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Electronic Warfare Insects Coming Soon

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the sure-makes-me-sleep-better dept.

Robotics 187

Mike writes "British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives, and they claim that prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year. A fascinating development to be sure, but who thinks this won't be misused domestically for spying and evidence gathering?" Included in the story is a link to a creepy little (scripted, rendered) demo video of these robots in action.

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BAE Systems Motto (1)

willeyhill (1277478) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294904)

Saving lives and money with more efficient killing.

Re:BAE Systems Motto (1)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294918)

Ah, but who's life and money will be taken?

Re:BAE Systems Motto (0, Troll)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294928)

Send in a bug and read their journal, Winston.

Re:BAE Systems Motto (3, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295158)

The idea is that they'll take out money and use it to take enemy lives instead of friendly ones. I think your cynicism meter needs adjusting.

Re:BAE Systems Motto (2, Interesting)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295260)

isnt that how the Gatling gun was pitched?

Bugs = Big brother without... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23294924)

... without giving yourself away.

I can only imagine the possibilities of someoen dumping some bugs in an area and have a permanent observation of the majority of the population you want to keep your eyes on.

better steal yours. (1, Insightful)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294946)

Big Brother knows who buys them.

Re:Bugs = Big brother without... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295732)

You're the guy who buries a zergling at each resource pile.

Locusts of Borg (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23294932)

The Locusts of Borg will pwn you.

the video (3, Informative)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294948)

That video that's mentioned is here [akamai.com] . This technology still relies on wireless transmission, so who ever uses it must be in relative close proximity. So when deployed, if you notice them some how, you'll know someone is near by.

Re:the video (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295246)

That video that's mentioned is here. This technology still relies on wireless transmission, so who ever uses it must be in relative close proximity. So when deployed, if you notice them some how, you'll know someone is near by.
From behind the headboard slipped a tiny hunter-seeker no more than five centimeters long. Paul recognized it at once - a common assassination weapon that every child of royal blood learned about at an early age. It was a ravening sliver of metal guided by some near-by hand and eye.

Re:the video (2, Funny)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295270)

Does make a good story plot.

Re:the video (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295576)

That obviously is a quotation from Dune. Paul Atreides, you know?


What do you mean with you don't know Dune [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:the video (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295348)

To be fair, Paul could see most things coming...

Re:the video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295544)

Dune, maybe ?

Re:the video (1)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295814)

Thank you - you're little excerpt has motivated me to find a copy of Dune and read it.

not necessarily (3, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295274)

They could drop a bunch of repeaters in the area as well with the bugs, disguised as who knows what, a pile of dog crap, pine cones, whatever. The humans don't have to be right close by with wireless. They fly those predator attack drones from across the planet.

black van (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295472)

So when deployed, if you notice them some how, you'll know someone is near by.
In black vans. The fed always comes in black unmarked vans, remember that know.

Spread spectrum can hide some signals (2, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296414)

Th RF levels of GPS signals are so low that you cannot detect them without despreading, for which you need the spreading codes. The signal levels are way below the ambient noise floor. Spreading also gives security.

But spreading limits the bandwidth of a signal and would make high def video a challenge.

Obligatory (2, Funny)

tehcmn (1192821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294960)

I, for one, welcome our robotic, war-waging insectoid ov... aw, forget it.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295090)

This brings to mind the Insecticons from the Transformers, whomever controls these bots must be Megatron aka evil war robots?

Re:Obligatory (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295150)

In Soviet Russia, apathy can't be bothered with ... like, whatever.

Re:Obligatory (1)

decavolt (928214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295404)

We need a Godwin's law for the "I, for one, welcome our new [insert name here] overlords" here on Slashdot.

I suggest we call it Cowboy Neal's Law, since it's invoked in every single story's comments, just as Cowboy Neal is invoked in every single front-page poll.

Forget tiny spiders.... (5, Funny)

Armon (932023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294972)

I prefer my spiders to be 20ft tall and wielding giant laser canons of death.... Who needs a covert force when you can have one that kicks ass and takes names?

Re:Forget tiny spiders.... (2, Insightful)

njcoder (657816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295382)

I prefer my spiders to be 20ft tall and wielding giant laser canons of death.... Who needs a covert force when you can have one that kicks ass and takes names?
20ft is insignificant compared to the habitable surface area of the planet. And it would be too impractical to create enough for your world domination plans. Which is pretty much the only reason for needing a 20ft tall spider that kicks ass and takes names.

