Tagdrones

Apple Rejected the Drone Tracker App Because it Could

Apple has for the third—and what looks like the final—time rejected an app that would send alerts every time a U.S. military drone made a kill. The first two times Apple said no to Drones+, it said it was “not useful” (we beg to differ), then told the makers there was a problem with the corporate logo, report Danger Room’s Christina Bonnington and Spencer Ackerman. This last time, however, Apple has given its definitive no, citing “objectionable and crude” content — the type of stuff that isn’t in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. It’s not clear what part of the app is “objectionable or crude” because as Bonnington and Ackerman put it, “Drones+ doesn’t present grisly images of corpses left in the aftermath of the strikes. It just tells users when a strike has occurred, going off a publicly available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism,” they write. (Wired has a video of how the app works.) But it doesn’t really matter what part they find “objectionable.” Apple’s history of iPhone app store censorship has shown that Apple does what it wants because it can — and it’s nice enough to have even told the Drones+ makers its reasons.

Apple has never wanted to key us in on its reasons for doing things because that way it can do what it wanted without explanation.

The Atlantic: Apple Rejected the Drone Tracker App Because it Could

Aqua Drone Used As Life Guard

aqua drone: Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard (EMILY)

Including in Oregon:

Think of a lifeguard and you might conjure up images of sunburned teenagers working a summer job. A new and relatively inexpensive lifesaving device could change that.

Meet EMILY, a remote-controlled lifeguard. It looks like a buoy, but it’s a small watercraft fitted with a flotation device. It can go up to 22 mph and can get to people more quickly, and in some cases more safely, than any human.

Full Story: The Columbian: Remote-control ‘lifeguard’ used in Ore. rescue

U.S. Army Funding Research To Control Living Insects To Use As Drones

grasshopper

Haaretz reports:

In a Technion aeronautics laboratory, a pair of scientists are conducting experiments funded by the U.S. Army that would allow them to control the flight of insects from afar, as if they were mechanical flight vehicles. […]

Research in this field has developed considerably over the past decade thanks to advances in electronic equipment. The Technion lab is one of some five laboratories around the world conducting similar research. The University of Michigan team has been particularly successful, having managed to control the flight of insects from afar, for allotted periods of time. In the Haifa laboratory, researchers have gained control of the flight of insects that are connected to a simulator. They can give a series of commands that control the flight movements of insects for a few minutes. […]

Do the insects suffer? “I don’t know, and I don’t know whether anyone knows for sure,” says Ribak. “But the experiments which we conduct are extremely non-invasive. In comparison to experiments conducted on animals, this is child’s play,” he says. “The Helsinki agreements for experimentation on animals do not apply to insects. Insects are not regarded as important,” says Weihs. “After the electrodes are implanted, we don’t think there can be any pain, since the electric signal is a natural sign produced by the insect itself. We just tell the insect when it should make a movement, using these signals.”

Haaretz: In an Israeli lab, the world’s smallest drone

(Thanks Jim)

CNN’s Bogus Drone-Deaths Graphic

CNN drone graph

CNN is running a story on a CNN graph that, in he words of Atlantic writer Conor Friedersdorf, “indicates that the Pakistan drone program overseen by Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama killed 163 innocent people in 2009, 40 innocent people in 2010, 26 innocents in 2011, and zero innocent people in 2012.” Friedersdorf continues:

Is our drone-strike program really only killing bad guys now?

The casual CNN reader can be forgiven for drawing that conclusion. Why worry about drones if everyone dying from them is now a militant? she might conclude. What the authors neglect to mention is this bit from the May 29, New York Times story that explains how the United States government — and perhaps our allies of convenience inside Pakistan? — define “militant.” Per the newspaper (emphasis added), “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” […]

Americans ought to know that the Bureau of Investigative Journalism claims to have verified a minimum of three civilian casualties in 2012, that the U.S. government’s definition of militants makes its claims unreliable, and that our method of identifying militants almost certainly isn’t foolproof. Clive Stafford Smith, who has reported from Pakistan, wrote in The Guardian last month that “just as with Guantánamo Bay, the CIA is paying bounties to those who will identify ‘terrorists’. Five thousand dollars is an enormous sum for a Waziri informant, translating to perhaps £250,000 in London terms. The informant has a calculation to make: is it safer to place a GPS tag on the car of a truly dangerous terrorist, or to call down death on a Nobody (with the beginnings of a beard), reporting that he is a militant? Too many ‘militants’ are just young men with stubble.”

The Atlantic: CNN’s Bogus Drone-Deaths Graphic

Drone Artists/Hackers Detained Held in London on Suspicion of Terrorism

Electronic Countermeasures drone art project

Silicon Republic reports on the detention of the drone hackers/artists group Tomorrows Thoughts Today:

The trio, headed up by Liam Young, had created the robotic drones from components that were originally intended for police surveillance.

