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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 07 2017, @12:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the another-brick-in-the-wall dept.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, who left Facebook in March, wants to build a wall... with LIDAR sensors:

Palmer Freeman Luckey was the kind of wunderkind Silicon Valley venerates. When he was just 21, he made an overnight fortune selling his start-up, a company called Oculus VR that made virtual-reality gear, to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.

But the success story took a sideways turn this year when Mr. Luckey was pressured to leave Facebook months after news spread that he had secretly donated to an organization dedicated to spreading anti-Hillary Clinton internet memes.

[...] And he has a new start-up in the works, a company that is developing surveillance technology that could be deployed on borders between countries and around military bases, according to three people familiar with the plan who asked for anonymity because it's still confidential. They said the investment fund run by Peter Thiel, a technology adviser to Mr. Trump, planned to support the effort.

In an emailed statement, Mr. Luckey confirmed that he was working on a defense-related start-up. "We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades," he wrote. "We need a new kind of defense company, one that will save taxpayer dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safer."

Also at BBC, CNET, Boing Boing, PCMag, and Engadget.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by terrab0t on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:02AM (12 children)

    by terrab0t (4674) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:02AM (#521706)

    The first thing I looked for when I saw this story shared elsewhere was some detail on the technology. I read the entire article and a source it linked and found nothing.

    All I found were extensive back stories and gossip about the company’s founder. He supports US President Donald Trump and on the internet only a diabolical villain would do such a thing so he is now another ongoing villain story and everything he does is either evil or ridiculous.

    The technology sounds interesting, but there is no technology story here yet. We have no details. This is nothing but another villain story used to get attention. It’s rage bait.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by fyngyrz on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:37AM (2 children)

    by fyngyrz (6567) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:37AM (#521720) Journal

    If they actually want to solve this, I don't know why they just don't loft a high-resolution geostationary satellite or several, if need be, with image subtraction, visible and IR, and set up a monitoring center that directs a few teams here and there. I've done this kind of software; it's incredibly good at catching movement. Add some neural nets, bing, no one gets by. The border is long, but it's very narrow - you can pack a lot of linear imaging into one (admittedly complex) lens system and sensor.

    If crossing means you're going to get caught 100% of the time, people will stop trying to cross. At a fraction of the cost.

    Oh. Wait.

    Building a wall will funnel huge amounts of money to cronies, it won't stop border crossers, the border "guards" get to keep their phony-balony jobs...

    Yeah, I get it now. They're not actually trying to address the issue. It's just more pork. Never mind.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:40PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:40PM (#521919)

      "long but very narrow" - doesn't it now extend 100 miles into the USA?

      • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:09PM

        by fyngyrz (6567) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:09PM (#521947) Journal

        That's the extend of the zone within which the feds have declared they can ignore the 4th amendment. But it's not the actual border. Crossing the actual border is the trigger for this issue.

  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:52AM (7 children)

    by edIII (791) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:52AM (#521750)

    Rage bait maybe, but the tech already exists. I'm a huge proponent of secured borders for the U.S, but a wall is impossible. I have a really long comment somewhere else where I broke it down, but there are 9 different borders for the U.S including physical and cyberspace as well as space space. All 9 need to be addressed simultaneously.

    Environmental concerns alone negate a physical wall, and some practical issues like rivers and existing homes make a wall super impractical. Sensors are the only way to go that solve all those issues. Once you have that, then it is purely an issue of personnel and response times. Ideally, border information would be shared, so both Canada and Mexico will know at the same time that somebody from their country was attempting to cross a border, and THEY can also respond.

    There was a guy who had a TED talk about his squirrel turret. It was able to tell the difference between a pigeon and a squirrel, and only shoot the squirrel with a high pressured stream of water. That was only from a camera image. The U.S border could have audio, video in several spectrums, IR, LIDAR, sonar, radar, satellite, seismic, chemical, etc. Their processing could be orders of magnitude more powerful, and the algorithms would beat these squirrel turrets for accurately identifying targets.

    Add transport and medical drones capable of 13k ft and a couple hundred MPH, and anyone at the border will either not be happy with two soldiers being deployed near them, or fairly happy that an EMT is now on site. I'm betting the soldiers are deployed instead. That, and I know that some places on the border are used for U.S sniper training. No reason that snipers wouldn't be deployed into problem areas.