A 20ft spider would also be pretty obvious so you loose out on the paranoia factor of covert devices. You may only have enough covert little machines to oppress 10% of the world, but the other 90% will live in fear of wondering if they're in that 10% or not.

Ha! That's funny. (3, Insightful)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294978)

...helping to save thousands of lives

Yeah, right!

Re:Ha! That's funny. (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295050)

Actually they probably will save soldier's lives. That doesn't mean they aren't creepy or that they won't be misused by Governments, but having little spybots to reconnoiter, especially in an urban setting, most certainly will save some lives.

Re:Ha! That's funny. (1)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295190)

That is what I meant. They will save a soldier's life. Not of those who are against the soldiers.

Re:Ha! That's funny. (3, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295280)

They will save some civilian lives, too. The soldiers will send one of these into the room to have a look around instead of throwing a grenade in and then rushing in guns blazing, if only because it's safer for them. They may also sometimes air-drop a few onto a building they've been told is a "terrorist" safe house to make sure it isn't really a child-care center before bombing it.

Re:Ha! That's funny. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295296)

Stop confusing the anti-war crowd with pesky things like insight and facts. Thinking makes their brains hurt.

Re:Ha! That's funny. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23296298)

Man, you never been at war, have you?

Why are you against soldiers? (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296310)

They don't choose the miserable wars they participate in. Don't confuse the political decision to go to war with the military decisions about how to carry it out.

Support Our Troops In Stalingrad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23296476)

Ve vill crush our enemies! They vill not resist us und ve shall have their oil! No one shall dare resist our racial superiority! Hail victory!

vaporware (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294986)

Plans for a robot that can crawl like a spider are 'well developed'

That's military-contractor-ese for "we drew you a picture [dailymail.co.uk] ..."

What happens if I step on it? (1)

madclicker (827757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23294988)

Whats the damage?

Re:What happens if I step on it? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295134)

Yeah really ... we're coming to a point where citizens can be charged with destruction of government property by stepping on a cockroach.

Re:What happens if I step on it? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295258)

depends on if you buy the replacement or the military does.

you $1,000 the US Military $100,000

On high school (0, Offtopic)

edsousa (1201831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295004)

This would make a lot of boys happy :) Just wonder the different uses the insects can have...

...And killing them? (2, Funny)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295046)

So does the military sue people who step on these things the way we step on eveyr other insect?

Re:...And killing them? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295228)

Yes, when the military is spying on you with covert high technology, the first thing to do is worry about them suing you for breaking it.

Re:...And killing them? (2, Insightful)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295592)

Heh, you know I laughed reading your reply, but then I cried. Now I'm thinking that you'd have to worry about them suing you for breaking it because that probably gives them suitable (ha) cause to review the surveillance -- even if they didn't have legal cause prior to the destruction.

Re:...And killing them? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296344)

Heh, they say that's how they got Al Capone - not for the illegal activity, per se, but for the tax evasion for not paying for the profits.

Can't you see it? Expensive spy bots invade your personal space, along with a national law prohibiting destruction of government property... you step on a "bug", you've really stepped in it now.

Re:...And killing them? (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295446)

What about baiting them and hacking them into RC insects. Or harvesting their military grade parts.

Re:...And killing them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295494)

Only if the last thing the insect recorded was "Oh shit, big brother's listeni-*static*"

great white handkerchief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295634)

Funny, as just after I read your comment, I went to the bathroom and on the way just two meters away from my PC I encountered a fly. Didn't step on it due to being barefoot but squished it with a great white handkerchief [wikipedia.org] . They are here already. Help meeee

Re:great white handkerchief (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295748)

heh, subtle; nice.

battery life (5, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295058)

That all sounds real dandy, but battery life is the achilles heel: these bugs and critters are only going to last a few minutes. Real insects last longer because they have much more energy-efficient locomotion and control, they have efficient fuel cells, and they replenish their energy supplies constantly by feeding.

