Dismantling of Saudi-CIA Web site illustrates need for clearer cyberwar policies

From The Washington Post:

By early 2008, top U.S. military officials had become convinced that extremists planning attacks on American forces in Iraq were making use of a Web site set up by the Saudi government and the CIA to uncover terrorist plots in the kingdom.

“We knew we were going to be forced to shut this thing down,” recalled one former civilian official, describing tense internal discussions in which military commanders argued that the site was putting Americans at risk. “CIA resented that,” the former official said.

Elite U.S. military computer specialists, over the objections of the CIA, mounted a cyberattack that dismantled the online forum. Although some Saudi officials had been informed in advance about the Pentagon’s plan, several key princes were “absolutely furious” at the loss of an intelligence-gathering tool, according to another former U.S. official.

Four former senior U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified operations, said the creation and shutting down of the site illustrate the need for clearer policies governing cyberwar. The use of computers to gather intelligence or to disrupt the enemy presents complex questions: When is a cyberattack outside the theater of war allowed? Is taking out an extremist Web site a covert operation or a traditional military activity? Should Congress be informed?

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UK starts study on using human DNA in animals

From The Guardian (U.K.):

British scientists begin a new study on Tuesday to consider how human DNA is used in animal experiments and to determine what the boundaries of such controversial science might be.

Though experts have been swapping human and animal DNA for years – like replacing animal genes with human genes or growing human organs in animals – scientists at the Academy of Medical Sciences want to make sure the public is aware of what is happening in laboratories before proceeding further.

“It sounds yucky, but it may be well worth doing if it’s going to lead to a cure for something horrible,” said Robin Lovell-Badge, a stem cell expert at Britain’s National Institute for Medical Research, and a member of the group conducting the study.

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Video: Army’s Robot-Man Walks Like the Real Thing

From Wired.com:

The makers of the eerily lifelike robotic mule have a new creation: a machine that walks around like a real human being. Boston Dynamics is building the “Petman” prototype for the U.S. Army, to test out protective clothing.

“Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents,” the company promises. “Petman will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions. ”

Like Boston Dynamics’ BigDog robo-mule, Petman stays upright, even when it’s shoved. And the thing walks heel-to-toe at 3.2 miles per hour, just like a flesh-and-blood person. Petman may be just one of a number of attempts by robot-makers to build a simulated set of biped legs. But I haven’t seen one that gets closer to the real deal.

Hitachi Develops RFID Powder

This is scary. At some point there will be no way of knowing whether or not you have some type of RFID tracking chip (or multiple chips) on (or in) you, or your clothing or any other item you may have on your person.

From Federal Jack:

(WholeTruthCoalition)   RFID keeps getting smaller. On February 13, Hitachi unveiled a tiny, new “powder” type RFID chip measuring 0.05 x 0.05 mm — the smallest yet — which they aim to begin marketing in 2 to 3 years.

Posted by: Andrew Cheetham in Big Brother, Science and Technology

RFID keeps getting smaller. On February 13, Hitachi unveiled a tiny, new “powder” type RFID chip measuring 0.05 x 0.05 mm — the smallest yet — which they aim to begin marketing in 2 to 3 years.

By relying on semiconductor miniaturization technology and using electron beams to write data on the chip substrates, Hitachi was able to create RFID chips 64 times smaller than their currently available 0.4 x 0.4 mm mu-chips. Like mu-chips, which have been used as an anti-counterfeit measure in admission tickets, the new chips have a 128-bit ROM for storing a unique 38-digit ID number.

The new chips are also 9 times smaller than the prototype chips Hitachi unveiled last year, which measure 0.15 x 0.15 mm.

At 5 microns thick, the RFID chips can more easily be embedded in sheets of paper, meaning they can be used in paper currency, gift certificates and identification. But since existing tags are already small enough to embed in paper, it leads one to wonder what new applications the developers have in mind.

