Posts Tagged ‘Big Brother’

Government Computer News:

The research organization for U.S. intelligence agencies is looking to fund projects designed to yield revolutionary innovations in intelligence collection.

That organization, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), has asked industry and academia through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)  to propose research that dramatically improves the value of collected data. IARPA said it plans to give out multiple awards for the research and isn’t interested research for topics that are already being ongoing IARPA programs.

The effort is being run by IARPA’s Office of Smart Collection. The office is one of three parts of IARPA that handles that organization’s high-risk, high-payoff research.

In the announcement, IARPA said it’s looking for research “to dramatically improve the value of collected data from all sources.” The organization is interested in:

  • Innovative ways to identifying novel sources of new information
  • New ways to assess collection systems for improved performance
  • Sensor technologies that better the reach, sensitivity and power for collection of broad signal or signature types
  • Tagging, tracking, and location techniques
  • Electrically small antennas
  • Agile architectures that distill useful information at the collection and
  • Innovative ways to ensure the veracity of data collected from multiple sources.

IARPA said it will accept proposals until through September 30, 2011. The resources available for research depend on the quality of the proposals and the availability of funds, IARPA said.

Obama doesn’t want us to have to hassle around having to log into sites and services we use, fumbling around with passwords and online ‘handles’. Instead he wants to build an “Identity Ecosystem” where our personal identities are tied to every single device we use, right down to the flash memory chips we plug into our cameras and other devices.

Government Computer News:

Imagine signing on to your computer, logging onto a secure Web site or handling a sensitive document electronically — all without needing a user name or password.

The draft national strategy for building a new “identity ecosystem” that the Obama administration released June 25 would accomplish that, according to its developers. The ecosystem would base authentication on trusted digital identities instead.

The plan, named the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, would lay a blueprint for an online environment in which online transactions for both the public and private sectors are more secure and trusted. The strategy identifies the federal government as “primary enabler, first adopter and key supporter” of the identity ecosystem.

In the language of the strategy, “In the envisioned identity ecosystem individuals, organizations, services, and devices would be able to trust each other because authoritative sources establish and authenticate their digital identities.” What that means in real terms is that trusted providers such as a bank would issue security credentials that would then be accepted by other online resources such as social networking sites and e-mail providers. Rather than using a user name and password, the person would have the crediential on a device that would authenticate his or her identity to the computer and, by extension, to services that accept the credential. The strategy includes references to smart cards, USB drives, mobile devices, software certificates and trusted computing modules as possible authentication technologies.

The strategy provides a hypothetical case of of a woman whose husband has recently been in the hospital. She is able to access his medical information using her cell phone because everyone involved in the information exchange uses a “trustmark” that signifies they adhere to the identity ecosystem framework.

Make sure you don’t lose your phone somewhere, or someone can log in and make purchases without even having your personal passwords. Forget about having multiple anonymous email addresses for logging into the various things you might do online. You wont need to worry about all that hassle anymore, Obama’s new version of Big Bro’ has it all covered.

Individuals going online to send e-mails, make purchases and check their medical records would be able to forgo the dizzying array of user names and passwords and instead obtain more secure credentials for completing those transactions, under a proposed White House cyberspace policy issued Friday.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace lays out the Obama administration’s strategy for enhancing the security of business conducted online. An interagency team, led by the Homeland Security Department, spent a year developing the strategy, seeking input from about 70 industry advisory councils and associations.
www.federaltimes.com…

The title of the thrust is itself a euphemism. Titles such as ‘Identity Dragnet’, or ‘Identity Tracker’ just don’t ring a bell the way the cute and cuddly, all loving, all caring “Identity ECOSYSTEM’ does.

