The Human-Human Interface

Group Mind Detecting Threats

The World Right Now

Bruce Schneir likes this one – “This program has a lot of features I like in security systems: it’s dynamic, it’s distributed, it relies on trained people paying attention and it’s not focused on a specific threat.”

“Highway Watch® participants – transportation infrastructure construction, maintenance and operations personnel workers, commercial and public truck and bus driverstruck drivers, transit personnel, buses drivers, and other highway sector professionals – are specially trained to recognize potential safety and security threats and avoid becoming a target of terrorists. The Highway Watch® effort seeks to prevent terrorists from using large vehicles or hazardous cargoes as weapons…Highway Watch® training provides Highway Watch® participants with the observational tools and the opportunity to exercise their expert understanding of the transportation environment to report safety and security concerns rapidly and accurately to the authorities…Highway Watch® has recently added a new component to its program, School Bus Watch, which is specifically targeted to the needs of school bus drivers.

Threat Awareness in the Comfort of Your Own Phone

The World Right Now

For at least the threats that can be seen.

“The government will soon be sending warnings of national emergencies on wireless phones, Web sites and hand-held computers. The new digital system will update the emergency alerts planned — but never used — during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear strike. More likely, these 21st-century technologies will carry warnings of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The Homeland Security Department, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, expects to have the system working by the end of next year.”

The Enemy Within

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

Fighting a war on ourselves requires finding the enemy within. The technology and information systems to monitor the behavior of each of us within the collective of a Neurosphere continues to evolve, and billions of dollars have gone to improve the technology. The impact on the non-warfighting side seems to me difficult to understate; tools toward the anthropology of the collective consciousness.

“Congress supposedly killed Total Information Awareness, Darpa’s far-flung effort to comb databases in search of terrorists. But that doesn’t mean the authorities are finished sorting through the records of Americans to expose evildoers. Many analysts think bits of TIA still exist on the covert, “black” side of the Pentagon’s ledger.

NORA (Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness)

Acumen (Adaptive Concept Understanding From Modeled Enterprise Networks)

NIMD (Novel Intelligence From Massive Data)”

There are questionable uses that go to the definition of who our enemies really are.

“With practice, you can recognize the video spies in the city of Washington, DC. To a casual observer, they resemble lampposts. Some of the cameras have a 360 degree view and magnify by a factor of 10-17. Some are equipped with night vision and can zoom in on a target well enough to read text on a written page or look into a building. Most are placed at locations that would not come to mind as primary terrorist targets: Smithsonian Castle, the U.S. Department of Labor, Dupont Circle, Union Station, Wisconsin Avenue, the Old Post Office, and the Banana Republic in Georgetown. Though the targets they view may not stand out as particularly vulnerable to terrorism, the cameras are placed strategically for the purpose of monitoring demonstrations and protests. One of the first occasions for their use was a demonstration in April 2000 against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

There are business drivers for technology development as well; the Mohomine Classifier

“Organising and maintaining vast amounts of content inside corporations is an ever more costly and daunting task as the volumes of unstructured content grow. This data must be classified, whether in support of a custom built application or an enterprise application targeted at CRM, Supply Chain, Marketing, Document Management, or any other specific business problem. Further, as the amount of data those applications handle increases dramatically and alters in nature, the performance and flexibility required to support taxonomy changes becomes key to the overall success of the application.”

Or this.

“Systems Research & Development’s NORA technology can take information from disparate sources about people and their activities and find obscure, nonobvious relationships. For example, it might discover that an applicant for a job at a casino shares a telephone number with a known criminal and issue an alert to the hiring manager.”,10801,70041,00.html

Dimensions of the War on Ourselves

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

As today the Iraq Study Group announces we need a new strategy – news flash! – they might consider how the war on terrorism is more of a war within the skin of a collective humanity, a War on Ourselves. Here’s some dimensions of that war.

According to Human Security Report, the nature of war is changing.

“With the demise of colonialism, one that had caused 81 wars since 1816, simply ceased to exist…Then the cold war came to an end – no more proxy wars…a growing number of preventive diplomacy missions by UN since 1991. So, War is mostly within states…”Between 1991 and 2004, 28 struggles for self determination were started or restarted, while 43 were contained or ended…Just 25 armed secessionist conflicts under way in 2004, the lowest number since 1976.”,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

Here’s a glimpse of the new nature of war, in Israel/Palestine.

“Although several thousand soldiers and Palestinian guerrillas were manoeuvring simultaneously in the city, they were so ‘saturated’ into the urban fabric that very few would have been visible from the air. Furthermore, they used none of the city’s streets, roads, alleys or courtyards, or any of the external doors, internal stairwells and windows, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. This form of movement, described by the military as ‘infestation’, seeks to redefine inside as outside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares. The IDF’s strategy of ‘walking through walls’ involves a conception of the city as not just the site but also the very medium of warfare – a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.”

Writer Bruce Sterling once wrote that the war on terrorism is the same thing as the Internet bubble. Interesting then that the European Union initiative on the Information Society as within it a new program on Global Cybersecurity.

“The purpose of the Cybersecurity Gateway is to provide an easy-to-use information resource on national and international cybersecurity related initiatives worldwide. In today’s interconnected world of networks, threats can now originate anywhere – our collective cybersecurity depends on the security practices of every connected country, business, and citizen.”

The March of Chips

Personal Infrastructure

Microchips are doing more and more with less and less. A recent sample:

Sanyo – “…microchip combines functions of earphone and microphone. Chip reproduces sounds from the eardrum.”

Hewlett-Packard – “Memory Spot Chip – a miniature wireless data chip, the size of a grain of rice…could be stuck on or embedded in almost any object and make available information and content now found mostly on electronic devices or the Internet.”

SmartPill – “SmartPill has received approval by the Food and Drug Administration to be marketed in the United States. The electronic pill is meant to be ingested by a patient; it then gathers information about the digestive system as it travels through it, transmitting the information to a receiver worn by the patient.”

Glasgow University Digital Retina – “The device would contain an imaging detector with hundreds of pixels coupled to an array of microscopic stimulating electrodes…If light forms an image on the detector, then the result will be electrical stimulation of the retina in the shape of this image. The stimulated cells then send the information via the optic nerve to the brain. The imaging part of the system is based on the technology used in any digital camera.” The prototype of the implant has 100 pixels, but the researchers hope to increase this as their work progresses. “Around 500 pixels would allow people to walk down the street and recognise faces,” Dr Mathieson said.”

More Power

Personal Infrastructure

There’s also power and connectivity for the off-grid laptop project.

“One of the big criticisms that’s been leveled at the much-vaunted OLPC project is that it’s missing one key element: internet access. Well, a pair of Sun Microsystems employees are looking to remedy that situation with the Green WiFi project, which promises to bring cheap, solar-powered WiFi to developing countries.”

Power for the Mesh

Personal Infrastructure

I have been tracking mobile and small footprint power sources as a key infrastructure piece of the self-aware networks arising through the interplay of wireless sensors, RFID chips and wi-fi networks. This company specializes in ultra-thin lithium batteries powering everything from wireless sensors to implantable medical devices.

“Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) announced today that it raised $34.7

million primarily to build new facilities for high-volume manufacturing of its

LiTE*STARTM thin-film batteries. Proceeds from this deal will also be used to accelerate

business development and continue innovation of future battery technologies.”

More Microcredit

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Just got a fundraising appeal from this outfit. Looks good.

FINCA’s mission is to provide financial services to the world’s lowest-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.

Does It Scale


The muni wi-fi movement has attracted companies that have a bigger agenda. FON is looking to combine wi-fi networks to create a nationwide footprint. My question always is, if they attract enough users, is there enough free spectrum to support this kind of venture. Does it scale, or do only the spectrum owners have the necessary bandwidth?

“Joanna Rees, chairman of U.S. operations for FON…”There are 400 million Wi-Fi connections around the world. If we could get all of them to become part of the FON community and share their Wi-Fi, we would have ubiquitous coverage around the world today.”

Emergency Alert For Sale

Personal Infrastructure

Location based services – optional for the provider in this deregulatory world, but is there a business model? Hmm.

“In this Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) seeks nominations for membership on its Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee (Committee). The purpose of this committee is to develop recommendations on technical standards and protocols to facilitate the ability of commercial mobile service providers to transmit emergency alerts to their subscribers to the extent such providers elect to do so.”