Original Link

Fuji Sankei

http://www.hitachi.co.jp/Prod/mu-chip/

Electronic Numbering of Products and Documents using the “µ-chip” (or mu-chip) supported by a Networked Database unleashes new Business and Life Style Applications that facilitate innovative Manufacturing, Distribution, Consumption, Tracking and Recycling operations.
Concept
The RFID, wireless semiconductor integrated circuit that stores an ID number in its memory, was proposed about a decade ago as an alternative to the barcode. Its use, however, has so far been limited to a few applications where its advantages offset its relatively high cost.
chip

*Size compared to a grain of rice
The µ-chip is Hitachi’s response to resolving some of the issues associated with conventional RFID technology. The µ-chip uses the frequency of 2.45GHz. It has a 128-bit ROM for storing the ID with no write-read and no anti-collision capabilities. Its unique ID numbers can be used to individually identify trillions of trillions of objects with no duplication. Moreover with a size of 0.4mm square, the µ-chip is small enough to be attached to a variety of minute objects including embedding in paper.
Manufacturing, distribution and tracking systems can be built or enhanced using the µ-chip with an event-driven accumulation of, and on-demand access to, information stored in a database through the network. By coupling this database with the versatility of the µ-chip new business and life styles applications can now be brought to reality. These new applications allow manufacturing, commerce and recycling processes to be operated in a way that has not been possible before.
Sample

*Size compared to a human fingertip

µ-chip

Awakening Paralyzed Limbs: Brain signals can drive arm movement in a monkey with a paralyzed arm.

From Technology Review:

A monkey with a paralyzed arm can still grasp a ball, thanks to a novel system designed to translate brain signals into complex muscle movements in real time. The research, presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago this week, could one day allow people with spinal cord injury to control their own limbs.

“This is a big leap forward–they show the monkey using the ability to artificially contract his hand to actually pick up a ball,” says Krishna Shenoy, a neuroscientist at Stanford University. “I think it’s the first demonstration of a cortically controlled electrical stimulation system performing a task that would ultimately be useful for a human patient.”

While spinal cord injury keeps the brain’s electrical signals from reaching muscles, people paralyzed by these injuries often have intact nerves and muscles in their limbs. A technique called functional electrical stimulation (FES), in which implanted electrodes deliver electrical current to trigger muscle contractions, provides a way to reconnect this loop.

Devices that can restore hand function and bladder control to some paralyzed patients have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Patients use residual muscle movement to consciously control these systems–a system that works well for some applications but limits the complexity of the movement that can be performed. For example, an FES device allows people to shrug a shoulder to trigger a grasping motion with their hand, but they cannot control how tightly to grasp..

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Sequoia Voting Systems Source Code Released

From Slashdot:

Mokurai sends a heads-up about Sequoia Voting Systems, which seems to have inadvertently released the SQL code for its voting databases. The existence of such code appears to violate Federal voting law:

“Sequoia blew it on a public records response. … They appear… to have just vandalized the data as valid databases by stripping the MS-SQL header data off, assuming that would stop us cold. They were wrong. The Linux ‘strings’ command was able to peel it apart. Nedit was able to digest 800-MB text files. What was revealed was thousands of lines of MS-SQL source code that appears to control or at least influence the logical flow of the election, in violation of a bunch of clauses in the FEC voting system rulebook banning interpreted code, machine modified code and mandating hash checks of voting system code.”

The code is all available for study or download, “the first time the innards of a US voting system can be downloaded and discussed publicly with no NDAs or court-ordered secrecy,” notes Jim March of the Election Defense Alliance. Dig in and analyze.

Bad memories written with lasers

From The BBC:

Laser-controlled flies may be the latest addition to the neuroscientist’s tool kit, thanks to a new technique.

Researchers have devised a way to write memories onto the brains of flies, revealing which brain cells are involved in making bad memories.

The researchers said that in flies just 12 brain cells were responsible for what is known as “associative learning”.

They describe their findings in the journal Cell.

Associative memories are made when an animal learns to link a cue to a particular outcome. It might for example learn that a certain odour is a sign that a predator is nearby.

“So the appearance of that odour predicts that something bad is going to happen,” explained Gero Miesenbock from the University of Oxford, UK, who led this study.

Previous research had already identified that the brain cells or neurons responsible for this type of learning are those that produce dopamine. This is a chemical which acts as a signal that can be transmitted from cell to cell in the brain.

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