The makers of a "non-blinding" laser claims an unnamed UK police force is set to trial the weapon as a means of "controlling riots." According to the manufacturer -- who developed the weapon for use against pirates in Somalia -- the laser can "temporarily" blind its victims at 500m. It is meant to provide "an intimidating visual deterrent" because "If you can't look at something you can't attack it."
My friend Sulka, who brought this to my attention, has some informed speculation about what "non-blinding" might mean. He notes that the UK is a signatory on the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (I didn't know this existed, and I'm both glad and sad that it does), whose definition of blindness "is
where your eyesight goes worse than 20/200, meaning you can't see the
*largest* letter in a Snellen chart when looking at it with *both* eyes."
So that means that this weapon wouldn't run afoul of international law if it (merely) reduced your vision to the point where you were impaired but not legally blind, permanently.
Meanwhile, Twitter wags are already predicting a resurgence of mirrorshades among protesters, which means that everything the cyberpunks predicted in the mid-80s is finally coming true. I always thought that Anon was basically an analog to the Panther Moderns.
Police test for riot laser that can temporarily blind
(Image: Redfest reject, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from gwdexter's photostream)
(Image: London riot police, November 2010, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from hozinja's photostream)
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