From the document:

Privacy protection and voluntary participation are pillars of the Identity Ecosystem. The Identity Ecosystem protects anonymous parties by keeping their identity a secret and sharing only the information necessary to complete the transaction. For example, the Identity Ecosystem allows an individual to provide age without releasing birth date, name, address, or other identifying data. At the other end of the spectrum, the Identity Ecosystem supports transactions that require high assurance of a participant’s identity. The Identity Ecosystem reduces the risk of exploitation of information by DRAFT National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace June 25, 2010 2 unauthorized access through more robust access control techniques. Finally, participation in the Identity Ecosystem is voluntary for both organizations and individuals.

Sure it will start off voluntary, and then a ‘cyber attack’ ‘will occur’ and there you go they have the involuntary framework already in place. National ID has nothing on this, at all.

This isn’t just about bank security, it’s about everything from sending emails etc.

And of course they’ll word it where there’s privacy, but the Big Bro’ WILL know everything that each and everyone of us is doing. They’ve already proven total disregard to privacy laws and due process in literally every possible facet of the realm, don’t forget.

And it isn’t just your bank card, it is EVERY single device and component thereof.

Even if it were feasible, which apparently they think it is after spending a year developing it, this is one of the worst ideas I’ve seen yet out of either BushCo. or ObamaCo.

Thinking further, them merely building the infrastructure to be able to do this will in effect make it so. If they can do it, they will, as government proves again and again.

Do they really need to have my name attached to my video card, memory sticks, CPU, monitors, motherboard, cable modem, wireless Internet router, camera, flash memory sticks, mouse, keyboard, printer, DVD burner and hard disks? (to use just one example)

I often figure they already do. Perhaps this is their way of publicly legitimizing it much how BushCo. handled unveiling Total Information Awareness NSA spying on the grand scale, Fusion Centers and all of that.

People forget that Congress ruled TIA as unconstitutional, and ordered it to be shut down.

September 26, 2003
Privacy and civil-rights groups have hailed Congress’ decision to effectively kill a controversial Pentagon program to construct a powerful computerized surveillance system that critics feared would lead to unprecedented spying into the private lives of U.S. citizens.

The final bill also banned the government from using the technology envisioned by TIA in any other program.

The House of Representatives voted 407-15 to approve the conference committee’s bill on Wednesday, while the Senate approved it Thursday by a vote of 95-0.

“Congress has reaffirmed the fundamental privacy rights of all Americans,” said Timothy Edgar, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which had lobbied against the TIA since its existence was first exposed by the New York Times one year ago. “This is a resounding victory for individual liberty.”
www.globalissues.org…

Now it has been applied far and wide, into every department and agency, and this new measure is the icing on the cake.

Maybe it’s also about knowing when we sell individual components to our friends, so they can swoop in and tax us for it.

ars technica:

Over thirty organizations want the Federal Communications Commission to open up a probe on “hate speech” and “misinformation” in media. “Hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio and cable television programs masquerading as ‘news’,” they wrote to the FCC earlier this month.

As for the Internet, it “gives the illusion that news sources have increased, but in fact there are fewer journalists employed now than before,” they charge. “Moreover, on the Internet, speakers can hide in the cloak of anonymity, emboldened to say things that they may not say in the public eye.”

The groups who want this new proceeding include Free Press, the Media Access Project, Common Cause, the Prometheus Radio Project, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. Their statement, filed in the Commission’s Future of Media proceeding, comes in support of a petition to the agency submitted over a year ago by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

“Hate speech against vulnerable groups is pervasive in our media—it is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one media platform,” NHMC warned the FCC in 2009. “Indeed, many large mainstream media corporations regularly air hate speech, and it is prolific on the Internet. Hate speech takes various forms, from words advocating violence to those creating a climate of hate towards vulnerable groups. Cumulatively, hate speech creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence against its targets.”

The coalition has asked the agency to request public comments on hate speech in the media, inquire into its extent, explore “the relationship between hate speech in the media and hate crimes,” and look into options “for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of such speech.”

In addition, the groups wants the FCC to examine “the prevalence of misinformation” in the media, since misinformation “creates a climate of prejudice.”

