Scanning His Face Without Consent

 

Court Case

For the first time, police in the U.K. are going to have to defend their use of facial recognition tech in court.
British office worker Ed Bridges is claiming that South Wales Police scanned his face at least twice without his permission. He believes these scans violated his human rights, an assertion he will present during a three-day court hearing that kicked off in Cardiff on Tuesday — and if the court agrees with Bridges, the ruling could profoundly alter future use of facial recognition tech by law enforcement.

Shopping Scans

Bridges says he first noticed police scanning his face while he was out shopping in Cardiff in December 2017.

“I popped out of the office to do a bit of Christmas shopping and on the main pedestrian shopping street in Cardiff, there was a police van,” Bridges told BBC News. “By the time I was close enough to see the words ‘automatic facial recognition’ on the van, I had already had my data captured by it.”

“That struck me as quite a fundamental invasion of my privacy,” he added.

Bridges says the second scan occurred while he was attending a peaceful anti-arms protest.

Setting A Precedent

With the support of human rights organization Liberty, Bridges launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to take the U.K. police to court.

“Facial recognition technology snatches our biometric data without our knowledge or consent, making a mockery of our right to privacy,” Liberty lawyer Megan Goulding said in a press release. “It is discriminatory and takes us another step towards being routinely monitored wherever we go, fundamentally altering our relationship with state powers and changing public spaces. It belongs to a police state and has no place on our streets.”

This is the U.K.’s first legal case on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition tech, so if the court agrees with Bridges and Liberty, it’ll set a precedent that could shape the future of the controversial technology throughout the nation — and possibly even beyond it.

READ MORE: Police facial recognition surveillance court case starts [BBC News]

More on facial recognition: Police Said You Could Skip Public Facial Recognition. They Lied.

Ninja Bomb

 


Futurism

The Wall Street Journal reports that the CIA and the Pentagon have developed a top-secret missile designed to assassinate a single terrorist by crushing them or slicing them up with sword-like protrusions instead of exploding.

The weapon, which officials have dubbed a “Ninja Bomb,” can even target individuals in cars and inside buildings. The promise: reduced civilian deaths — and a deadly new precision weapon in the military’s arsenal./small>

Speeding Anvil

The weapon is at its base a Hellfire missile — a 100 pound, five-foot air-to-ground weapon used by U.S. armed forces.

But rather than exploding, the R9X missile can smash its way through anything in its path “as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky,” officials told the Wall Street Journal./small>

Killer Precision

Things get even more outrageous: six blades deploy out of the sides of the Ninja Bomb just as it hits to maximize its destruction. The hidden blades even earned it a nickname: “the flying Ginsu,” a nod to popular kitchen knives sold on TV in the 80s.

The weapon, in development since at least 2011, was even considered as a “Plan B” to kill Osama bin Laden in his Pakistan compound, the Wall Street Journal reports. The R9X was also reportedly used to kill high-ranking al Qaeda operatives in Syria.

Both the CIA and Pentagon declined to comment on the weapon to the Wall Street Journal.

READ MORE: Secret U.S. Missile Aims to Kill Only Terrorists, Not Nearby Civilians [Wall Street Journal]

More on modern weapons: The Air Force Just Tested a Laser Weapon for Fighter Jets

Black holes can die

 

Goliath


It’s hard to imagine anything that could kill a black hole. The ultra-dense celestial vacuums consume everything in their paths — but that cosmic appetite could theoretically be their undoing as well.

That’s according to research from the Israel Institute of Technology, Live Science reports. A new model shows that a steady diet of bizarre particles with negative energy could gradually chip away at the immense mass of a black hole until it vanishes into nothing.

Nitty-Gritty


When particles of matter and antimatter pop up near a black hole, the black hole’s gravitational force can pull them apart and keep them from destroying each other, Live Science reports.

The matter escapes as Hawking Radiation, while the antimatter particle gets absorbed. It then cancels out a tiny chunk of the black hole, according to the model. The process could hypothetically build up over time and cause the black hole to dissipate.

Analog Model

The scientists couldn’t test their model with a real black hole, so they made some substitutions. They replaced pairs of particles with quantum sound waves and the black hole’s gravity with a stream of condensed gas.