Re:battery life (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295392)

I don't suppose solar power would help solve that problem? After all real insects are attracted to light, so they may as well make these ones do the same.
Since they're insects, you could have several of them on a site at any one time, just swapping them around for recharging when the batteries run low.
Hell, combine that with some of the fancy swarming communication techniques we've been seeing lately so they can work together to get the best results at maximum efficiency.
It's really starting to look as though the future war of mankind vs. machine will be less big tanks and robots and more big mechanical spiders and cockroaches. It'll be like Starship troopers meets terminator, except we'll probably lose.

Re:battery life (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295434)

Or have them glide to get from place to place like butterflies do.

Re:battery life (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295532)

That all sounds real dandy, but battery life is the achilles heel
An atomic battery [wikipedia.org] combined with some of the newer high efficiency solar cell tech should be sufficient I would thing. And probably a very small lithium ion battery for the solar cells to charge during the day. It could be programmed to find a safe spot to charge its battery with sunlight or even room lights every so often. Also it could have thin wires that could be programmed to recognize electrical outlets, especially in dark corners and behind furniture where it could insert its "antennae" to charge from AC power for a few minutes. One problem with this scenario might be noise. I bet indoors noise would always be a problem with these in any case even with rubberized feet. Another idea for outdoor use would be a micro wind turbine so that it might get some energy for recharging its batteries even at night. I also wonder if soldiers could charge them remotely with microwave transmissions.

save lives? (2, Insightful)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295066)

"British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives, and they claim that prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year. A fascinating development to be sure, but who thinks this won't be misused domestically for spying and evidence gathering?"
Great, now you're going to tell me how guns, missiles, tanks and nuclear weapons save millions of lives.

Re:save lives? (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295628)

"Great, now you're going to tell me how guns, missiles, tanks and nuclear weapons save millions of lives."

They have and do, but sometimes (when deterrence fails) at the cost of other lives.

WWII is an excellent example. It took killing millions of Germans, Japanese, Italians, and other Axis types to halt their enthusiastic killing of others. There not being a non-violent option for dealing with such folk (non-violence just meant surrender to extermination) it was perfectly logical and reasonable to save Allied lives by killing heaps of Axis humans. Those who snivel about it now are conveniently distant from having to actually deal with any similar problems. ;)

It worked superbly, like it or not.

Saving thousands of lives on a battlefield... (-1, Offtopic)

jalet (36114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295070)

> that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of
> lives

Silly me !

I thought soldiers were on a battlefield precisely to take as many lives as they could...

BTW if we look at History, we see that not many lives were saved on battlefields, so my thought was completely wrong : it is now high time to build these tiny electronic pests.

Not exactly (3, Interesting)

NEOtaku17 (679902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295130)

"I thought soldiers were on a battlefield precisely to take as many lives as they could..."

No. If a nuclear armed nation wanted to take as many lives as possible, none of their soldiers would be on the battle-field.

Re:Not exactly (2, Insightful)

jalet (36114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295234)

Excepted that when you send a nuclear device somewhere by pushing a button in your presidential or dictatorial office, you may risk receiving another back directly onto you as retortion.

Instead, if you send poor guys on a distant battlefield to take lives and have theirs being taken, while staying in your office, the risk is not exactly the same for you...

That's why people in charge of nuclear armed nations prefer the second solution : THEY won't die.

Re:Not exactly (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295632)

You are aware that not every country has long range ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads? So in many cases nuking a country from the other side of the world would be perfectly feasible without any (direct) retribution. In fact even some members of the nuclear club lack long range ballistic missiles not only because they may be hard to make but also because they probably feel they don't need them. The reason no country has ever used a nuclear weapon against another country since WWII has a lot more to do with the negative PR of such an act and their total impracticality as weapons than worrying about retribution. Most "threats" these days are asymmetrical. It is quite rare for opponents to be evenly matched. Don't be so disingenuous.

Re:Saving thousands of lives on a battlefield... (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295368)

> I thought soldiers were on a battlefield precisely to take as many lives as
> they could...

They are usually there to take and hold territory by any means necessary. If the enemy resists somebody gets killed but if they run away or surrender that works too.

