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Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category

Scientists create cloaking device that ‘hides’ whole events – making time itself disappear

In Big Brother, Tech on January 6, 2012 at 6:56 am

By Rob Waugh

Most of the human race don’t have any problem making time disappear – but scientists have cracked a very hi-tech way of doing exactly that.

Scientists have developed a ‘temporal cloaking’ device that can hide events from view.

The demonstration ‘hid’ events for 40 trillionths of a second – or 40 picoseconds – by speeding up and slowing down different parts of a light beam.

The different parts of the light beam were then put back together, so that any observers could not detect what happened during the ‘hidden’ time.

The information is simply not there to be read or reconstructed.

So far, the technique only works on periods of 0.00012 of a second – so the police can probably rest easy, as evildoers would have to move far faster than human beings ever could to ‘conceal’ their actions.

Instead, the ‘hidden’ fractions of a second could be used for ultra-secure communications.

The scientists think that the technique could even be combined with recent advances in optical ‘cloaking’ – to hide an event in both space and time.

Full article…

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Mom kills armed intruder with shotgun

In Americas, Big Brother, World News on January 6, 2012 at 6:54 am

By Mac Slavo

9-1-1 Operator Gives Her the OK To Shoot.

While foreign politicians at the United Nations debate the merits of allowing American citizens to own firearms, yet another example of the absolute necessity of the right to bear arms in a free society emerges from Oklahoma, where an 18 year old mom and widow who lost her husband on Christmas Day was at home with her young son on New Year’s eve.

McKinley told ABC News Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO that she quickly got her 12 gauge, went into her bedroom and got a pistol, put the bottle in the baby’s mouth and called 911.

“I’ve got two guns in my hand — is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?” the young mother asked the 911 dispatcher. “I’m here by myself with my infant baby, can I please get a dispatcher out here immediately?”

The 911 dispatcher confirmed with McKinley that the doors to her home were locked as she asked again if it was okay to shoot the intruder if he were to…

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Obama signs into law indefinite detention of Americans without trial

In Americas, Big Brother on January 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

By AllGov

He waited until New Year’s Eve to do it…but he did it. While expressing “serious reservations” about the bill, President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve signed legislation that cements into law two highly controversial tenets of the war on terror: indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without charge, and the jailing of American citizens without trial. It also takes terrorism-related cases out of the hands of the FBI and the civilian court system and hands them over to the military.

Obama approved the bill (known as the National Defense Authorization Act), but at the same time, in a signing statement, claimed his administration would not allow the military to detain Americans indefinitely.

Civil libertarians were nonetheless outraged by Obama’s approval of the legislation. They claim that Obama is taking a “Trust me; I won’t do it” position. However, even if he does refrain from abusing the law, there is no guarantee that future presidents won’t imprison Americans and others indefinitely without trial or even without charge.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), called Obama’s action “a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law. Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today.”

David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild, called it…

Big Brother is watching you shop

In Big Brother, World News on December 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm

By Bloomberg

On the Web, every click and jiggle of the mouse helps e-tailers customize sites and maximize the likelihood of a purchase. Brick-and-mortar stores have long wanted to track consumers in a similar fashion, but following atoms is a lot harder than following bits. For the most part, they’ve been forced to rely on consumer surveys, says Herb Sorensen, an adviser at market research firm TNS Retail & Shopper (WPPGY) in London. “The problem with survey research is the consumer can say one thing and do another.”

To get a better understanding of their customers in real time, mall operators are monitoring shoppers’ behavior with devices that track mobile-phone signals, while retailers including Montblanc (CFRUY), T-Mobile (DTEGF), andFamily Dollar Stores (FDO) are finding new uses for old tools such as in-store security cameras. The goal is to divine which variables affect a purchase, then act with Web-like nimbleness to deploy more salespeople, alter displays, or put out red blouses instead of blue. Until recently, “stores have been a black hole,” says Alexei Agratchev, chief executive officer of consultancy RetailNext. “People were convinced something was true and spending tens of millions based on that” without evidence to…

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Hidden industry dupes social media users

In Big Brother on December 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

By Tom Simonite

Paying people to influence discussions in social media is big business in China and the U.S.

