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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The future is here

Let me just say that what I am about to tell you is probably straight out of black-helicopter headquarters. But it’s all real.

I have a friend who is very concerned about biometrics.

And it can be scary stuff. Like any high-tech stuff, it can be used for tremendous good – in this case, it makes wonderful locks for houses concerned with easy, foolproof access for family members – or fast access to firearms for protection purposes. On the other hand, the whole biometric thing could be – and is being – incorporated into our regular lives. For more information, see the movie “Minority Report.”

But biometrics is like gunpowder. It is both good and bad and unfortunately very common.

So what isn’t so common?

I decided to write this little article to give my friend some new things to lose sleep over other than the use of biometrics on a national ID. These programs may sound impossible, but our government’s DARPA organization is very busy working on ways to achieve them all.

So, here’s your list:

1. Silent talk “telepathy” for soldiers – user-to-user communication based on the transmission of neural signals.
2. Psychohistory – Ways to chart and predict the actions of large segments of the population.
3. Guided bullets – Yep. Bullets that can seek and take out specific targets – see the Stallone movie, Judge Dredd.
4. Self-repairing hunter-killer drones. On the ground and in the air – drones which can repair themselves and continue their mission – see the Terminator movies for this one.
5. Gandalf Project – locate enemies precisely and target them by phone. See my ex-wife for a demonstration of this.
6. EATR – robotic technology that can refuel by foraging.
7. Chemical Robots – flexible critters that can squeeze through small spaces and regain full size on the other side. T-1000 or TX (Terminator series again)
8. Hopper robots – metal friends that can leap over – or onto - objects up to nine meters high.
9. Vulture – an aircraft capable of remaining in the air for five-years at a time.
10. Exo-skeletons – to upgrade the human form.
11. Big Dog – Read some Ray Bradbury; specifically Fahrenheit 451.
12. Metabolic Dominance – Super soldier program. See the Kurt Russell film, Soldier.

There’s a lot more, but you get the general idea. Think the science fiction shelves are all a bunch of useless hooey. Please look up DARPA, then consider that Frank C. Dille, the publisher who produced the cartoon “Buck Rogers,” did that during the Great Depression, to bolster people's belief that the future could be bright - that it could hold promise and wonders.

And every one of his amazing technological wonders and advances depicted in those strips, are now at work in the real world. Some of them we use every day without even thinking about it.

As I told my friend in a recent email (also pretty amazing and dangerous tech when you consider it ), biometrics are low-tech, compared to some of the real nasty stuff being developed - and absolutely all of it can cross the border between military and "police" use.

People have asked, what if Hoover had been given access to this technology? But my perspective is that we already have people with their fingers on the pulse of the public – and perhaps they are sometimes taking that pulse by gripping the throat. These people are in organizations called the NSA and CIA. They have equipment filtering comm lines and looking for patterns from vid, geo-location and financial apps across the U.S. and the planet. By and large, their efforts and the advanced tech they use to complete their mission, protects us from untold dangers every day of our lives.

We are truly already in a version of the Matrix - and like Tommy Lee Jones said in The Men In Black, "the only reason these people sleep at night, is that they do not know about it."


*****

For some good futuristic writings which may depict things which are either not far off – or are in fact currently in development, see the following authors:

Philip K. Dick
George Alec Effinger
Samuel R. Delany
William Gibson
Bruce Sterling

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