‘Minority Report’ Is 40 Years Ahead Of Schedule: The Fictional World Has Become Reality

“The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.”—Director Steven Spielberg, Minority Report

We are a scant 40 years away from the futuristic world that science fiction author Philip K. Dick envisioned for Minority Report, in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful; and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

Unfortunately, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we may have already arrived at the year 2054.

Increasingly, the world around us resembles Dick’s dystopian police state in which the police combine widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining and precognitive technology to capture would-be criminals before they can do any damage. In other words, the government’s goal is to prevent crimes before they happen: precrime.

For John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), Chief of the Department of Pre-Crime in Washington, DC, the technology that he relies on for his predictive policing proves to be fallible, identifying him as the next would-be criminal and targeting him for preemptive measures. Consequently, Anderton finds himself not only attempting to prove his innocence, but forced to take drastic measures in order to avoid capture in a surveillance state that uses biometric data and sophisticated computer networks to track its citizens.

Seemingly taking its cue from science fiction, technology has moved so fast in the short time since Minority Report premiered in 2002 that what once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction. Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, Spielberg’s unnerving vision of the future is fast becoming our reality.

Examples abound.

FICTION: In Minority Report, police use holographic data screens, city-wide surveillance cameras, dimensional maps and database feeds to monitor the movements of its citizens.

REALITY CHECK: Microsoft, in a partnership with New York City, has developed a crime-fighting system that “will allow police to quickly collate and visualise vast amounts of data from cameras, licence plate readers, 911 calls, police databases and other sources. It will then display the information in real time, both visually and chronologically, allowing investigators to centralise information about crimes as they happen or are reported.”

FICTION: No matter where people go in the world of Minority Report, one’s biometric data precedes them, allowing corporations to tap into their government profile and target them for advertising based on their highly individual characteristics. So fine-tuned is the process that it goes way beyond gender and lifestyle to mood detection, so that while Anderton flees through a subway station and then later a mall, the stores and billboards call out to him with advertising geared at his interests and moods. Eventually, in an effort to outwit the identification scanners, Anderton opts for surgery to have his eyeballs replaced.

REALITY CHECK: Google is working on context-based advertising that will use environmental sensors in your cell phone, laptop, etc., to deliver “targeted ads tailored to fit with what you’re seeing and hearing in the real world.” However, long before Google set their sights on context advertising, facial and iris recognition machines were being employed, ostensibly to detect criminals, streamline security checkpoints processes, and facilitate everyday activities. For example, in preparing to introduce such technology in the United States, the American biometrics firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) turned the city of Leon, Mexico, into a virtual police state by installing iris scanners, which can scan the irises of 30-50 people per minute, throughout the city.

Police departments around the country have begun using the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, a physical iPhone add-on that allows police officers patrolling the streets to scan the irises and faces of suspected criminals and match them against government databases. In fact, in 2014, the FBI launched a nationwide database of iris scans for use by law enforcement agencies in their efforts to track criminals.

Corporations, as well, are beginning to implement eye-tracking technology in their tablets, smartphones, and computers. It will allow companies to track which words and phrases the user tends to re-read, hover on, or avoid, which can give insight into what she is thinking. This will allow advertisers to expand on the information they glean from tracking users’ clicks, searches, and online purchases, expanding into the realm of trying to guess what a user is thinking based upon their eye movements, and advertise accordingly. This information as it is shared by the corporate elite with the police will come in handy for police agencies as well, some of which are working on developing predictive analysis of “blink rates, pupil dilation, and deception.”

In ideal conditions, facial-recognition software is accurate 99.7 percent of the time. We are right around the corner from billboards capable of identifying passersby, and IBM has already been working on creating real world advertisements that react to people based upon RFID chips embedded in licenses and credit cards.

FICTION: In Minority Report, John Anderton’s Pre-Crime division utilizes psychic mutant humans to determine when a crime will take place next.

REALITY CHECK: While no psychic mutants are powering the government’s predictive policing efforts, the end result remains the same: a world in which crimes are prevented through the use of sophisticated data mining, surveillance, community policing and precrime. For instance, police in major American cities have been test-driving a tool that allows them to identify individuals—or groups of individuals—most likely to commit a crime in a given community. Those individuals are then put on notice that their movements and activities will be closely monitored, and any criminal activity (by them or their associates) will result in harsh penalties.  In other words, you are guilty before you are given any chance to prove you are innocent.

The Department of Homeland Security is also working on its Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, which will utilize a number of personal factors such as “ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to ‘detect cues indicative of mal-intent.’”

FICTION: In Minority Report, government agents use “sick sticks” to subdue criminal suspects using less-lethal methods.

REALITY CHECK: A variety of less-lethal weapons have been developed in the years since Minority Report hit theaters. In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security granted a contract to Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc., for an “LED Incapacitator,” a flashlight-like device that emits a dazzling array of pulsating lights, incapacitating its target by causing nausea and vomiting. Raytheon has created an “Assault Intervention Device” which is basically a heat ray that causes an unbearable burning sensation on its victim’s skin. The Long Range Acoustic Device, which emits painful noises in order to disperse crowds, has been seen at the London Olympics and G20 protests in Pittsburgh.

