DARPA combines human brains and 120-megapixel cameras to create the ultimate military threat detection system
posted by Keito
2012-09-26 21:01:07'After more than four years of research, DARPA has created a system that successfully combines soldiers, EEG brainwave scanners, 120-megapixel cameras, and multiple computers running cognitive visual processing algorithms into a cybernetic hivemind. Called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), it will be used in a combat setting to significantly improve the US Army’s threat detection capabilities.
There are two discrete parts to the system: The 120-megapixel camera, which is tripod-mounted and looks over the battlefield (pictured below); and the computer system, where a soldier sits in front of a computer monitor with an EEG strapped to his head (pictured above). Images from the camera are fed into the computer system, which runs cognitive visual processing algorithms to detect possible threats (enemy combatants, sniper nests, IEDs). These possible threats are then shown to a soldier whose brain then works out if they’re real threats — or a false alarm (a tree branch, a shadow thrown by an overheard bird).
The soldier is linked into the computer system via an EEG (electroencephalogram) brain-computer interface that continually scans his brains for P300 responses. As we’ve discussed previously (see: Hackers backdoor the human brain), a P300 response is triggered when your brain recognizes something important. This might be a face of someone you know or the glint of a sniper scope — it doesn’t matter. P300 responses are very reliable and can even be triggered subconsciously.
In short, CT2WS taps the human brain’s unsurpassed ability to recognize objects. In testing, the 120-megapixel camera, combined with the computer vision algorithms, generated 810 false alarms per hour; with a human operator strapped into the EEG, that drops down to just five false alarms per hour. The human brain is surprisingly fast, too: According to DARPA, CT2WS display 10 images per second to the human operator — and yet that doesn’t seem to affect accuracy. The total overall accuracy of the system is 91% — but that will improve as DARPA moves beyond the prototype stage.
Moving forward, once our computers are suitably power efficient (or there’s a breakthrough in battery efficiency), the ultimate goal is to create binoculars or head-up displays (HUD) with threat detection technology built in. It’s very tiring for a soldier to be constantly on the lookout for threats — but such a system could monitor the surroundings, and then flash up images of potential threats for the soldier to act upon, significantly lowering his workload. With a large enough sensor and the right lenses, such a system could allow the soldier to see for miles in every direction.'
Noam Chomsky: Why America and Israel Are the Greatest Threats to Peace
posted by Keito
2012-09-11 14:42:17'Imagine if Iran -- or any other country -- did a fraction of what American and Israel do at will.
It is not easy to escape from one’s skin, to see the world differently from the way it is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let’s take a few examples.
The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be reversed.
Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its superpower patron.
Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the U.S. elections.
Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable, Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.
All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair – to Iran.
Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible pretext.
Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the bombing did not end Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program but rather initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.
Iran too has carried out aggression – but during the past several hundred years, only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in the Persian Gulf.
Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as are Washington’s allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab Spring.
The Nonaligned Movement – the governments of most of the world’s population – is now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and some members – India, for example – adhere to the harsh U.S. sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.
The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command: “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which “inspires other nations to do so.”
Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared. Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.
If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability – this is still unknown to U.S. intelligence – that may be because it is “inspired to do so” by the U.S.-Israeli threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.
Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United States and Israel.
Furthermore Iran must be punished for its “successful defiance,” which was Washington’s charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.
Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that circumstances were otherwise identical.
Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where chances of a fair trial would be slight.
Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for performing a public service – which, of course, would not obviate the need to take the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.
The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held that “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America” by Martin Gilens. He found that the vast majority are “powerless to shape government policy” when their preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it matters to them.
Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.
Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in ways sometimes verging on comedy.
To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial system from a character in a fantasy novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – who calls for the use of gold coins instead of paper currency.
It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In “Gulliver’s Travels,” his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold. Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish – and best of all, inequality would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.'
TrapWire: Privacy No More? All-seeing eye tracks your every move
posted by Keito
Israel 'prepared for 30-day war with Iran'
posted by Keito
2012-08-16 01:09:22'Israel's outgoing home front defence minister says an attack on Iran would likely trigger a month-long conflict that would leave 500 Israelis dead.
Matan Vilnai told the Maariv newspaper that the fighting would be "on several fronts", with hundreds of missiles fired at Israeli towns and cities.
Israel was prepared, he said, though strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities had to be co-ordinated with the US.
Meanwhile, a US blogger has published what he says are Israel's attack plans.