“The NHMC understands that those who would prefer hate speech to remain under the radar will claim that such an inquiry violates the First Amendment,” the group added. “No doubt they will raise the red herring of the restoration of the ‘fairness doctrine,’ trying to divert the attention of the vast majority of Americans who find hate speech reprehensible.”

Technology Review:

Europe’s Plan to Simulate the Entire Planet

The ‘Living Earth Simulator’ will mine economic, environmental and health data to create a model of the entire planet in real time.

When it comes to global crises, we’re not short of complex systems that look close to the edge: the climate, the food supply, energy security, the banking system and so on. Add to this the threat of war in many parts of the world and the possibility of global pandemics and it’s a wonder that anybody gets out of bed in the morning.

Science has certainly played an important role in understanding aspects of these systems but could it do more?

Today, Dirk Helbing at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich outlines an ambitious project to go further, much further.

Helbing’s idea is to create a kind of Manahattan project to study, understand and tackle these techno-socio-economic-environmental issues. His plan is to gather data about the planet in unheard of detail, use it to simulate the behaviour of entire economies and then to predict and prevent crises from emerging.

Think of it as a kind of Google Earth for society. We’ve all played with Google’s 3D map of the Earth that uses real data to reveal not only the town where you live and work but your home and back garden too.

Imagine a similar model that uses in real time things like financial transactions, health records, travel details, carbon dioxide emissions and so on to build a model of not just the planet but the entire society that populates it. Helbing calls it ‘reality mining’.

This model will be capable not only modelling the planet in real time but of simulating the future, rather in the manner of weather forecasters.

Helbing’s simulator will look for economic bubbles and collapses, warn of global pandemics and suggest how to tackle them, it will model and predict the outcome of regional conflicts and determine the effect of our behaviour on the climate. He even wants to create ‘situation rooms’ in which global leaders can view and manage crises as they occur.

This Google-Earth-on-steroids is to be called the Living Earth Simulator and Helbing’s plan is to have it working by 2022 at a cost of a cool EUR 1 billion, funded by the European Commission. He’s even assembled an impressive team to help, including partners from most of the top universities in Europe.

So what to make of this plan and it’s ambition. At first glance, it seems a somewhat worrying, even frightening, vision of the future. A Living Earth Simulator will change how we see ourselves and our planet in ways that are hard to imagine right now.

There’s no question that we need to better understand the global nature of the society we live in and the effects that it has on the planet. We also need to know how to leverage the benefits of these global systems while limiting the downsides they can generate.
This capability is coming whether we like it or not. Clearly, the computing infrastructure of the near future will be increasingly capable of such a task.

The great worry, of course, is that it will not be the great public universities and government-funded research institutes that complete this task. The huge benefits of a Living Earth Simulator will make it a valuable tool for insurance companies, financial traders, global businesses and even search engines.

It’s not hard to imagine a company like Google wanting and even building such a model. And if that seems hard to swallow, there are plenty of organisations that may be even less palatable operators of such a system. Imagine a Goldman Sachs Earth Simulator or one run by the People’s Liberation Army. EUR 1 billion is just a small fraction of the money these organisations play with.

When viewed through that prism, it seems clear and even necessary that such a project is publicly funded and managed. Should the European Commission agree, Helbing, who is a world leader in the new science of techno-socio-economic studies, may well be the man who leads it.

A Living Earth Simulator is coming, one way or another, perhaps even to your living room or mobile communicator. The only question is who builds it.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1004.4969: The FuturICT Knowledge Accelerator

This monster sized parody video has a much larger story: a story so large what else could top it? When machine intelligence surpasses humans and embraces its own power as a ‘living’ god what event in history is a bigger story?

Google’s model from the ground up is in building what they call “the mind of god”, and in this pursuit they’re connected to the government and military to the core.

The Google Boys truly are brilliant, as they’ve designed their system and all of their products to make the system smarter every time all of their users use them. Meaning, every time you use their ‘free’ services, you help bring their “mind of god” scenario closer to reality.

