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The Military

US Army 'Will Have More Robot Soldiers Than Humans' By 2025, Says Former British Spy ( 113

John Bassett, a British spy who worked for the agency GCHQ for nearly two decades, has told Daily Express that the U.S. was considering plans to employ thousands of robots by 2025. At a meeting with police and counter-terrorism officials in London, he said: "At some point around 2025 or thereabouts the U.S. army will actually have more combat robots than it will have human soldiers. Many of those combat robots are trucks that can drive themselves, and they will get better at not falling off cliffs. But some of them are rather more exciting than trucks. So we will see in the West combat robots outnumber human soldiers." Daily Express reports: Robotic military equipment is already being used by the U.S Navy and Air Force, in the shape of drones and autonomous ships. In April robotic warfare took a major leap forward after the U.S. Navy launched its very first self-piloting ship designed to hunt enemy submarines. Drones have been a feature of U.S. operations in the Middle East to disrupt terrorist groups. However, those aircrafts are still controlled by humans operating from bases in the U.S. Mr. Bassett also said artificial intelligence and robots technology would combine to create powerful fighting machines. The cyber security expert said: "Artificial intelligence, robotics in general, those will begin to mesh together."

DNA Testing For Jobs May Be On Its Way, Warns Gartner ( 228

Reader dcblogs writes: It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information. People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job. This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research Wednesday at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo in Orlando. This research is called 'maverick' in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors. It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. Even without testing, businesses, governments and others may use this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined to develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire.

Ethiopia's State of Emergency Makes Posting To Facebook a Crime ( 38

Due to anti-government protests occurring in the country, Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency that, among other things, makes it a crime to post updates on Facebook about the current status of the country. "The military command will take action on those watching and posting on these social media outlets," Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia's minister of defense, said on state television. Those who violate the terms of the state of emergency may be subject to prison for up to five years. Quartz reports: Ethiopia's largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and the Amhara, are protesting what they see as the marginalization of their rights and freedoms by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), dominated by the Tigray minority. After a week of intensified protests that left businesses and government property destroyed, prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a state of emergency on Oct 9 for the next six months. Under the state of emergency, all expressions or communication that could incite violence have been banned, including the now famous protest gesture of raised hands, crossed at the wrist. Authorities can search and detain citizens without prior approval. Discussing issues with foreigners that could incite violence or communicating with groups deemed terrorists is also illegal.
The Military

Greenland Is Very Mad About the Toxic Waste the US Left Buried Under Its Ice ( 208

Kate Lunau, reporting Motherboard:Greenland isn't happy about being treated as a dumping ground for abandoned US military bases established at the height of the Cold War -- and in a newspaper editorial, it's calling on Denmark to deal with the mess left behind by the Americans, since the Danish long ago took responsibility for them. This editorial notes that, after decades, Greenland is "losing its patience." One of the abandoned bases, called Camp Century, is full of nasty chemicals and some radioactive material, as Motherboard previously reported. At Camp Century, which was built in 1959, soldiers called "Iceworms" practiced deployment of missiles against Russia and literally lived inside the ice. When the US decommissioned the base in the 1960s, the military left basically everything behind, thinking that its waste would stay locked up in the Greenland ice sheet forever. Well, climate change has made that unlikely. Melting ice threatens to expose all kinds of toxic debris in decades to come, and Greenland wants it cleaned up, now.