The drones had been swarming around Science Gallery last night to show how they can broadcast their own Wi-Fi network as a flying pirate file-sharing formation.

As they swarm, people in the audience can log onto the drone network with their phones and laptops and use the drones as a local network to upload files and share data with one another.

It was just as the three performers were disembarking from their Dublin flight in London that their suitcases were swarmed in upon by customs officers at the new London Southend Airport.

They were released after about two hours of questioning.

Full Story: Silicon Republic: Quadcopter drone group held in London airport on suspicion of terrorism

The Right Pushes Back on Drones

The AP ran a story recently on the use of drones on U.S. soil by civilians. I’m interested in the examples Republicans Rand Paul and Austin Scott give for curbing the use of drones in the U.S.:

“I just don’t like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates,” Paul said in an interview, referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

He acknowledged that was an “extreme example,” but he added: “They might just say we’d be safer from muggings if we had constant surveillance crisscrossing the street all the time. But then the question becomes, ‘What about jaywalking? What about eating too many donuts? What about putting mayonnaise on your hamburger?’ Where does it stop?” […]

Discussion of the issue has been colored by exaggerated drone tales spread largely by conservative media and bloggers.

Scott said he was prompted to introduce his bill in part by news reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has been using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska. The agency has indeed been searching for illegal dumping of waste into streams, but it is doing it with piloted planes.

Full Story: AP (via NPR): Drones At Home Raise Fear Of Surveillance Society

On the one hand, maybe I should welcome whatever it takes to get conservatives concerned about civil liberties. But I worry about this sort of nanny state fear mongering, especially since it seems to obscure some of the more serious issues regarding policing and invasion of privacy by private corporations – not to mention the questionable use of weaponized drones by the military in the first place.

See also:

Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

John Metta: Our soldiers should die in war

Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Sea Shepherd members with their surveillance drone

A long range surveillance drone developed by the Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security

The Sea Shepherd crew has intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet on Christmas Day, a thousand miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th. Once the pursuit began, three Japanese harpoon/security ships moved in on the Steve Irwin to shield the Nisshin Maru to allow it to escape.

This time however the Japanese tactic of tailing the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker will not work because the drones, one on the Steve Irwin and the other on the Bob Barker, can track and follow the Nisshin Maru and can relay the positions back to the Sea Shepherd ships.

Sea Shepherd: Sea Shepherd Intercepts the Japanese Whaling Fleet with Drones

Parrot AR drone
A Parrot AR drone, which is what Occupy Wall Street is using.

Also, Occupy Wall Street acquired a surveillance drone to monitor police activities.

5th Generation Warfare for Dummies

Skilluminati describes this as 5th generation warfare reduced to marketing copy for contractors:

“America still hasn’t quite understood that we are opening Pandora’s box. Take drones. We feel we can use them anywhere, soon others will be using them against us. There are dozens of countries around the world developing their own drone technology or buying what is out on the market. The same is true for technologies like those associated with Stuxnet,” said the former senior diplomat who has worked closely throughout his career with the military and intelligence communities. Or as another journalist friend of mine put it who has been covering the issue closely, “The day after Stuxnet was like the day after Hiroshima. We had the technology and no one else did. But within a matter of a few years that had changed.” So had the nature of modern warfare…and by extension of modern diplomacy and that’s what is going to happen here.

Imagine wars that were conducted constantly, wars in which both sides might not be bent on destroying one another but would rather focus on capturing resources or slowing down economic performance or producing popular frustration or distributing misinformation or manipulating elections or markets. Shutting down power grids or stealing money from bank accounts or spilling pollutants into a river are old hat with current technologies. Imagine what the future might hold.

Foreign Policy: The Phantom War has begun

See also: Wired for War

Are we starting a full-out war on the Internet?

U.S. Military Turns to NFL for Surveillance Technology

drone surveillance

Reporting from Washington — As it rapidly expands its drone program over Afghanistan, the U.S. military is turning to the technology that powers NFL broadcasts, ESPN and TV news to catalog a flood of information coming from the cameras of its fleet of unmanned aircraft.

U.S. military archives hold 24 million minutes of video collected by Predators and other remotely piloted aircraft that have become an essential tool for commanders. But the library is largely useless because analysts often have no way of knowing exactly what they have, or any way to search for information that is particularly valuable.
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To help solve that problem, the Air Force and government spy satellite experts have begun working with industry experts to adapt the methods that enable the NFL and other broadcasters to quickly find and show replays, display on-field first-down markers and jot John Madden-style notations on the screen.

LA Times: U.S. military turns to TV for surveillance technology

Military to send robots into combat

Robots could be replacing human soldiers on the battlefields in the near future:

Keating said that, so far, it’s impossible to make robots completely independent of humans on the battlefield.

But the day is coming when American soldiers will fight alongside robotic comrades ? even if those robots aren’t carrying weapons, Thorpe said.

Fox News: Military Robots Prepare to March Into Battle

(via Fark)

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