transportation

I’m excited to share my new opinion piece on AI facial recognition and privacy for IEEE Spectrum:


The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

Many people seem to regard facial-recognition software in much the same way they would a nest of spiders: They recognize, in some abstract way, that it probably has some benefits. But it still gives them the creeps.

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Jan 26, 2020

Large Military-Grade Drones Could Soon Be Flying Over Your Backyard

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

As the U.S. military and defense contractors eye a potential drone war with Iran as tensions with the country remain elevated, the defense industry is also preparing to test-fly domestic versions of its combat drones over major American cities in an effort to fully integrate military-grade drones into civil airspace alongside commercial air traffic in the coming years.

That’s right, those robotic killing machines used for counterterrorism strikes in the Middle East are coming home — and could eventually be used to surveil large protests and communities of color throughout the U.S.

The Poway-based defense contractor General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., will test-fly its SkyGuardian drone, outfitted with a 79-foot wingspan and advanced surveillance capabilities of more than 2,000 feet, over San Diego, California, sometime this year.

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Jan 24, 2020

Pandemic simulation exercise spotlights massive preparedness gap

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health, security, sustainability, terrorism

Circa 2019 Event 201, hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, envisions a fast-spreading coronavirus with a devastating impact.

Back in 2001, it was a smallpox outbreak, set off by terrorists in U.S. shopping malls. This fall, it was a SARS-like virus, germinating quietly among pig farms in Brazil before spreading to every country in the world. With each fictional pandemic Johns Hopkins experts have designed, the takeaway lesson is the same: We are nowhere near prepared.

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Dec 18, 2019

Video: Russia Deploys its Uran-9 Combat Robots in Syria

Posted by in categories: military, robotics/AI, terrorism

In late 2019, photos and footage showing Russia’s Uran-9 combat robot deployed in Syria appeared online. They became a rare visual evidence of the Uran-9 combat deployment in the war-torn country, which, according to official sources, took place in 2018.

The Uran-9 multipurpose unmanned ground combat vehicle was officially unveiled by Russian military equipment manufacturer JSC 766 UPTK during the Army-2016 International Military-Technical Forum in Russia in September 2016. The vehicle is designed to provide remote reconnaissance and fire support to a variety of tasks conducted by the counter-terrorism, reconnaissance and military units in urban environments.

The Uran-9 can be used fully autonomously on a predefined road or manually operated by one man from a truck control station or via a small backpack control station.

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Nov 29, 2019

This is how Facebook’s AI looks for bad stuff

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, terrorism

The context: The vast majority of Facebook’s moderation is now done automatically by the company’s machine-learning systems, reducing the amount of harrowing content its moderators have to review. In its latest community standards enforcement report, published earlier this month, the company claimed that 98% of terrorist videos and photos are removed before anyone has the chance to see them, let alone report them.

So, what are we seeing here?: The company has been training its machine-learning systems to identify and label objects in videos—from the mundane, such as vases or people—to the dangerous, such as guns or knives. Facebook’s AI uses two main approaches to look for dangerous content. One is to employ neural networks that look for features and behaviors of known objects and label them with varying percentages of confidence (as we can see in the video, above.)

Training in progress: These neural networks are trained on a combination of pre-labelled videos from its human reviewers, reports from users, and soon, from videos taken by London’s Metropolitan Police. The neural nets are able to use this information to guess what the entire scene might be showing, and whether it contains any behavior or images that should be flagged. It gave more details on how its systems work at a press briefing this week.

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