A trawl of Chinese crowdsourcing websites—where people can earn a few pennies for small jobs such as labeling images—has uncovered a multimillion-dollar industry that pays hundreds of thousands of people to distort interactions in social networks and to post spam.

The report’s authors, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also found evidence that crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. are similarly dominated by ethically questionable jobs. They conclude that the rapid growth of this way of making money will make paid shills a serious security problem for websites and those who use them around the world. A paper describing their results is available on the Arxiv pre-print server.

Ben Zhao, an associate professor of computer science at UCSB (and a TR35 winner in 2006), started looking into the largely uncharted crowdsourcing industry in China after working closely with RenRen, a social network that is sometimes called the “Facebook of China,” to track malicious activity on the site. Zhao was intrigued to see a lot of relatively sophisticated attempts to send spam and promote brands by users that appeared to be working with specific agendas.

When he and colleagues investigated the source of that activity, the team was surprised by what it found, says Zhao: “Evil crowdsourcing on a very large scale.” Influencing public opinion with fake “grassroots” activity is known as astroturfing, leading Zhao to coin the term “crowdturfing,” since it is done via large crowdsourcing sites.

The researchers discovered that a large amount of the suspect activity in China originated from two crowdsourcing sites: Zhubajie, the largest in China, and Sandaha. There, people are openly offered the equivalent…

Full article…

 

Bill Gates going nuclear with china

In Americas, Big Brother, Tech on December 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm

By Sarah Kessler

Bill Gates is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and more efficient type of nuclear reactor.

“The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste,” Gates told CBC and other news outlets while giving a talk at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday.

Gates is an investor and the chairman of an energy startup called TerraPower, which recently completed a design for a reactor that it says can run without refueling for decades on depleted uranium – currently a waste byproduct of the enrichment process.

“Huge amounts of depleted uranium, useless to today’s reactors, already exist in stockpiles around the world,” explains TerraPower’s website. “Stocks of this material grow as uranium is enriched for the refueling of conventional reactors. [TerraPower’s reactor] directly converts depleted uranium to usable fuel as it operates. As a result, this inexpensive but energy-rich fuel source could provide a global electricity supply that is, for all practical purposes, inexhaustible.”

A February article in The Wall Street Journal noted that TerraPower was at the time looking for a country to host the experimental reactor and that “current U.S. rules don’t even cover the type of technology TerraPower hopes to use.”

It now appears that…

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We’re watching: Malls track shopper’s cell phone signals to gather marketing data

In Americas, Big Brother on November 28, 2011 at 3:42 am

By Sean Gallagher

Online retailers have long gathered behavioral metrics about how customers shop, tracking their movements through e-shopping pages and using data to make targeted offers based on user profiles. Retailers in meat-space have had tried to replicate that with frequent shopper offers, store credit cards, and other ways to get shoppers to voluntarily give up data on their behavior, but these efforts have lacked the sort of data capacity provided by anonymous store browsers—at least until now. This holiday season, shopping malls in the US have started collecting data about shoppers by tracking the closest thing to “cookies” human beings carry—their cell phones.

The technology, from Portsmouth, England based Path Intelligence, is called Footpath. It uses monitoring units distributed throughout a mall or retail environment to sense the movement of customers by triangulation, using the strength of their cell phone signals. That data is collected and run through analytics by Path, and provided back to retailers through a secure website.

On March 31, Path CEO Sharon Biggar presented the tech at the ICSC Fusion conference in Los Angeles. She discussed how data collected by Footpath could be used by retailers to boost revenue. Options include tracking response to mailers and other advertising by providing the equivalent of web metrics like unique visitors, “page impressions” (measuring how many people walked past a display or advertisement), and “click-through” (determining how many people who passed an advertisement then visited the store associated with it). “Now we can produce heat maps of the mall and show advertisers where the premium locations are for their adverts,” she said, “and perhaps more importantly we can price the advertising differently at each location.”

