Internet tells you who to vote for ;-)

In the event you’re in too much of a hurry to check out the presidential candidates yourself, the Internet can now do it for you.

Connect2Elect is a new website that lets users add candidate attributes and issue positions that are important to them, and see who they should vote on. Issues are broken down by social (abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research), political (Iraq war, taxes, immigration) and core beliefs (welfare, gun rights). Clearly there is some overlap and room to argue over categorization, but the basic idea is that you click on issues that matter to you and order them. You then see a results screen with candidate values mapped to your own. Voila! You know who to vote for.

Overall I think the service is well executed (it was built by introNetworks, a white label social network startup). But it strikes me as somewhat lame to choose a candidate based only on their official policies, which reflect little more than current popular opinion.

In related stuff, see our recent coverage of PoliticalBase, a new database driven startup around candidates and issues, and let us know what questions you’d like us to ask in our upcoming podcast discussion with Mitt Romney, a republican candidate for president.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/22/this-website-will-tell-you-who-to-vote-for/
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Dragon Spies – Robobugs

Dragonfly or Insect Spy? Scientists at Work on Robobugs.

By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; Page A03

Vanessa Alarcon saw them while working at an antiwar rally in Lafayette Square last month.

“I heard someone say, ‘Oh my god, look at those,’ ” the college senior from New York recalled. “I look up and I’m like, ‘What the hell is that?’ They looked kind of like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects.”

   

Out in the crowd, Bernard Crane saw them, too.

“I’d never seen anything like it in my life,” the Washington lawyer said. “They were large for dragonflies. I thought, ‘Is that mechanical, or is that alive?’ ”

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Others think they are, well, dragonflies — an ancient order of insects that even biologists concede look about as robotic as a living creature can look.

No agency admits to having deployed insect-size spy drones. But a number of U.S. government and private entities acknowledge they are trying. Some federally funded teams are even growing live insects with computer chips in them, with the goal of mounting spyware on their bodies and controlling their flight muscles remotely.

The robobugs could follow suspects, guide missiles to targets or navigate the crannies of collapsed buildings to find survivors.

The technical challenges of creating robotic insects are daunting, and most experts doubt that fully working models exist yet.

“If you find something, let me know,” said Gary Anderson of the Defense Department‘s Rapid Reaction Technology Office.

But the CIA secretly developed a simple dragonfly snooper as long ago as the 1970s. And given recent advances, even skeptics say there is always a chance that some agency has quietly managed to make something operational.

“America can be pretty sneaky,” said Tom Ehrhard, a retired Air Force colonel and expert in unmanned aerial vehicles who is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonprofit Washington-based research institute.

Big Brother is watching us all

 

Big Brother is watching us all

 

By Humphrey Hawksley
BBC News, Washington


The US and UK governments are developing increasingly sophisticated gadgets to keep individuals under their surveillance. When it comes to technology, the US is determined to stay ahead of the game.

computer image capturing Humphrey Hawksley's height, tracking and gait DNA

Humphrey Hawksley’s data is captured by a camera in one second

“Five nine, five ten,” said the research student, pushing down a laptop button to seal the measurement. “That’s your height.”

“Spot on,” I said.

“OK, we’re freezing you now,” interjected another student, studying his computer screen. “So we have height and tracking and your gait DNA”.

“Gait DNA?” I interrupted, raising my head, so inadvertently my full face was caught on a video camera.

“Have we got that?” asked their teacher Professor Rama Challapa. “We rely on just 30 frames – about one second – to get a picture we can work with,” he explained.

Tracking individuals

I was at Maryland University just outside Washington DC, where Professor Challapa and his team are inventing the next generation of citizen surveillance.

They had pushed back furniture in the conference room for me to walk back and forth and set up cameras to feed my individual data back to their laptops.

Gait DNA, for example, is creating an individual code for the way I walk. Their goal is to invent a system whereby a facial image can be matched to your gait, your height, your weight and other elements, so a computer will be able to identify instantly who you are.

Crowd of people at airport

How you walk could be used to identify you in a crowd

“As you walk through a crowd, we’ll be able to track you,” said Professor Challapa. “These are all things that don’t need the cooperation of the individual.”

Since 9/11, some of the best scientific minds in the defence industry have switched their concentration from tracking nuclear missiles to tracking individuals such as suicide bombers.

Surveillance society

My next stop was a Pentagon agency whose headquarters is a drab suburban building in Virginia. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) had one specific mission – to ensure that when it comes to technology America is always ahead of the game.

Its track record is impressive. Back in the 70s, while we were working with typewriters and carbon paper, Darpa was developing the internet. In the 90s, while we pored over maps, Darpa invented satellite navigation that many of us now have in our cars.

“We ask the top people what keeps them awake at night,” said its enthusiastic and forthright director Dr Tony Tether, “what problems they see long after they have left their posts.”

“And what are they?” I asked.

He paused, hand on chin. “I’d prefer not to say. It’s classified.”

“All right then, can you say what you’re actually working on now.”

“Oh, language,” he answered enthusiastically, clasping his fingers together. “Unless we’re going to train every American citizen and soldier in 16 different languages we have to develop a technology that allows them to understand – whatever country they are in – what’s going on around them.

“I hope in the future we’ll be able to have conversations, if say you’re speaking in French and I’m speaking in English, and it will be natural.”

“And the computer will do the translation?”

Opinion polls, both in the US and Britain, say that about 75% of us want more, not less, surveillance

 

“Yep. All by computer,” he said.

“And this idea about a total surveillance society,” I asked. “Is that science fiction?”

“No, that’s not science fiction. We’re developing an unmanned airplane – a UAV – which may be able to stay up five years with cameras on it, constantly being cued to look here and there. This is done today to a limited amount in Baghdad. But it’s the way to go.”

 

continued at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6995061.stm

Rise of the Police State

Micro Chips anyone?