Pentagon now funding “genetic extinction” technologies that could be weaponized to target humans

Is the United States government developing technology that could be manipulated to cause the destruction of the very people it claims to protect? The Guardian is reporting that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. military’s most secretive organization, is developing “doomsday” genetic extinction technology that could have catastrophic results if it falls into the wrong hands.

DARPA is reportedly investing $100 million in this “gene drive” technology, claiming that it will be used to eradicate destructive pests like malaria mosquitoes and invasive rodents. Though The Guardian rightly points out that this technology could be the “stuff of nightmares,” all known current scientific research is supposedly only aimed at pest control.

It is important to note, though, that the only information that has come to light about DARPA’s plans was revealed in emails released under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules. It is entirely possible that far more is involved in the program than has been revealed by the government.

Cutting edge technology like Crispr-Cas9 can be used to slice into DNA strands, and then either insert, change or remove specific genetic traits. If, for example, scientists were to alter the sex-ratio of certain mosquitoes in this way, it would be a simple matter to eradicate them completely. (Related: CRISPR gene editing found to cause hundreds of “unintended mutations,” warn scientists.)

The problem with this technology is two-fold: Firstly, scientists have no way of knowing what the ecological effects would be of eradicating entire species. Experts have warned that this type of human interference could threaten peace, food security and entire ecosystems. (Related: Discover the extent of the damage humans have already caused to our planet at Environ.news.)

One United Nations (U.N.) source told The Guardian, “You may be able to remove viruses or the entire mosquito population, but that may also have downstream ecological effects on species that depend on them. My main worry is that we do something irreversible to the environment, despite our good intentions, before we fully appreciate the way that this technology will work.”

Friends of the Earth reported last year that scientists, conservationists and environmental groups had unanimously rejected the use of gene drive technology to cause the extinction of targeted species:

Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including NGOs, government representatives, and scientific and academic institutions, overwhelmingly voted to adopt a de facto moratorium on supporting or endorsing research into gene drives for conservation or other purposes until the IUCN has fully assessed their impacts.

The second, and probably most alarming concern is that “rogue” nations might use this type of technology as a bio-weapon. While the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is currently discussing what restrictions, if any, should be placed on the use of this type of technology, it stands to reason that countries like North Korea, which do not respect the authority of the U.N., are highly unlikely to abide by any restrictions it might decide upon. As it is, sanctions the U.N. has already placed on that country are being belligerently and completely ignored by those in positions of power.

The fact that the technology is being developed by a military agency has raised concerns around the globe. As one U.N. diplomat said, “Many countries [will] have concerns when this technology comes from Darpa, a U.S. military science agency.”

Experts have also expressed concerns that any scientists who receive grants to work on this type of technology are now likely to change their projects to be narrowly focused on meeting the aims of the military, rather than a broader type of scientific research.

Canada’s Global Research Centre notes that interest in the development of gene drive technology for military use increased dramatically after the release of a report by an elite group of scientists known as “Jason” last year. A second report was commissioned this year to examine “potential threats this technology might pose in the hands of an adversary, technical obstacles that must be overcome to develop gene drive technology and employ it ‘in the wild’,” according to Gerald Joyce, the report’s co-chair.

The U.S. military – especially DARPA – has already spent an obscene amount of money on the development of synthetic biology, with sources estimating this to be in the region of $820 million between 2008 and 2014, alone.

DARPA claims that it needs to get ahead of the curve, with the potential threat of gene drive technology being utilized by a country not friendly to U.S. interests increasing since the costs associated with gene-editing toolkits have seen dramatic reductions.

“This convergence of low cost and high availability means that applications for gene editing – both positive and negative – could arise from people or states operating outside of the traditional scientific community and international norms,” a DARPA official said. “It is incumbent on Darpa to perform this research and develop technologies that can protect against accidental and intentional misuse.”

One thing is for sure: The government is playing a dangerous game – one for which future generations may have to pay the price.

Military robots are getting smaller and more capable…Soon, they will travel in swarms

ON NOVEMBER 12th a video called “Slaughterbots” was uploaded to YouTube. It is the brainchild of Stuart Russell, a professor of artificial intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley, and was paid for by the Future of Life Institute (FLI), a group of concerned scientists and technologists that includes Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal. It is set in a near-future in which small drones fitted with face-recognition systems and shaped explosive charges can be programmed to seek out and kill known individuals or classes of individuals (those wearing a particular uniform, for example). In one scene, the drones are shown collaborating with each other to gain entrance to a building. One acts as a petard, blasting through a wall to grant access to the others.

“Slaughterbots” is fiction. The question Dr Russell poses is, “how long will it remain so?” For military laboratories around the planet are busy developing small, autonomous robots for use in warfare, both conventional and unconventional. In America, in particular, a programme called MAST (Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology), which has been run by the US Army Research Laboratory in Maryland, is wrapping up this month after ten successful years. MAST co-ordinated and paid for research by a consortium of established laboratories, notably at the University of Maryland, Texas A&M University and Berkeley (the work at Berkeley is unrelated to Dr Russell’s). Its successor, the Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology (DCIST) programme, which began earlier this year, is now getting into its stride.

Alphabet wants to deliver Internet access via laser beams

Alphabet’s X Lab has cooked up yet another Internet connectivity scheme, according to a report from Reuters. Past efforts have involved floating Internet balloons and laying lots of fiber optic cable, but this Internet delivery system sends data over laser beams! This isn’t an experimental system like Project Loon; India’s Andhra Pradesh state government has signed an agreement with Alphabet to bring the technology to millions of people starting next year.

The technology is called “free space optical communication,” and it works exactly the way it sounds: you aim two light beams at each other and communicate through blinking. “Free space” means you’re not using any cable at all and are just communicating through the air over line of sight. Typically this is done with lasers, although for shorter distances it’s possible to use LEDs.

Boeing Wins Contract to Develop Lasers for Drones

Laser-armed drones are one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Missile Defense Agency recently awarded Boeing Co. a nine-month, $9 million contract as part of its Low Power Laser Demonstrator program, according to a Defense Department contract announcement.

