• SurveillanceBorder Communities Inundated with Surveillance Technologies

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the other day published The Atlas of Surveillance: Southwestern Border Communities. The Atlas consists of profiles of six counties along the U.S.-Mexico border, outlining the types of surveillance technologies deployed by local law enforcement—including drones, body-worn cameras, automated license plate readers, and face recognition. The report also includes a set of 225 data points marking surveillance by local, state, and federal agencies in the border region.

  • Surveillance stateAI and the Coming of the Surveillance State

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to be the stuff of science fiction, but is now making its presence felt in both the private and the public domains. In an important new study — The Global Expansion of AI Surveillance – Steve Feldstein of the Carnegie Endowment writes: “Unsurprisingly, AI’s impact extends well beyond individual consumer choices. It is starting to transform basic patterns of governance, not only by providing governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor their citizens and shape their choices but also by giving them new capacity to disrupt elections, elevate false information, and delegitimize democratic discourse across borders.”

  • Surveillance stateI Researched Uighur Society in China for 8 Years and Watched How Technology Opened New Opportunities – Then Became a Trap

    By Darren Byler

    The Uighurs, a Muslim minority ethnic group of around 12 million in northwest China, are required by the police to carry their smartphones and IDs listing their ethnicity. As they pass through one of the thousands of newly built digital media and face surveillance checkpoints located at jurisdictional boundaries, entrances to religious spaces and transportation hubs, the image on their ID is matched to their face. If they try to pass without these items, a digital device scanner alerts the police. The Chinese state authorities described the intrusive surveillance as a necessary tool against the “extremification” of the Uighur population. Through this surveillance process, around 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims were determined “untrustworthy” and have forcibly been sent to detention and reeducation in a massive internment camp system. Since more than 10 percent of the adult population has been removed to these camps, hundreds of thousands of children have been separated from their parents. Many children throughout the region are now held in boarding schools or orphanages which are run by non-Muslim state workers.

  • DisastersThe Complications of Counting Casualties after Natural Disasters

    There are many gray areas when collecting data on how and why people died in a disaster. A new study now underway aims to identify best practices for collecting, recording, and reporting death and illness data during and immediately after large-scale weather disasters.

  • PerspectiveWill Artificial Intelligence Imperil Nuclear Deterrence?

    Nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence are two technologies that have scared the living daylights out of people for a long time. These fears have been most vividly expressed through imaginative novels, films, and television shows. while strategists have generally offered more sober explorations of the future relationship between AI and nuclear weapons, some of the most widely received musings on the issue, including a recent call for an AI-enabled “dead hand” to update America’s aging nuclear command, control, and communications infrastructure, tend to obscure more than they illuminate due to an insufficient understanding of the technologies involved.

  • China syndromeU.S. Military Still Buying Chinese-Made Drones Despite Spying Concerns

    By Carla Babb and Hong Xie

    The Air Force and the Navy bought Chinese-manufactured drones for elite forces months after the Pentagon prohibited their use due to cybersecurity concerns, according to government documents. In each case, the services used special exemptions granted by the Pentagon’s acquisition and sustainment office “on a case by case basis, to support urgent needs,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

  • PerspectiveThe Real Robot Threat

    For decades, science fiction has speculated on the theme of robot servants rising up to overwhelm their human masters. Such scenarios remain fantasy, because they require self-reproducing machines with a will to power and the ability and desire to cooperate with each other to carry off a grand collective design. Instead what we have seen are drone weapons, most typically aircraft, under human command. The problem, however, occurs with proposals to eliminate human operators and allow such systems to control themselves using artificial intelligence. The problem “is that it would allow whole armies, obedient without the limiting constraint of human thought, to be commanded directly by tyrannical elites,” Robert Zubrin writers.

  • PerspectiveIf U.S. Claims of How the Saudi Oil Attack Went Down Are True, Then the Failure to Prevent It Is a Huge Embarrassment

    It has yet to be definitively established how the massively disruptive attacks this past weekend on a crucial Saudi oil facility took place. The version of events being advanced by U.S. officials, however — that most of the damage was from cruise missiles launched from Iran — raises the embarrassing question of why the U.S. military was unable to do anything about it. the airspace around Iran and Saudi Arabia is some of the best-defended and most intensively monitored on earth, thanks to the decades-long buildup of U.S. assets there. But on Saturday those defenses failed to prevent what U.S. officials have said were at least 17 separate strikes. Based on information made public about the strikes, defense insiders were left wondering how the U.S. military had fared so poorly in one of its primary missions in the region.

  • Perspective: Europe & immigrationWill Denmark Become Like Sweden?