Russia Builds Microwave Weapon To Take Down Enemy Drones ( 154

An anonymous reader writes: The Russian government is backing a military research project to develop a powerful microwave-based weapon designed to take out unmanned enemy drones from up to half a mile away. The country's United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (UIMC) created the microwave gun specifically to disrupt the electronics of enemy missiles. Using the ultra-high frequency waves the weapon can completely disable aircraft communications, resulting in loss of control. The destructive rays, which belong to a group of warfare technologies known as directed-energy weapons (DEW), will be emitted from surface-to-air Buk missile systems. Military analyst Alexander Perendzhiyev noted that the new weapon would be particularly effective against systems carrying microelectronic equipment. He also suggested that the impact of the radio-electronic waves could even be deadly to humans -- and referred to potential use against terrorists.
The Military

ISIS Is Using Exploding Consumer Drones To Kill Enemy Fighters ( 221

According to The New York Times, the Islamic State is using small consumer drones rigged with explosions to fight Kurdish forces in Iraq. As a result, American commanders in Iraq have issued a warning to forces fighting ISIS to treat any type of small flying aircraft as potential explosive devices. The Verge reports: The small, commercially available drone was shot down in Northern Iraq and taken back to an outpost, the Times writes. But during disassembly, the drone exploded, killing the two fighters. Le Monde reports that two members of French forces were also injured by the explosion. The technique used by ISIS in the attack may have been a simple one -- ultimately only combining two widely available pieces of tech -- but videos available online have purportedly shown other recent instances of drones used as explosives, suggesting the move may be one we see more of in the future.

US Military Is Looking At Blockchain Technology To Secure Nuclear Weapons ( 62

Lasrick quotes a report from Quartz: Blockchain technology has been slow to gain adoption in non-financial contexts, but it could turn out to have invaluable military applications. DARPA, the storied research unit of the U.S. Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites. The report adds: "The case for using a blockchain boils down to a concept in computer security known as 'information integrity.' That's basically being able to track when a system or piece of data has been viewed or modified. In DARPA's case, blockchain tech could offer crucial intelligence on whether a hacker has modified something in a database, or whether they're surveilling a particular military system. This September, DARPA, which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the agency helped create the internet, among other things), awarded a $1.8 million contract to a computer security firm called Galois. The firm's assignment is to formally verify -- a sort of computer-code audit, using mathematics -- a particular type of blockchain tech supplied by a company called Guardtime. Formal verification is one way to build nearly unhackable code, and it's a big part of DARPA's approach to security. If the verification goes well, it could inch DARPA closer to using some form of blockchain technology for the military, DARPA's program manger behind the blockchain effort, Timothy Booher, said. 'We're certainly thinking through a lot of applications,' he says. 'As Galois does its verification work and we understand at a deep level the security properties of this [technology] then I would start to set up a series of meetings [with the rest of the agency] to start that dialog.'"
United Kingdom

Is Britain Secretly Funding Its Nuclear Submarine Program? ( 108

Why is the U.K. funding a risky $22 billion joint project with China to produce electricity at twice the cost? mdsolar quotes a nuclear specialist from the University of Oxford: only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain's military projects -- especially Trident, a roving fleet of armed nuclear submarines, which is outdated and needs upgrading. Hawks and conservatives, in particular, see the Trident program as vital to preserving Britain's international clout...the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain's nuclear submarine program...

Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required. One might say that with the Hinkley Point project, the British government is using billions of Chinese money to build stealth submarines designed to deter China.

The Op-Ed -- published in The New York Times -- calls for more openness about military spending, arguing "If Britain's energy policy were solely about energy, rather than also about defense, the nuclear sector would be forced to stand on its own two feet."
United States

Sean Parker Contributes $9 Million As States Push To Legalize Marijuana ( 255

Sean Parker has now donated nearly $9 million in his effort to legalize marijuana in California. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Billboard: Whether it's founding Napster, guiding Facebook or investing in Spotify, Sean Parker has developed a reputation for pushing change forward, and now he's at the forefront of California's marijuana legalization movement... [A] competing proposal from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform was folded into Parker's, making his the leading ballot measure, by default, for 2016 in a state with the largest medical marijuana market in the country.
The U.S currently has a hodgepodge of legislation, with marijuana entirely legal only in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, as well as in the District of Columbia, and in individual cities in Michigan and Maine. But with five more states now voting on legalization, pro-marijuana campaign ads are being broadcast in Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, California and Arizona. ("You decide who wins -- criminals and cartels, or Arizona schools?") And meanwhile, Slashdot reader schwit1 has identified one voter who's definitely opposing police efforts to hunt down marijuana growers: All that remains of the solitary marijuana plant an 81-year-old grandmother had been growing behind her South Amherst home is a stump and a ragged hole in the ground... Tucked away in a raspberry patch and separated by a fence from any neighbors, the [medicinal] plant was nearly ready for harvest when a military-style helicopter and police descended on Sept. 21...

