Open Source Automated Sentry Guns

Anyone who every played Half Life can agree that these autonomous sentry guns are both cool and very scary.  It is also cool and scary to know that Project Sentry Gun has plans, software and instructions on how to make your own device available for free.  Yes, all the turrets are for paintballs and airsoft guns, but it wouldn’t take much of a tinker to convert them to real, scary guns. It wouldn’t take much of a prison budget shortfall to configure these to create ‘no mans lands’ around prisons, rather than using human guards.

The wistful voice of the turret in the demo video does not help to reduce the creepiness at all.

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Robot Prison Guards

Any science fiction fan can see all kinds of potential dystopian downsides to this sort of application. That said, things like this are inevitable with increased automation.

Being somewhat uncomfortable with incarcerating ever-growing percentages of the population, I am inclined to wish that our societies would find other ways to reduce the cost of prisons. However, these guards aren’t likely to be bribed or to smuggle any weapons into the prison, which is probably a good thing.

The robots in the video are fairly benign. Six generations down the line is where I will get concerned – nobody needs a robot gun turret guarding anything without some serious dangers arising.

via Extremetech

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Surveillance System Scans 36 Million Faces/Second

I can think of lots of reasons not to like this technology. I can also think of plenty of reasons it will come to pass.

So from an SF point of view, what does the almost inevitable creation of ubiquitous, alert surveillance mean for society?  Currently we see the practice of dissent happening in a ‘hiding in plain sight’ use of social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.)  Part of the ability to organize this way lies in the sheer volume of media, which limits a potential oppressor’s ability to parse the data stream.  That is largely a function of processing power and software, both of which are getting better all the time.

So what will it mean when vast data engines parse everything we do, write or say for more than just advertising?  So far much of the ubiquitous surveillance happens online, and what we do ‘in reality’ is still somewhat private.  Technology like the above suggests that will change, and soon.

via ITworld and Geekosystem.

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Multimodal Hexapod Robot

This hexapod robot is somewhat alarming while also being very cool and exciting.  There are so many interesting developments in robotics these days that I suspect our lives are on the brink of being changed (even more) dramatically.  Hopefully in a good way.

via Geekologie

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Gamma: Creepy SF short film

Kudos to io9 for finding the very cool and very creepy SF short film Gamma, filmed in the ruins of Chernobyl.

I particularly like the narrative style, using a survivor interview without being too cute about it.  SF is always best when it is up to the audience to fill in the backstory.

GAMMA from Factory Fifteen on Vimeo.

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