FICTION: A hacker captures visions from the “precog” Agatha’s mind and plays them for John Anderton.

REALITY CHECK: While still in its infancy, technology that seeks to translate human thoughts into computer actions is slowly becoming a reality. Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, and his research team have created primitive software capable of translating the thoughts of viewers into reconstructed visual images. A company named Emotiv is developing technology which will be capable of reading a user’s thoughts and using them as inputs for operating machinery, like voice recognition but with brain signals. Similar devices are being created to translate thoughts into speech.

FICTION: In Minority Report, tiny sensory-guided spider robots converge on John Anderton, scan his biometric data and feed it into a central government database.

REALITY CHECK: An agency with the Department of Defense is working on turning insects into living UAVs, or “cybugs.” By expanding upon the insects’ natural abilities (e.g., bees’ olfactory abilities being utilized for bomb detection, etc.), government agents hope to use these spy bugs to surreptitiously gather vast quantities of information. Researchers eventually hope to outfit June beetles with tiny backpacks complete with various detection devices, microphones, and cameras. These devices could be powered by the very energy produced by the bugs beating their wings, or the heat they give off while in flight. There have already been reported sightings of dragonfly-like robotic drones monitoring protesters aerially in Washington, DC, as early as 2007.

FICTION: In Minority Report, Anderton flees his pursuers in a car whose movements are tracked by the police through the use of onboard computers. All around him, autonomous, driver-less vehicles zip through the city, moving people to their destinations based upon simple voice commands.

REALITY CHECK: Congress is now requiring that all new cars come equipped with event data recorders that can record and transmit data from onboard computers. Similarly, insurance companies are offering discounts to drivers who agree to have tracking bugs installed. Google has also created self-driving cars which have already surpassed 300,000 miles of road testing. It is anticipated that self-driving cars could be on American roads within the next 20 years, if not sooner.

These are but a few of the technological devices now in the hands of those who control the corporate police state. Fiction, in essence, has become fact—albeit, a rather frightening one.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Watch: What This Google-Developed Robot Can Now Do May Have You Thinking ‘Terminator’

Science fiction projected on the big screen through the marvels of movie magic is quickly becoming science fact brought to the real world by developers and technicians at a Google-owned company in Massachusetts. And with the latest humanoid robot whose extraordinary capabilities have just been revealed by that company, Boston Dynamics, one’s thoughts might naturally turn to the “Terminator” movies, “I, Robot,” or “Blade Runner.”

In March of this year, Western Journalism reported on the video produced by Boston Dynamics that quickly went viral as viewers saw what they had never seen before — a futuristic, four-legged robot named Spot maneuvering through different environments that helped to challenge and prove the mechanical creature’s incredible functionality.

We noted that watching Spot do its thing had prompted a lot of viewers to say they were creeped out by this computer-controlled beastie. On Boston Dynamics’ YouTube channel, people left comments such as “robot apocalypse,” “robot overlords,” “modern weaponry,” and “then I imagined seeing them hunting in packs, and the creep factor went off the charts.”

Now, at a conference about advanced robotics, the founder of Boston Dynamics, Marc Raibert, has just made a presentation that’s once again turning heads and raising eyebrows.

“My goal is to build robots that rival humans and animals, or maybe even exceed humans and animals in their ability to move around in the world, manipulate things, perceive what’s around them,” Raibert told the conference attendees. As he shared a video showing the advancements the company has made in a 6-foot 2-inch humanoid robot called Atlas, Raibert noted: “This isn’t completely out in the world because of that power tether, but we’re working on a version that doesn’t have that.”

By clicking on the video above, you can watch a short portion of Raibert’s presentation to the Fab Lab Conference and Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. — a presentation in which Atlas can be seen walking over jagged rocks and running along a forest path.

h/t: Daily Mail

What do you think? Does this breakthrough technology concern you, or do you feel its potential to enhance the human experience outweighs any risks associated with humanoid robot development? Let us know in the comments section below. 

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

The 3 Biggest Winners And Losers Of The First Republican Debate. Many Won’t Want To Hear it…

Analyzing the winners and losers of Thursday night’s first 2016 Republican primary debate could take many different forms, but clearly one measure of a candidate winning is raising his or her profile in a positive way.

With that measure in mind, there were some clear winners and losers. First, it must be noted that Donald Trump came into the debate with all the momentum and the most to lose. How did he fare? By many measures, pretty well. Drudge Report ran an online, unscientific poll afterwards, with 38 percent voting for the billionaire candidate as the winner. Furthermore, the Washington Post noted that Trump outstripped the other candidates for the highest Google search interest by minute.

Was he a winner? In the sense that he did not suffer any candidacy-ending or crippling blows, one would have to say yes. Did he raise his profile further in a positive way? Not as much. His refusal to rule out a third party run certainly will not win him friends among the Republican faithful, as evidenced by the loud boos in the arena. The focus group conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz with voters afterwards revealed similar sentiment. Overall, Trump’s status probably remains unchanged in the Republican field.