China's Giant Radio Telescope Begins Searching For Signals From Space ( 49

Years of work and millions of dollars later, China finished its alien-hunting telescope in May this year. Now the country says its telescope has begun its operation. The company flipped the switch over the weekend, hoping to find signals from stars and galaxies -- and more importantly from extraterrestrial life. The telescope also illustrates China's growing ambition to stay among the frontrunners in space efforts. AP reports: Beijing has poured billions into such ambitious scientific projects as well as its military-backed space program, which saw the launch of China's second space station earlier this month. Measuring 500 metres in diameter, the radio telescope is nestled in a natural basin within a stunning landscape of lush green karst formations in southern Guizhou province. It took five years and $180 million to complete and surpasses that of the 300-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a dish used in research on stars that led to a Nobel Prize. The official Xinhua News Agency said hundreds of astronomers and enthusiasts watched the launch of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, in the county of Pingtang. Researchers quoted by state media said FAST would search for gravitational waves, detect radio emissions from stars and galaxies and listen for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life. "The ultimate goal of FAST is to discover the laws of the development of the universe," Qian Lei, an associate researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told state broadcaster CCTV. "In theory, if there is civilization in outer space, the radio signal it sends will be similar to the signal we can receive when a pulsar (spinning neutron star) is approaching us," Qian said.

How ITT Tech Screwed Students and Made Millions ( 334

An anonymous Slashdot reader shares "a grim story about a company that screwed poor people, military veterans, and taxpayers to turn a profit." Gizmodo reports: By the time ITT Technical Institute closed its doors earlier this month, the for-profit college had been selling tenuous diplomas at exorbitant prices for more than 20 years...burying low-income and first-generation students in insurmountable debt, and evading regulators since the early 1990s...
ITT collected $178 million over two years just in federal education funding for veterans -- even while the company projected 33% of its students would ultimately default on their loans -- and last year 70% of the school's total revenue came directly from federal financial aid programs. Gizmodo spoke to one student who "will now spend the rest of his life paying back loans for a degree that is practically useless," after compounding interest turned his $70,000 loan into $200,000 in debt. "Like all of the former students interviewed by Gizmodo, he was placed in a job that did not require professional training" -- specifically, a game-testing position that didn't even require a high school diploma, while ITT "placed" another student in a $5.95-an-hour telemarketing job. Her assessment of ITT? "It was totally worthless."

Taiwan Asks Google To Blur Its Military Facilities In South China Sea ( 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Taiwan's defense ministry said on Wednesday it is asking Google to blur satellite images showing what experts say appear to be new military installations on Itu Aba, Taipei's sole holding in the disputed South China Sea. The revelation of new military-related construction could raise tensions in the contested waterway, where China's building of airstrips and other facilities has worried other claimants and the United States. The images seen on Google Earth show four three-pronged structures sitting in a semi-circle just off the northwestern shoreline of Itu Aba, across from an upgraded airstrip and recently constructed port that can dock 3,000-ton frigates. "Under the pre-condition of protecting military secrets and security, we have requested Google blur images of important military facilities," Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said on Wednesday, after local media published the images on Itu Aba. The United States has urged against the militarization of the South China Sea, following the rapid land reclamation by China on several disputed reefs through dredging, and building air fields and port facilities. Defense experts in Taiwan said that based on the imagery of the structures and their semi-circular layout, the structures were likely related to defense and could be part of an artillery foundation.