    Denmark has experienced 10 bombings since February. The latest took place on August 27 in a residential complex, Gersager, in the Greve area, very close to Copenhagen. No one was injured, but the building was seriously damaged. This year, the Swedish city of Malmö has experienced 19 bombings. Sweden is exporting not only its bombings to Denmark. Gang crime, with its shootings and murders, has also traveled across the border. As to the nationality of migrants engaged in crime, statistics show that Lebanese male migrants are engaged in crime almost four times as much as the average Dane. They are followed by male descendants from Somalia, Morocco, and Syria.

  • Perspective: Mind gamesThe Secret History of Fort Detrick, the CIA’s Base for Mind Control Experiments

    Suburban sprawl has engulfed Fort Detrick, an Army base 50 miles from Washington in the Maryland town of Frederick. seventy-six years ago, however, when the Army selected Detrick as the place to develop its super-secret plans to wage germ warfare, the area around the base looked much different. In fact, it was chosen for its isolation. For decades, much of what went on at the base was a closely held secret. Directors of the CIA mind control program MK-ULTRA, which used Detrick as a key base, destroyed most of their records in 1973. Some of its secrets have been revealed in declassified documents, through interviews and as a result of congressional investigations. Together, those sources reveal Detrick’s central role in MK-ULTRA and in the manufacture of poisons intended to kill foreign leaders.

  • Perspective: Homegrown terrorismHow to Act against Domestic Terrorists — and Their Foreign Supporters

    The United States faces a surging domestic terrorism threat in the homeland. In the aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings in the first weekend of August, more than 40 people were   arrested for threats to commit mass attacks by the end of that month. GW Program on Extremism suggests two ways to achieve a more effective and coordinated multisector response to the domestic terrorism threat. First, specific criminal statutes for domestic terrorism offenses need to be enacted that penalize the commission of specific violent crimes. Acknowledging concerns that new criminal statutes related to property damage may stifle legitimate protest, new criminal statutes could be limited to violence against persons and providing material support to terrorists. Second, the list of proscribed foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) should include far-right actors outside of the United States.

  • Perspective: ApocalypseA Terrifying New Animation Shows How 1 “Tactical” Nuclear Weapon Could Trigger a U.S.-Russia War that Kills 34 Million People in 5 Hours

    More than 91 million people in Russia, the U.S., and NATO-allied countries might be killed or injured within three hours following a single “nuclear warning shot,” according to a terrifying new simulation developed by Princeton University researchers. The initial tactical phase of the simulation shows about 2.6 million casualties over three hours. The simulation shows that the exchanges in the tactical phase would soon escalate to the strategic level, in which both Russia and NATO would launch warheads toward each other’s 30 most populous cities in the final stage of the scenario, using five to 10 warheads for each city depending on its size. This phase would cause 85.3 million casualties — both deaths and injuries. But the total casualty count from the entire battle (of less than 5 hours) would be 34.1 million deaths and 57.4 million injuries, or a combined 91.3 million casualties overall.

  • PerspectiveWill Israel Go to War Over Hezbollah's Precision-Guided Missiles?

    In the last three years, Israel has engaged in a broad campaign to eliminate Iran’s strategic footprint in the Levant, which has grown exponentially over the past half-decade as a result of the Islamic Republic’s campaign in support of the Syrian regime. Iran’s effort has allowed it to establish an expeditionary presence along Israel’s northern border—one that, over the past few years, has prompted a significant Israeli military response.

  • PerspectiveThe French City Zones Where Police Rarely Escape Unscathed

    Gavin Mortimer, a British historian living in France, writers in The Spectator that the claim that there are “no go” zones in Paris and other French cities – that is, areas where the police does not patrol for fear of encountering violence — is wrong. “There aren’t any no-go zones in France for the police,” he writes. “There are, however, a growing number of zones that the police enter knowing their chances of emerging unscathed are slight. In the parlance of politicians and the press, these districts are described as sensible (sensitive) or défavorisé (disadvantaged), and last year the government launched an ‘urban reconquest’ of sixty of the most troublesome with the deployment of foot patrols by police.” Mortimer quotes the French historian Georges Bensoussan, who wrote that in many French urban areas, a parallel society has taken root.

  • PreparednessPreparing for the Unexpected Disaster

    When thinking of earthquakes in the U.S., California often comes to mind. But what if a massive earthquake suddenly struck Middle America? Would first responders and emergency managers have the tools to swiftly secure infrastructure and ensure public safety? Would every level of government, as well as stakeholders at non-governmental organizations or in the private sector, know how to properly communicate and share resources? DHS S&T asked itself these questions, and they were the driving force behind S&T joining FEMA and others for FEMA’s 2019 Shaken Fury exercise.