Where to download or stream this video from:
Direct Downloads (High Quality):
Archive Megaupload

Live Streams:
Live Leak Myspace Disclose.tv Mevio sevenload Vimeo

The Google Machine:

Google’s A.I. quest to become God-On-Earth.

Google Founders Artificial Intelligence Quotes Archive.

Under the terms of the 40-year agreement, Google will lease 42.2 acres of unimproved land in NASA Research Park at Ames to construct up to 1.2 million square feet of offices and research and development (R&D) facilities in a campus-style setting.

GOOGLE, the internet giant, is planning a massive online facility that could store copies of users’ hard drives – a move set to spark alarm among civil liberties campaigners.

Google’s top inventor says talking computers are the future.

Google Goggles, an experimental image recognition system for Android 1.6+ devices by which users can submit search queries using snapshots of certain…

Mobile Google Android to condition people to embrace constant GPS tracking

Google seeks to become the “Library of the Future”, by scanning literally every manuscript humans have ever written.

Google wants to be the best in search – no surprise here. To reach that goal, Google wants to have the world’s top AI research laboratory.

Google’s 23andMe DNA Databank is Targeting Children.

Google’s DNA ‘Bio-Piracy’ & Federal DNA Databanks.

We all taught Google’s new advanced speech recognition how to hear.

Google announced at midnight the world’s first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE), the first evolving intelligent system.

Al Gore is on the Board of Directors of Google.

Google Android wants to be on any device, not just your phone.

‘Don’t Be Evil,’ Meet ‘Spy on Everyone’: How the NSA Deal Could Kill Google

SFGate: Google has lots to do with intelligence agencies.

Google’s massive data centers with their computing power and more than a billion images allow its Goggles image-recognition smartphone app to recognize millions of images…

A new generation of smartphones like Google’s Android G1 now “augments” reality by painting a map over a phone-screen image of the user’s surroundings produced by the phone’s camera.

Google funding Artificial General Intelligence research via Novamente.

Google’s Android Allows Soldiers to Put Drones on Buddy List.

Google’s information appetite is never-ending , and now the search-and-advertising giant wants your help in building a profile page that will show up anytime anyone searches on your name.

Google Fearmongering: ‘More People Will Die From Swine Flu If We Cannot Retain Search Data’.

Kurzweil co-founded Google / NASA’s “Singularity University”.

heir Toolbar, Analytics, Adsense, Gmail, and, of course, Search are all happily gathering petabytes of data about our behavior. Now, Google is employing neuromarketing technology to peer inside our brains.

Obama’s NBIC (nano-bio-info-cogno convergence) Agenda.

Obama appoints Google CEO as economic adviser.

Former Intelligence Agent Says Google In Bed With CIA.

Is Google preparing to launch its own Navy? In its just-published application for a patent on the Water-Based Data Center, Google envisions a world where ‘computing centers are located on a ship or ships.

Google Sued Over Street-View-Mapping Private Homes.

Barcode, Iris Scanners for Google Android.

Google and Elitists.

Google’s quest for the intelligent cloud.

Google Co-Founder: “Perfect Search Requires Human-Level Artificial Intelligence”.

“We’re deploying a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search”.

Google Founders’ Fighter Jet Will Fly NASA Missions.

Google Co-Founder Wants To Modify Climate.

NEWS UPDATES:

Our Street View cars WERE spying, admits Google

Google Under Multistate Privacy Microscope: How We Got Here

30 states may join probe of Google Wi-Fi snoop

New Google-Verizon DROID commercial depicts human morphing into a Terminator:

New York Times finally covers Google and the Singularity Movement.

Google Invests in Firm That Tries to Predict the Future.