Boeing is the third defense contractor to begin work on the agency’s first phase of the project, which aims to design, integrate and test a low power laser on an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The agency awarded a $9.4 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. in October and an $8.9 million contract to General Atomics in November.

For now, the goal is to integrate airborne platforms with precision tracking lasers.

For example, under a previous contract, the agency successfully tested General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper incorporated with Raytheon’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System — an electro-optical/infrared, long-range surveillance, target tracking and range finding, and laser designated sensor package — during a Navy exercise last year.

Humans 2.0: meet the entrepreneur who wants to put a chip in your brain

Bryan Johnson isn’t short of ambition. The founder and CEO of neuroscience company Kernel wants “to expand the bounds of human intelligence”. He is planning to do this with neuroprosthetics; brain augmentations that can improve mental function and treat disorders. Put simply, Kernel hopes to place a chip in your brain.

It isn’t clear yet exactly how this will work. There’s a lot of excited talk about the possibilities of the technology, but – publicly, at least – Kernel’s output at the moment is an idea. A big idea.

“My hope is that within 15 years we can build sufficiently powerful tools to interface with our brains,” Johnson says. “Can I increase my rate of learning, scope of imagination, and ability to love? Can I understand what it’s like to live in a 10-dimensional reality? Can we ameliorate or cure neurological disease and dysfunction?”

The shape that this technology will take is still unknown. Johnson uses the term “brain chip”, but the developments taking place in neuroprosthesis are working towards less invasive procedures than opening up your skull and cramming a bit of hardware in; injectable sensors are one possibility.

It may sound far-fetched, but Johnson has a track record of getting things done. Within his first semester at university, he’d set up a profitable business selling mobile phones to fellow students. By age 30, he’d founded online payment company Braintree, which he sold six years later to PayPal for $800m. He used $100m of the proceeds to create Kernel in 2016 – it now employs more than 30 people.

But Johnson, 40, says he is about more than money. He was raised as a Mormon in Utah and it was while carrying out two years of missionary work in Ecuador that he was struck by what he describes as an “overwhelming desire to improve the lives of others”.

His subsequent decision to leave the faith only added to this sense of purpose. “For the first time in my life, I had to sit with the notion that the closest I’d ever come to my previous vision of heaven is whatever we can build here on Earth while I’m alive,” he explains.

“And when I surveyed the landscape of human history, including how we treat each other and our shared home, I thought we have to do better.”

The idea for Kernel also came from a “deeply personal” place, Johnson says. He suffered from chronic depression from the ages of 24 to 34, and has seen his father and stepfather face huge mental health struggles.

First AI with Imagination Could Mean ‘End of Reality As We Know It’

It seems like each week there’s some new development in artificial intelligence that causes everyone to freak out and proclaim the end of human superiority. Well, this is another one of those weeks. AI researchers at computing hardware manufacturer Nvidia have designed what is being billed as one of the first artificial intelligence networks with a working imagination. The system can create realistic (if not real) looking videos of fictional events using simple inputs, similar to how the human mind can imagine abstract or fictional scenarios based on a thought. Should we be frightened? How frightened?

So far, not that frightened. The technology is still in its infancy, and has only been used in what researchers call “image-to-image translation,” or altering video clips and photos in small ways such as changing the setting from night to day, changing human subjects’ hair color, or switching a dog to one of another breed. Still, that’s pretty impressive if you think about it. Nvidia’s Ming-Yu Liu says that their system is the first to be able to do so simply by ‘imagining’ the new image or scene, as opposed prior similar systems which faced the problem of having to compile massive sets of data based on prior examples and extrapolating from those data:

We are among the first to tackle the problem, [and] there are many applications. For example, it rarely rains in California, but we’d like our self-driving cars to operate properly when it rains. We can use our method to translate sunny California driving sequences to rainy ones to train our self-driving cars.

Coinbase unseats Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube apps as most demanded app in App Store

There’s a new app at the top of the App Store and it’s all because of Bitcoin.

Coinbase, a popular Bitcoin wallet app, is now at the top of Apple’s App Store, unseating Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube as the most in-demand software.

That in itself might not be terribly surprising considering the cryptocurrency keeps shatteringrecord after record. But though Coinbase, which also works with other cryptocurrencies, is for now the most popular, it’s far from the only Bitcoin wallet app benefiting from the current boom.

Across the board, Bitcoin-related apps have been more in-demand than ever before. In fact, new numbers from app marketing firm Sensor Tower underscore just how much Bitcoin’s current surge has impacted the wallet apps in the App Store and Google Play.

Sensor Tower compared the rise of the top ten Bitcoin wallet apps with the average price of Bitcoin and found that the two track nearly identically since the start of the year.

Disqus commenting service acquired by Zeta Global

Marketing tech company Zeta Global is making good use of its recent $140 million Series F funding round. After acquiring Boomtrain earlier this year, the company today announced it has acquired Disqus, a service you’re probably familiar with thanks to its ubiquitous online commenting service that powers the commenting sections of sites that range from TMZ to The Atlantic and Entertainment Weekly.

A source close to the two companies tells us that the acquisition price was close to $90 million. This marks Zeta’s eleventh acquisition since it was founded in 2007.

Zeta Global’s acquisitions have typically focused on more fundamental technologies like AI and machine learning, customer lifecycle management and other adtech related services. At first glance, Disqus doesn’t quite seem to fit into this list, but Disqus sits on a huge data set that goes beyond your favorite troll’s political comments.

“Marketers typically have to make trade-offs between reaching engaged audiences on social platforms with massive reach and using tools that give them control and access to granular targeting capabilities,” said Zeta Global CEO, chairman and co-founder David A. Steinberg. “Disqus strengthens Zeta’s ability to offer the best of both worlds with the scale, visibility and performance marketers have been asking for.”

Disqus gives these marketers the ability to target users based on their interests. You can infer quite a bit about people simply based on which sites they comment on, after all. At the same time, though, most of the online commenting has now moved to social media and the number of comments on most sites is in a steady decline. So while Zeta is acquired a large hoard of data, it remains to be seen how long that data will stay current.

