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The Pentagon Wants a 'TiVo' to Watch You 256

An anonymous reader writes "Danger Room, a Wired blog, today cites a study of future electronic snooping technologies from Reuters, written by the Pentagon's Defense Science Board. More than anything, it seems these outside advisers want a surveillance system that would put Big Brother to shame, and they're looking at the commercial sector to provide it. 'The ability to record terabyte and larger databases will provide an omnipresent knowledge of the present and the past that can be used to rewind battle space observations in TiVo-like fashion and to run recorded time backwards to help identify and locate even low-level enemy forces. For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source, and then use that knowledge to focus collection and gain additional information by organizing and searching through archived data.'"
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The Pentagon Wants a 'TiVo' to Watch You

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:02PM (#18232600)
    Wouldn't it be easier to just stop:

    Funding Israeli terrorism?
    Manufacturing wars to establish gigantic permanent colonial military bases in other people's countries?
    Supporting royal families just because we lack a modern energy policy?

    In general stop being a menace to the rest of the world?

  • I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:03PM (#18232612)
    ...Welcome our new Hooveristic overlords.

    On a serious note, since when as an analytical, scientific approach worked in catching bad guys. It's like C-3PO consistently panicking about the odds of a disaster happening while everybody else ( who isn't a robot ) uses their common sense and rationality without panicking, to get them through.

    We all know that people are unpredictable. You can't apply scientific rationale to people.

    Just my two cents.
  • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <{frogbert} {at} {}> on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:04PM (#18232620)
    The only reason this doesn't scare me is that I'm supremely confident that government red tape, massive budgetary blow outs and vendor selection based purely on campaign contributions will never result in a workable system.
  • by Merkwurdigeliebe ( 1046824 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:10PM (#18232674)
    So it well seems it's intended for military deployment to combat assymetric (and urban) warfare. That is to say to enable the military to seek out the offending insurgent/combatant after a martial event. When your local constable gets interested in this technology then it'll be time for you to worry. In the meantime keep an eye on the developments, but don't be alarmed just yet.
  • Pointless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:15PM (#18232724) Homepage
    For example, after a car bomb detonates, one would have the ability to play high-resolution data backward in time to follows the vehicle back to the source
    Until you realise the source is in a rural area 50 miles past the first camera to see it.

    "Anti-terrorism" cameras will not stop suicide bombers, nor will they even deter them. They're completely and utterly useless for their stated purpose, which means the government probably has no intention of using them for their stated purpose.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:19PM (#18232752)
    Nah... It's a global conspiracy to prop up the hard drive makers. On the flip side, terabyte hard drives should be cheap as hell in a few years. If consumers can produce more data than the governmnet can analyze, than everything will balance out in the end.
  • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:21PM (#18232772)
    The top priority needs to be setting up these systems inside the White House and the Pentagon. Then the next time they blunder into a quagmire like this, we can scan the databases and quickly find out exactly who needs to be held accountable. Then the problem can be rectified: "It looks like we're going to have to dock your paychecks for a total of $5.0e11."
  • by finlandia1869 ( 1001985 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:23PM (#18232792)
    See the word "battlespace" in the description - that's DoD-ese for "battleground." They're talking about being able to go back and rapidly review/search recordings from satellites and other sensors monitoring combat zones. It's a very good idea - if you could track a car back to a house, you can then see who went in a out, and so forth. You could backtrack a small boat coming out of a sheltered hiding spot, and so forth. It's about time someone thought of this, frankly.

    This isn't domestic surveillance that they're talking about.
  • But.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:25PM (#18232816)
    What is supposed to happen, actually? Are we going to have cameras follow every person, 24/7? That means someone to study that footage, right? And someone to study the footage of them studying the footage of you? And....on and on.

    It is clear such clinical monitoring would break down under its own weight - speculative follow-thru says the most logical approach is to give every camera the autonomous ability to decide if something you've done warrants being flagged. Happen in practice? Not hardly.

    Back track from the scene of a car bomb explosion? How many cameras are you using? One or several? If several, where are they located in relation to the car? Points of the compass? Sure, if you know to watch the car from the beginning, in which case there is no point in following the arrow of time back to the start, right?

    While THX1138 hinted at this and other B'Brother style tactics, it also tried to show why such a system simply isn't feasible. There are just too many ways of being defined as outside the box in terms of what such a system could handle. All it takes is one exception, and the system is no longer worth the time it took to draw up the prototype.
  • Re:Pointless. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:25PM (#18232822) Homepage Journal
    Did you even bother to RTFA or did you just copy a random blurb? All this initiative is about is better ways to analyze intel after a battle or attack. It's not about 'anti-terrorism cameras'. Either you didn't pay attention to much of the article, you have your own agenda to push, or you're daft.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:27PM (#18232836)
    ... those activities are making for those in power?

    I don't either, but I bet it is a large positive number.

    So, the answer is no. No, it won't be easier to just stop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:36PM (#18232920)
    It is to the Iraqis.
  • by Watson Ladd ( 955755 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:41PM (#18232964)
    That kind of asymmetric warfare is what citizens would do against a repressive state regime.
  • 24 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:43PM (#18232982) Homepage
    What is supposed to happen, actually? Are we going to have cameras follow every person, 24/7? That means someone to study that footage, right? And someone to study the footage of them studying the footage of you? And....on and on.

    They arent suggesting watching everyone. They want to record everything, then when something happens, rewind and then watch the given location. We obviously dont have the man power to watch everyone, but when computers can do it for us....
  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:49PM (#18233036) Homepage Journal
    "No more "Hooveristic" than a camera at the local Quickie Mart. An action is filmed, the data trail is followed backwards until something useful is found."

