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Archive for the ‘surveillance’ category

Jan 12, 2020

FCC Filing Confirms Final Contestant in DARPA’s $12 Million Satellite Launch Challenge

Posted by in categories: military, satellites, surveillance

In 2018, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the multi-million-dollar DARPA Launch Challenge to promote rapid access to space within days rather than years. To earn prizes totaling more than US $12 million, rocket companies would have to launch unfamiliar satellites from two sites in quick succession.

“The launch environment of tomorrow will more closely resemble that of airline operations—with frequent launches from a myriad of locations worldwide,” said Todd Master, DARPA’s program manager for the competition at the time. The U.S. military relies on space-based systems for much of its navigation and surveillance needs, and wants a way to quickly replace damaged or destroyed satellites in the future. At the moment, it takes at least three years to build, test, and launch spacecraft.

To ensure that DARPA was incentivizing the flexible, responsive launch technologies the U.S. military needs, competitors would receive information about the site of their next launch fewer than 30 days prior to each flight, DARPA’s rules stated, and only learn their actual payloads two weeks out.

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Jan 10, 2020

Satellite AI: Seeking solutions in high resolution

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, satellites, surveillance

Satellites have been flying around the earth for decades — scanning landscapes and capturing images of our fast-changing planet. Remote sensing has been around since even before the first flight of the Wright brothers. It was restricted to hot air balloon flights back then. Systematic aerial photography and satellite remote sensing reached an inflection point during the Cold War, when the need for surveillance led to modification of combat aircraft for the purpose of spying. The space race also gave a fillip to satellite launches. The first satellite photographs of the earth were taken on August 14, 1959 and satellite image processing techniques evolved in 1960s and 1970s.

Till late 1990s, the primary consumer of remote sensing data was either governments bodies or defence agencies. This was because of the strategically sensitive nature of technology, which gave birth to the fear that it can be used for spying. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union commercial satellite imagery market began to evolve and IKONOS became the first commercial, very-high resolution satellite to be launched in 1999. Another factor in play was the growing use of computer software for analysis of data and satellite data consumption benefited from this growth in the 1990s.

The 21st century saw rapid changes in the remote sensing industry. Data consumption continued to increase. This was accelerated by the fall in costs of satellite imagery. Moreover, open data sources emerged with Landsat data becoming publicly available in 2009. Copernicus Hub followed in 2014 when the European Space Agency launched Sentinel 1. Another inflection point occurred in the industry when Planet launched a constellation of 88 Dove satellites abroad the PSLV-C37 of ISRO. These are shoe-box sized satellites leveraging the power of off-the-shelf consumer electronics to reduce costs. Further innovation in satellite launching by a slew of startups led by SpaceX has reduced costs of launching satellites.

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Jan 5, 2020

How we survive the surveillance apocalypse

Posted by in categories: law, surveillance, transportation

But no, privacy isn’t dead. A path to reclaiming it — fuzzy and almost too late — is starting to emerge. We just have to be angry enough to demand it.


Trying to get straight answers has been, literally, a full-time job. I’ve digested the legal word salad of privacy policies, interrogated a hundred companies and even hacked into a car dashboard to grab my data back. There are lots of stories about online threats, but it feels different watching your personal information streaming out of devices you take for granted. This year I learned there is no such thing as “incognito.” Just stepping out for an errand, I discovered, lets my car record where I shop, what I listen to and even how much I weigh.

Jan 1, 2020

5G, AI, data privacy and mass surveillance — 12 biggest tech policy challenges India will have to face in 2020

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, government, internet, nuclear energy, policy, robotics/AI, surveillance

As access to the internet grows, so do the risks associated with being online. Cybersecurity threats are on the rise as data hackers find new ways to breach through firewalls. Earlier this year bad actors were able to gain access to the administrative serves of India’s largest nuclear power plant with a simple phishing email.

The government want to increase its cyber might to ward off such hazards but experts feel some of its policies might do the exact opposite.


2020 will be a busy year for India with the 5G spectrum auction still pending, Personal Data Protection Bill under discussion, and the deadline for social.

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Dec 26, 2019

China dreams of becoming an AI utopia – here’s the reality

Posted by in categories: education, food, health, robotics/AI, surveillance

This is the fourth instalment in a four-part series examining the brewing US-China war over the development and deployment of artificial intelligence technology.

China has had success with AI and surveillance, but when it comes to social issues such as education, health care and agriculture, there is still a ways to go.

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Dec 7, 2019

Edward Snowden on the Dangers of Mass Surveillance and Artificial General Intelligence

Posted by in categories: business, education, robotics/AI, security, surveillance

AI is Pandora’s box, s’ true…

On the one hand we can’t close it and on the other hand our current direction is not good. And this is gonna get worse as AI starts taking its own ‘creative’ decisions… the human overlords will claim it has nothing to do with them if and when things go wrong.

The solution for commercialization is actually quite simple.

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Dec 5, 2019

Crack down on genomic surveillance

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, privacy, surveillance

A much broader array of stakeholders must engage with the problems that DNA databases present. In particular, governments, policymakers and legislators should tighten regulation and reduce the likelihood of corporations aiding potential human-rights abuses by selling DNA-profiling technology to bad actors — knowingly or negligently. Researchers working on biometric identification technologies should consider more deeply how their inventions could be used. And editors, reviewers and publishers must do more to ensure that published research on biometric identification has been done in an ethical way.


Corporations selling DNA-profiling technology are aiding human-rights abuses. Governments, legislators, researchers, reviewers and publishers must act.

Nov 10, 2019

At age 17, he built Nigeria’s first locally-made drone and on a mission to build an aircraft

Posted by in categories: drones, security, surveillance

David Opateyibo was 17 years old when he built Nigeria’s first locally-made drone in Lagos.

Opateyibo led a team of Lagos State Polytechnic students to produce the country’s first prototype of a drone, which authorities in Lagos hope to deploy for security surveillance.

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Nov 9, 2019

The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?

Posted by in category: surveillance

Three Square Market was a test case, the first company in the US to offer implants to employees on a public stage. But the highly charged reaction, which linked the devices not only to pernicious surveillance but to a vision of tech-apocalypse, raised a question that Österlund is still grappling with: is the world ready for technology to get under the skin?


As implants grow more common, experts fear surveillance and exploitation of workers. Advocates say the concerns are irrational.

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Nov 2, 2019

Smaller Is Better: Lightweight Face Detection For Smartphones

Posted by in categories: internet, mobile phones, robotics/AI, security, surveillance

Although mobile devices were not designed to run compute-heavy AI models, in recent years AI-powered features like face detection, eye tracking, and voice recognition have all been added to smartphones. Much of the compute for such services is done on the cloud, but ideally these applications would be light enough to run directly on devices without an Internet connection.

In this spirit of “smaller is better,” Shanghai-based developer “Linzai” (GitHub user name @Linzaer) recently shared a new lightweight model that enables real-time face detection for smartphones. The “Ultra-Light-Fast-Generic-Face-Detector-1MB” is designed for general-purpose face detection applications in low-power computing devices and is applicable to both Android and iOS phones as well as PCs (CPU and GPU). The project has garnered a whopping 3.3k Stars and over 600 forks on GitHub.

Facial recognition technology is widely applied in security monitoring, surveillance, human-computer interaction, entertainment, etc. Detecting human faces in digital images is the first step in facial recognition, and an ideal face detection model can be evaluated by how quickly and accurately it performs.

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