Posts tagged Technology
On the campaign trail, President Obama is constantly talking about the importance of technology, but he met his match in an iPhone Sunday.
The president had stopped at a campaign office in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to thank volunteers. Then, for the cameras, Mr. Obama was supposed to call two campaign workers who were out working on his behalf.
But when White House trip director Marvin Nicholson handed the president his personal iPhone, Mr. Obama couldn’t get it to work. A reporter who witnessed the scene said the president looked “befuddled.”
“It’s not clear he knows how to dial on an iPhone,” the reporter wrote in a pool report.
Finally, Mr. Obama said, “Oh, I got to dial it in. Hold on, hold on. I can do this. See, I still have a BlackBerry.”
The president then “had a little more trouble dialing,” the pool report said.
The president then has more trouble dialing. When the call didn’t go through, he blamed Mr. Nicholson for having an insufficient cell phone plan.
A volunteer called out, “I’ll give you my phone, call my wife.”
“I’ll call her and tell her that you’re messing around here in the office, giving the president ….” Mr. Obama said, his voice trailing off.
Someone handed him another iPhone. He successfully dialed the volunteer this time, but the man didn’t answer. Mr. Obama left a message. He eventually reached both volunteers, although one of them apparently didn’t believe it was the president calling.
“I just want to point out, this volunteering is not as easy as it looks,” Mr. Obama said. source – Washington Times
Privacy is an antiquated notion once held by our grandparents
Surveillance cameras are now so powerful they are able to zoom in and read your text messages – leading to fears of further privacy intrusion by a ‘Big Brother’ style state.
As well as being advanced enough to close in on an individual’s phone screen, security cameras will soon be able to pick up on raised voices and sniff out drugs too.
The revelations were made at a privacy conference in Wellington, New Zealand, where it was also disclosed that the average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day. During last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand CCTV cameras focused in on the crowd of thousands to read the text message someone was sending.
As part of extensive police monitoring during the tournament, camera operators scanned the spectators looking for suspicious looking packages and aggressive behaviour.
They then chose to zoom in on one man who was texting – although it turned out he was simply writing about the poor quality of the rugby match. Experts warned the fact that the cameras were able to do this raises concerns about breeches of individual’s privacy.
Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott described the pervasiveness of surveillance as ‘worrying’ and warned of the extent people’s private lives were being intruded upon.
‘It’s quite worrying when we, by default, move to some sort of Orwellian 1984 where the state or Big Brother watches your every move,’ he said.
‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions and we don’t realise what we are giving up when we give the state the power to monitor our private lives.’
However, others argued the camera’s ability to zoom in on texts would be helpful in preventing crimes, including rioting. The conference also discussed how technological developments meant that soon cameras will be able to pick up on raised voices and sniffing devices will be able to detect drug residue.
Of course, the number of surveillance cameras drastically varies from place to place with exact figures hard to pin down. Cameras are commonplace on streets, public transport, shopping malls, hospitals and public buildings.
In the decade after the 9/11 attacks the amount of surveillance cameras across the U.S soared by about 30 million. And figures showed the number of cameras in some areas of Manhattan increased by more than 400 per cent between 1998 and 2005. Across the pond, Britain is notorious for the high amount of cameras it has with an estimated 2 million across the country. source – Daily Mail
TOKYO (Newscore) – Japanese researchers have invented a speech-jamming gadget that painlessly forces people into silence.
Kazutaka Kurihara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Koji Tsukada of Ochanomizu University, developed a portable “SpeechJammer” gun that can silence people more than 30 meters away.
The device works by recording its target’s speech then firing their words back at them with a 0.2-second delay, which affects the brain’s cognitive processes and causes speakers to stutter before silencing them completely.
Describing the device in their research paper, Kurihara and Tsukada wrote, “In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking.”
They found that the device works better on people who were reading aloud than engaged in “spontaneous speech” and it cannot stop people making meaningless sounds, such as “ahhh,” that are uttered over a long time period.
Kurihara and Tsukada suggested the speech-jamming gun could be used to hush noisy speakers in public libraries or to silence people in group discussions who interrupt other people’s speeches.
