Dystopia watch: a roundup of the DOD's new less-lethal weapons

There's the "Laser-Induced Plasma Effect" (one laser dislodges atmospheric electrons and spins up plasma; a second blows up the ionizing gas "to release an ear-splitting burst of sound energy"); there's the "Variable Kinetic System" that "fires 180 rounds of micro-­pulverized burning irritant (or stink bombs or inky liquid)" and there's the "Pre-Emplaced Electric Vehicle Stopper" ("emits high-voltage pulses that disrupt the vehicle’s engine"). Read the rest

US military unveils experimental HERF gun that can immobilize cars, boats

The Defense Department’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program has demonstrated the Radio Frequency Vehicle Stopper, an experimental "direct energy weapon" that causes car and boats' electronic engine control units to enter into an endless cycle of rebooting, immobilizing the vehicles until the weapon is switched off. Read the rest

Pentagon mass surveillance slurped up the world's social media traffic; then they dumped it on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server

The Upguard Cyber Risk Team has found three Department of Defense mass-storage "buckets" on Amazon that are world-viewable, containing 1.8 billion of social media posts that the DoD scraped from social media over 8 years as part of its global surveillance program. Read the rest

Pentagon's nuclear missile system is run on 1970s floppy disk tech

In a new report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reveals that the "Department of Defense uses 8- inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces." That floppy format was developed in the late 1960s and was obsolete by the 1980s. I wonder if the DoD saves a few bucks by using a hole punch to make them double sided.

According to the GAO report, "The agency plans to update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017."

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems (PDF) Read the rest

Facebook manipulation experiment has connections to DoD "emotional contagion" research

Here's a new wrinkle on the massive emotion-manipulation study that Facebook conducted in concert with researchers from Cornell and UCSF: one of its researchers is funded under a US Department of Defense program to study "emotional contagion" and civil unrest. Read the rest