In the US, Footpath is being trailed in two malls by Forest City, a mall real estate company that owns malls and shopping centers…

Full article…

Co-founder of social network site Diaspora, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, dies at 22

In Big Brother, World News on November 15, 2011 at 7:15 am

By The Washington Post

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, a co-founder of the startup social networking site Diaspora that put an emphasis on privacy and user-control, has died, a company spokesman said Monday. He was 22.

The cause of Zhitomirskiy’s death in San Francisco wasn’t immediately known, and neither the company nor the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office would release details.

“Ilya was a great guy. He was a visionary, he was a co-founder of a company that hopes to bring a better social networking experience,” said Peter Schurman, a Diaspora spokesman. “We are all very sad that he is gone. It is a huge loss for all of us, including his family.”

Zhitomirskiy was one of four students who started Diaspora in a computer lab at New York University.

As an anti-Facebook of sorts, the group raised more than $200,000 by collecting contributions through the website Kickstarter.

Last month, it posted a blog on its website asking for more contributions.

The site champions the idea of sharing while keeping control. On its website, the company promotes itself as a “fun and creative community that puts you in control.”

In a video posted on Vimeo in April 2010, when Diaspora first went looking for funds, Zhitomirskiy describes his vision.

“No longer will you be at the whims of those large corporate networks who want to tell you that sharing and privacy are mutually exclusive,” Zhitomirskiy said alongside co-founders…

Full article…

*Military’s ‘persona’ software cost millions, used for ‘classified social media activities’

In Big Brother, Tech on November 7, 2011 at 6:10 am

By Stephen C. Webster

Most people use social media like Facebook and Twitter to share photos of friends and family, chat with friends and strangers about random and amusing diversions, or follow their favorite websites, bands and television shows.

But what does the US military use those same networks for? Well, we can’t tell you: That’s “classified,” a CENTCOM spokesman recently informed Raw Story.

One use that’s confirmed, however, is the manipulation of social media through the use of fake online “personas” managed by the military. Raw Story recently reported that the US Air Force had solicited private sector vendors for something called “persona management software.” Such a technology would allow single individuals to command virtual armies of fake, digital “people” across numerous social media portals.

These “personas” were to have detailed, fictionalized backgrounds, to make them believable to outside observers, and a sophisticated identity protection service was to back them up, preventing suspicious readers from uncovering the real person behind the account. They even worked out ways to game geolocating services, so these “personas” could be virtually inserted anywhere in the world, providing ostensibly live commentary on real events, even while the operator was not really present.

When Raw Story first reported on the contract for this software, it was unclear what the Air Force wanted with it or even if it had been acquired. The potential for misuse, however, was abundantly clear.

A fake virtual army of people could be used to help create the impression of consensus opinion in online comment threads, or manipulate social…

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Brain scanner ‘reads’ people’s dreams – accurately enough to see what they are dreaming about

In Big Brother, Tech on October 31, 2011 at 5:52 am

By Rob Waugh

Most of us remember only a tiny fraction of our dreams – but that could soon change.

Scientists predict that we could soon use computers to ‘see’ what we have dreamed about – and perhaps even record dreams to watch the next day.

Psychiatrists at the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany think have already demonstrated that brain scanners can see into the dreams of ‘lucid dreamers’ – people who can control their dreams.

It means that recent breakthroughs in ‘reading’ the thoughts of waking subjects using brain monitors could apply to dreamers too.

The Planck institute scientists proved that scans of ‘lucid dreamers’ dreams looked the same as scans of their brain when they do the same thing while conscious.

The research, published in Current Biology, could be used with recently demonstrated ‘reconstruction’ technology to create moving images of people’s dreams.

The lucid dreamers agreed to move their eyes and hands from side to side to show the researchers the moments they ‘controlled’ their dreams to dream about clutching a hand.

The scientists monitored the dreamers with both magnetic resonance imaging and near-infrared spectroscopy to see

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