Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Brother is watching us all

The governments want to watch everything we are doing, and this isn't frenzied crackpot conspiracy theories, it is the truth. Big Brother is watching us all is a BBC report going over some plans which is more than remniscient of: DARPA's Information Awareness Office, The Total Information Awareness System; Or, Big Brother in-carnate

Gait DNA, for example, is creating an individual code for the way I walk. Their goal is to invent a system whereby a facial image can be matched to your gait, your height, your weight and other elements, so a computer will be able to identify instantly who you are. In the Total Information Awareness project these elements were covered by the Human ID at a Distance (HumanID) sub-project. The idea is to recognize people even in a crowded place, and to: "As you walk through a crowd, we'll be able to track you," said Professor Challapa. "These are all things that don't need the cooperation of the individual." And there was, a couple years ago, an attempt to use this sort of technology at a pro football game in Florida, ostensibly there was a "terrorist threat" which gave them a reason to deploy this technology to test how well it recognizes people.

The issue may be that facial recognition may not be enough to robustly identify someone. It seems likely they could estimate height and weight through image analysis, and by analyzing enough corroborating factors you should be able to make a good identification.

"Unless we're going to train every American citizen and soldier in 16 different languages we have to develop a technology that allows them to understand - whatever country they are in - what's going on around them. I hope in the future we'll be able to have conversations, if say you're speaking in French and I'm speaking in English, and it will be natural." .. "And the computer will do the translation?" In the Total Information Awareness project this was covered by the Babylon, Communicator, and Effective, Affordable, Reusable Speech-to-Text (EARS) subprojects. Many of the TIA subprojects involved language translation no doubt due to the plethora of human languages.

"And this idea about a total surveillance society," I asked. "Is that science fiction?"..."No, that's not science fiction. We're developing an unmanned airplane - a UAV - which may be able to stay up five years with cameras on it, constantly being cued to look here and there. This is done today to a limited amount in Baghdad. But it's the way to go." This wasn't covered by a TIA project however there has been increasing use of these unmanned aircraft, especially in the Iraq war. As I have covered before: UAV's coming to the U.S. for more spying on U.S. Citizens it is planned that UAV's will be used inside the United States.

The last item mentioned does border on science fiction, but is actual science. Oceanit has developed Sense Through The Wall (STTW) which detects minute radio signals emitted by human beings. It is able to detect these signals through walls, and they believe in the future that the technology will determine heart rate, breathing, etc. In other words, they'll have the makings of a tricorder, literally.
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