Re:Saving thousands of lives on a battlefield... (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295744)

Furthermore, a soldier's role on the battlefield is to achieve an objective. In general, this object involves removing the enemy. The general way to do so is to either kill them, or make them surrender/give up. Sometimes the situation is such that by killing a few selective people, you can make the group give up. Other times, you just have to kill everything coming at you, cause it's the only way. In all cases, better intel means less risk for the grunts. Sure, its not exactly fair. But that's not really the point of war is it?

wow (0, Redundant)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295086)

16 comments and every single one a troll. Overlords, shmoverlords... I still think it's cool from the technological stand point.

I will crush your bug/dragonfly/spider... (2, Funny)

azgard (461476) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295088)

..with a powerful EM blast!!!

Thousands of lives? (0, Troll)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295106)

to save thousands of lives

How about not having wars at all? Or - get the idiots starting them put to jail - Guantanamo Bay, perhaps?

Before you flame or troll me - think about it: How many wars have been started by a faked incicent. Who is the driving force behind propaganda leading to a war? What are the underlying reasons for a - "leaders pushing for it" and b - "followers going for it"?

You can be sure that's not written about in news media - guess why?

Re:Thousands of lives? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295268)

How about instead of making a handwavy generalization you name some wars that were started by an incident that was bilateral in its fakeness.

I mean, WWII would have been so much less of a problem if the Third Reich hadn't invaded Europe, somebody should have explained that to them so that the world could have avoided all that fighting.

Re:Thousands of lives? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295448)

The example you give is actually one that answers the parent post. In order to catalyse WW2 Germany faked an incident of Polish incursion.

Re:Thousands of lives? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295580)

That wasn't bilateral fakery. The aggressor is looking for a reason to go to war and finds one, but there isn't a whole lot the other side can do about that, which is why there is often a good guy in a given war.

Re:Thousands of lives? (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295654)

"WWII would have been so much less of a problem if the Third Reich hadn't invaded Europe..."

Why is it that whenever someone decries war, WWII seems to be the only war mentioned in response? Was that the last war we ever had?

I am not sure what you mean by "bilateral in its fakeness", but to respond to your question, have you heard of the 2nd Gulf of Tonkin incident, a fake incident which Lyndon Johnson used as justification for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution escalating American involvement in the Vietnam War without need for a declaration of war? This was the Vietnam equivalent of the Iraq 'use of force' resolution which Bush used to start the Iraq war.

Re:Thousands of lives? (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295800)

The op was decrying war as something that never had to happen, if only we all just got along. WWII is a sterling example of a war that happened because the other side didn't want to get along. The point is that while it is unfortunate that there are aggressors that are willing to go to war, it isn't stupid or war mongering to defend yourself from an aggressor, it is necessary.

The snarky reason why Tonkin and Vietnam and Iraq don't get mentioned is that they aren't wars, but the real reason is that they aren't nearly as morally unambiguous as WWII was, especially after the extent of the crimes against humanity was uncovered.

What it comes down to is that one unjust war doesn't prove that all war is unjust.

The point about the fake incidents not being bilateral is that side B can't do a whole lot about the actions of side A (other than fight back) once side A starts rolling in tanks.

Re:Thousands of lives? (3, Insightful)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296060)

The snarky reason why Tonkin and Vietnam and Iraq don't get mentioned is that they aren't wars...

Bullhockey.

Tell THIS girl [wikipedia.org] that she wasn't in a war zone.

Calling it "a police action", "counter-insurgency", or BY any other marginally more "pleasant" euphemism does NOT change the rules of the game.

It's war, plain and simple. Kill them before they have a chance to kill you. Period.

...unless you want to tell me the name really DID change to "Freedom Fries". :P

Re:Thousands of lives? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296122)

Nice job reading half the sentence and getting upset about it. Notice the next part of the sentence where I said "the real reason"? That implies that I don't believe that they weren't/aren't wars.

Maybe look up 'snark':

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=snark [urbandictionary.com]

(That's not a real dictionary, but the definitions given there are accurate regarding my use of the word)

Re:Thousands of lives? (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296498)

Bad rationale, snarky or not.

Why start so big... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295452)

Why start so big. I'll believe that you can stop people from doing bad things to each other when you head up a way to make it work even on a small scale. How about just one city. You figure out a way to get, say, New York to have no human on human violence without any police force at all, and then we can talk.

I'm starting to think Brin is right (4, Interesting)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295114)

It may just be that it is physically impossible to have privacy in the future. If that's the case, then we should accept it and start putting into place the mechanisms to make sure that "transparency" is a two-way street, which is the best case scenario in that case.