AI is now so complex its creators can’t trust why it makes decisions

Artificial intelligence is seeping into every nook and cranny of modern life. AI might tag your friends in photos on Facebook or choose what you see on Instagram, but materials scientists and NASA researchersare also beginning to use the technology for scientific discovery and space exploration.

But there’s a core problem with this technology, whether it’s being used in social media or for the Mars rover: The programmers that built it don’t know why AI makes one decision over another.

Modern artificial intelligence is still new. Big tech companies have only ramped up investment and research in the last five years, after a decades-old theory was shown to finally work in 2012. Inspired by the human brain, an artificial neural network relied on layers of thousands to millions of tiny connections between “neurons” or little clusters of mathematic computation, like the connections of neurons in the brain. But that software architecture came with a trade-off: Since the changes throughout those millions of connections were so complex and minute, researchers aren’t able to exactly determine what is happening. They just get an output that works.

At the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California, the most influential and highest-attended annual AI conference, hundreds of researchers from academia and tech industry will meet today (Dec. 7) at a workshop to talk about the issue. While the problem exists today, researchers who spoke to Quartz say the time is now to act on making the decisions of machines understandable, before the technology is even more pervasive.

“We don’t want to accept arbitrary decisions by entities, people or AIs, that we don’t understand,” said Uber AI researcher Jason Yosinkski, co-organizer of the Interpretable AI workshop. “In order for machine learning models to be accepted by society, we’re going to need to know why they’re making the decisions they’re making.”

As these artificial neural networks are starting to be used in law enforcement, healthcare, scientific research, and determining which news you see on Facebook, researchers are saying there’s a problem with what some have called AI’s “black box.” Previous research has shown that algorithms amplify biases in the data from which they learn, and make inadvertent connections between ideas.

For example, when Google made an AI generate the idea of “dumbbells” from images it had seen, the dumbbells all had small, disembodied arms sticking out from the handles. That bias is relatively harmless; when race, gender, or sexual orientation is involved, it becomes less benign.

100,000-strong botnet built on router 0-day could strike at any time

Attackers have used an advanced new strain of the Mirai Internet-of-things malware to quietly amass an army of 100,000 home routers that could be used at any moment to wage Internet-paralyzing attacks, a researcher warned Monday.

Botnet operators have been regularly releasing new versions of Mirai since the source code was openly published 14 months ago. Usually, the new versions contain minor tweaks, many of which contain amateur mistakes that prevent the new releases from having the punch of the original Mirai, which played a key role in a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks that debilitated or temporarily took down Twitter, GitHub, the PlayStation Network and other key Internet services.

Sophisticated approach

What sets this latest variant apart is its ability to exploit a recently discovered zeroday vulnerability to infect two widely used lines of home and small-office routers even when they’re secured with strong passwords or have remote administration turned off altogether, Dale Drew, chief security strategist at broadband Internet provider CenturyLink, told Ars. One of the affected Huawei devices is the EchoLife Home Gateway, and the other is the Huawei Home Gateway. Roughly 90,000 of the 100,000 newly infected devices are one of the two Huawei router models. The new malware also has a dictionary of 65,000 username and password combinations to try against other types of devices.

“It’s a pretty sophisticated approach,” Drew told Ars on Monday. The unknown operator “has a pretty significant scanning army right now where he’s adding more and more vectors to his IoT pool.”

Google pledges 10,000 staff to tackle extremist content

PHOTO CREDIT FLICKR

Google will dedicate more than 10,000 staff to rooting out violent extremist content on YouTube in 2018, the video sharing website’s chief has said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Susan Wojcicki said some users were exploiting YouTube to “mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm”.

She said the website, owned by Google, had used “computer-learning” technology that could find extremist videos.

More than 150,000 of these videos have been removed since June, she said.

In March, the UK government suspended its adverts from YouTube, following concerns they were appearing next to inappropriate content.

And in a speech at the United Nations general assembly in September, UK Prime Minister Theresa May challenged tech firms to take down terrorist material in two hours.

The prime minister has repeatedly called for an end to the “safe spaces” she says terrorists enjoy online.

Google artificial intelligence creates its own AI ‘child’

PHOTO CREDIT FLICKR

Google’s AutoML artificial intelligence (AI) system has created its own “fully-functional AI child” that’s capable of outperforming its human-made equivalents, reports Alphr.

The computer-made system, known as NASNet, is designed to identify objects, such as people and vehicles, in photographs and videos, the search engine giant says.

Studies show that NASNet is able to identify objects in an image with 82.7% accuracy. Google says this is an improvement of 1.2% over AI programmes created by humans.

The web giant has made the system “open source”, which means developers from outside the company can either expand upon the programme or develop their own version.

Researchers at Google say they hope AI developers will be able to build on these models to address “multitudes of computer vision problems we have not yet imagined.”

Tsunami Of Demons Or ‘Old Ones’ Set To Inhabit An Army Of AI Powers – ‘Techno Possession’ Closer Than Anyone Knows

In a world where the EU (European Union) is arguing for “human rights” for robots, and where the Sophia AI robot is granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia, and claims robots deserve families, with projections showing that robots will replace 800 million human workers by the year 2030, a speech by Geordie Rose, (we’ll explain exactly who he is and why his comments should be given a lot of attention below) warning that “demons” or the “old ones” are coming and exactly how those entities will look upon human beings, (like ants), should make everyone sit up and take notice.

Note– Years ago Steve Quayle published a book called “Genetic Armageddon,” which I believe is no longer in print, but then he published a more recent version which expands on the basic concept of what is happening right now “in the background” as we hear Geordie Rose, founder of D-Wave admit, called “Xenogenesis,” which considering the topic matter of this article and the things we hear Rose acknowledging, is highly recommended reading.

Geordie Rose is a co-founder and chief technology officer of D-Wave. D-Wave is the first company in the world to sell quantum computers, which have the “cubic” chip, which those involved with CERN have admitted to pulling resources out of “other dimensions” and storing them in the “cubic,” which may sound like sci-fi, or something created by “conspiracy theorists,” but scientists have expressed the same concerned about “worm holes” and  “parellel dimensions,” while worrying about what is being brought though, as ANP reported back in 2015.

