Monthly Archives: May 2016

Providing key technology

More than seven decades after the defeat of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi-inspired Third Reich on battlefields that left much of Europe in shambles, U.S. technology giant IBM – which played a major role in all phases of the Holocaust – is once again in the business of killing.

As reported by investigative news site The Intercept, a secret brief discussing the Pentagon’s drone strike program in Somalia and Yemen dated February 2013 was produced for the Defense Department by IBM analysts.

“On its surface, it’s simply an analysis by the Defense Department’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force of the ‘performance and requirements’ of the U.S. military’s counterterrorism kill/capture operations, including drone strikes, in Somalia and Yemen,” The Intercept reported. “However, it’s also what a former senior special operations officer characterized as a ‘bitch brief’ – that is, a study designed to be a weapon in a bureaucratic turf war with the CIA to win the Pentagon more money and a bigger mandate.”

It’s a safe bet to assume that the study outlined in the brief was an opportunity for IBM to show that it is capable of producing quality analyses specific to the Defense Department as well as for current Pentagon employees to network with a potential future employer.

Building target packages like a corporation tracks customers

However, experts say there is more to the presentation. For one, it’s a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the military-industrial complex, where assassination technologies and corporate sales merge, shrouded in lifeless language as dead as the target of a “kinetic engagement.”

The IBM-Defense Department drone strike analysis relationship likely began in earnest in 2010, when IBM employees delivered a talk at the tech giant’s Analytics Solution Center in Washington, D.C. Titled “An Introduction to Edge Methods: Business Analytics and Optimization for Intelligence,” the intended audience was “Defense and Intelligence communities.” The company’s goal was to demonstrate how IBM could assist with “managing large volumes of data” to derive “invaluable” insights. The company already had an existing governmental customer: the ISR Task Force

The Intercept further noted:

Although buried in reams of corporate management gobbledygook (IBM, it turns out, is “Mission Focused” and “Performance Driven”), the talk’s key theme was that IBM was offering prospective new government clients its “expertise in integrating business and technology services” using its “commercial consulting methods.” That is, IBM was bringing what it had learned from managing Big Data for corporate America to the military and intelligence worlds.

Teleporter technology for human connection

With their phones in hand, they bow their heads, eyes narrowing in on their pocket screens. No awareness of the now, they wander like intoxicated drivers, veering to the left and the right. Scrolling through their Facebook feed, they try to ignite some kind of spark to keep their dying souls alive in their virtual reality.

Necks craned over, wandering aimlessly, they are unable to feel the real world around them. They stare into pixels for hours on end, forgetting what it was like to look into each others eyes for just a second or two. Trying to recreate closeness through the emoticons in the chat box, they have forgotten the bond only human touch can satisfy.

Everyone is present in the room, but their minds are somewhere else, swept up in a virtual reality. Their energy so distracted and scattered into the wind, like embers blown away. No more warmth, no more comfort, no more light of a blazing fire that crackled and echoed of stories and tales long into the night.

Facebook’s new technology to put an end to human connection

The last vestiges of human connection are dimming as Facebook prepares to take its users into a deeper level of virtual reality. Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer has recently unveiled new “teleporter’ technology that would make users feel like they have been transported to a simulated world that they can interact in. The project was unveiled at a press event at the 2015 Web Summit in Dublin.

Facebook wants to give its users headsets and controllers that allow them to navigate simulated worlds. To do this, Facebook bought out a virtual reality headset company named Oculus for $2 billion. The Oculus technology removes people from reality and lets them travel where they want. This technology may put an end to human communication as we know it. Households with this technology may stop interacting altogether, as family members sit on the couch and put their headsets over their faces.

Brothers and sisters and moms and dads could easily just disown each other and drift off into their virtual worlds where they choose new family members. Virtual reality headsets would invite the most promiscuous circumstances, as spouses drift off into their headset to seek out some sort of simulated affection and affair. (After all, hackers revealed that thousands of government workers had Ashley Madison accounts used exclusively for affairs. With virtual reality headsets, Facebook gives government workers and everyone else a playground to try out their double lives.)

Facebook’s Mr. Schroepfer even told Business Insider that the company’s future plans are to “effectively build a teleporter.”

“Facebook wants to build a device that allows you to be anywhere you want, with anyone, regardless of geographic boundaries,” he said.

Facebook intends to do this by first designing virtual worlds that mimic real world places. Then they want to create an interface that convinces users the simulated world is a real place. The interface would have to allow users to see their own hands and feet. The final goal is to empower users to create their own worlds and explore them how they wish.

The first prototype is set to release in 2016 – a VR-visor named Rift. It will be accompanied by the release of Oculus Touch, which is a set of controllers that allow users to see their own hands and interact with the simulated worlds. In late 2016 a third technology is set to come out to allow users to create virtual 3D objects to use and navigate in their artificial worlds.

How to Google monitor your mental health

unduhanIn recent days, Dr. Tom Insel, M.D., left his post as chief of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, a position that made him the nation’s top mental health physician. A neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Insel is a leading authority on both medicinal and public policies that are necessary to deal with mental problems. Although he’s leaving his government job at 64 years of age, he isn’t retiring; the UK Telegraph reports he’s going to work for Google.

Insel will be working for Google Life Sciences, one of the more unusual divisions of the tech and media behemoth. He is going to apply his expertise investigating how technology can be employed to help diagnose and treat mental health conditions, according to a blog post at the National Institutes of Health.

The company that has been busted repeatedly for fraud and other abusive practices now wants to get into the “business” of repairing minds. What could go wrong?

“Wearable” technology is key to Google’s new mind endeavor

Then again, Google is merely launching into a technological field other companies have already entered. Apple, IBM and Intel are among those exploring the same field, the Telegraph reported, adding:

IBM this year carried out research with Columbia University that suggested computer analysis of speech patterns can more accurately predict the onset of psychosis than conventional tests involving blood samples or brain scans. Other researchers theorize that a person’s internet search history or even shopping habits (so handily recorded by your innocuous loyalty card) can identify the first signs of mental illness. Computers can now tell when something is about to go terribly wrong in someone’s mind.

As scary as that technology is in and of itself, the manner in which researchers like Insel want to utilize the technology ought to raise even more alarms and questions.

There is no question that wearable technology is growing in popularity and use, and that is especially true when it comes to wearable medical technology. Think about devices like Fitbits, which are used by a growing number of people who want to track their physical activity. Even some businesses and corporations are offering them to employees at discounted prices or for free because they see long-term cost benefits such as lowerhealth insurance/health care costs from their use by employees. These devices also monitor movements, pulse rates, sleep patterns and more.

Using technology to self-monitor has benefited health care by allowing patients to electronically transmit their health conditions in real time, reducing the number of routine and expensive medical consultations with providers and ensuring a faster response to changes in health that require intervention and attention.

Therefore, it is highly likely that self-monitoring will also begin to play a larger role in public health, and governments seeking reductions in taxpayer-supported expenditures will likely adopt them.

However, with these devices in use in both the private and public sectors – in which they might eventually become requirements of insurance companies and government agencies – the wearers will be in danger of having all of their activities monitored.

What if you want to sneak in an extra beer or glass of wine? That will be monitored. How about a sinful snack? The extra glucose will show up. Imagine the possibilities.