DARPA Sponsors Surveillance Technology For Department Of PreDARPA Sponsors Surveillance Technology For Department Of Pre-Crime To Predict Future Behavior
The dizzying speed of the growth of the surveillance state and the increasing sophistication of the tools used to build it are paid for in large measure by funds doled out by the Army’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). At The New American we have chronicled the various projects sponsored by the über-secret research and development arm of the military. One of the newest technologies being pursued by DARPA will not only widen the field of vision of government’s never-blinking eye, but it purports to predict the behavior of those being watched. Forbes reports that DARPA has contracted with scientists at Carnegie Mellon University to develop “an artiﬁcial intelligence system that can watch and predict what a person will ‘likely’ do in the future using specially programmed software designed to analyze various real-time video surveillance feeds. The system can...
Mirroring summer blockbusters, military creating gadget-draped future fighters
Hollywood’s summer of the super soldier — featuring tech-bedecked troops like Matt Damon in the No. 1 movie “Elysium” — offers a flicker of futuristic battle gear as the real U.S. military explores innovations from exoskeletons to advanced armor to outfit the next-gen combat fighter.
At the laboratories of Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, Fla., one project is dubbed TALOS — tactical assault light operator suit — and the blueprint involves blending an array of emerging technologies into a single, gizmo-rich, body-shielding uniform.
“How do we take the best of what’s out there — being academia, large industry, small industry or just three guys with a bright idea — and focus that energy toward the (special) operator to give him better protection and better capability?” said Jim Geurts, who oversees science and tech development, procurement and production for Special Operations. The command includes elite forces like Army Rangers and Navy SEALS.
“Certainly that involves body armor. But it also involves: How do I get them better situational awareness? How do I get them better communication? How do I allow them to move better without getting hurt?” Geurts said. “How do we continue to focus technology innovation and the good-old-American-monster-garage kinds of things to continue to help the operator?”
In July, SOCOM held a unique trade show in Tampa that mixed private scientists who are ramping up designs on exoskeletons (high-powered, wearable machines) or who are bolstering display technologies or creating tomorrow’s armor. The goal was to assemble the masterminds in the same room, Geurts said.
“There’s not a place right now where all of them get together with a (special) operator and say, ‘OK, can I put this radio on your exoskeleton, and how much power does it need?’” Geurts said. “Everybody brought their LEGO building blocks and we could see all the types of LEGO building blocks, and we could start to think about how we put those blocks together to build something to give the operators capability that they don’t have now."
The public can glimpse the creative thinking behind such revolutionary gadgetry in pop films like “Elysium,” in which Matt Damon’s character sports a black-metal exoskeleton plugged into his mind and spine, boosting his strength allowing him to download others’ thoughts. In another summer movie, “Pacific Rim,” pairs of soldiers mutually operate giant exoskeletons to combat sea monsters.
Do these sci-fi films marry today’s silver-screen fantasy with any tiny germ of tomorrow’s battlefield reality?
“Maybe conceptually,” Geurts said. “Certainly, the idea of having mobility with protection with the ability to understand the environment around you and communicate to others around you — those facets are all important.”
Similar techno advances are in play across other branches as military commanders collaborate with top science minds to push the bounds of soldier suits.
Norman Wagner, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, has worked with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland to co-invent a liquid armor called Shear Thickening Fluid. His material could coat Kevlar vests and Kevlar helmets, transforming them into something better: When a bullet or bomb fragment strikes the service member, miniscule particles in the liquid ceramic instantly reorganize themselves and harden to block the projectile.
“The idea is, you want a body armor that’s flexible so you can wear it,” Wagner said. “But at the point of impact, the fluid acts more like a solid in protecting the person behind it.”
Wagner has another project in the works that similarly seems tailor-made for military use: He, a University of Delaware colleague and a student are investigating a chemical-polymer technology that allows material to self mend.
"If you get a cut or a puncture, the material would heal itself the same way that biological systems respond to skin wounds,” Wagner said.
While Wagner said the price for his Shear Thickening Fluid is relatively low and on par with “commercial costs,” this is the age of federal sequestration. At Special Operations Command, the innovators are taking lean times to heart.