    The real problem with discussing border security is that it gets so political, so very quickly. Almost impossible to discuss it, without also discussing illegal immigration, and I think that is sad and hurtful to America. We're less safe, and not better off as a people.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @04:32AM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @04:32AM (#521760)

      So I'm riding my bike om Boundary Rd, in Whatcom County, Washington. You&re telling me that your tech would be able to signal ICE were I to get off my bike, quite literally jump across the ditch to the road just north of the ditch, and jump back into Washington, and to come arrest me for that illegal border crossong?
      What uf I'm up hiking in North Cascades National Park, say, by Boundary Peak, and happen to do the same? We going to put a surveillance box at at north terminus of Pacific Crest Trail to take pics of people who continue on north into BC (nearest road is in BC) so you can bust them when they come back into US?
      Jeaus what a fucking zombie paranoid freakzone we're becoming.
      the "illegals"? we cant even deal with all the illegal shit us legitimate people do. Jyst look at our President...

      • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday June 07 2017, @05:31AM (5 children)

        by edIII (791) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @05:31AM (#521774)

        There are some exception areas, but I did not list them. What you said is nothing. There is a town on the U.S-Canadian border where the border literally goes through some books in a library. How the fuck do you handle that with sensors? The answer is you don't It's a special area, a small town, and you can handle it much differently. Plus, whoever comes in will be known by their library card otherwise they ain't getting in ;) That you can leave up to that town on how to handle, and all the government may do is simply watch the roads in and out around that town and record sensor data. Obviously not performing a military intercept of granny delivering chicken soup on the road.

        We also get to benefit from the security of Canada and Mexico. They look for terrorists too. It's not like it's Syria right next door. Security is cumulative, and that is defense in depth. Which is why, sensor data is shared. Plus, Canada is part of the Five Eyes. So both Canada and the U.S have you by the short and fucking curlies with pervasive and comprehensive mass surveillance. Reality check. The government can just ask Verizon where your ass is, and where they (the marketing research dept) think it will be. It's never as simple as fly in, cross the border, and then scream your falafel. Every 9/11 terrorist got into the U.S legally and trained for months.

        Plus, the border can be sized appropriately, and is not necessarily as thick as a wall. The sensors could extend out for 5-10 miles in all directions. Parks that you mention could just have a very nice walkway with two paths side by side to let people know where the border is, and to perhaps better enjoy the park. There is nuance and degrees of response. Let people do what they want, and if they cross the path, walk up to a kiosk, or just be on the way to one, and the system lets you do it. Some dude in a little photo booth can waive hi while you wave your smartphone at him and your passport is verified on a blockchain while the biometric cameras that see in the dark check out your face. No ball groping required. It can be treated as simple as a line on the ground. You jumping across it back and forth don't mean shit. The system knows what you are doing and will only care once you stay on the other side and keep moving inward. It's not a laser field that instantly dispatches the hounds.

        The War on Drugs is fucking over. What do we need to worry about from Canada? The scourge of smuggled poutine and cheap pharma pills? Same with Mexico. Other than people, just what do we need to be concerned about? Cheaper parts and economic competition? That's more likely than a real threat to national security.

        The system could be programmed to recognize distress and act accordingly. People in the forest having an issue just need to get to the border to be guaranteed a way to communicate to rescuers. Perhaps there would even be environmental monitoring of sharing of data for scientific purposes to better steward the environment. Our borders already cause ecological damage in some areas. Removing them and going to pure sensor data is environmentally sound.

        Lastly, there is a Native American Indian tribe that will be handling border security. Period. They've never budged on that, and they consider themselves stewards of the land. John McCain has said how hard it is to deal with them and border security. I don't think they would begrudge us some sensor poles that don't harm the land, and don't stop their people from moving back and forth across the border. That's not unreasonable or impossible to allow them to do it.

