We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Digital weapons

(Here is some interesting tech info sent to me by Walter earlier)

Ready, aim, wired — information is a weapon

U.S. armed forces are developing the strategy and systems to turn every
soldier into both a gatherer and a consumer of instantaneous information
about a battlefield environment, Darwin’s November issue reported. In
the not-too-distant future, soldiers in combat will connect to a
wireless communications network that tracks ground, air, and sea
military assets.

With so much information at their fingertips, soldiers in combat would
be able to make field-level decisions about how, where, and when to move
their troops. For the commander sitting miles away in a high-tech war
room, a wall-sized version of a soldier’s handheld map would provide a
complete tactical picture of the military operation. This eagle-eyed
view of the battlefield will give operation commanders highly detailed,
real-time situational information to make decisions faster and target
their troops and firepower with greater accuracy.

Editor’s comment: Given the power that information has to break down
hierarchies, how will the hierarchical military command structure adapt?
Will the brass jealously guard information and the status it provides,
or radically change its methods to build a different kind of soldier?
What happens when every squad leader in the field has the same
information as his commander? Will squad leaders continue to follow
orders without question or will they demand more input in the
decision-making process?

Corporations have discovered that ready access to critical information
enables decision making to be pushed down to lower levels and to occur
with greater speed. In turn, this enables the flattening of hierarchies
and a sharp reduction in middle management overhead. One of the
challenges to every organization is to change tactics and organizational
design in response to evolving technology. Superior technology won’t
yield superior results when it’s used in the old ways.

Digital doubles debut

Digimask has developed a method for creating a virtual twin, BBC News
reported yesterday. It can be used to accompany text messages on mobile
phones, turn e-mail messages into personalized greetings, act as an
animated screensaver on your desktop PC, and even represent you in
online game worlds. Unlike many other avatar technologies, the
three-dimensional model does not require a visit to a scanning booth.
Instead, it is created from just two digital images.

Face recognition effectiveness is challenged

The face recognition technology that airport officials are rushing to
install after the Sept. 11 attacks can be outsmarted by a pair of
sunglasses and is an invasion of privacy, Reuters reported yesterday.
“They say they’re going to use this to catch the bad guys, to catch the
terrorist,” said Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American
Civil Liberties Union. “Well, there is no database of terrorists. And
the terrorists are not exactly lining up to submit their photographs to
Langley.” A spokeswoman for Visionics, a face recognition technology
company countered: “What do you call the FBI ‘s 10 Most Wanted. …
Terror is not faceless.”

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