Link to the Wikipedia article on his ideas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Transparent_Society [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm starting to think Brin is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295244)

It may just be that it is physically impossible to have privacy in the future. If that's the case, then we should accept it and start putting into place the mechanisms to make sure that "transparency" is a two-way street, which is the best case scenario in that case.

Absolutely! I want to know of all the Religious folks around me and those in Government because when they find out that I'm a gay atheist, and when they discriminate against me or even commit acts of violence against me, I'll know who they are! And that way, well, there's not a god damned thing I can do about it because I'm a minority and they're the majority. Without the anonymity, I'll have to fake being religious straight person in order to be safe, or stand up for the truth and get my ass kicked and business hurt.

Yes sir! Brin is so brilliant and I'm so dumb! I can't argue against his well articulated argument for transparency.

Re:I'm starting to think Brin is right (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295842)

Enemies of atheism, alternative sexuality, and so on usually belong to one of two types: 1) low-information people who are told gay atheists are wicked, and who believe it, and 2) those who have these tendencies themselves and are engaged in a bout of psychological projection (like many religious leaders.)

A transparent society would help the first group realize that the people they're persecuting are just like them. Persecution requires dehumanization, and dehumanization requires disinformation.

Members of the second group would be exposed well before they rose to power in the first place.

Re:I'm starting to think Brin is right (1)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296542)

It may just be that it is physically impossible to have privacy in the future. If that's the case, then we should accept it and

First of all, whether this is inevitable or not, it doesn't mean that the lack of it will make things better or happier. Global climate change is likely inevitable, but that doesn't mean we're obliged to put up a Mission Accomplished banner and say "bring it on". Even if something is inevitable, I'm not sure society is enhanced by racing to embrace it without regard to its goodness. Bad government may be inevitable, but the voting booth is still a tool for deciding which bad or how bad...

I think Blank Reg [wikipedia.org] in the Max Headroom [imdb.com] series is a better example of how "the inevitable" is likely to play out. Surveillance can be both ubiquitous and uneven at the same time, and it's a fantasy to think "happens all over" should be confused with "homogenous deployment" or "uniform access".

There are many reasons this. One is that access is not the same as focus; just because you have access to things doesn't mean you are continually focused on it. People on the internet now have access to all manner of information but they aren't any better educated. Power still resides with people who can afford to pay for the complex sifting and harvesting and re-combining and consolidation and countering that needs to happen with information, so that scenario has already been playing out and we already know the outcome: some positives, some negatives, but not Utopia by any means.

But on top of all of that, we're entering a time of a likely energy crisis that may affect more than just driving but also how much power people can pay for in their houses. And the US (at least) is entering into a financial crisis that may keep the average household person from being able to afford many luxuries they're used to, so I'm not sure that banking on people to rush out and buy gadgets to monitor the government is a sane bet either, even if it turns out that such gadgets run on little enough power that they'd be willing to pay for it on top of other utility costs.

I'm all for doing the thing of having transparent government, by the way. But I'm not so naive as I sometimes think Brin to be as to say that that will make it ok. It's a very weak form of protection, but better than nothing. So I don't mind pursuing such strategies, I just mind saying that Brin's rationales are the reason for doing so.

Oh, and if ubiquitous does come to be something we'll just have to live with, couldn't it at least be something cuter than spiders or snakes? Why not butterflies?

GNAA Fucked Me Until I Came Blood (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295138)

I'll build a goatse damselfly to wink at me with long, seductive lashes and flash me with her robotic anus tricks.

Stark Industries? (1)

DwarfGoanna (447841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295178)

After seeing Iron Man this morning (in before "slashvertisement) I couldn't help but picture a bald version of The Dude reading this summary to the press.

On the NEW Yellow Brick Road . . . (1)

zazenation (1060442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295292)

SPIDERS and
INSECTS and
SNAKES...
Oh My!

~500 billion $ / year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295316)

The amount of money United States puts in its military is just incredible:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget

May I ask -- what is the threat you are preparing against to? For an outsider it just looks that the military tech companies have found a get-rich-quicly scheme that keeps on working.

Most of the stuff they are demoing is just vapor

I can't believe nobody's said it yet (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295324)

I, for one, welcome our giant insect overlords.