Richard Silverstein told the BBC he had been given an internal briefing memo for Israel's eight-member security cabinet, which outlined what the Israeli military would do to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
The purported leaked Israeli memo suggests that the military operation would begin with a massive cyber-attack against Iran's infrastructure, followed by a barrage of ballistic missiles launched at its nuclear facilities.
Military command-and-control systems, research and development facilities, and the homes of senior figures in nuclear and missile development would also be targeted.
Only then would manned aircraft be sent in to attack "a short-list of those targets which require further assault".
BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says it is not possible to verify the authenticity of the document, but the proposed mission would be huge and have potentially far-reaching consequences.
Iran's government and military have made it clear that if it is attacked either by Israel or the US, it will respond in kind, either directly or through proxies.
In his interview with Maariv, Mr Vilnai said Israel had "prepared as never before".
"There is no room for hysteria," said the former general, who is stepping down at the end of August to become Israel's ambassador to China.
He echoed an assessment by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who said that it was believed that some 500 people in Israel might be killed.
"There might be fewer dead, or more, perhaps... but this is the scenario for which we are preparing, in accordance with the best expert advice."
"The assessments are for a war that will last 30 days on several fronts," he added, alluding to the possibility of attacks by the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip.
Mr Vilnai also declined to comment on US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's assertion on Tuesday that Washington did not believe Israel had yet made a decision on whether or not to launch a strike on Iran.
"I don't want to be dragged into the debate," he added. "But the United States is our greatest friend and we will always have to co-ordinate such moves with it."
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Mr Vilnai would be succeeded by Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel's internal security agency, Shin Bet.'
Julian Assange: UK issues 'threat' to arrest Wikileaks founder
posted by Keito
2012-08-16 00:42:13'The UK has issued a "threat" to enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London to arrest Julian Assange, Ecuador's foreign minister has said.
Mr Assange took refuge at the embassy in June to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over assault and rape claims, which he denies.
Ricardo Patino also said a decision on the Wikileaks founder's asylum request would be made public on Thursday.
The Foreign Office said it could revoke the embassy's diplomatic status.
In a statement issued as Mr Patino spoke, it said the UK had a "legal obligation" to extradite Mr Assange.
Meanwhile, a number of police officers are outside the embassy, in Knightsbridge.
At a news conference in Quito on Wednesday night, Mr Patino said a letter was delivered to the Ecuadorian government through a British embassy official.
"Today we received from the United Kingdom an express threat, in writing, that they might storm our Embassy in London if we don't hand over Julian Assange," he said.
"Ecuador rejects in the most emphatic terms the explicit threat of the British official communication."
He said such a threat was "improper of a democratic, civilized and rule abiding country".
"If the measure announced in the British official communication is enacted, it will be interpreted by Ecuador as an unacceptable, unfriendly and hostile act and as an attempt against our sovereignty. It would force us to respond," he said.
"We are not a British colony".
A Foreign Office spokesman said the UK remained "determined" to fulfil its obligation to extradite Mr Assange.
"Throughout this process have we have drawn the Ecuadorians' attention to relevant provisions of our law, whether, for example, the extensive human rights safeguards in our extradition procedures, or to the legal status of diplomatic premises in the UK," the spokesman said.
"We are still committed to reaching a mutually acceptable solution."
The law which Britain is threatening to invoke in the Assange case is the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987.
It allows the UK to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy on UK soil, which would potentially allow police to enter the building to arrest Mr Assange.
The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale says the British government has been in long negotiations with Ecuador over the issue and has reminded it of the act.
But he added that while the UK has been frustrated at the lack of a decision it is not about to raid the embassy.
Even if Mr Assange is granted asylum, he will have to cross British territory and could be arrested, our correspondent said.
On Monday, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said a decision would be made this week after he held a meeting with his advisers.
Mr Patino told reporters the decision had been made and an announcement would issued on Thursday morning, at 07:00 Ecuadorian time (13:00 BST).
Mr Assange's Wikileaks website published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments, particularly the US, in 2010.
In 2010, two female ex-Wikileaks volunteers alleged that Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, had attacked them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture.
Mr Assange claims the sex was consensual and the allegations are politically motivated.
The 41-year-old says he fears that if he is extradited to Sweden, he may be sent later to the US and could face espionage charges.
In June, judges at the UK's Supreme Court dismissed his final appeal against extradition to Sweden.
An offer to the Swedish authorities by Ecuador for investigators to interview Mr Assange inside the embassy, was rejected.
Foreign minister Ricardo Patino said a letter from the UK to Ecuador stated: "You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy.
"We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us."
It went on: "We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna Convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations."'