Assange Agrees to US Prison If Obama Pardons Chelsea Manning ( 401

"If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to U.S. prison in exchange -- despite its clear unlawfulness," Wikileaks announced on Twitter Thursday. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Verge: WikiLeaks' statement was released one day before a Swedish appeals court decided to maintain a warrant for Assange's arrest over a 2010 rape charge. Assange has said that extradition to Sweden would lead to his eventual extradition to the US, where he could face charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of secret government documents... Assange has been living in political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012...

Chelsea Manning, a former US Army private, was convicted in 2013 for providing a trove of documents and videos to WikiLeaks, and is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the US Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas. She was hospitalized after a reported suicide attempt in July, and this month went on a hunger strike to seek treatment for her gender dysphoria. Manning ended her hunger strike this week after the military agreed to allow her to have gender reassignment surgery. She still faces indefinite solitary confinement due to administrative charges related to her suicide attempt.

The tweet also included a link to a letter from Assange's attorney, Barry Pollack, calling on the Justice Department to be more transparent about its investigation into WikiLeaks -- and citing the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information. "Director Comey made it clear his conclusion was based on the necessity of proving criminal intent [and] noted that responsible prosecutors consider the context of a person's actions... Criminal prosecution is appropriate only when a person...was intending to aid enemies of the United States or was attempting to obstruct justice."

Robot Snatches Rifle From Barricaded Suspect, Ends Standoff ( 129

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes the L.A. Times: An hours-long standoff in the darkness of the high desert came to a novel end when Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies used a robot to stealthily snatch a rifle from an attempted murder suspect, authorities said Thursday. Officials said the use of the robot to disarm a violent suspect was unprecedented for the Sheriff's Department, and comes as law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on military-grade technology to reduce the risk of injury during confrontations with civilians.

"The robot was a game changer here," said Capt. Jack Ewell, a tactical expert with the Sheriff's Department -- the largest sheriff's department in the nation. "We didn't have to risk a deputy's life to disarm a very violent man."

It was only later when the robot came back to also pull down a wire barricade that the 51-year-old suspect realized his gun was gone.

China's Atomic Clock in Space Will Stay Accurate For a Billion Years ( 111

The space laboratory that China launched earlier this week has an atomic clock in it which is more accurate than the best timepiece operated by America's National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to Chinese engineers. The atomic called, dubbed CACS or Cold Atomic Clock in Space, will slow down by only one second in a billion years. In comparison, the NIST's F2 atomic clock, which serves as the United States' primary time and frequency standard, loses a second every 300 million years. From an RT report:"It is the world's first cold atomic clock to operate in space... it will have military and civilian applications," said Professor Xu Zhen from the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, who was involved in the CACS project. An atomic clock uses vibrations of atoms to measure time, which are very consistent as long as the atoms are held at constant temperature. In fact, since 1967 the definition of second has been "9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium-133 atom." In a cold atomic clock, the atoms are cooled down with a laser to decrease the effect of atom movement on the measurements. CACS goes even further and eliminates the pull of Earth's gravity by being based in orbit.
The Military

The US Government Is Building A 'Drone Dragnet' For Battlefields ( 25

The US government plans to launch "a three and a half year initiative to develop an urban drone detection system." An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The Aerial Dragnet program is to use off-the-shelf commercial components and mostly established technologies and methods to create a network of floating or tethered platforms that will ultimately provide 95% efficient drone identification in urban areas up to 180 square kilometers. The call to proposers states that the total cost of the system for a city should be around $90,000, and would likely include the ability to identify the micro-Doppler signatures given off by UAVs -- and birds.
Unmanned aerial systems are becoming platforms "for hostile reconnaissance, targeting, and weapon delivery," warns the government document, noting drones are hard to detect because they're small and fly slowly at low altitudes. "In future urban battlegrounds, U.S. forces will be placed at risk by small UAVs which use buildings and naturally-occurring motion of the clutter to make surveillance impractical..."
The Military