Rose and fellow D-Wave researcher Suzanne Gildert created another company called Kindred, to revolutionize the world of AI and robotics, which was reported on in-depth at places like The Verge and IEEE Spectrum, among other publications, but it is in Rose’s recent lecture that some very strange and unusually candid things are acknowledged.

Kindred has already been added to a list of the top 50 companies that MIT rated as the smartest, so listening to how the founder himself sees these machines, and their rise, is important in realizing the dangers of “Techno Possession,” a term coined by our friend Steve Quayle in a SQ note back in January 2017, when linking to an article about the EU granting human rights to robots, where Quayle said they were inviting Hell’s smorgasbord into their countries.

Hackers can Exploit Load Planning Software to Capsize Balance of Large Vessels

Ships can be hacked and the reason is its vulnerable messaging system.

It is a fact that ship loading and container stowage plans are created without using a secure messaging system, and there is obviously a lengthy series of electronic messages that are exchanged between the entities responsible for the creation of vessels including shipping lines, terminals, and port authorities. Understandable this flaw can be exploited by malicious threat actors anytime at their will, and this is exactly what security firm Pen Test Partners’ security consultant Ken Munro is concerned about.

On a daily basis, large vessels use a system called BAPLIE to displace thousands of containers some carrying around 200,000 tons’ load. This system informs port authorities where to place every single container, and the ship’s manufacturers very regularly update it. However, if customers do not use its latest version, there is every chance of foul play since criminal hackers would obscure the real contents and weight of the container by altering the information sent to the customs.

Law enforcement authorities cannot examine every cargo and target shipments from countries that are categorized as high-risk. If a hacker alters this information, then investigators won’t be able to detect that a container is marked as high-risk.

Future wars may depend as much on algorithms as on ammunition

The Pentagon is increasingly focused on the notion that the might of U.S. forces will be measured as much by the advancement of their algorithms as by the ammunition in their arsenals. And so as it seeks to develop the technologies of the next war amid a technological arms race with China, the Defense Department has steadily increased spending in three key areas: artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing, according to a recent report.

Investment in those areas increased to $7.4 billion last year, up from $5.6 billion five years ago, according to Govini, a data science and analytics firm, and it appears likely to grow as the armed services look to transform how they train, plan and fight.

“Rapid advances in artificial intelligence — and the vastly improved autonomous systems and operations they will enable — are pointing toward new and more novel warfighting applications involving human-machine collaboration and combat teaming,” Robert Work, the former deputy secretary of defense, wrote in an introduction to the report. “These new applications will be the primary drivers of an emerging military-technical revolution.”

The United States “can either lead the coming revolution, or fall victim to it,” he added.

In an interview, Work, who serves on Govini’s board, said the advancements in technology are transforming war just as the advent of the rifle, telegraph and railroad did generations ago. Much of the current work is being driven by companies with large presences in the Washington area, including Leidos, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, CACI and SAIC, according to the report.

Service members are using virtual reality to simulate battle conditions in training. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been investing in better computing power designed to handle vast amounts of data, including quantum computing and what’s known as neuromorphic engineering, helping develop incredibly complex computing systems designed to mimic biological systems.

There are signs that AI and human-machine collaboration are already making their way into American weaponry and its intelligence apparatus. The Pentagon is working toward using drones as the wingmen of fighter jets and ships, which can probe into enemy territory on their own. The Marine Corps has been testing cargo helicopters that can fly autonomously and that would allow Marines, using a tablet, to “easily request supplies even to austere or dangerous environments,” according to the Office of Naval Research.

Apple’s Tim Cook speaks at China event that promotes censored internet

Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai made their first appearances at China’s World Internet Conference, bringing star power to a gathering the Chinese government uses to promote its strategy of tight controls online.

Apple’s chief executive officer gave a surprise keynote at the opening ceremony on Sunday, calling for future internet and AI technologies to be infused with privacy, security and humanity. The same day, one of China’s most-senior officials called for more aggressive government involvement online to combat terrorism and criminals. Wang Huning, one of seven men on China’s top decision-making body, even called for a global response team to go well beyond its borders.

It was Cook’s second appearance in China in two months, following a meeting with President Xi Jinping in October. The iPhone maker has most of its products manufactured in the country and is trying to regain market share in smartphones against local competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co.

“The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

The Wuzhen conference, which until this year has had a primarily local presence, is designed to globally promote the country’s vision of a more censored and controlled internet. The attendance of leaders from two of the world’s most valuable tech giants lends credibility to China’s efforts to influence the global internet so it better resembles its own.

“It is interesting to see Apple and Google at the WIC, but we doubt there will be any meaningful changes in China government policy,” said Kirk Boodry, an analyst with New Street Research. “Current policies have worked very well so far: two of the top five internet companies in terms of market cap are Chinese — supported by growth in consumer spending which is a key government priority.”

The two companies Boodry referred to participated in the conference, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma taking part. The other technology executives in attendance included Cisco Systems Inc.’s Chuck Robbins and Baidu Inc. co-founder Robin Li.

Samsung patent envisions palm scanning for remembering forgotten passwords

Samsung is proud for having the highest number of security features on its latest flagships, offering no less than five different methods (iris, facial recognition, fingerprint, pattern, and pin) for keeping the device locked and protected. Samsung also seems to be working on ways to ensure those who use a password for their device and tend to forget it can easily get a hint for what their password might be, or at least that’s what a patent application by the company suggests.

Palm scanning for more than just telling your future

Everyone knows a person’s palm can have a myriad of lines that differ for each individual, and while palm readers might be using these for foretelling your future, Samsung thinks it can be used to help users remember their password by hiding the hint in those scattered palm lines. This isn’t a method for unlocking similar to iris or fingerprint scanning; instead, Samsung wants to use palm scanning to ensure that the user requesting for the password hint is the owner of the device.

New software can verify someone’s identity by their DNA in minutes

In the science-fiction movie Gattaca, visitors only clear security if a blood test and readout of their genetic profile matches the sample on file. Now, cheap DNA sequencers and custom software could make real-time DNA-authentication a reality.

Researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center have developed a method to quickly and accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA. The technology could have multiple applications, from identifying victims in a mass disaster to analyzing crime scenes. But its most immediate use could be to flag mislabeled or contaminated cell lines in cancer experiments, a major reason that studies are later invalidated. The discovery is described in the latest issue of eLife.

“Our method opens up new ways to use off-the-shelf technology to benefit society,” said the study’s senior author Yaniv Erlich, a computer science professor at Columbia Engineering, an adjunct core member at NYGC, and a member of Columbia’s Data Science Institute. “We’re especially excited about the potential to improve cell-authentication in cancer research and potentially speed up the discovery of new treatments.”

The software is designed to run on the MinION, an instrument the size of a credit card that pulls in strands of DNA through its microscopic pores and reads out sequences of nucleotides, or the DNA letters A, T, C, G. The device has made it possible for researchers to study bacteria and viruses in the field, but its high error-rate and large sequencing gaps have, until now, limited its use on human cells with their billions of nucleotides.

In an innovative two-step process, the researchers outline a new way to use the $1,000 MinION and the abundance of human genetic data now online to validate the identity of people and cells by their DNA with near-perfect accuracy. First, they use the MinION to sequence random strings of DNA, from which they select individual variants, which are nucleotides that vary from person to person and make them unique. Then, they use a Bayesian algorithm to randomly compare this mix of variants with corresponding variants in other genetic profiles on file. With each cross-check, the algorithm updates the likelihood of finding a match, rapidly narrowing the search.

Tests show the method can validate an individual’s identity after cross-checking between 60 and 300 variants, the researchers report. Within minutes, it verified the identity of the study’s lead author, Sophie Zaaijer, a former member of NYGC and now a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell Tech.

Technology will make today’s government obsolete…

Artificial intelligence is the hot topic of the moment.

The most valuable firms in the world, including Amazon, Microsoft and Google, are in a race to hire leading AI researchers to advance their efforts on autonomous vehicles, medical diagnostics and a range of other ventures.

At the same time, governments are rushing to support the technology that might drive the next economic paradigm shift with funding and incentives.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the promise of AI at a conference recently, where he focused on the opportunity for Canada to attract investment and create jobs in the burgeoning field.

But are governments inadvertently laying the groundwork for their own irrelevance?

As policy director at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre, I focus on the impacts of technology on the labour market, government services and social programs.

Industrial age government, information age world

Already today, the private sector is deploying cutting-edge technology as soon as practicable while the public sector struggles to implement turn-of-the-century solutions to seemingly straightforward tasks.

The federal government’s ongoing travails with the Phoenix pay system upgrade, which was designed to save $70 million a year but instead may cost $1 billion to fix, is just the latest example of public sector challenges with large-scale information technology projects.

And the gap between the two worlds is likely to only get wider as technology — whether AI or blockchain — becomes more advanced, complex and disruptive. The private sector’s capacity and ability to work with IT is already higher than the government’s. As salaries and opportunities continue to draw talent to the private sector, we’ll likely see a corresponding increase in the capability gap between the two.

Governments are already facing a crisis of trust. According to a survey by public relations consultancy Edelman, only 43 per cent of Canadians trust government, the lowest among surveyed institutions. Just 26 per cent of Canadians surveyed view government officials and regulators as credible.

Digital transformation crucial

Citizens, increasingly accustomed to living and working digitally, are only going to have higher expectations for government’s technological adeptness and capability in the future.

Banks, retailers, manufacturing firms and mines are all transforming themselves into digital organizations.

If our governments remain rooted in the industrial age, their decline in relevance is only likely to accelerate. Most government structures and processes date back earlier than the 1950s.

This relevance gap won’t just be about accessing services more easily and effectively. In the near future we will likely see a debate about why public sector employees are relatively immune to job disruptions and precarious work conditions, while technology could accelerate both trends for those in the private sector.

As job quality continues to erode in the private sector, the public sector will appear to be apart from trends in precarious work. This will likely lead private sector workers to question why their taxes are funding well-paying, secure positions while they themselves may be struggling mightily.

Labour disruption and unrest

The future of work for many in the private sector will increasingly involve jumping from gig to part-time role and back again to make ends meet, with little left over to save for retirement or for “benefits” such as mental health services or prescription medications, labour market trends over the past 30 to 40 years suggest.

Part-time work is up 57 per cent over the past 40 years, and now accounts for nearly 20 per cent of jobs in Canada. Temporary work is also up 57 per cent over the past 20 years, and now forms 13.5 per cent of workforce. Across OECD countries, growth in non-standard work accounts for 60 per cent of job growth since the mid-1990s.

Those employment trends are likely to get even worse due to technology and corporate strategies.

In 2014, the public sector unionization rate was 71.3 per cent — nearly five times the private-sector rate of 15.2 per cent, which raises hard questions about who will speak up for the private sector worker in an increasingly lean and fissured labour market.

FACEBOOK MAY SOON ask you to “upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face,

FACEBOOK MAY SOON ask you to “upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face,” to prove you’re not a bot.

The company is using a new kind of captcha to verify whether a user is a real person. According to a screenshot of the identity test shared on Twitter on Tuesday and verified by Facebook, the prompt says: “Please upload a photo of yourself that clearly shows your face. We’ll check it and then permanently delete it from our servers.”

In a statement to WIRED, a Facebook spokesperson said the photo test is intended to “help us catch suspicious activity at various points of interaction on the site, including creating an account, sending Friend requests, setting up ads payments, and creating or editing ads.”

The process is automated, including identifying suspicious activity and checking the photo. To determine if the account is authentic, Facebook looks at whether the photo is unique. The Facebook spokesperson said the photo test is one of several methods, both automated and manual, used to detect suspicious activity.

Russia to launch ‘independent internet’ for BRICS nations – report

The Russian Security Council has asked the country’s government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions.

The initiative was discussed at the October meeting of the Security Council, which is Russia’s top consultative body on national security. President Vladimir Putin personally set a deadline of August 1, 2018 for the completion of the task, the RBC news agency reported.

While discussing the issue, members of the council noted that “the increased capabilities of western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space as well as the increased readiness to exercise these capabilities pose a serious threat to Russia’s security.”