Google Stealthily wipes apps off Android phones

Location-Tracking Services: Why You Should Think Twice

Find The Name Of Any Cell Phone Owner With Detailed Google Map Address Using Free Reverse Cell Phone Number Lookup Services

Frontier Communications: Google Voice infringing patents

New Zealand Refers Google’s Wireless Data-Gathering to Police

Google AdSense Mistakes that Can Kill Your Campaign

Google’s Wi-Fi snoop nabbed passwords and emails

Medvedev to meet Google’s  Schmidt on US trip

Ford steering Google  Maps into its cars

Google keeps mum on new regulations for online mapping in China

GM revving up Google  Maps for OnStar customers

Why Google News Items Are Disappearing From Its News Database?

Google CEO sees one small acquisition a month

Google Spent $1.3 Million on Lobbying, What Are They Buying?

Google’s Washington Influence Is Spreading, Some Say Too Much

Issa wants answers on White House’s Google ties

Google WiSpying Hit Congress; National Security Data Could Have Been Gathered

Google’s influence grows in the W.H.

Twitter hires Obama administration’s Katie Stanton

Google Buys U.K. Start-Up Plink, a Shazam for Art

Google Goggles

Google using search engine to muscle into Internet businesses, study finds

Financial Times examines Google’s ’secret formula’

Expedia is worried about Google/ITA deal

Google gets a slap on the wrist for violating Australian privacy law

Double Trouble for Google

Google exec tries hard sell on cloud computing

Google finds itself on the defensive in China

Top trustbuster says DOJ watching search industry

Will Google’s Newspass save serious journalism?

House Oversight chair questions federal cloud strategy

Standing up to Google’s heavy-handed pressure

Where you Point Your Mouse May Influence Google Search Rankings, Advertisement Placement, and Oneboxes

Don’t Look Now, but Google’s Following You

Google commands largest audience in APAC: Comscore

Google Could Have Collected WiFi Data From Members Of Congress

Google’s Eric Schmidt: You can trust us with your data

Facial Recognition Software, for Everyone

Why Google Employees Quit

Obama & Google (a love story)

Google to Pay Homosexual Staff More than Heterosexual Employees

Tech Titans’ Ties to Washington Grow Closer — and More Complicated

More on Google lobbying and influence

Google Deliberately Stole Data, Says Australia

Google Bans DVD Critical Of Obama Administration

Apple and Google backed Obama to the hilt

Google registered a political action committee.

Someone told me about this story today, and sure enough it’s real. This is how it happens: they put cameras up in intersections and everyone gets used to it. Then they put them in crime ridden areas, and people get used to that. Next thing you know cameras are everywhere, including hundreds of hidden cameras in every neighborhood in the US, like in the UK or as being proposed by “HoodEyes.com”.

This spring, deputies will begin using 20 cameras mounted on utility poles to zoom in on the University Area’s trouble spots.

The cameras can provide clear images of license plates three blocks away. They can show whether a quarter on the sidewalk landed heads or tails. And they can see into darkness using infrared technology.

Even when not monitored by humans, they will record around the clock, with the video stored for review days or weeks later.

“Who wouldn’t want a cop standing on your corner?” said Maj. J.R. Burton, the commander for the sheriff’s district covering the University Area. “That’s essentially what you’ve got now with the video camera on that corner.”

A $1.3 million federal grant paid to install the cameras, a first for the Sheriff’s Office, in an area bounded by N 23rd Street and Fowler, Bearss and Nebraska avenues. www.tampabay.com…

While trying to find this story I stumbled upon this “HoodEyes” outfit:

The neighborhoods of Tampa have to be protected and it’s always important to have eyes all over the neighborhood. Notify your neighborhood association about having these eyes installed throughout your Tampa neighborhood. With one life to live, it’s important to protect yourself as well as your neighbors.