Microwave (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295412)

Makes an excellent repellent against electronic insects. Millions of dollars against a 30$ part from the microwave you buy at wall mart.

Reason #532... (1)

decavolt (928214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295422)

Reason #532 to build a Faraday Cage in my house along with a small home-brew EMP emitter.

That does it... (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295428)

Well then time to build myself an EMP, teflon coat my house(bugs can not climb teflon), rig up a positive pressure airlock system, and put really bright lights on my house(to pwn their tiny cameras).

Re:That does it... (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295802)

Well then time to build myself an EMP, teflon coat my house(bugs can not climb teflon), rig up a positive pressure airlock system, and put really bright lights on my house(to pwn their tiny cameras).
No, you just need your own bugs.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295588)

"BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives"

In other news, sociologists, psychologists, kindergarden teachers, and some other nuts are developing a theory which points the fact that governments could save even more lives by not making war.

"...helping to save thousands of lives..." (2, Insightful)

lordofthefunk (1284188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295616)

If this technology ever does prove to save lives on the battlefield, it would only be the lives of the "good guys". The lives of the opposing side would be destroyed with ever-increasing efficiency. Of course, if you believe that the foes that Britain will face in the foreseeable future are intrinsically evil and deserve to be destroyed with ever-increasing efficiency, then this is fine. If you believe that destroying lives full-stop with ever-increasing efficiency is ok, that this is fine. Another way to help save thousands of lives on the battlefield would be not illegally invade sovereign countries with thinly-veiled justifications designed to cover up one's own economic and emperial ambitions.

Re:"...helping to save thousands of lives..." (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295720)

It is absolute alright to kill with ever increasing efficiency on the battlefield, providing that the killing is just. If some group of crazy people tried to attack me, I would expect no less than the most efficient way to kill them back. The justness of a death has very little with how 'efficiently' it was carried out. Murder by pointy stick, and murder by bullet is all the same.

Re:"...helping to save thousands of lives..." (2, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295724)

If this technology ever does prove to save lives on the battlefield, it would only be the lives of the "good guys"
Shirley you can't be serious. That is the point of war. To win by killing your enemy faster than they can kill you. And there is no "good" or "bad" here. Only winner and loser. I guess it's just a question of which side you would like to be on. Personally I like any tech that tends to result in the destruction of simple machines rather than humans. There is nothing stopping the other side from doing the same. Are there any geeks who would not like to see wars turn into gigantic "battlefield" bot contests with armed bots shooting at other armed bots? For the sake of humanity I do hope that that is precisely what wars become. Or even taking it a step further and standardizing on some kind of networked multiplayer video game so that even machines need not be destroyed, just bits in memory.

I am not afraid. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23295688)

They can try to bug me.I have several rather low tech counter-measures.
  1. I have cats that eat bugs or will roll them under the refrigerator.
  2. I have Raid ant traps.
  3. I have natural spiders that will capture the cyber bugs.
  4. I have toddlers who have nothing better to do but patrol for weird things like that.
  5. I have wireless internet; loose wires in PCs, cable TV, lighting; toys; baby monitors; my house was built by the Wal-mart of home builders and cordless phone on the fritz. I have to go outside 10 feet from my house to talk on a cell phone. I am lucky to get clear FM radio.

The bugs may work in less developed areas, but they will not be able to stand up to the food web, shoddy craftsmanship, and a toddlers instinct to put everything in its mouth.

Pigs with bugs. (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295758)

I am a lot less concerned about foreign/military uses for this tech and a lot more concerned with domestic/police use. Does any of us doubt that this will eventually trickle down to the corrupt stupid thug/bullies known as the police? A scary thought. Although I don't think the first generation of mobile surveillance "bugs" are going to be a threat indoors, I do think it will happen eventually.

Re:Pigs with bugs. (1)

Matteo522 (996602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295962)

"The corrupt, stupid thug/bullies know as the police..."

???

Excuse me?? Yes, of course there are stupid police, thug police, and corrupt police. But you forget that the vast majority of police (at least in developed nations) are regular people with husbands, wives, children, and parents trying to keep your ungrateful ass safe. If you think the police are the thugs and bullies, then you're living in an awfully sheltered world where the most you have to worry about is getting caught driving on an expired registration.

