Recent events have shown how social networks can help world unrest get witnessed globally. YouTube was a major player in sending videos of Arab Spring protestors out to masses across the world, but it had its drawbacks: the person protesting in a video was seen everywhere, but they were also seen back at home, where losing anonymity to a despotic government could become dangerous.
The U.S. government, understandably, doesn't want its drone technology to fall out of the sky and into other peoples' laps. But being able to hijack a drone and control it? That's even worse. And a team of researchers has done it for 1,000 bucks.
The University of Texas at Austin team successfully nabbed the drone on a dare from the Department of Homeland Security. They managed to do it through spoofing, a technique where a signal from hackers pretends to be the same as one sent to the drone's GPS.
From the agency that created the Internet to the company that arguably controls it — there's some nice symmetry in the news that DARPA chief Regina Dugan is heading over to Google. She is leaving the defense agency to assume a senior executive position at the web giant, according to DARPA.
Bad news for long-term receptionists: DARPA's ARM (Autonomous Robotic Manipulation) robot can perform a whopping 18 different reception-ready tasks, from stapling to answering the phone to...turning on a lamp? Grasping things? Also it can't speak, or redirect calls, really, but it can drill a hole in a piece of wood, which I'm not entirely sure I can do, so it's an easy shoo-in for our incredibly prestigious Robot of the Week award. Congratulations! Watch the video after the jump.
The Department of Homeland Security is carefully watching the internet. They search through publications like this one (actually, specifically this one: we've been on the DHS watch-list for awhile), as well as all of our public social media lives, for possible "Items of Interest," which they find by searching for a whole bunch of sometimes-ridiculous keywords. (Animal New York rounded up a bunch of them.) It got us wondering: We write about a lot of security and military stuff here at PopSci. What's the DHS reading on our site?
Yancey Strickler, a co-founder of Kickstarter, said today that the crowd-sourced funding machine is on track to distribute over $150 million in 2012--more than the National Endowment for the Arts, which has a 2012 operating budget of $146 million.
Despite this era's amazing advances in data storage and data mining, the accumulated records of our federal bureaucracy are largely — and perhaps unsurprisingly — languishing in the early 20th century. Paperwork and filing cabinets still comprise the bulk of government records.
In Washington, D.C., where there are plenty of powerful people and precious places to protect, the cops have lots of high-tech tools at their disposal. But one tool, automatic license plate readers, could become much more than a crime-prevention device. D.C. police maintain the country's densest network of plate readers, and keep a three-year database of license plate locations — meaning they can track where everyone's car is, all the time, whether at the grocery store, an ammunition shop or Planned Parenthood.
In the future, all your government mail — jury duty slips, election notices, those Social Security earnings statements — may not come in the mail at all. In Australia, federal politicians are debating ditching snail mail entirely, giving all citizens a state-sponsored inbox where they would receive all government communications.
The United States is developing what the New York Times is calling “shadow internet” – a prototype network that can fit into a suitcase and be carried across state borders to provide political dissidents with access to the web in the event that their repressive governments shut down communications. This project is part of the Obama administration’s effort to undermine government censorship.