Air Force Grounds $400 Billion F-35s Because of 'Peeling and Crumbling' Insulation ( 193

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Washington Post: Less than two months after declaring the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ready for combat, the Air Force on Friday announced that it was temporarily grounding 15 of the jets after it discovered that insulation was "peeling and crumbling" inside the fuel tanks. The setback is the latest for the $400 billion system, the most expensive in the history of the Pentagon. The problem comes as the program, which for years faced billions of dollars in cost overruns and significant schedule delays, had begun to make strides.

The insulation problem affects a total of 57 aircraft, the Air Force said, 42 of which are still in production... In a statement, Lockheed Martin said that "the issue is confined to one supplier source and one batch of parts." It emphasized that "this is not a technical or design issue; it is a supply chain manufacturing quality issue..." It is unclear how long the aircraft would be grounded, how long the problem would take to fix or what the larger affect on the program would be.

âoeWhile nearing completion, the F-35 is still in development, and challenges are to be expected," said an Air Force spokeswoman, adding "The F-35 program has a proven track record of solving issues as they arise, and we're confident we'll continue to do so."

Alleged Hacker Lauri Love To Be Extradited To US ( 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: An autistic man suspected of hacking into U.S. government computer systems is to be extradited from Britain to face trial, a court has ruled. Lauri Love, 31, who has Asperger's syndrome, is accused of hacking into the FBI, the U.S. central bank and the country's missile defense agency. Mr Love, from Stradishall, Suffolk, has previously said he feared he would die in a U.S. prison if he was extradited. Earlier, his lawyer said his alleged hacking had "embarrassed" U.S. authorities. Tor Ekeland said the U.S. government "had very, very bad security and these hacks utilized exploits that were publicly-known for months." Mr Love's lawyers said he could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted of the hacking offenses. Mr Love's defense team argues his depression and Asperger's syndrome mean he should not be sent abroad, but U.S. prosecutors say he is using his mental health issues as an excuse to escape justice.

House Committee: Edward Snowden's Leaks Did 'Tremendous Damage' ( 278

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: The U.S. House intelligence committee on Thursday unanimously approved a blistering report on the activities of Edward Snowden, saying his disclosures of top-secret documents and programs did "tremendous damage" to national security. "The public narrative popularized by Snowden and his allies is rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omissions," said the report by staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Contrary to Snowden's statements that he intended to reveal programs that intruded on the privacy of Americans, the House report concluded that the vast majority of the 1.5 million documents he stole "have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests. They instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America's adversaries." The report said Snowden did not, as he claimed, try to express his concerns about potentially illegal intelligence gathering in a way that would qualify him as a whistleblower. The report was disputed by Snowden's ACLU-provided attorney. "This is a dishonest report that attempts to discredit a genuine American hero," said Wizner. "But after years of 'investigation,' the committee still can't point to any remotely credible evidence that Snowden's disclosures caused harm. The truth is that Edward Snowden and the journalists with whom he worked did the job that the House Intelligence Committee was supposed to do: bring meaningful oversight to the U.S. Intelligence community. They did so responsibly and carefully, and their efforts have led to historic reforms."

Someone Is Learning How To Take Down the Internet, Warns Bruce Schneier ( 237

Some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them, says Bruce Schneier. He adds that these attacks are of much larger scale -- including the duration -- than the ones we have seen previously. These attacks, he adds, are also designed to test what all defense measures a company has got -- and they ensure that the company uses every they have got, leaving them with no choice but to demonstrate their defense capabilities to the attacker. He hasn't specifically shared details about the organizations that are under attack, but what little he has elaborated should give us a chill. From his blog post: [...] This all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there's a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes (PDF) a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn't have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: "in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex." There's more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn't seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It's not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes -- and especially their persistence -- points to state actors. It feels like a nation's military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US's Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

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