        If we are going to have border security, let's not fuck around, and have actual levels of security. Not security theater, but real layered security. You're right about one thing. The border is relatively quiet, which means the current level of Border Patrol is just fine. Especially when they know there is no way to move without being seen. Nothing can hide. That is an effective deterrent and I look forward to seeing the technological responses to it :)

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:35PM (1 child)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @02:35PM (#521914)

          You have a point in that the vast majority of the US-Mexico border is pretty desolate scrubland with minimal appeal and could be efficiently "patrolled" electronically. In fact you'd have to do the same thing with a wall anyway, since ladders exist. (Yeah, you can't drive across a wall so well, but cross-border coordination by human traffickers is trivial)

          Parks, etc - not so much. Detecting a border breach is useless unless you can also intercept the trespasser, which is pretty much impossible in a potentially crowded area, it's just too easy to blend in with the crowd. Unless the whole area is contained with "border checkpoints" etc, in which case you haven't so much eliminated the wall, as included a courtyard within it.

          As for the Natives not begrudging some sensor poles, I'm not so sure. I could see some really pointed objections to having a bunch of surveillance equipment installed in their front yard. Though if the equipment were entirely under their control (and you could convince them of that), it might indeed be a viable option.

          • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday June 07 2017, @08:23PM

            by edIII (791) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @08:23PM (#522192)

            You have a point in that the vast majority of the US-Mexico border is pretty desolate scrubland with minimal appeal and could be efficiently "patrolled" electronically. In fact you'd have to do the same thing with a wall anyway, since ladders exist. (Yeah, you can't drive across a wall so well, but cross-border coordination by human traffickers is trivial)

            The idea is a strong military response to human traffickers. If the sensors are good enough, you would detect that many people moving in a group across a stretch of the border. Single people moving across you can still respond to in the same fashion, but I doubt that they would. Not when the U.S might have a 5-10 minute response time, and it is military.

            Parks, etc - not so much. Detecting a border breach is useless unless you can also intercept the trespasser, which is pretty much impossible in a potentially crowded area, it's just too easy to blend in with the crowd. Unless the whole area is contained with "border checkpoints" etc, in which case you haven't so much eliminated the wall, as included a courtyard within it.

            I don't think it's impossible. The kind of sensor technology I'm talking about can track individual people within a crowd. Yes, the whole are is pretty much a courtyard, and the wall is largely eliminated. There is no wall. At most there would be sidewalks, paths, railings, and more or less infrastructure to support pedestrian use.

            If the system is tracking people, and it cannot identify someone, and they move outside of the courtyard before checking in, that's when personnel are dispatched to process them. Meaning, they can be nice about it. However, it would be a crime to leave this "DMZ" so to speak without being processed. I think most people will be processed just fine, perhaps even in an automated fashion for people that move back and forth often.

            It's not a wall. It's a sensor grid that people and objects move across. We can design special areas like courtyards to process them efficiently, ports to process goods, and then designate other areas as do-not-pass-unless-you-want-the-Area-51 treatment. Where people currently drive across is already sufficient to process with sensors and could get an efficiency boost. My idea is to create a path of least resistance. If the checkpoints are nice and easy, law abiding citizens will use them. If the ports are quick and efficient, then businesses will not complain. At that point, you can start treating unexpected border crossings as military incursions. Which brings up something I find funny, and that is that so many people on the far right in the U.S are convinced Mexicans come in daily in hordes, while the truth is that Mexican immigration has been going the over way. America became a very difficult and toxic placed to be after the Great Depression II: The Fuckening. 10 years of great hardship has solved the immigration problem for everyone except the people that need there to be an immigration problem. You know, for reasons. My own personal belief is that those 11 million illegal immigrants that are here, are in fact Americans. It was our failure to recognize it, and if I interpret the American spirit and soul the way that I do, those people have already suffered enough exploitation and been fucked deeply to the point they really are just like every other American. Fucked :)

            As for the Natives not begrudging some sensor poles, I'm not so sure. I could see some really pointed objections to having a bunch of surveillance equipment installed in their front yard. Though if the equipment were entirely under their control (and you could convince them of that), it might indeed be a viable option.

            They absolutely have control over it. The whole idea is to also aid in proper stewardship of the environment, and to share data. Mexico and Canada both benefit from the sensor technology as their border security is more or less integrated with ours at that point. The Native American Indians have access to the sensor data, as they are a recognized sovereign territory by U.S treaty. I'm perfectly fine with them protecting their lands and using their own personnel to do it. Obviously military intercepts will not happen on their territory, but you can see their territory as one big courtyard from the Mexican/U.S government point of view.

