Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #168
June 24th, 2007

Iris Scanning, Now at JFK

In May, I gave up my fingerprints and a scan of my irises and joined a program called Clear at the ­British Airways terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, thus becoming one of the first “registered travelers.” The registered-traveler program is based on a set of standards, issued by the U.S. government, that’s meant to speed “safe” passengers through airport security checks.
[But what about privacy implications? Read the whole article.]
Source: Bryant Urstadt, Technology Review, June/July 2007

US and allies lay global foundation for biometric border checks

The UK has proposed a transatlantic arrangement for sharing biometric data about travellers as US coalition countries in the “war on terror” push for a global system to control migration. The initiative officially lays the first brick in a concerted effort to establish a common border.
Source: Mark Ballard, The Register, June 18, 2007

What’s in a Laptop? Court Ponders Legality of Border Searches

Is your laptop a fancy piece of luggage or an extension of your mind? That’s the central question facing a federal appeals court in a case that could sharply limit the government’s ability to snoop into laptop computers carried across the border by American citizens. The question, before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arose from the prosecution of Michael Timothy Arnold, an American citizen whose laptop was randomly searched in July 2005 at Los Angeles International Airport as he returned from a three-week trip to the Philippines.
Source: Ryan Singel, Wired News, June 20, 2007

Israeli futurologist predicts terror horror

Western nations have less than 20 years to prepare for the next generation of terror threats, according to Dr Yair Sharan, director of Tel Aviv University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting. These could consist of suicide bombers remote-controlled by brain-chip implants and carrying nano-technology cluster bombs, or biological compounds for which there is no antidote.
Source: Mark Ballard, The Register, June 21, 2007

Saying it with rooftops

GeoGreeting is a free site that allows users to send any electronic message to their friends, loved ones, or casual acquaintances. But the message comes across in a unique way—spelled out with the images of the tops of buildings (or other landmarks) shaped like letters. The message also shows where each building is located, be it in downtown Minneapolis or Hainburg, Austria. Part geography lesson and part novelty Web site, Vig’s creation has been popular beyond his imagination. Since it was launched in November of 2006, GeoGreeting has had more than 800,000 visits from users all around the world.
Source: Rick Moore, University of Minnesota News, May 25, 2007

Human-Aided Computing

Despite all the power of computers, they are still lousy at certain simple tasks, such as recognizing faces and knowing the difference between a table and a cow. Now researchers at Microsoft are trying to tap into some of the specialized–and often subconscious–computing power in the human brain, and use it to solve problems that have so far been intractable for machines. Desney Tan, a researcher at Microsoft Research, and Pradeep Shenoy, a graduate student at the University of Washington, have devised a scheme that uses electro-encephalograph (EEG) caps to collect the brain activity of people looking at pictures of faces and nonfaces, such as horses, cars, and landscapes.
Source: Kate Greene, Technology Review, June 22, 2007

The DIY Guide to Becoming a (Real) Cyborg

[Note: This is a very well documented — and quite long — article on how you can transform yourself into a cyborg. This long post contains 10 different categories, starting with RFID implants. And this is not the future. This is today…]
Source: Free Geekery blog, June 21, 2007

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