Is it really possible to identify, and calculate the severity, of potential military treats by using algorithms and open source data? The US Navy seem to think so. Moreover, the Navy wants you – researchers, coders and other creative computer geeks – to help them write this software.
“ We want to do business with educational institutions, nonprofit and for-profit organizations with ground-breaking ideas, pioneering scientific research and novel technology developments.”
It was actually the tech pros over at wired.com that put me on to the Office of Naval Research and their ongoing activities. I’ll tell you, these guys have some amazing projects underway! DNA-computers, broadband connected helmets with the ability to communicate directly with a soldiers brain, radio frequencies that can do several things at once, mathematical models (algorithms) that not only can predict human behaviour but also influence people.
It is one of three main areas of research at the moment; to put together a network of different sensors (thermometers, microphones. webcams, you-name-it) connected to one powerful supercomputer who is able to calculate and predict whatever the US Navy wants to know.
“Better algorithms that can enable the development of “key technologies that will enable rapid, accurate decision-making by autonomous processes in complex, time varying highly dynamic environments that are probed with heterogeneous sensors and supported by open source data,” according to a new call for research papers from the Office of Naval Research.
One of its new special program announcements for 2013 identifies software algorithms as a major point of concern: It wants more robust logic tools play nicely across hardware and software platforms, pre-assembling a mosaic of threats.
One subset of that research is called Sensor Management and Allocation. Its goal: to “optimally task and re-task large sensors networks [sic] based on current picture and sensor availability to understand the battle space and maintain dynamic persistent surveillance.”
A related effort, called Automated Image Understanding, gets more explicit. It’s about “detection and tracking of objects on water or in urban areas and inferring the threat level they may pose” — sharply enough that the algorithm should be able to pick out “partially occluded objects in urban clutter.”
All this in real-time, of course.
Notice that the Navy isn’t talking about developing new hardware that can automatically spot the dangerous, partially concealed things in water or in urban areas. It’s got that stuff already, and on deck. The new algorithms are about making all of that gear much, much smarter, and more deeply integrated — or, at least, it might, if defense hardware manufacturers’ software weren’t proprietary, wired.com notes.
Technically speaking, the challenge here is to figure out how to represent distant objects caught within a field of vision as threatening; calculating the degree of threat; and weighting those threats when integrating them with either different images or images of the same field at an earlier time. Narrow your field too finely and you’ll miss threats; widen it too much and you’ll be awash in information.
The Navy, however, also want algorithms that calculates the level of uncertainty.
“If the process is to be automated and timely relative to a mission, then algorithms must be implemented that can sense, interpret, reason and successfully act in an open world with uncertain, incomplete, imprecise, and contradictory data.”
What’s So Great About DNA Computing?
It’s another main research are of the US Navy, and I can assure you that this is not just another fancy toy.
That’s right. It means implementing human (organic) materials into a computer chip.
The original idea of DNA computing was to find a more effective way to solve NP-hard problems., (NP-hard problems may be of any type: decision problems, search problems, or optimizational), because a DNA-based microchip is able to handle many more processes at the same time, compared to the traditional silicon chip.
And with those heavy algorithms the US Navy are imagining, they probably need one.
But there’s more. The Navy is particularly interested in “DNA-Based Molecular-Scale Nanofabrication.”
By combining DNA computing with nanotechnology it is probably possible to manipulate or change human DNA of living people, according to research.
“The program seeks to exploit the extraordinary combination of resolution, throughput and flexibility of DNA nanotechnology to build functional electronic and computational devices and systems.”
Now, we’re talking!
The last, but not least, important task for the US Navy is to develop a new high-tech helmet, with a built-in broadband connection and the ability to interact with soldiers, through images, audio and even remotely change the mindset, the mood and the body chemistry of those who wear it.
I better explain:
According to the Office for Naval Research the intention behind developing a new helmet made of something called polymer is to reduce the number of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) during combat.
The research concentration areas are described as:
- Theory, molecular simulation, computer-aided materials design
- Polymer synthesis, polymer formulation and characterization
- Dynamic mechanical analysis and other characterization methods of polymer dynamics
- High-rate loading, constitutive modeling of the polymer, nonlinear dynamic simulation of the multi-system (helmet/elastomer/head) and shock tube testing
But Polymer is a very interesting material. Among other capabilities it can store information.
Ploymer can also be used to make optoelectrical devices, such as light-emitting diodes, transistors, molecular switches, photovoltaic cells, chemical and biological sensors, and large-area flexible displays, and so on….
Connect this helmet to the DNA computers, running the super-algorithms, and you got………..an intelligent but very ugly hat, making you look unpredictable stupid.
As said before: Artificial intelligence is no match for human stupidity.
- Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology
- Basic Research Challenge (BRC) Program
Related by the econoTwist’s:
- Espen G. Haug: Algorithms Should Be Monitored On A Daily Basis
- “Artificial Intelligence” To Be Implemented In HFT
- May 6. 2010: “The Black Thursday”
- Internet Nuke Bomb Ready To Blow
- Navy Wants You to Write Algorithms That Automatically ID Threats (wired.com)
- DNA transistors pave way for living computers (newscientist.com)
- ‘Robo-reporter’ computer program raises questions about future of journalists (vancouversun.com)
- Biological computer created with human DNA (digitalcollaboration.wordpress.com)