“There are still many cases in which the negative aspects of speech become a barrier to the peaceful resolution of conflicts,” the authors said. source – Fox News
Mark of the beast
Related Story: Click here to read about the Mark of the Beast…
Contact lenses which focus 3D screens directly into people’s eyeballs could be on sale as early as 2014, says U.S. company Innovega. The tiny ‘screens’ sit directly on users’ eyeballs and work with a pair of lightweight glasses with a built-in translucent screen.
The experience is equivalent to a 240-inch television viewed at a distance of 10 feet, says Innovega’s CEO Steve Willey.
The devices can ‘pair’ with smartphones and portable game devices to deliver up-close video – or switch to a translucent ‘augmented reality’ view, where computer information is layered over the world we know.
Crucially, the devices can be worn while moving about – previous bulky ‘VR headsets’ have blindfolded their users and can only be used sitting down. The effect could be similar to the lenses worn by Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
The company is also developing hi-tech lenses for use by American soldiers, feeding battlefield information directly into their eyes.
DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, thought of as the American military’s ‘mad scientist’ wing – has been funding research on ‘soldier mounted displays’ for some time. It’s now working on ‘iOptik’ lenses with Innovega.
The lenses, made with nano-scale engineering processes,work as a hi-tech focusing device, which allows Innovega’s glasses to be considerably less bulky than previous devices.
The lenses themselves require no power, and thus can sit safely on the eyeball.
DARPA projects are often oddball technology, but it also has a history of far-sighted technological leaps.
DARPA invented the first virtual reality devices, and one of the precursors of the modern internet.
DARPA Says, ‘Innovega’s iOptiks are contact lenses that enhance normal vision by allowing a wearer to view virtual and augmented reality images without the need for bulky apparatus. ‘
‘Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny full-color displays that are very near the eye.’
These novel contact lenses allow users to focus simultaneously on objects that are close up and far away.’ Innovega claims that the devices could become popular rapidly due to the number of contact lens wearers worldwide.
The program seeks to develop novel computational imaging capabilities and explore joint design of hardware and software that give warfighters access to systems that greatly enhance their awareness, security and survivability. source – Daily Mail UK
The FBI by mid-January will activate a nationwide facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, bureau officials told Nextgov.
The federal government is embarking on a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects, partly through applying other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings.
Often law enforcement authorities will “have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don’t know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case,” said Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI’s criminal justice information services division. The new facial recognition service can help provide that missing link by retrieving a list of mug shots ranked in order of similarity to the features of the subject in the photo.
Today, an agent would have to already know the name of an individual to pull up the suspect’s mug shot from among the 10 million shots stored in the bureau’s existing Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Using the new Next-Generation Identification system that is under development, law enforcement analysts will be able to upload a photo of an unknown person; choose a desired number of results from two to 50 mug shots; and, within 15 minutes, receive identified mugs to inspect for potential matches. Users typically will request 20 candidates, Megna said. The service does not provide a direct match.
Michigan, Washington, Florida and North Carolina will participate in a test of the new search tool this winter before it is offered to criminal justice professionals across the country in 2014 as part of NGI. The project, which was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. in 2008, already has upgraded the FBI’s fingerprint matching service.
Local authorities have the choice to file mug shots with the FBI as part of the booking process. The bureau expects its collection of shots to rival its repository of 70 million fingerprints once more officers are aware of the facial search’s capabilities.
Thomas E. Bush III, who helped develop NGI’s system requirements when he served as assistant director of the CJIS division between 2005 and 2009, said, “The idea was to be able to plug and play with these identifiers and biometrics.” Law enforcement personnel saw value in facial recognition and the technology was maturing, said the 33-year FBI veteran who now serves as a private consultant.
NGI’s incremental construction seems to align with the White House’s push to deploy new information technology in phases so features can be scrapped if they don’t meet expectations or run over budget.
But immigrant rights groups have raised concerns that the Homeland Security Department, which exchanges digital prints with the FBI, will abuse the new facial recognition component. Currently, a controversial DHS immigrant fingerprinting program called Secure Communities runs FBI prints from booked offenders against the department’s IDENT biometric database to check whether they are in the country illegally. Homeland Security officials say they extradite only the most dangerous aliens, including convicted murderers and rapists. But critics say the FBI-DHS print swapping ensnares as many foreigners as possible, including those whose charges are minor or are ultimately dismissed.