Hello Tampa! It just takes one time for someone to break into a home, destroy the home, and commit murder. Once this is complete, it’s done, no going back and saying, Gee! I wish I had protected my home, myself, and my family. In Tampa, neighborhoods have to work together and do what it takes to protect their home. An Tampa home is the same as any home in any neighborhood across the Country and it needs to be protected. Come on Tampa, it’s good to have a home security system, but is this the final answer? No! We need to protect our Tampa streets and Tampa neighborhoods by installing our Hood Eyes around the whole neighborhood. These eyes will give everyone the opportunity to feel better and safe.

Here’s an example Tampa! Let’s say there’s a bunch of teenagers in the street fighting and it’s getting worse by the minute. Well, first thing you do is contact your local Tampa police department. Well, if it’s not a murder or a cop hurt, then there’s no telling how long they’ll take to get there. With hood eyes installed all around the neighborhood, this will be monitored by a local representative and the neighborhood hoodeye security will get there within minutes. Not only is the best way to do it but everything will be on camera! When the real police get there, all problems have been solved.

The people of Tampa asks, How is this paid for? Well, with neighborhood association fees, a couple of dollars here and there will pay for what’s needed to make the neighborhoods of Tampa safe. We need these camera devices and security patrol in every neighborhood across the Country. If a murder or crime is committed, then it’s too late! You cannot do anything about the situation if it’s already occurred. These hood eyes will prevent the crime or murder from ever happening. We need to stand up to the associations and demand that security is needed in every neighborhood, no matter how fancy, how rich, how poor, or how run down it is! Wake up Tampa and have the hood eyes in every neighborhood!
tampa.hoodeyes.com…

Whether it’s nighttime or daytime, crimes will always be committed. Security systems do work, to a certain extent! With our camera eyes placed in hundreds of locations, we’re always watching your neighborhood. If a crime is being committed, we will no about it, within seconds.

With contracts with neighborhood associations across the Country, our system allows everyone the convenience of having this 24 hour a day security without any hassles and just costing dollars. Any suspicious activity within a neighborhood will be reported within seconds as well as recorded for future evidence. We have become the top neighborhood watch across the Nation.
www.hoodeyes.com…

When you browse through their site you see every state and city listed, where they’re trying to get this in place.

Hoodeyes.com WHOIS information:

Domain name: hoodeyes.com
Registrant Contact:  EE Nation
Patricia Maggio ()
11511 Katy Freeway, ste 383
Houston, TEXAS 77079
US
whois.domaintools.com…

“EE Nation” is some inconspicuous ‘spam’ looking site that is linked to a ton of other sites:
www.eenation.com…

But another interesting one is “ReaperEyes.com:

Whether it’s in a nightclub, restaurant, or casino, Reaper eyes will be watching you! With partners across the Country, we’re able to put cameras in spots untouchable and not noticed. These cameras will have a live stream, allowing dispatchers to notice something out of the ordinary. If someone looks intoxicated, the police will be notified and they will be going to jail! www.reapereyes.com…

Hmm. Perhaps the HoodEyes thing is a dead end, but the fact is Homeland Security is now creeping into residential neighborhoods via these police cameras and it won’t stop there with the public so limber.

Now in case you’re saying to yourself  ‘so what I don’t do anything wrong let them watch me’, hold your breath.

You say good, but how much have you thought it through? Where should it end? Since a few blocks of a metropolitan area are crime ridden then that justifies when in a couple years they’ll have these creeping in everywhere? The criminals will just move over to areas with no cameras.

You don’t mind one of these outside your house able to look into your windows and see what’s going on even in the dark, being watched by both the local police and the federal Homeland Security?? You don’t mind having cameras track you from the time you leave your driveway until you get to wherever it is you’re going, including unflattering things / places?

How far is too far? Apparently you don’t mind being monitored and tracked every moment you spend outside of your home… how about listened to? Should they also listen to every possible thing you say? What if you want to talk dirty to your lady/man? You don’t mind perverts listening in on it? And never mind hackers.

And what about tyrannical laws? In a free society, where we’re told we’re free but we’re not, people shouldn’t be able to use their own judgment and risks about laws they don’t agree with as long as they aren’t hurting other people?