“It’s like if you were trying to swim against a current that was going faster than you could swim,” Steinhauer told Live Science. “You’d feel like you were going forward, but you were really going back. And that’s analogous to a photon in a black hole trying to get out of the black hole but being pulled by gravity the wrong way.”

READ MORE:Stephen Hawking Was Right: Black Holes Can Evaporate, Weird New Study Shows [Live Science]

More on black holes: Scientists Just Released the First-Ever Image of a Black Hole

Navy pilots ufo encounters

 

Close Encounters

In an astonishing new story by The New York Times, Navy pilots detail their encounters with UFOs — “strange objects” that have “no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes,” but could reach “30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.”

“Wow, what is that, man?” an unnamed pilot said in a video recorded in early 2015 of what appears to be an object flying above the ocean. “Look at it fly!”

“Strange Stuff”

Two pilots spoke on the record to the Times, while three more gave details about their UFO encounters under condition of anonymity. The UFOs aren’t necessarily aliens — and are likely just unidentified terrestrial phenomena — but military officials aren’t sure what they are.

“People have seen strange stuff in military aircraft for decades,” Ryan Graves, a lieutenant and Navy pilot, told The Times. “We’re doing this very complex mission, to go from 30,000 feet, diving down. It would be a pretty big deal to have something up there.”

Unidentified Aircraft

The news comes after the U.S. Navy was found to be working on new guidelines for its personnel to report sightings and other encounters with “unidentified aircraft,” according to Politico — a sign that the Navy is taking UFO encounters more seriously.

The New York Times also uncovered a $22 million program in 2017 called the  Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program — or “Black Money” — that investigated reports of UFOs from 2007 until 2012.

READ MORE: ‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects [The New York Times]

More on UFOs: The U.S. Navy Will Start Taking UFO Sightings Much More Seriously

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

 

Massachusetts startup Alaka’i has designed a flying car that the company touts as the “first air mobility vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells” in a flashy announcement video. The big promise: ten times the power of conventional lithium batteries without compromising on carbon emissions.

The hydrogen fuel cells give the five-passenger Skai a maximum range of 400 miles (640 km) with a flight time of up to four hours.

The company has been working on the design for four years, and is hoping to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification before the end of 2020.

Six rotors enable vertical take-off and landing, enabling the vehicle to essentially fly like a massive drone. An “Airframe Parachute” ensures that the Skai doesn’t simply drop out of the air in the case of a propeller failure.

Hot Air?

But Skai remains an ambitious dream until Alaka’i receives all the relevant government and regulatory approvals. And then there’s the fact that hydrogen fuel is pretty hard to come by in most parts of the world.

CEO Stephan Hanvey admitted that it could take another ten years until flying cars become practical to ferry passengers from city to city in an interview with the Associated Press.

But it’s an exciting prospect, and a potential alternative to the limitations of current-state lithium batteries that could enable flying cars to cover a lot more ground — if hydrogen as a fuel source ever takes off.

READ MORE: Skai could be the first fuel cell-powered flying taxi [Engadget]

More on flying taxis: Study: Flying Cars Could End Up Being Greener Than Electric Cars

Soldiers to control Dron with thoughts

 

Game Of Drones

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has officially funded a program to come up with a brain-machine interface — in the form of a headset designed to let military personnel control anything from “active cyber defense systems” to “swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles” through brain activity alone, according to a press release.

The agency is hoping such an interface could make it easier for service members to carry out complex tasks and help them multitask as well.

“Just as service members put on protective and tactical gear in preparation for a mission, in the future they might put on a headset containing a neural interface, use the technology however it’s needed, then put the tool aside when the mission is complete,” said program manager Al Emondi in the press release.

Read/Write

DARPA has an ambitious timeline for the headset. First on the agenda: figure out a way to record electrical signals in the brain and how to relay information back to the brain tissue.

Once that’s settled, DARPA is hoping to turn that ability into a brain-machine interface that’s useful in a military context, such as controlling drone swarms. Let’s just hope it turns out to be more accurate at controlling drones in active combat than the $150 mind-controlled drone that hit Kickstarter in March.

READ MORE:DARPA Funds Ambitious Brain-Machine Interface Program [IEEE Spectrum]

More on brain-machine interfaces: Elon Musk: Brain-Computer Interface Update “Coming Soon”