Go live in a city where the crime lords and drug gangs run the place. Then you can come back and talk to us about thugs and bullies.

Re:Pigs with bugs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23296116)

"Go live in a city where the crime lords and drug gangs run the place. Then you can come back and talk to us about thugs and bullies."

legalize drugs and the crime lords and drug gangs go bye bye overnight, but we can't have that! the war on drugs FUELS law enforcement, without it what would they do? Of course there are a lot of good guys, but corruption runs deep in law enforcement, and look at the beginning of the Iraq War/Invasion with good old Iran/Contra Ollie North running around on Fox News with the American flag waving, that says it all doesn't it? LAND of the BRAINWASHED monkeys.

Wesley Snipes for President!

Re:Pigs with bugs. (4, Insightful)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296504)

Crime lords and drug gangs only have power because our government gives it to them. Make gambling, drugs and sex legal and you take away a rather significant fraction of their revenue stream. Police and your friendly government agencies will be abusing their new found surveillance powers, it's not a question of if, it's merely a question of when.

Go live in a city where the crime lords and drug gangs run the place. Then you can come back and talk to us about thugs and bullies.

orwellian bs (1, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23295916)

that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives,

so, lemme get this straight - on a battlefield where, ostensibly, some kind o f a battle is going on, where people are murdering each other in cold blood, these little magical toys are going to prevent thousands of people from dying, in a battle, where people are murdering each other in cold blood . Riiiiiight. Let's unpack the happy ass bullshit and get to the core: these will be implemented in order to protect and project the interests of the EMPIRE (American, Chinese, Russian, whatever) that has the money to build these things. Saving LIVES by PREVENTING DEATHS is not part of the equation. That's the province of clever diplomacy.

And the best part? I'm sure some locals who are finding these expensive little toys invading their resource rich homeland will develop a cheap bug zapper that costs $8 to build and can take out thousands of them at a go.

RS

Someone call Tom Selleck (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296002)

This should definitely revive his career [imdb.com] .

So what if they spy on you? (1)

NightFalcon90909 (1283820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296094)

They'll be easy to step on!

WHEN TOOLS GO BAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23296102)

"...but who thinks this won't be misused domestically for spying and evidence gathering?"

In other developments... the military has started using paper to keep records. Yes... paper. While paper was orginally designed for military use, some privacy advocates are alarmed that federal authorities might start using paper to write reports about the crimes they investigate. Film at 11.

RAID... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296156)

Do you suppose a decent spark-gap transmitter would would fry these little bugs like mosquitos on a bug-zapper?

I can think of a few evil ways to hose up these little nuisances. Many ways to jam their transmissions, being so low-power, and even more to EMP them.

Nothing that wouldn't run for an hour or so on some D-cells, and a few days on an old worn-out car battery.

I, for one, welcome our insectoid-surveillance wannbe overlords. Bring it on, six-legs!

Rollout may be delayed (2, Funny)

Jay L (74152) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296180)

They have to work all the bugs in first.

Thankyouenjoytheveal!

Arming these guys is going to get ugly. (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23296364)

This technology looks really cool(in a fairly creepy sort of way). The versions that they are currently proposing look more or less biomorphic spins on the "RC car with a camera" concept; but should still be useful. Even more interesting, though, will be the possibilities with smaller, more insectlike, mechanisms(which may well end up being cyborgs, not robots. Bugs are already good at what they do, much better than robots are, and DARPA is already playing with cybugs in the lab). Think of the mosquito, for instance. Those little guys essentially spend their lives following subtle chemical gradients to find their food sources and then swarm around them. Modify the chemical gradients they care about, dump a whole lot of them out of a plane, and you have a distributed sensor swarm that'll look for just about anything that has a scent.

The prospect that makes me nervous is what we'll do when we want to go beyond recon/search/surveillance type roles. Conventional weapons aren't going to scale down all that well. Chemical and biological weapons will. This will present an unseemly temptation. Being able to tailor lethally armed cybugs to hunt chemical traces and kill whatever turns up would be very useful. Trying to find that IED factory? Druggies blending into the crowd? Russian ambassador wearing a ghastly brand of aftershave? Actually doing any of this, though, is going really, really far into unpleasant territory. Very Unit 731 [wikipedia.org] .
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