Flashback to November 17, 2006
by Alan Hall
November 17, 2017
Below is one of the very first pieces of free content I wrote after coming to work for Elliott Wave International eleven years ago. I’m re-posting it today just as it was published, because it’s no longer on the web and because I just watched a short, disturbing film, “Slaughterbots,” by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an association of leading AI scientists. The Guardian wrote, “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,”
Society expresses a lot of technological optimism today, but there are undercurrents of dark pessimism too. This potentiality is one I’ve been thinking about for a while. These drones could be made far smaller, non-explosive and just as lethal by using neurotoxin. I hope society finds a way to stop the trend toward autonomous killer robots, but please forgive me for being skeptical.
Privacy and the Bionic Hornet
11/17/2006 4:04:19 PM
Stock markets finished higher again today, November 17, 2006
By Alan Hall
Anticipating the future is one of the keys to making money in markets, not to mention success in many other endeavors. There’s no more important skill, short term or long. Since change is inevitable and more or less constant, some method for determining the likely path of future events is essential. Socionomics and the Wave Principle are valuable tools for deciding probabilities, but other scientific methods have been successful, and occasionally, even instinct and luck have scored big.
For instance, Arthur C. Clarke was first to thoroughly describe the concept of the geostationary satellite as a communication device. His habit of pushing the envelope in his fiction helped him come up with an idea that anticipated the future and changed the world. If you don’t think outside the box, you never have a chance to invent the original idea.
Military applications are powerful generators of technological innovation. Nuclear weapons, power, and medicine all sprang from war. So did the rocket technology that led to the space program. Since the advent of nuclear weapons, war technology has steadily focused on improving guidance and targeting of weaponry. “Smart” bombs and satellite surveillance allow remote warfare, and now, confronted with an asymmetric war in which massive weapons are less capable, war technology is miniaturizing.
Years ago I wrote about my idea of a “video bee” I thought was coming. I imagined a small flying device that could perch, watch and wait — for weeks if necessary — to target an individual with something as simple as a hypodermic injection. I’ve watched the tremendous progress of DARPA, robotics, and nanotechnology. And now social mood has manifested what appears to be a constant guerrilla war, the perfect reason to develop miniaturized people-control.
So I wasn’t surprised by an article this morning about the Israeli military’s decision to develop what they call a “bionic hornet” able to fly down narrow alleyways to sniff out explosives and target rocket launchers. Shimon Peres said, “The war in Lebanon proved that we need smaller weaponry. It’s illogical to send a plane worth $100 million against a suicidal terrorist. So we are building futuristic weapons.”
It seems easy to extrapolate this trend into the future. Is it? Perhaps the asymmetry of this war becomes even more unbalanced as technology reduces the terrorist’s options. Maybe wartime behavior control (the ultimate expression of which is to kill someone) becomes more doable. But since socionomics predicts a turn in our collective focus – away from control of nature toward control of people — might the new technology spread into unforeseen areas? What if neighbors are able to buy cheap video bees to spy on each other? Could owning miniaturized weaponry become a constitutional right? Could home design change as a result of cheap surveillance? Could governments utilize these tiny tools for tyranny? What would be the inevitable countermeasures?
Predicting the future is not easy. One of Clarke’s last books, The Light Of Other Days, explores the total loss of privacy through technology, and imagines some unexpected results. Crime rates fall, of course, and secrets become a thing of the past as behavior control takes effect. But young people quickly see the futility of continuing the pretense of privacy, and become nudists. And, most surprisingly, man loses his lonely status as the only species on the planet that hides to have sex.
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