Orwell’s dead. Get over it.

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1984It’s gotten to be a bad joke, recently re-highlighted by the “discovery” that some of the new Samsung Smart TVs have cameras and microphones that could detect the goings-on in front of them (to allow better control of the TV): When people saw the “terms and conditions” warning that any criminal or terrorist-related visuals or words picked up by the TV could potentially be forwarded to the authorities, the web-verse immediately invoked George Orwell, and decried that “1984 was here.”

And as it happened, the spirit of George Orwell reared up out of his grave and said: “Oh, shut up and let me get some sleep already!” Continue reading

AIs taking over? What the heck for?

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CybermenOne of the favorite discussions amongst sci-fi fans, scientists, computer experts and roboticists is the idea that artificial intelligence, or AI, will someday become so smart that it will “kill all the humans” and take over the world.  The trope has led to innumerable books, movies, papers, games and debates, and keeps everyone looking sideways at their computers whenever they do something unexpected.  It has arguably become the largest source of mass paranoia in the industrialized world, now surpassing our distrust of government.

And it’s fun to talk about, whether we expect it to happen or not. Continue reading

Drones in the USA: Should we worry?

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surveillance droneThe use of flying surveillance drones is beginning to move from the battlefield to our domestic shores.  Not surprisingly, it is stirring up plenty of controversy.

Some of the concern reflects the present use of drones in battle areas.  Equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment and lethal munitions, military drones are sent on reconnaissance and surgical kill missions against military targets, leaders and terrorists.  Which all sounds fine in a battle situation (even if they still result in some collateral damage); but what about in the USA?  Some citizens are concerned that Americans in the US would be singled out as targets for military-grade drones to attack, and they question whether an American citizen determined to be a threat against other Americans should be surgically killed on American soil.

Okay… that’s not entirely true.  The real concern American citizens have is that our government, not being infallible, will be told by some anonymous or insane source that one of us law-abiding citizens is a terrorist; and that the government, not questioning or investigating said information, will fire off a drone to take us out on our way to Burger King. Continue reading