"Combat Zones That See"


The latest (and greatest) development from DARPA, the folks who long ago inadvertently gave rise to the Internet: a computer system "capable of automatically identifying vehicles by size, color, shape and license tag, or drivers and passengers by face."

Read all about it in this AP piece that ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer. A snippet:

Scientists and privacy experts—who have seen face-recognition technology used at a Super Bowl and monitoring cameras in London—are concerned about the potential impact of the emerging DARPA technologies if they are applied to civilians by commercial or government agencies outside the Pentagon.

"Government would have a reasonably good idea of where everyone is most of the time," said John Pike, a Global Security.org defense analyst.

DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker dismisses those concerns. She said the Combat Zones That See (CTS) technology isn't intended for homeland security or law enforcement and couldn't be used for "other applications without extensive modifications."


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  1. “I don’t know about anyone else here, but the prospect of either of those occuring freaks the shit out of me. It’s like this Onek character thinks that constant monitoring isn’t such a big invasion of privacy, after all. Bloody insane.”

    I don’t get it, Neil – it seemed to me, by those comments, that he was against such things, or at least clearly noting that it is different to think that at any given time someone may be looking at you and the prospect of having everything you have done and anywhere you have been in public for years at a time.

    I don’t know what you mean by “either of those occurring…”…because the first already has occurred. When you are out in public, at any given moment _someone_ _may_ be looking at you. That is why it is called “in public” – you are rather clearly visible to members of the public. It is only the prospect of the second, of permanent and perfect record of all actions – the difference in someone looking at you and someone staring at you constantly and following you everywhere you go – that is in question.

  2. I would think satellites would do this job better than millions of cameras. Like it or not, it will be revolutionary when perfected. Imagine a drive-by shooting or bank robbery where the criminal thinks she (don’t wanna be sexist) got away only to find the satellite and computer saw where her vehicle was and is able to let the authorities know where it went after that and even where its at now. Then the cops can kick in the door and shoot everybody – opps, wrong thread. Ideally, any time someone commits a crime and hops in a car, the perp could be tracked provided you could identify where that car was at any given time. The computer could track the movement of the car forward and also go back to see where it came from. When a person is found with a carload of contraband, they could determine where the shipment originated.

    If the laws of the land were reasonable and respected by 98% of the population, as they would be if we eliminated victimless “crimes”, this would be more exciting and less of a concern for us (civil) libertarians.

  3. I have to say this, Jan Walker is full of shit.

    “and couldn’t be used for “other applications without extensive modifications.””

    Liar. If you can make it work on the battlefield, it won’t take much if any modification to make it work elsewhere.

    Someone needs to get an upskirt pic of Jan and post it on the web.

  4. Will you guys please be QUIET!!

    I’m trying to concentrate! … I’m working on my teleportation invention. It’s taking me a while. And all this static and blather isn’t helping any.

    So hush! (Please!)

  5. The Interstate Highway System was for military transportation and ARPANET was for military communication and GPS was for military location. Maybe this military identification thing won’t turn out so badly.

  6. The Interstate Highway System is now for civilian transportation and the INTERNET is now for civilian communication, and GPS is now for civilian location. Maybe civilian identification won’t turn out so badly.

    (Civilian location? Yeah, right.)

  7. Can you see her panties yet?

  8. Ah-ha! Now we’ll all be able to track down those *%$%! SUV owners.

  9. If it can be done, it will be. It was only a matter of time, and if We the Patsies complain, it’ll only become top secret. And then someone else will eventually do it too (albeit not as immediate a concern as during the Cold War…).

  10. Personally, I’d like to see this technology applied to the development of intelligent (i.e. self driving) automobiles. For such a thing to be possible the car’s ‘autopilot’ would need to be able to distinguish between cars and other moving or stationary objects, and to identify people (in order to, say, make the proper decision to strike a similar sized inanimate object instead of a child that has run into the road, assuming the timing is such that one collision or the other is inevitable).

    Just the pattern recognition software and sensing devices alone could have lots and lots of useful applications (if the cost eventually is low enough) aside from spying on people. It would aid in developing personal robots to help out around the house or to do work in industrial applications. We’re paying for it anyway so we should reap the rewards.

  11. mmm personal beer robot

  12. The last paragraph contains two quotes from a person at a human rights group:

    “It’s one thing to say that, if someone is in the street, he knows that at any single moment someone can see him,” Onek said. “It’s another thing to record a whole life so you can see anywhere someone has been in public for 10 years.”

    I don’t know about anyone else here, but the prospect of either of those occuring freaks the shit out of me. It’s like this Onek character thinks that constant monitoring isn’t such a big invasion of privacy, after all. Bloody insane.

  13. No. Damn sensible business attire.

  14. We can supply the license plate reading portion of the system. who do we see? ;p

  15. This is the future; will we face it ?

  16. Radix lecti – Couch potato

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