“The challenge is two-fold: one, the collection of items called TALOS and, [b]two, reinventing the next-generation business-acquisition model that let’s us quickly and cheaply attract those technologies to help the guys,” Geurts said.[/b]
Special Ops wants to tap the best ideas and the newest technologies — where ever they may be — allowing the command to collaborate with “non-traditional suppliers.” That is far different from picking a large contractor and paying big bucks to complete a project.
Military leaders acknowledge they have learned hard lessons in bolstering body protection and other battlefield gear for troops during 12 years of war, leading to better equipment already in place. But as the next phase of upgrades rolls from concept to the laboratory to the production line, they will be quickly installed in the field. The re-outfitting of troops in soldier suits 2.0 is not a distant theory, Geurts said.
"We're creating the environment where we can continue to improve and improve and improve," he said. "And if I can do something in two weeks that helps the guys, then that’s two weeks better than what I can give them today."
U.S. scientist operates colleague's brain from across campus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists said Tuesday they have achieved the first human-to-human mind meld, with one researcher sending a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motion of a colleague sitting across the Seattle campus of the University of Washington.
The feat is less a conceptual advance than another step in the years-long progress that researchers have made toward brain-computer interfaces, in which electrical signals generated from one brain are translated by a computer into commands that can move a mechanical arm or a computer cursor - or, in more and more studies, can affect another brain.
Much of the research has been aimed at helping paralyzed patients regain some power of movement, but bioethicists have raised concerns about more controversial uses.
In February, for instance, scientists led by Duke University Medical Center's Miguel Nicolelis used electronic sensors to capture the thoughts of a rat in a lab in Brazil and sent via Internet to the brain of a rat in the United States. The second rat received the thoughts of the first, mimicking its behavior. And electrical activity in the brain of a monkey at Duke, in North Carolina, was recently sent via the Internet, controlling a robot arm in Japan.
That raised dystopian visions of battalions of animal soldiers - or even human ones - whose brains are remotely controlled by others. Some of Duke's brain-computer research, though not this study, received funding from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.
FINGERING A KEYBOARD
For the new study, funded by the U.S. Army Research Office and other non-military federal agencies, UW professor of computer science and engineering Rajesh Rao, who has studied brain-computer interfaces for more than a decade, sat in his lab on August 12 wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain.
He looked at a computer screen and played a simple video game but only mentally. At one point, he imagined moving his right hand to fire a cannon, making sure not to actually move his hand.
The EEG electrodes picked up the brain signals of the "fire cannon!" thought and transmitted them to the other side of the UW campus.
There, Andrea Stocco of UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences was wearing a purple swim cap with a device, called a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) coil, placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls the right hand's movement.
When the move-right-hand signal arrived from Rao, Stocco involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar on the keyboard in front of him, as if firing the cannon. He said the feeling of his hand moving involuntarily was like that of a nervous tic.
"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain," Rao said.
Other experts suggested the feat was not particularly impressive. It's possible to capture one of the few easy-to-recognize EEG signals and send "a simple shock ... into the other investigator's head," said Andrew Schwartz of the University of Pittsburgh, who was not part of the research.
Rao agreed that what his colleague jokingly called a "Vulcan mind meld" reads only simple brain signals, not thoughts, and cannot be used on anyone unknowingly. But it might one day be harnessed to allow an airline pilot on the ground help someone land a plane whose own pilot is incapacitated.
The research has not been published in a scientific journal, something university spokeswoman Doree Armstrong admits is "a bit unusual." But she said the team knew other researchers are working on this same thing and they felt "time was of the essence."
Besides, she said, they have a video of the experiment which "they felt it could stand on its own." The video is at http://www.washington.edu/news/20...t-human-brain-to-brain-interface/
The absence of a scientific publication that other researchers could scrutinize did not sit well with some of the nation's leading brain-computer-interface experts. All four of those reached by Reuters praised UW's Rao, but some were uneasy with the announcement and one called it "mostly a publicity stunt." The experiment was not independently verified.
(The story corrects funding source in fifth paragraph and eliminates reference to Skype in eighth)
(Reporting by Sharon Begley; editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Cynthia Osterman)
2Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2Co 10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.