• Analytic superiority, public-private cooperation and the future of U.S. foreign intelligence

    After years of focusing on counterterrorism, a mainly kinetic threat, the U.S. intelligence community must now adapt to a long-term cyber struggle with nation-state adversaries. This struggle includes election interference and other socio-political disruption, cyber sabotage, theft of secrets, and competition in emerging technologies such as quantum computing and 5G wireless communications. David Kris writes in Lawfare that to succeed against these threats, the intelligence community must shift its approach in two related ways. First, it must focus on analytic superiority as well as cryptographic superiority—terms that I explain below but that basically require a shift in emphasis from accessing data to managing and using data. Second, to achieve analytic superiority, the intelligence community must develop stronger partnerships with the private sector and academia, and a broader base of external support with the American people.

  • How artificial intelligence systems could threaten democracy

    By Steven Feldstein

    U.S. technology giant Microsoft has teamed up with a Chinese military university to develop artificial intelligence systems that could potentially enhance government surveillance and censorship capabilities. The advent of digital repression is profoundly affecting the relationship between citizen and state. New technologies are arming governments with unprecedented capabilities to monitor, track and surveil individual people. Even governments in democracies with strong traditions of rule of law find themselves tempted to abuse these new abilities.

  • Insect-inspired arm technology improve drone design

    A drone delivery is great – on a perfect, sunny day. But what about when it’s windy? Most drones are not able to withstand wind because of their fixed-arm design. Researchers have come up with a patented design for drones that works in windy conditions, is more energy-efficient and can handle a larger payload.

  • Detecting, analyzing suspicious activity in surveillance footage

    Traditional surveillance cameras do not always detect suspicious activities or objects in a timely manner. Researchers developed a hybrid lightweight tracking algorithm known as Kerman (Kernelized Kalman filter).

  • Drones pose significant cyber, privacy challenges

    Growing drone use in populated areas poses significant risks that, without additional safeguards, could result in attacks by malicious entities and exploited for use in cyberattacks, terrorism, crime and invasion of privacy.

  • Satellite technology detects, and may prevent, genocide

    Many of the world’s worst human rights abuses, including genocides, occur in areas that are difficult to observe. “Smallsat” — short for small satellite — technology can detect human rights abuses and violations. The information collected by this technology provides evidence that can be used to corroborate refugee accounts of atrocities in international courts.

  • U.S. intel chiefs warn Washington risks losing friends, influence

    By Jeff Seldin

    U.S. intelligence chiefs are sounding alarms about an ever more perilous future for the United States, one in which the country is in danger of seeing its influence wane, its allies waiver, and key adversaries team up to erode norms that once kept the country safe and the world more stable. “It is increasingly a challenge to prioritize which threats are of greatest importance,” Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, said, sharing testimony that often and repeatedly contradicted past assertions by President Donald Trump. “During my tenure as DNI now two years and I have told our workforce over and over that our mission was to seek the truth and speak the truth,” Coats pointedly stated. Driving many of the concerns, according to intelligence officials, is a growing alliance between Russia and China competing against the U.S. not just for military and technological superiority, but for global influence.

  • Drones to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster, more accurate

    In 2016, there were more than 7 million police-reported traffic crashes in which 37,461 people were killed and an estimated 3,144,000 were injured. Idling in a long highway line of slowed or stopped traffic on a busy highway can be more than an inconvenience for drivers and highway safety officers. It is one of the most vulnerable times for “secondary accidents,” which often can be worse than an original source of the slowdown.

  • Drone jamming system to protect European airports, public spaces

    Airports could be equipped with technology capable of detecting and bringing down drones that stray into their air space, according to Dan Hermansen, chief technology officer of Danish anti-drone firm MyDefence. The company has developed a drone alarm and protection system that is being installed at a number of prominent sites around Europe, including an airport. It has the potential to prevent the kind of costly disruption that hit London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently.

  • A note on FISA “verification”

    By Julian Sanchez

    Last week, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in closed session. When, at Comey’s request, a transcript was released shortly thereafter, mainstream news outlets mostly yawned, but numerous pro-Trump outlets had a different reaction, seizing on Comey’s acknowledgement that the now-notorious “Steele Dossier” was still in the process of being vetted when Comey left in the Bureau. Julian Sanchez writes in Just Security that this provided those who want to protect Trump from the Muller investigation an opportunity to revive a complaint about purported improprieties in the application for a FISA order to intercept the communications of erstwhile Trump campaign advisor Carter Page: The information provided in FISA applications must be “verified” before it is submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and here we have (the objection runs) an apparent admission that the information was not verified! But if the objection to using the material in the Steel Dossier is procedural—an argument that the FBI violated its own requirements—then the complaint is simply wrong, and based on a basic confusion about what FISA “verification” means.

  • Foldable drone flies through narrow passages in rescue missions

    Researchers have developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

  • “Big picture” platforms boost fight against online terror activity

    The fight against terrorism-related content and illegal financing online is speeding up thanks to new platforms that join up different internet-scouring technologies to create a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. The idea is that when an online tool discovers a fragment of information it can be added to a constellation of millions of others - revealing links that might otherwise have gone undetected or taken much longer to uncover.

  • TSA’s roadmap for airport surveillance moves in a dangerous direction

    By India McKinney

    The Transportation Security Administration has set out an alarming vision of pervasive biometric surveillance at airports, which cuts against the right to privacy, the “right to travel,” and the right to anonymous association with others.

  • New Australian law would compel tech firms to hand over encrypted data

    Australia’s parliament earlier today (Thursday) passed a controversial measure which will force tech firms to give police access to the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists and criminals. The law, fiercely opposed by big tech firms, has engendered heated debate over national security and privacy at a time law enforcement agencies are struggling with how to access encrypted information to monitor illegal activities. The passage of the law may have global implications for encrypted communications. Critics say the law may unleash unintended consequences.

  • Better drone detection through machine learning, cameras

    Visual detection of drones has never been considered as effective as its thermal, radio or acoustic counterparts. The trouble is always discriminating between different moving objects in view. Typically, a bird or even a plastic bag caught in the wind might be mistaken for a drone, which is why most discrimination methods have primarily focused on heat and acoustic signatures in the past (though acoustic signatures also tend to become less useful in urban areas with higher levels of background noise). Combined with machine learning, however, a camera can tell a different story.