They decided that the problem should be addressed by creating a separate backup system of Domain Name Servers (DNS), which would not be subject to control by international organizations. This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The issue of excessive dependency on global DNS has previously been addressed by Russia. In 2014, the Russian Communications Ministry conducted a major exercise in which it simulated the “switching off” of global internet services and used a Russian backup system to successfully support web operations inside the country.

However, when reporters asked Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov if the country’s authorities had been considering disconnecting from the global internet in 2014, Peskov dismissed these allegations as false.

Russia’s disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question,” Peskov told the Interfax news agency. However, the official also emphasized that “recently, a fair share of unpredictability is present in the actions of our partners both in the US and the EU, and we [Russia] must be prepared for any turn of events.”

We all know who the chief administrator of the global internet is. And due to its volatility, we have to think about how to ensure our national security,” said Peskov. It’s not about disconnecting Russia from the World Wide Web, he added, but about “protecting it from possible external influence.”

Copyright Information: This article was reprinted with permission from RT.com. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Hackers are scanning computers worldwide for open Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets…

Security researcher Didier Stevens setup a trap, or in digital security terms – a “honeypot”.  Think of it as digital sting operation, where someone puts a server online open to attack – but nothing of value is really there, it’s only there to record the attacks as they happen.

The logs of these honeypots revealed hackers running scrips aimed at detecting files that contain cryptocurrency wallets.

The filenames included:

wallet – Copy.dat
wallet.dat
wallet.dat.1
wallet.dat.zip
wallet.tar
wallet.tar.gz
wallet.zip
wallet_backup.dat
wallet_backup.dat.1
wallet_backup.dat.zip
wallet_backup.zip

Didier said he’s seen activity like this since 2013 – but never at such high volume.

The same is now happening to Ethereum since it’s taken a strong hold as the #2 cryptocurrency. Threat hunter Dimitrios Slamaris set up a honeypot and faked having some Ethereum in his wallet.

YouTube admits ‘disturbing’ autocomplete results suggested child SEX

 

YouTube’s autocomplete feature has been suggesting disturbing search terms to users.

People have found that typing “how to have” into the site’s search bar has been causing highly inappropriate suggestions to appear.

These include “how to have s*x with your kids” and “how to have s*x kids”.

YouTube has been heavily criticised over recent days, after it emerged that paedophiles are posting inappropriate content and comments on the site and evading protection mechanisms.

It has now confirmed that the site’s search bar had been showing disturbing suggestions, but says this is no longer the case.

 

Don’t let corporate SCUM destroy the internet….

Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.

As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

In December the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to repeal already compromised regulations that are in place to maintain a semblance of “net neutrality”. Its chairman, Ajit Pai, and the corporations that are internet service providers want to sweep away these rules, just like the banking sector got rid of financial regulations so it could inflate our economies into giant ponzi schemes.

That could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability to make its voice heard in the public square.

It was political leaders – aided by the corporate media – who paved the way to this with their fomenting of a self-serving moral panic about “fake news”. Fake news, they argued, appeared only online, not in the pages of the corporate media – the same media that sold us the myth of WMD in Iraq, and has so effectively preserved a single party system with two faces. The public, it seems, needs to be protected only from bloggers and websites.

The social media giants soon responded. It is becoming ever clearer that Facebook is interfering as a platform for the dissemination of information for progressive activists. It is already shutting down  accounts, and limiting their reach. These trends will only accelerate.

Google has changed its algorithms in ways that have ensured the search engine rankings of prominent leftwing sites are falling through the floor. It is becoming harder and harder to find alternative sources of news because they are being actively hidden from view.

Google stepped up that process this week by “deranking” RT and Sputnik, two Russian news sites that provide an important counterweight – even if one skewed in its pro-Russia agenda – to the anti-Russia propaganda spouted by western corporate media. The two sites will be as good as censored on the internet for the vast majority of users.

RT is far from a perfect source of news – no state or corporate media is – but it is a vital voice to have online. It has become a sanctuary for many seeking alternative, and often far more honest, critiques both of western domestic policy and of western interference in far-off lands. It has its own political agenda, of course, but, despite the assumption of many western liberals, it provides a far more accurate picture of the world than the western corporate media on a vast range of issues.

Scientists Build Handheld Particle Detector For Seeing Through Walls

PHOTO CREDIT: MIT

How do you find out what’s inside a building if you can’t go in? It’s a question that’s surprisingly relevant in areas like disaster relief, when being able to see inside a collapsed structure could mean the difference between life and death.

So how exactly do you find out what’s inside a building without going in? By detecting tiny particles called muons. Muons are produced in the upper atmosphere by collisions between air molecules and cosmic rays from the sun and other stars. These muons then make their way down to the ground, where specialized detectors can pick them up.

Muons can usually pass through walls, but sometimes they collide instead, meaning that a detector will see fewer muons if there are walls or other objects in the way. By measuring how many muons pass through a certain area—like a building—we can figure out exactly how much of that area is solid and how much is empty space.

Self-driving cars programmed to decide who dies in a crash

Consider this hypothetical:

It’s a bright, sunny day and you’re alone in your spanking new self-driving vehicle, sprinting along the two-lane Tunnel of Trees on M-119 high above Lake Michigan north of Harbor Springs. You’re sitting back, enjoying the view. You’re looking out through the trees, trying to get a glimpse of the crystal blue water below you, moving along at the 45-mile-an-hour speed limit.

As you approach a rise in the road, heading south, a school bus appears, driving north, one driven by a human, and it veers sharply toward you. There is no time to stop safely, and no time for you to take control of the car.

Does the car:

A. Swerve sharply into the trees, possibly killing you but possibly saving the bus and its occupants?

B. Perform a sharp evasive maneuver around the bus and into the oncoming lane, possibly saving you, but sending the bus and its driver swerving into the trees, killing her and some of the children on board?

C. Hit the bus, possibly killing you as well as the driver and kids on the bus?

In everyday driving, such no-win choices are may be exceedingly rare but, when they happen, what should a self-driving car — programmed in advance — do? Or in any situation — even a less dire one — where a moral snap judgment must be made?

It’s not just a theoretical question anymore, with predictions that in a few years, tens of thousands of semi-autonomous vehicles may be on the roads. About $80 billion has been invested in the field. Tech companies are working feverishly on them, with Google-affiliated Waymo among those testing cars in Michigan, and mobility companies like Uber and Tesla racing to beat them. Automakers are placing a big bet on them. A testing facility to hurry along research is being built at Willow Run in Ypsilanti.

There’s every reason for excitement: Self-driving vehicles will ease commutes, returning lost time to workers; enhance mobility for seniors and those with physical challenges, and sharply reduce the more than 35,000 deaths on U.S. highways each year.

Thirty years later, “Max Headroom” TV pirate remains at large

Thirty years ago today, a person or persons unknown briefly hijacked the signal of two Chicago television stations, broadcasting a bizarre taped message from a man wearing a Max Headroom mask. The “broadcast intrusion” interrupted a primetime news broadcast from Chicago’s WGN, and then (more successfully) the 11:00pm broadcast of Dr. Who on the Chicago public television station WTTW. To this day, the perpetrators of the television hack remain unknown.

The hack was made possible by the analog television broadcast technology of the day—the attacker was able to overpower the signals sent by the television studios to a broadcast antenna atop the John Hancock building in Chicago with his or her own signals. In the case of the WGN news broadcast, engineers were able to change the frequency used in the uplink to the John Hancock tower after a brief interruption, and the audio from the pirate transmission was drowned in static. But the WTTW takeover lasted a full 90 seconds, and the pirate TV broadcast’s audio, while distorted, was audible to anyone who happened to be tuned in.

Broadcast intrusions were not rare in the 1980s. The first major one took place in 1977, when someone interrupted the audio of an ITV Southern Television broadcast from a tower in Hannington, England, with a message purported to be from an alien representative of an “Intergalactic Association.” The message warned, “All your weapons of evil must be removed… You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace.”

As with the Chicago takeover, the Hannington broadcast tower was connected by a wireless uplink, not a hard-wired connection. And in 1986, supporters of the Polish labor movement Solidarność hijacked state television stations with printed anti-government messages. State television stations across the Soviet Union were frequently taken over by pirate transmissions that overpowered transmissions from relay stations.

To Save Net Neutrality, We Must Build Our Own Internet

The Federal Communications Commission will announce a full repeal of net neutrality protections Wednesday, according to the New York Times and several other media outlets. It is possible that a committee of telecom industry plutocrats who have from the outset made it their mission to rollback regulations on the industry will bow to public pressure before Wednesday, but let’s not count on it.

It is time to take action, and that doesn’t mean signing an online petition, upvoting a Reddit post, or calling your member of Congress.

Net neutrality as a principle of the federal government will soon be dead, but the protections are wildly popular among the American people and are integral to the internet as we know it. Rather than putting such a core tenet of the internet in the hands of politicians, whose whims and interests change with their donors, net neutrality must be protected by a populist revolution in the ownership of internet infrastructure and networks.

In short, we must end our reliance on big telecom monopolies and build decentralized, affordable, locally owned internet infrastructure. The great news is this is currently possible in most parts of the United States.

There has never been a better time to start your own internet service provider, leverage the publicly available fiber backbone, or build political support for new, local-government owned networks. For the last several months, Motherboard has been chronicling the myriad ways communities passed over by big telecom have built their own internet networks or have partnered with small ISPs who have committed to protecting net neutrality to bring affordable high speed internet to towns and cities across the country.

A future in which ISPs are owned by local governments, small businesses, nonprofit community groups, and the people they serve are the path forward and the only realistic way of ending big telecom’s stranglehold on America.

‘By the people, for the people’: Kim Dotcom to launch alternative internet

PHOTO CREDIT: Robert O’Neill
Kim Dotcom, wanted in the US for alleged widespread illegal file sharing, has vowed to build an alternative internet to combat privacy and freedom problems online.

The knowledge that government agencies have used the internet to spy on citizens, along with high-profile hacking scandals, has brought online privacy to the forefront of people’s minds.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom says he will help facilitate an unobstructed internet, free from prying eyes, through MegaNet, which will operate without IP addresses. The German entrepreneur is currently resisting extradition to the US from New Zealand over alleged copyright infringement.

Dotcom, who believes the internet to be a new frontier of rough-and-tumble lawlessness like the Wild West, previously described his alternative internet idea as “indestructible, uncontrollable & encrypted”.

“The current corporate internet will be replaced by a better Internet, running on the idle capacity of hundreds of millions of mobile devices,” Dotcom said. “Run by the people for the people. Breaking net-neutrality will only accelerate the adoption of a new network.”

The development will ensure internet freedom will become a reality, he added. “I have been working on this for a long time. Mobile networks and devices will be ready for this in four-five years.”

It comes as the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to kill net neutrality next month. In 2015, the same agency adopted an “open internet order” which it said prohibited companies from restricting legal internet use or carrying out paid prioritization for certain services.

The new position has been pitched as a bid to restore internet freedom, but critics argue that any rollback will allow internet service providers much greater control over what people can and cannot see online. FCC chairman Ajit Pai believes repealing net neutrality will facilitate greater investment and innovation.

“This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike,” Pai said in a Wall Street Journal opinion article“In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6 percent – the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband.”

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has sought to persuade the Trump administration to maintain some form of neutrality by informing the US president that his opponents “control most internet companies.”

“Without neutrality they can make your tweets load slowly, CNN load fast and infest everyone’s phones with their ads. Careful,” he tweeted to Donald Trump.

Copyright Information: This article was reprinted with permission from RT.com. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Walmart is ‘secretly’ testing self-driving floor scrubbers

Walmart (WMT) has been quietly testing out autonomous floor scrubbers during the overnight shifts in five store locations near the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

A spokesperson for Walmart told FOX Business that the move, which was first reported by LinkedIn, is a “very small proof of concept pilot that we are running” and that the company still has a lot more to learn about how this technology “might work best in our different retail locations.”

The device called “Emma,” which is the creation of San Diego-based startup Brain Corp., uses technology similar to self-driving cars including extensive cameras, sensors, algorithms and Lidar for navigational mapping. The only difference is that Emma scrubs the floor.

Breakthrough Could Launch Organic Electronics Beyond Cell Phone Screens

A discovery by an international team of researchers from Princeton University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Humboldt University in Berlin points the way to more widespread use of an advanced technology generally known as organic electronics.

The research, published Nov. 13 in the journal Nature Materials, focuses on organic semiconductors, a class of materials prized for their applications in emerging technologies such as flexible electronics, , and high-quality color displays for smartphones and televisions. In the short term, the advance should particularly help with  that operate at high energy to emit colors such as green and blue.

“Organic semiconductors are ideal materials for the fabrication of mechanically flexible devices with energy-saving low temperature processes,” said Xin Lin, a doctoral student and a member of the Princeton research team. “One of their major disadvantages has been their relatively poor electrical conductivity, which leads to inefficient devices with a shorter operating lifetime than required for commercial applications. We are working to improve the electrical properties of organic semiconductors to make them available for more applications.”

Semiconductors, typically made of silicon, are the foundation of modern electronics because engineers can take advantage of their unique properties to control electrical currents. Among many applications, semiconductor devices are used for computing, signal amplification and switching. They are used in energy-saving devices such as light-emitting diodes and devices that convert energy such as solar cells.

Essential to these functionalities is a process called doping, in which the semiconductor’s chemical makeup is modified by adding a small amount of chemicals or impurities. By carefully choosing the type and amount of dopant, researchers can alter semiconductors’ electronic structure and electrical behavior in a variety of ways.

In their recent Nature Materials article, the researchers describe a new approach for greatly increasing the conductivity of organic semiconductors, which are formed of carbon-based molecules rather than silicon atoms. The dopant, a ruthenium-containing compound, is a reducing agent, which means it adds electrons to the  as part of the doping process. The addition of the electrons is the key to increasing the semiconductor’s conductivity. The compound belongs to a newly-introduced class of dopants called dimeric organometallic dopants. Unlike many other powerful reducing agents, these dopants are stable when exposed to air but still work as strong electron donors both in solution and solid state.

Department of Homeland Security can remotely hack a Boeing 757

The increasing use of electronics and internet connectivity in transportation vehicles is a double-edged sword. While new technology gives drivers and pilots more information and makes communication easier, it also leaves vehicles more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security illustrated that fact when it remotely hacked into a Boeing 757 through its radio communication system at an airport in Atlantic City, NJ, according to CSO . While the hack occurred in September 2016, it wasn’t revealed until DHS official Robert Hickey gave his keynote address at an aerospace security summit on Nov. 8.

Though the exact details of how he and his team managed to hack into the plane are classified, Hickey indicated that no one on his team was in physical contact with the aircraft or used any materials that would be flagged by security. Boeing insists that the hack was limited to the aircraft’s communication system and did not reach any of the controls or software that could alter its flight path.

Intel’s super-secret Management Engine firmware now glimpsed, fingered via USB

Positive Technologies, which in September said it has a way to drill into Intel’s secretive Management Engine technology buried deep in its chipsets, has dropped more details on how it pulled off the infiltration.

The biz has already promised to demonstrate a so-called God-mode hack this December, saying they’ve found a way for “an attacker of the machine to run unsigned code in the Platform Controller Hub on any motherboard.”

For those who don’t know, for various processor chipset lines, Intel’s Management Engine sits inside the Platform Controller Hub, and acts as a computer within your computer. It runs its own OS, on its own CPU, and allows sysadmins to remotely control, configure and wipe machines over a network. This is useful when you’re managing large numbers of computers, especially when an endpoint’s main operating system breaks down and the thing won’t even boot properly.

Getting into and hijacking the Management Engine means you can take full control of a box, underneath and out of sight of whatever OS, hypervisor or antivirus is installed. This powerful God-mode technology is barely documented and supposedly locked down to prevent miscreants from hijacking and exploiting the engine to silently spy on users or steal corporate data. Positive says it’s found a way to commandeer the Management Engine, which is bad news for organizations with the technology deployed.

For some details, we’ll have to wait, but what’s known now is bad enough: Positive has confirmed that recent revisions of Intel’s Management Engine (IME) feature Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) debugging ports that can be reached over USB. JTAG grants you pretty low-level access to code running on a chip, and thus we can now delve into the firmware driving the Management Engine.

With knowledge of the firmware internals, security vulnerabilities can be found and potentially remotely exploited at a later date. Alternatively, an attacker can slip into the USB port and meddle the engine as required right there and then.

There have been long-running fears IME is insecure, which is not great as it’s built right into the chipset: it’s a black box of exploitable bugs, as was confirmed in May when researchers noticed you could administer the Active Management Technology software suite running on the microcontroller with an empty credential string over a network.

The JTAG revelation came to Vulture South‘s attention via a couple of tweets:

Ban on killer robots urgently needed, say scientists

The movie portrays a brutal future. A military firm unveils a tiny drone that hunts and kills with ruthless efficiency. But when the technology falls into the wrong hands, no one is safe. Politicians are cut down in broad daylight. The machines descend on a lecture hall and spot activists, who are swiftly dispatched with an explosive to the head.

The short, disturbing film is the latest attempt by campaigners and concerned scientists to highlight the dangers of developing autonomous weapons that can find, track and fire on targets without human supervision. They warn that a preemptive ban on the technology is urgently needed to prevent terrible new weapons of mass destruction.

Stuart Russell, a leading AI scientist at the University of California in Berkeley, and others will show the film on Monday during an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The manufacture and use of autonomous weapons, such as drones, tanks and automated machine guns, would be devastating for human security and freedom, and the window to halt their development is closing fast, Russell warned.

“The technology illustrated in the film is simply an integration of existing capabilities. It is not science fiction. In fact, it is easier to achieve than self-driving cars, which require far higher standards of performance,” Russell said.

The military has been one of the largest funders and adopters of artificial intelligence technology. The computing techniques help robots fly, navigate terrain, and patrol territories under the seas. Hooked up to a camera feed, image recognition algorithms can scan video footage for targets better than a human can. An automated sentry that guards South Korea’s border with the North draws on the technology to spot and track targets up to 4km away.