By Graham Vanbergen – Peter Hitchens recently mentioned in his blog that technology will eventually enslave us all. He referred to the recent film “Ghost in the Shell’ thus:
“I was intrigued to see that the future world in which this film is set is – once again – in a place of gloom and decay, much like now but worse. There are gangsters and sordid bars, people smoke, everyone’s crammed into hamster-cage flats in inhuman megacities. Ever since Blade Runner and Alien, and also in Minority Report, new technology is not seen as a road to happiness, liberty or prosperity. I used to think this was pessimistic. Now I think they’ve got it about right.”
Today we live in an age where there is a technology battle front being waged against citizens of the West and the people are losing it on every front – nowhere is that battle raging most in Western democracies than in Britain.
– Not science fiction: Miami wants to predict when and where crime will occur (Miami Herald, April 23, 2015):
Armed with high-tech software and years of crime data, Miami police believe they will soon be able to stop crimes by predicting when and where they will occur.
It sounds a little like something out of a science fiction novel, but the department is in the process of adopting a system called HunchLab that produces maps showing small areas where specific crimes are likely to be committed during shifts. The probability program is a geographical version of “predictive policing” software, which more departments are using — even if, in the words of one supportive cop, it’s “kind of scary.”
– US poverty rate projected to hit highest level since ’60s (Boston Globe, July 23, 2012):
WASHINGTON — The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.
Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.
The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks, and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.
Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor.
What could possibly go wrong?
The real Minority Report: U.S. police trial computer software that predicts who is most likely to commit a crime
Police in America are to use Minority Report style computer programmes to predict who will commit crimes before they happen.
The software collates a range of variables then uses an algorithm to work out who is at the highest chance of offending.
In some cases it may even be able to predict where, when and how the crime will be committed.
Should trials prove a success the software could be used to help set bail amounts and suggest sentencing recommendations too.
It will be used by law enforcement agencies in Washington DC but could be rolled out nationwide if a success.
Its implementation is likely to spark an outcry from privacy campaigners and civil rights groups, not least because of the strong resemblance to the 2002 sci-fi thriller ‘Minority Report’.
Advertising billboards similar to those seen in the film Minority Report, which can recognise passers-by, target them with customised adverts and even use their names, are being developed by computer engineers.
Researchers at IBM have revealed they are working on technology which will lead to consumers being shown tailor made adverts that reflect their personal interests.
Digital advertising screens are already appearing in train stations, on bus stops and on the sides of buildings, but currently they only show generic adverts for a handful of products.
The new advertising hoardings will behave like those in the film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, in which Cruise’s character is confronted with digital signs that call out his name as he walks through a futuristic shopping mall.
“John Anderton. You could use a Guinness right about now,” one billboard announces as he walks past.
IBM claims that its technology will help prevent consumers from being subjected to a barrage of irritating advertising because they will only be shown adverts for products that are relevant to them.
The system works by using the same kind of wireless technology tags found in Oyster Cards – the travel cards used on the London Underground.
These tags, which are known as RFID chips are increasingly also being incorporated into credit cards and onto mobile phones.
By encoding these chips with information about the individual, digital advertising boards could identify a person as they pass by and show them an advert according to what is known about their shopping habits and personal preferences.
Brian Innes, a research scientist at IBM’s innovation laboratories in Hursley, near Winchester, said: “In Minority Report, the billboards recognise passers-by and play adverts that are specific for the individual.
“In the film, the billboards rely on scanning the person’s eyeball, but we are using RFID technology that people are carrying around with them, so they can have a tailor made message.”
A New World Order is emerging …
… and we have to stop it NOW.
Russia to introduce ‘draconian’ Minority Report-style law
Russian citizens can be issued official warnings about crimes that they have not yet committed under powers granted to the security services today.
President Dmitry Medvedev signed off on a new law giving the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, the right to caution people suspected of preparing acts of extremism, or to jail them for obstructing the agency’s work.
The powers appear similar to those enjoyed by Precrime, the police unit in the 2002 Hollywood film Minority Report. “This is a draconian law reminiscent of our repressive past,” said Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Solidarity opposition movement.
Rights activists had hoped Medvedev would rein in the security services, after his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel, stuffed his administration with hawkish veterans. The Kremlin’s tough stance comes against the backdrop of a disparate but emergent civil movement protesting against corruption and authoritarian government.
Under the new provisions, the FSB will be able to echo Soviet practices. The punishment for ignoring a warning was unclear, but 15-day jail sentences are envisaged for “obstructing an FSB officer’s duties”. Sergei Ivanenko, a leader of the Yabloko party, called it “the law of a police state”. He said: “If such a law exists in a democratic country then it is limited by a very powerful system of civil, public and parliamentary control. In our conditions it will mean absolute power for the security services.”
Barclaycard has announced it is investing a seven-figure sum in “contactless payment” technology Photo: Getty Images
The futuristic systems, like those used by Tom Cruise in the science fiction film Minority Report, are being developed by scientists for Barclaycard.