These are our HOMES we’re talking about here. This isn’t the sidewalk in downtown anymore. This isn’t the intersection. People should have the dignity to do unflattering things with total privacy.

What about inside your home? Have cameras and microphones in there listening and watching that? Which rooms are sacred? What is to remain sacred, anymore? And is it worth it? How many times were YOU mugged before and after the cameras? Out of your entire population, what percentage died per year from terrorism?

You don’t mind police and feds being able to look into your windows in the dark and see you or your family members nude??? Oh, and in case you try to argue that you don’t mind black & white cameras seeing you naked through a dark window, guess again:

Color Night Vision

The Contrast Enhanced (Retrofit) goggle configuration (CANVS Patent-Pending) represents a unique capability. It allows immediate insertion of the core CANVS Color Night Vision Goggle technology into all areas of operation currently utilizing binocular night vision goggles. This technology can be retrofitted into all existing binocular systems, including but not limited to: AN/AVS-6 and 9, AN/PVS-5A, B, and C, M908, M909, M915A, AN/PVS-15, AN/AVS-502 low profile goggle, Wide Field of View, and Panoramic Goggle configurations. www.canvs.com…

Hey unless voyeurism is your thing that’s cool. Everybody wants to be a celebrity these days. Watch me! Watch me Uncle Sam!

CNN:

Palo Alto, California (CNN) — In the 1990s, a researcher named Kris Pister dreamed up a wild future in which people would sprinkle the Earth with countless tiny sensors, no larger than grains of rice.

These “smart dust” particles, as he called them, would monitor everything, acting like electronic nerve endings for the planet. Fitted with computing power, sensing equipment, wireless radios and long battery life, the smart dust would make observations and relay mountains of real-time data about people, cities and the natural environment.

Now, a version of Pister’s smart dust fantasy is starting to become reality.

FULL STORY

HP:

The astronomer Carl Sagan once asked, “Who speaks for Earth?” Soon, the Earth may speak for itself.

That’s the goal of HP Labs Central Nervous System for the Earth, or CeNSE. The research and development program aims to build a planetwide sensing network using billions of tiny, cheap, tough and exquisitely sensitive detectors.

“We’re surrounded by technological assets that are deaf, blind, can’t taste, can’t smell and can’t feel,” says Stan Williams, an HP senior fellow who leads the Information and Quantum Systems Lab (IQSL). “CeNSE is all about giving all this compute power the awareness of what’s going on in the environment around it,” says Peter Hartwell, senior researcher and project team lead.

Hartwell envisions sensing nodes about the size of a pushpin stuck to bridges and buildings to warn of structural strains or weather conditions. They might be scattered along roadsides to monitor traffic, weather and road conditions. Embedded in everyday electronics, CeNSE nodes might track hospital equipment, sniff out pesticides and pathogens in food, or even “recognize” the person using them and adapt.

Taken together, that awareness could “revolutionize human interaction with the Earth as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionized personal and business interactions today,” Williams predicts.

For CeNSE to work, “we have to make sensors that are vastly more sensitive than anything else that have ever existed before, while being absolutely dirt cheap so that we can deploy them in very large numbers,” Williams says.

Hartwell is working on the first sensor to go into the field, a motion and vibration detector. More accurately called an accelerometer, Hartwell’s device is sensitive enough to “feel” a heartbeat. The source of that sensitivity is a 5mm-square, three-layer silicon chip. A portion of the center wafer is suspended between the two outer wafers by flexible silicon beams. When the chip moves, the suspended center lags behind due to its inertia. A measurement of that relative motion is used to calculate the speed, direction and distance the chip has moved.

This exquisitely sensitive accelerometer can detect a 10 femtometer change in the position of its center chip. That’s less than one-billionth the width of a human hair. As a result, it can measure changes to acceleration in the micro-gravity range. That’s about 1,000 times more sensitive than accelerometers used in a Wii, an iPhone or an automobile’s airbag system.

