Deep Tech

DeepTech – Quantum Computing, Military AI, Facial Recognition and More

Deep State Radio’s weekly round up of emerging tech developments that sound like sci-fi plots but aren’t.

Quantum Computing Will Render Encryption useless

Nearly all US weapons are vulnerable to cyber attack, and the US military is just now beginning to grapple with the scale of the vulnerabilities. But it might be too late. The gold standard for most militaries around the world is to use encryption to safeguard weapons systems. According to new research, quantum computing could easily render encryption (and blockchain tech) useless. Google announced quantum supremacy in March. And researchers in Germany have developed a ‘quantum error correction system’ to overcome one of quantum computing’s big obstacles–hypersensitivity to environmental changes. This system is also capable of learning thanks to artificial intelligence. In July, the US military–the most powerful armed force the planet has ever seen–forgot to password protect their wifi and lost highly sensitive security documents.

Forget Big Brother, Uncle Xi is Watching You

The State Council of China is fine tuning their Social Credit System, a comprehensive program that monitors online and offline behavior and uses state-run algorithms to assign ‘users’ a score. This score determines whether or not a user can: leave comments on an online post, ride the high-speed train, get a loan, buy property, or book a ticket out of the country. The system  evaluates data from several, undisclosed sources such as street cameras, browsing histories, and private messaging conversations. For Chinese citizens, there is no opting out of this program; everyone has a ‘profile’. Already, China monitors the gaits, faces, and browsing histories of all citizens. Think it can’t happen in your country? Think again  

3 of the 5 UN Permanent Security Council Members Are Building Military AI Centers

Chinese, Russian, & American militaries are trying catch up with the private sector. In May Google Assistant passed the Turing test, and Alexa has learned to recognize whispering. Last year China opened a new center for military-related AI research, and stepped-up state ‘partnerships’ with AI departments in top universities and private companies. Russia’s center, Era, opens next September but is already underfunded. The US effort includes DARPA’s AI Next campaign, which is part of the larger Artificial Intelligence Exploration (AIE) program. Tech experts caution that these 3 efforts are unlikely to show results until fundamental problems with AI applications are sorted. One of the biggest hurdles is that, so far, machines have only been able to understand specific words, not the world. And, an understanding of the world is necessary to make sense of a lot of words. Since no known laboratory has achieved this kind of learning, don’t expect a minatory report anytime soon.

US Marines Are Developing a Laser crowd control weapon that can melt skin

The US Marine Corps’ solicitation for a new a vehicle-mounted laser system ended Wednesday. The Marines are funding the development of a new weapon for crowd control, the Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser System (SCUPLS), which is capable of producing “sustainable and controllable plasma at range”. SCUPLS is classified as a non-lethal crowd control weapon capable of “full scalable thermal ablative effects through common natural clothing (i.e., fabric, denim, leather, etc.) at minimum distance of 100 meters”. (Thermal ablation is the destruction of living tissue by extreme temperatures.) SCUPLS will also be able to deafen and stun large groups of individuals. But, don’t worry. The Marines reassure that SCUPLS works in a wide range of environments and has many settings including “ municipal applications.”  

Facial Recognition: If Your Face is Also Your Password, You Should Legit Be Terrified

Chinese police have begun using AI enhanced sunglasses with facial recognition capabilities to catch scofflaws. In the US, the private sector has overwhelmingly dominated facial recognition utilization. American retailers use the technology to spot shoplifters and big spenders, and iPhone X owners use it to unlock their phones. Amazon Rekognition, a service that collects facial recognition data and sells it to anyone for as little as $10/month, is facing backlash for bidding to assist the Trump administration’s ICE. Delta Airlines will launch the first biometric ‘curb to gate’ terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) later this year in partnership with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If you’re already terrified, relax. Researchers at Georgetown estimated in 2016 that only half of all American adults are in law enforcement databases. If you still want to disable face recognition on your iPhone, simply go Settings >> Face ID & Passcode to turn it off for good.


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