The company has announced it is investing a seven-figure sum in “contactless payment” technology.
This allows customers to use everyday items they carry around with them – such as mobile phones, key fobs or even their eyes or fingerprints – to make payments.
It means shoppers will no longer have to rely on cards.
Barclaycard, which is part of Barclays, has already introduced a new-style cash machine in the United Arab Emirates enabling people to use their fingerprints to withdraw money and shoppers in the UK may soon be able to use the same technology.
It may have seemed like just another improbable scene from a Hollywood sci-fi flick – Tom Cruise battling against an army of robotic spiders intent on hunting him down.
But the storyline from Minority Report may not be quite as far fetched as it sounds.
British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives.
Prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year, scuttling into potential danger areas such as booby-trapped buildings or enemy hideouts to relay images back to troops safely positioned nearby.
Soldiers will carry the robots into combat and use a small tracked vehicle to transport them closer to their targets.
Then they would swarm into the building and relay images back to the soldiers’ hand-held or wrist-mounted computers, warning them of any threats inside.
BAE Systems has just signed a £19million contract to develop the robots for the US Army.
Plans for a creature that can crawl like a spider are said to be well developed, and researchers eventually hope to be able to create creatures that can slither like a snake or fly like a dragonfly.
While some of the creatures will be fitted with small cameras, others will be equipped with sensors that will be able to detect the presence of chemical, biological or radioactive weapons.
Imagine a world of streets lined with video cameras that alert authorities to any suspicious activity. A world where police officers can read the minds of potential criminals and arrest them before they commit any crimes. A world in which a suspect who lies under questioning gets nabbed immediately because his brain has given him away.
Though that may sound a lot like the plot of the 2002 movie “Minority Report,” starring Tom Cruise and based on a Philip K. Dick novel, I’m not talking about science fiction here; it turns out we’re not so far away from that world. But does it sound like a very safe place, or a very scary one?
It’s a question I think we should be asking as the federal government invests millions of dollars in emerging technology aimed at detecting and decoding brain activity. And though government funding focuses on military uses for these new gizmos, they can and do end up in the hands of civilian law enforcement and in commercial applications. As spending continues and neurotechnology advances, that imagined world is no longer the stuff of science fiction or futuristic movies, and we postpone at our peril confronting the ethical and legal dilemmas it poses for a society that values not just personal safety but civil liberty as well.
Consider Cernium Corp.’s “Perceptrak” video surveillance and monitoring system, recently installed by Johns Hopkins University, among others. This technology grew out of a project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense — to develop intelligent video analytics systems. Unlike simple video cameras monitored by security guards, Perceptrak integrates video cameras with an intelligent computer video. It uses algorithms to analyze streaming video and detect suspicious activities, such as people loitering in a secure area, a group converging or someone leaving a package unattended. Since installing Perceptrak, Johns Hopkins has reported a 25 percent reduction in crime.
But that’s only the beginning. Police may soon be able to monitor suspicious brain activity from a distance as well. New neurotechnology soon may be able to detect a person who is particularly nervous, in possession of guilty knowledge or, in the more distant future, to detect a person thinking, “Only one hour until the bomb explodes.” Today, the science of detecting and decoding brain activity is in its infancy. But various government agencies are funding the development of technology to detect brain activity remotely and are hoping to eventually decode what someone is thinking. Scientists, however, wildly disagree about the accuracy of brain imaging technology, what brain activity may mean and especially whether brain activity can be detected from afar.
Yet as the experts argue about the scientific limitations of remote brain detection, this chilling science fiction may already be a reality. In 2002, the Electronic Privacy Information Center reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring devices for airports and was seeking to use noninvasive sensors in passenger gates to collect the electronic signals emitted by passengers’ brains. Scientists scoffed at the reports, arguing that to do what NASA was proposing required that an electroencephalogram (EEG) be physically attached to the scalp.
But civil liberty campaigners and union bosses warned that such intrusive measures by the Home Office would destroy the relationship of trust between GPs and their patients or social workers and clients.
They would also put professionals at risk of reprisals if they are seen as police informers.
Opposition MPs said recent fiascos involving huge quantities of personal data lost or leaked by the Government raised grave doubts over plans for sharing and swapping private data.
The scheme, outlined in the Government’s latest Tackling Violence Action Plan, will mean redrafting the NHS’s strict privacy protection rules to encourage health staff to share patients’ confidential data as part of “public interest disclosures”.
The document sets out plans for identifying individuals who may not have committed any offences but are judged to be at risk of involvement in violence”.
Tell-tale signs of those ‘whose behaviour may be identified as risky’ include drug addicts or alcoholics, mental health patients and youngsters who join gangs or who have been the victims of violence either in the home or on the street.
In the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report crimes were prevented before they had even ocurred