IQSL Lab researchers also plan to add sensors for light, temperature, barometric pressure, airflow and humidity.

While Hartwell’s accelerometer gives CeNSE its “feel,” the system’s “taste and smell” are just around the corner. Researchers in the group are using nanomaterials to boost a standard chemical and biological detection technology (Raman spectroscopy) to 100 million times its usual sensitivity rates. As sensitivity rises, sensor size can shrink. That could lead to detectors small enough to clip onto a mobile telephone. With a wave over produce, the sensor might warn consumers of salmonella on spinach leaves or pesticides present in “organic” produce, Hartwell says.

Strength in numbers

Today, sensitive detectors are expensive. The few out there tend to return a lot of false alarms. Deploying sensors en masse helps sort out background noise and hone in on significant trends.

Monitoring a bridge like the San Francisco Golden Gate might take 10,000 nodes, says Hartwell. Figure a million or so for a big business application, such as cargo shipping. To enervate the Earth, about a trillion should do the trick. At that rate, sensor nodes must cost next to nothing, yet measure everything.

“The sensor node is a challenging integration problem,” says Hartwell. “You have to put the sensor chip with a radio and a battery and a solar cell in a package that’s inexpensive, yet rugged enough to throw by the side of the road,” he says. As it happens, HP already manufactures hundreds of millions of similarly sophisticated, yet rugged and inexpensive devices today: inkjet printer cartridges.

That experience can be applied to CeNSE nodes: “In both cases you have a complex chip that must be exposed to the environment—to measure it or to squirt ink onto it—and packaged into a integrated unit,” says Hartwell

HP Lab’s memristor technology will also play a key role in getting that integrated sensor node into a tiny package: “The memristor is about doing memory and logic in a technology that’s so small and so low power that a pushpin-sized sensor starts looking like something you can really build,” he says.

Massive data

Sensor nodes, however, are only part of the challenge of CeNSE.

“How do you capture and use all that data?” asks Hartwell. At a typical data rate, one million sensors running 24 hours a day would require 50 hard disks running in parallel to capture the 20 petabytes of data created in just six months. “The amount of data we’re talking about here is ferocious,” says Williams.

Then it has to be crunched to extract meaningful information. No matter how many gigabytes of data a smart highway might deliver, for example, “you’re only interested in one bit when you walk out that door,” says Hartwell. “Just one bit: Which interstate highway will take you home fastest? If it saves you 20 minutes on your commute, that one bit is worth a lot,” he points out.

HP is approaching sensing networks not just as sensing or moving data or crunching it, but from a holistic perspective, says Hartwell. “We have the networking expertise in our ProCurve division, we have consulting and integration through our Enterprise Services division (formerly EDS),” not to mention business intelligence, storage and data center technologies. Williams agrees: “We’re the only company approaching this from soup to nuts.”

Listening to Earth

CeNSE’s first applications will make living on the planet safer and more convenient. But as the network grows, the breadth and detail of information it gathers could be critical to Earth’s survival, says Hartwell.

“If we’re going to save the planet, we’ve got to monitor it,” says Hartwell. “We have to understand how we’re impacting the planet,” he says, pointing out that we don’t understand how wind farms may affect rainfall or how a cooling sea changes wind currents. Hartwell imagines people volunteering their sensors to feed data to climate change models, just as unused compute cycles are unfolding proteins and unraveling genomes today.

On an individual level, sensing could help people make everyday lifestyle changes: “We have to use this capability to figure out how to change the way we do things: You can tell the kids to turn off the lights, but it’s going to be a lot more effective if the lights turn themselves off.”

SEE ALSO:

*DARPA & IBM building a “global brain” “cognitive computer” for “monitoring people” and the “world”.

-NASA’s “Planetary Skin” ‘global nervous system’.

Google’s A.I. quest to become God-On-Earth.