Megna said Homeland Security is not part of the facial recognition pilot. But, Bush said in the future NGI’s data, including the photos, will be accessible by Homeland Security’s IDENT.
The planned addition of facial searches worries Sunita Patel, a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who said, “Any database of personal identity information is bound to have mistakes. And with the most personal immutable traits like our facial features and fingerprints, the public can’t afford a mistake.”
In addition, Patel said she is concerned about the involvement of local police in information sharing for federal immigration enforcement purposes. “The federal government is using local cops to create a massive surveillance system,” she said.
Bush said, “We do have the capability to search against each other’s systems,” but added, “if you don’t come to the attention of law enforcement you don’t have anything to fear from these systems.”
Other civil liberties advocates questioned whether the facial recognition application would retrieve mug shots of those who have simply been arrested. “It might be appropriate to have nonconvicted people out of that system,” said Jim Harper, director of information policy at the libertarian Cato Institute. FBI officials declined to comment on the recommendation.
Harper also noted large-scale searches may generate a lot of false positives, or incorrect matches. Facial recognition “is more accurate with a Google or a Facebook, because they will have anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen pictures of an individual, whereas I imagine the FBI has one or two mug shots,” he said.
FBI officials would not disclose the name of the search product or the vendor, but said they gained insights on the technique’s accuracy by studying research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
In responding to concerns about the creation of a Big Brother database for tracking innocent Americans, Megna said the system will not alter the FBI’s authorities or the way it conducts business. “This doesn’t change or create any new exchanges of data,” he said. “It only provides [law enforcement] with a new service to determine what photos are of interest to them.”
In 2008, the FBI released a privacy impact assessment summarizing its appraisal of controls in place to ensure compliance with federal privacy regulations. Megna said that, during meetings with the CJIS Advisory Policy Board and the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, “we haven’t gotten a whole lot of pushback on the photo capability.”
The FBI has an elaborate system of checks and balances to guard fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots and all manner of criminal history data, he said. ”This is not something where we want to collect a bunch of surveillance film” and enter it in the system, Megna said. “That would be useless to us. It would be useless to our users.” source – NextGov
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse
So when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, the main thing they will be inheriting will be a massive storehouse of nuclear, chemical, biological and missile technology. Exactly the type of thing you want in the hands of unconstrained, Islamic terrorists. Sure makes the prophet Ezekiel look like a….well, a prophet. Click here to see what he had to say.
“With Egypt in revolt and the country’s future uncertain, concern is growing over whether a new government in the Arab world’s most militarily and industrially advanced country could accelerate an arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
At the heart of the concern is intelligence indicating that Egypt has quietly carried out research and development on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and missile technology.
The research and development has continued virtually without pause over the past three decades, according to interviews with U.S. officials and a review of intelligence and other government documents by NBC News. Specifically, the intelligence indicates that Egypt has carried out experiments in plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment, helped jump-start Saddam Hussein’s missile and chemical weapons programs in Iraq, and worked with Kim il-Jung on North Korea’s missile program.
“If we found another country doing what they’ve done, we would have been all over them,” said a former U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.” source – MSNBC
Should we be around long enough to see these planes be developed, these are beautiful new designs that NASA has recently unveiled. It can be difficult to imagine that the airline industry, or NASA for that matter, will survive to see these designs through, but we can dream, right?
NASA has taken the wraps off three concept designs for quiet, energy efficient aircraft that could potentially be ready to fly as soon as 2025. The designs come from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and The Boeing Company. In the final months of 2010, each of these companies won a contract from NASA to research and test their concepts during 2011.
Apparently, NASA is aiming to develop a line of super-planes that larger, faster, quieter, and that burn fuel slower and cleaner than their present counterparts. source: The Huffington Post
Let’s just hope that by the time these airplanes have arrived, the TSA will no longer be operating as it is today and we can actually enjoy flying in such beautiful aircrafts!