            Security is cumulative and works best in depth. Canada is fairly secure (maybe more so than the U.S), and I don't think Mexico is a 3rd world country or anything. The problems there largely stem from the U.S War on Drugs anyways. I'm comfortable with the security that they both provide, and are more worried about the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans being used to access us.

            Ohhhh, this gets rid of the Constitutional Free zones too. The border is greatly reduced in size legally and the sensor data largely becomes public. If you stay 5 miles away from any border or checkpoint, you are not being scanned.

            --
            Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:11PM (#521948)

          You missed the point. The US has become a paranoid country ruled by fear. Gone are the days of freedom, and things like this are trying to stop the symptoms instead of curing the disease. More reactionary imperialism is not the answer. Can it be done? Yes. Will it stop illegals? Somewhat. Is it worth it? No.

          But hey, you can manipulate 20-40% of the US public almost entirely through this one issue, and that is the real point.

        • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:48PM (1 child)

          by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @03:48PM (#521982) Journal

          The War on Drugs is fucking over. What do we need to worry about from Canada? The scourge of smuggled poutine and cheap pharma pills? Same with Mexico. Other than people, just what do we need to be concerned about? Cheaper parts and economic competition? That's more likely than a real threat to national security.

          The 1% and global elites thank you, because that's exactly what they want. They and their massive wealth can freely move, they can freely move production facilities from country to country chasing cheap labor and keep the products and profits flowing, while screwing over the serfs working for them because some fucking chunk of plastic has more rights and freedom of movement than the human beings producing it.

          • (Score: 2) by edIII on Wednesday June 07 2017, @06:16PM

            by edIII (791) on Wednesday June 07 2017, @06:16PM (#522110)

            Uh, huh. Not so fast.

            This is why I don't like talking about border security, because the conversation instantly gets fucked with border usage. Immigration and trade tariffs are separate issues. I have the opinion, that if everyone coming into the country were tracked and given a visa of some kind, then it would be impossible to have cheap illegal labor. Meaning, that our guests could not be abused in such a fashion. I'm also of the opinion to open up immigration and the quotas more to allow people to move back and forth more, not less. I don't care if they come here, I actually want them to come here, and I don't want them abused. How do you have illegal labor when that illegal isn't illegal, can stand up and give them the finger, and is legally entitled to find work and pay taxes? As it stands right now, they are the perfect abused work force that creates pressure from below the American worker that reduces wages overall. You're wrong. The elites cannot chase cheap labor with the border I'm proposing, and that more freedom and movement and rights exist for people, not less.

            That's all that it is. Proper competition. With a border like I am talking about, everything that matters is redirected towards choke points. Goods will be funneled towards ports that have the staffing and technology to be analyzed and have tariffs assessed. Tariffs only need to be designed to bring all goods and services within reasonable competition of local goods and services. How do they elites go from country to country fucking it up when they bring back a widget and find that it is instantly assessed tariffs designed to bring it to 101% of the local cost? We still have competition, and local manufacturers are not competing with the business environments found elsewhere in the world. It doesn't matter what the elites do with outside goods, as long as local manufacturers and mom and pop businesses are healthy again. 11 million illegals are not killing our economy and way of life, but the elites ARE. One is a bigger threat.

            As for the security, it's not draconian or anything. If you want to cross the border you will see signs telling you to check-in at a checkpoint, or will direct you to a safe place to cross the border. Anybody trying to cross the border surreptitiously at a "deserted" area, probably either needs help, or a military intercept. There are plenty of safe and nice places to cross the border. Everywhere else can get a military response, and should. Which is not to imply an ass-whooping by overzealous Border Patrol, but a quick and decisive intercept of who and whatever it is that is crossing outside of the approved areas. Since I envision a border capable of checking people in with the appropriate technology anyways, and immigration from Mexico is in actuality going the other way, border crossings that need to be investigated are greatly lessened.

            The border I speak of is to provide security and assessment of tariffs, so you're wrong about who would say thank you.

            --
            Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @09:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07 2017, @09:16AM (#521818)

    Helping Carmack defect and taking proprietary information from Bethesda/Zenimax to improve their financial bargaining with Facebook during the buyout?

    Crooks beget crooks and all that.

    Far more successful crook than Carmack was at 2x his age btw.