Who were three of the clear winners last night?

Ted Cruz: The Texas senator’s answers regarding illegal immigration, ISIS, and ending Obama’s unlawful executive action (the last of which he incorporated in a powerful close) resonated well with the crowd and apparently across the nation. Cruz said, “If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama…” He went into the debate registering 5.5 percent in the Real Clear Average of polls and came out with 15.5 percent, saying he had won the debate in the Drudge survey.  He also received the highest Google search interest of any candidate overall.

Marco Rubio: The Florida senator delivered one of the best one-liners of the night: “Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.” Rubio also showed himself strong on a range of issues from business to social issues to foreign policy. He came into the night with similar support to Cruz at 5.3 percent; and according to Drudge, 10 percent thought he won. Again, Google shows him as one of the most searched candidates of the night.

Ben Carson: The good Dr. Carson appeared to start off slower, but had solid answers on race, foreign policy, and the sanctity of life. Lawyers are taught the power of primacy and recency for influencing a jury: those who are able to frame the argument and those who get to end it. On the latter, Carson delivered a powerful blow in his closing employing humor. He said: “Well, I haven’t said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I’m the only one to separate siamese twins…the only one to operate on babies while they were still in mother’s womb, the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think, if you go to Washington, that someone had beat me to it.” Carson scored 10 percent in the Drudge survey and received a strong Google search interest, peeking multiple times throughout the evening.

Image credit: The Washington Post

Image credit: The Washington Post

Who were three losers last night in the sense that they did not advance their candidacy?

Jeb Bush: The current GOP runner-up continued to struggle to answer whether the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq, and had a weak closing. Like Trump, he made no major errors, but had no memorable moments. The former governor of Florida did generate some solid interest online, but fared poorly in the online poll, coming in second from last at 2.5 percent.

Chris Christie: The bombastic governor of New Jersey had a difficult time defending his poor economic record in New Jersey, offering: “If you think it’s bad now, you should’ve seen it when I got there.” He came in last in the Drudge online poll, registering lower than his RCP average coming into the debate.

Rand Paul: Senator Rand Paul got into dust-ups with Donald Trump and Chris Christie that made him look more sour than a fighter. Despite his combativeness, he managed to garner the least time addressing the crowd of any of the candidates at 4 minutes and 51 seconds. However, he does have a faithful following and scored well in the Drudge poll, garnering 9.3 percent.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did not turn in a particularly strong performance, but delivered a line the audience loved: “Well first off, for the cyber attack with Russia the other day, it’s sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server than do the members of the United States Congress.”

Commendation must go out to Gov. Mike Huckabee, who offered up one of the most crowd-pleasing moments of the evening when he engaged in some misdirection, before delivering a wonderful punchline: “It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern. A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about…”(Watch the video above.)

Finally, Carly Fiorina may well be on her way to prime time after her performance last night in the early GOP debate. She continued the fun afterwards with this interview with Chris Matthews. Well done!

Who do you think won the debate? Take our poll and see the results for yourself!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

You Can’t Understand Just How Crazy America Has Gone Over Trump Until You See This Map

Google Trends recently examined its own data to determine which Republican candidate was the most searched – by county – as the party’s first primary debate approaches.

Judging from Donald Trump’s strong showing in virtually all recent polls, it might be little surprise that he is likewise dominating Google searches. Seeing the color-coded evidence of this trend, however, has in itself sparked even more conversation about the brash billionaire.

Certain pockets of the nation – specifically Scott Walker’s home turf in Wisconsin – buck the national trend while entire states, like Arizona, are dominated by Trump inquirers.

Since Google Trends shared the map, dozens of Twitter users have shared their thoughts.

Some think it contains vital information for the Republican Party…

…while others were concerned Trump’s unavoidable presence in the primary is skewing results.

At least one noted that, with Trump represented by red, the map resembled another decisive political map from recent American history.

Looking back to the results of last year’s Republican congressional takeover, the comparison appears valid.

Can Donald Trump maintain his primary lead? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Typing This Racist Term Into Google Takes You To The White House

Social media is lighting up due to a post by a Howard University alum who noticed when you type “Nigga House” into Google Maps, the result is the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

According to the Huffington Post, the screenshot was first posted on GroupMe and later tweeted by Bomani Buckhalter, a Howard University alumni.

Howard is located in Washington, DC and is an historically all-black university.

“It is location based, so [for] some of the students that are not currently in D.C., the search result was different. However, even if you’re not in D.C., ‘nigga house Washington D.C.’ shows the same result,” Buckhalter told the HuffPost.

The HuffPost noted dropping the “a” and spelling the racial slur with an “er” yields the same result.

The Daily Caller contacted Google regarding the racist and bizarre result. “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologize for any offense this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly.”

As of the writing of this article, the issue had not been corrected.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth