(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Category Archives: Star Wars
Space Force: Up Up And Away
Space Force as another full branch of the military is the right thing to do!
The things that get focused on, get accomplished.
Space is the “final frontier.”
And as Gene Roddenberry realized with the creation of Star Trek in 1964, it is the future of Mankind’s very survival.
It’s time to stop thinking small as in planet Earth, and start thinking big as there is a whole universe out there!
Russia and China get it–hence their development and testing of anti-satellite rockets and other “kill vehicles” in space as well as lasers and jamming equipment against our satellites, and of course, their plans to colonize the Moon and land men on Mars and beyond.
Why have we in America only gotten it in Hollywood?
Yes, there have been a few notable exceptions such as President Reagan with his vision for the Star Wars’ Strategic Defense Initiative and President Trump with the bonafide stand up of a Space Force.
Some of the Pentagon brass, particularly the Air Force, may hem and haw about the politics of this thing…losing money and prestige for their branch of the military, but their power is not the concern, our power as a nation is!
I envision a day in the not too distant future when the Air Force doesn’t run Space Command, but rather Space Force runs the Air Force.
We need to put politics aside and stop laughing at our own ignorance about the potential of space for our future survival and for conflict. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Stop The Nuclear Threat
Before we get too rosy on the State of the Union…
(Source Photo: here with attribution to CX15)
We are reaching an exciting but dangerous phase of technology adoption where our dependence is virtually complete.
From mobile to social computing, from telecommunications to transportation, from industrial systems to electronic health records, from banking to eCommerce, from homeland security to national defense–we are dependent on technology.
But while technology proliferates everywhere, so do the risks.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek (16 May 2003) in an article called “The City That Runs On Sensors” talks about how initiatives like IBM’s smart-cities is bringing sensors and technology to everything running our towns–“Smart [city] innovation is improving our economic fabric and the quality of our life.”
The flip side is an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal by former CIA director James Woolsey and Peter Pry who served on the congressional EMP commission warning how “A single nuke exploded above America could cause a national blackout for months” or years (stated later in article)
They write that “detonating a nuclear weapon high above any part of the U.S. mainland would generate a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse” (EMP)–and that this “would collapse the electric grid and other infrastructure that depends on it.”
This would be a national blackout of epic proportions that would impact all areas for 21st century sustainment of 311 million lives. Think for yourself–what would you be able to do and not do without the computers and telecommunications that you use every day?
Woolsey and Pry call for a preemptive surgical strike, for example, to prevent North Korean development of an ICMB capable of inflicting a nuclear EMP strike, but you can imagine other nations that pose a similar threat.
While be beef up our Cyber Corps and attempt to strengthen our tools, methods, and configurations, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing cyberspace.
Cybersecurity is more than just protecting us from malware infiltration and exfiltration–because the whole IT system that our society is built on can be wiped out not by cyber attack alone, but rather by collapsing the very electronic infrastructure that we rely on with a pulse of electromagnetic radiation that will fry the very circuits that run our devices.
While we build firewalls and put up intrusion detection and prevention guards and establish a court system of antivirus and spamware to put away violators and so on, how shall we prepare for a pulse attack that can incapacitate the electronics underpinnings–security and all?
“Star Wars” missile defense, preemptive action, and hardening of critical infrastructure are all security options–it costs money to keep the IT lights on, but better to pay now, then pay catastrophically bigger later. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Ready, Aim, Phaser
LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation and their use in the military is advancing fast.
I am not just talking about things like laser sights mounted on assault rifles, but actual portable high energy laser weapons for taking out ships, planes, drones, rockets, mortars, and surface to air missiles.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense Systems (HELLADS) is looking for smaller and lighter 150 kilowatt laser systems “enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats” and is powerful enough to destroy aircraft!
Just about all science fiction weaponry relies on lasers to fight and defeat the future enemy whether the phasers and disrupters from Star Trek, turbolasers and laser cannons on Star Wars, and laser torpedeos and blaster turrets in Battlestar Galactica.
According to Mashable (27 January 2013) “this year liquid-cooled, solid-state laser weapons will be installed on fighter planes” for testing.
Fast Company (8 March 2012) points out the challenges with laser tracking and killing including clouds, haze, and dust that weaken the laser. However, these challenges no longer seem insurmountable.
All the talk on gun control is so 20th century, the real conversation for the new era will be on laser weapons and whether phasers should be set on stun or kill. 😉
(Source Photo: here with attribution to UK Ministry of Defence)
The Guardian of Israel
“The Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps.” (Psalms 121:4)
Much is being celebrated about Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system with approximately 90% success rate for shooting down incoming missiles threatening populated areas and critical infrastructure.
However, Foreign Policy Magazine (20 November 2012) is touting another amazing advance by Israel, this time in robotic weapons systems.
It is called The Guardian Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), and it is made by G-NIUS.
It’s a fully armored vehicle with 660 pounds of electronic sensors and weapons.
The Guardian can autonomously “run patrol of predetermined routes” or it can be controlled via remote or mobile command center.
– It can run at 50 miles per hour, has powerful off-road capability, and an robust obstacle detection and avoidance system.
– Guardian can carry 1.2 tons of ammunition and supplies.
– The robotic vehicle is outfitted with all-weather video and thermal cameras, microphones, loudspeakers, and electronic countermeasures.
– It alerts to suspicious activity, identifies sources of fire, and by human operator can open fire with “auto-taret acquisition”.
This versatile weaponized robot can be used for force protection or to guard strategic assets, it can be used for perimeter, border or convey security, and for combat or logistical support missions.
It is easy to see how UGVs like this, especially in concert with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can take on the enemy and help keep the troops out of harm’s way.
For the future of UGVs and UAVs, think of a swarm, with masses of robots managing the battlefield both with and without human operators, and the vision of Star Wars on the ground and in space is just generations of robots away.
Amazing Internet Statistics 2012
So what happens in only 1 minute on the Internet–this cool magazine Ideas and Discoveries (October 2012) provides some amazing examples:
– Information Sharing–639,800 gigabytes of data are exchanged
– Information Generation–6 new Wikipedia articles are created
– Information Visualization–20,000,000 photo looked at on Flickr
– eMail–204,000,000 emails are sent
– eCommerce–$83,000 of sales on Amazon
– Social Networking–320 new users on Twitter and 100 on LinkedIn (wonder how many for Facebook…)
– Cyber Crime–20 new victims of identity theft
And in the same month, Harvard Business Review reported on the growing significance to commerce with the Internet contributing to GDP (in 2010) as much as:
– 8.3% in the UK
– 7.3% in South Korea
– 5.5% in China
– 4.7% in the US
– 4.7% in Japan
– 4.1% in India
Moreover in HBR, this is what was reported that people are willing to give up instead of the Internet for a year–and the numbers are pretty startling–check this out:
– 91% of UK would give up fast food
– 89% of Indonesians would give up smoking
– 86% of Japanese would give up chocolate
– 85% of Chinese would give up coffee
– 78% of Indonesians would give up their shower
– 60% of Japanese would give up exercise
– 56% of Chinese would give up their car
– 56% of Japanese would give up sex–go figure! 😉
While this is all sort of light, there is also a very seriousness dimension to this. For example, in the Wall Street Journal today, it quotes Secretary of Defense, Leon Paneta warning that with Iran’s digital assault on the U.S., the concerns of cyberwar are growing with the SecDef going so far as to say “Is there a cyberwar going on? It depends on how you define war.”
Yes, the Internet is amazing for so many reasons and we can’t take it for granted–we need to be vigilant and defend the Internet (cyber) with the same zeal and commitment as the other domains of war–land, sea, and air–all are vital to national security and for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This is a lesson we need to learn quickly and decisively–before the old Star Wars is passe and cyberwar turns deadly.
The Star Wars Internet
I just love the creativity of this Star Wars-like animation video to explain how we communicate over the Internet (using the guidelines of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, TCP/IP).From the initiation of the data packets to the transport over the LAN, WAN, and Internet, and through the routers, switches, proxy servers, and firewalls.
The data is packed, addressed, transmitted, routed, inspected, and ultimately received.
This 13 minutes video explains Internet communications in a simple, user-centric approach. It helps anyone to understand the many actors and roles involved in ensuring that our communication get to where it’s going accurately, timely, and hopefully safely.
I guess to make this really like Star Wars, we need the evil Darth Vader to (cyber) attack and see how this system all holds up. Where is Luke Skywalker when we need him? 😉
Great job by Medialab!