    You're telling me that every video camera at every little Quickie Mart has a wire leading back directly to the Pentagon where they have full DVR capabilities?

    This is entirely different than a Quickie Mart. This is real-time wide-area surveillance capabilities.

    Suppose you had an 'enemies' list and had a plot to disappear each of them in the course of one day. You could have goons following everyone on the list, or you could just have people in the pentagon watching video cameras where your 'enemies' are known to go on their daily routine. As soon as you see the 'enemy' appear on screen, call your goon and have them jump out of hiding and nab the 'enemy'.
  • by Teddy Beartuzzi ( 727169 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:53PM (#18233064) Journal

    This isn't domestic surveillance that they're talking about.


    It takes time for military developments to work their way into the private sector.

  • by frazzydee ( 731240 ) * on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:10PM (#18233184)
    Oh yeah? Well I don't see you posting your full details openly on the web either. Most don't, and it's certainly not because they're cowards.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:36PM (#18233370)


    This silly-ass nonsense is tagged *insightful*?

    Slashdot. Home of utterly idiotic assholes.
  • Re:Pointless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:09AM (#18233596) Homepage
    How are you going to be able to run surveillance backward from a car bomb detonating to the origin point of the bombers -- or forward, following them to where they're hiding -- without a pervasive net of surveillance? And once you have the capacity to do this in a hostile environment, where you can assume that the opposing forces will place a priority on disabling the surveillance system, it's no stretch at all, given the track record of the Heimatsicherheitsdienst, to see the government deploying these systems in the US for our 'protection', where the populace would have much less incentive to disable surveillance (after all, if you don't have anything to hide, why would you object to someone watching you?) -- particularly since this link [] in TFA, where it's specifically stated "The primary application is for homeland security"; you might want to try reading more deeply than just a light scan of the first few paragraphs. The potential of this technology reminds me strongly of David Drake's dystopian story collection Lacey and His Friends [], written back in the '70s.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:28AM (#18233728) Journal

    Terrorists have causes or at least a predisposition of animosity towards their target fueled by fanatics. Take those causes away(or at least minimize them) and the terrorist count goes down.

    Yeah. Ask Neville Chamberlain about that one.

    News flash: The United States could declare open season on Israel, withdraw from all Middle Eastern bases and force all American oil companies out of the Middle East, and the terrorists would not only not quit, they'd take it as a sign that their tactics were working and they'd redouble their efforts.

    I'm no fan of Bush or his policies, but despite their idiocy, they aren't nearly as stupid as appeasement.

    BTW, Ben Franklin was never president.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:33AM (#18233772)
    In the United States of America, government TV watches YOU!

    You mean in Fascist America...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:55AM (#18234924)
    Flouride in water supplies is beneficial. The others aren't.

    Science is out on that one. Not to mention the real possibility of a person recieving too much flouride: flouridosis is a real condition that does nasty things to your teeth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2007 @04:11AM (#18234998)
    The first WTC bombing happened around a time when Israel enjoyed much less support from the US than they do now (under Clinton).
    Uh Clinton was in office for one month when the wtc bombings happened. Try again.

    9/11 happened because Islamic fundamentalists hate free religion. They hate our culture. They hate our very existence.
    Hell I hate religion, American culture, and your very existence. The difference is, the U.S. supplied these Islamic fundamentalists with the training and weapons needed to kill American civilians and soldiers. As for killing them all, that isn't going to happen. Invading the Middle East has increased terrorism, not reduced it. Take one from George Washington: stay the fuck out of other countries, and stick to issues at home (my translation may be a bit rusty, but it carries the general message). Look at all the freedoms lost in the pursuit of a "war on terrorism." Islamic fundamentalists don't need to destroy the US, Christian fundamentalists are doing it for them.

    IMO the easy way out is to simply kill them all. Talking things over and learning to share with fundamentalists of any flavor sounds pretty damn hard to me.
    Sigh. Fine, you win. So when would you propose Cheney's public execution date be set? Bush's? I'll bring the franks
  • by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @04:25AM (#18235060) Homepage
    Fascist America is the new Soviet Russia
  • by ojQj ( 657924 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @08:20AM (#18235982)
    That basically says there is a small cabal of Jews trying to control the world by playing the US like a puppet. That's not very credible. I don't agree with everything Israel does, but this kind of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is ugly. It also reduces the credibility of any unrelated claims the article makes, for example about a missing 3 trillion. I think it's a shame that this comment was rated informative.
  • Re:But.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @11:13AM (#18237408)
    I would say you are underestimating computers and overestimating the foresight of the people making the decisions. It will be something they can point at, so why not try it?
  • by Dan Slotman ( 974474 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @06:00PM (#18243004)
    ...Who the hell do you think they attacked when they conquered the land? Anarchies typically don't produce walled cities. By your standards, the Greek city-states weren't self-governing either.
  • by Descalzo ( 898339 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @09:27PM (#18245300) Journal
    That may be true, but the idea that they haven't done anything more than knock over a building is crazy talk. It makes it very difficult to have an intelligent discussion about it.

    I think it's clear that if these guys had a nuclear weapon, they would use it. That fact alone makes them a vastly more dangerous threat than the muggers.

    Now whether or not even the threat of a nuclear attack is worth changing our laws is a valid question. If we change them too much, if we give up too many freedoms, what do we really have that's worth defending? If we give up no freedoms at all and the terrorists can walk roughshod over us, then all our freedoms do us no good. If we take the wrong freedoms away then we pay the price but still get beat up.

    It's a fine line to walk, and I both admire and pity those who take it upon themselves to try to make these hard calls. (I'm talking here about the people in power, not the slashdotters like you and me who are making armchair calls on it.)

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."