Category Archives: AI Robotics

India developing robotic soldiers

terminator

samaylive.com | Jun 9, 2013

With futuristic warfare in mind, India is working to develop robotic soldiers as part of efforts to boost unmanned fighting capabilities, joining a select group of countries in this endeavour.

Under the project being undertaken by DRDO, robots would be developed with very high level of intelligence to enable them to differentiate between a threat and a friend.

These can then be deployed in difficult warfare zones, like the Line of Control (LoC), a step that would help avert the loss of human lives.

“We are going to work for robotic soldiers. We are going to look for very high level of intelligence in it than what we are talking today… It is a new programme and a number of labs are already working in a big way on robotics,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander told news agency in an interview.

The newly-appointed DRDO chief listed the project for development of robotic soldiers as one of his “priority thrust areas” saying that “unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare. Initially the robotic soldier may be assisting the man.”

He said in the initial phase of the project, the robotic soldier would be required to be told by the human soldier to identify an enemy or a combatant but “slowly in due course of time, the robotic soldier would be at the front end and the human soldier would be assisting him.”

India developing robotic soldiers to replace humans in warfare:

Chander said the need for a robotic soldier is felt to save precious human lives and already robots are used in areas where humans do no want to venture such as defusing bombs or getting inside a high-radiation territory.

“Robotic soldier is one step further. It will have multiple technologies in terms of communication with team members, ability to recognise an enemy,” Chander said.

“Today, you have neural networks, whenever the soldier tells him (robotic soldier) that this is a human solider, he will derive his own logic as to what is the difference between him and others (civilians). That learning process will keep building up,” he said.

Asked if it would be capable of being deployed in areas such as the Line of Control, Chander said, “In due course of time but not before a decade in any way.”

He said many new technologies have to be developed such as “miniature communication, materials, cognitive technologies, self-learning processes and interaction with human.”

Chander said “already five to six countries are actively working. They have not yet developed it fully but they are in fairly advanced stages. This is one of my priority areas.”

Advertisements

Scary Army robot that runs faster than humans throws huge cinder blocks around like a child throwing toys

terminator
Terminator: Could the Big Dog project evolve into something more sinister?

The pro-type is eerily similar to the powerful metal endoskeleton killing machines that feature in the Terminator movie franchise.

Daily Mail | Mar 2, 2013  

By David Mccormack

These are the latest chilling images of the LS3 Alpha Dog, the four-legged robot that DARPA, the U.S. defense agency responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military, is developing.

Previous reports have described the prototype, part of the Big Dog project, as a robotic battlefield ‘pack mule’ capable of carrying 400lbs of equipment to help human solders in combat.

But this latest footage reveals that the Alpha Dog has developed a scary new skill – throwing cinder blocks around with relative ease.

article-2287226-18668851000005DC-869_634x310
Previous prototypes of the mechanical quadruped were headless, but now a claw has been added which is very effective at picking up objects and flinging them around at great speed

Previous prototypes of the mechanical quadruped were headless, but now a claw has been added which as the video shows is very effective at picking up objects and flinging them around at great speed.

The footage was posted on YouTube by Boston Dynamics, the company being funded by DARPA and the Marine Corps to develop this sinister robot.

As well as the footage is a short message which reads: ‘The goal is to use the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic, whole-body approach to manipulation is used routinely by human athletes and will enhance the performance of advanced robots.’

As technological advances improve the range of weapons and equipment at soldiers’ disposal, so their loads become heavier. The development of the Alpha Dog was supposedly being developed to help carry this heavy equipment into battle and improve the efficiency of human soldiers.

With each new prototype that is revealed, the Alpha Dog is making impressive progress. Where once it resembled ‘Bambi on ice’ and could be unsteadied by undulating ground due to its long thin legs, now the Alpha Dog’s thicker legs make it more powerful and stable.

It can now trot around on its own and is smart enough to take voice commands from its soldier masters. Soon it will be capable of traveling 20-miles in a 24-hour period without having to refuel.

These development are undoubtedly impressive from a technological advancement point of view, but what does it mean for the future of warfare?

It’s not unimaginable that it could also wear a camera and a rocket launcher and be re-purposed as an attack dog.

If the current prototype can throw heavy blocks around with comparative easy, what could it potentially throw in the near future – humans?

The pro-type is eerily similar to the powerful metal endoskeleton killing machines that feature in the Terminator movie franchise.

Fans of the films will recall that the human race is all but destroyed when an artificial intelligence network called Skynet becomes self-aware in the near future and the war machines turn on their masters.

Let’s hope the Alpha Dog isn’t a chilling premonition of what lies ahead for the human race.

Obama administration: Predator Drone strikes inside US okay in ‘extraordinary circumstance’

g-cvr-130206-drone-527p.photoblog600
A Predator drone is shown in an undated photo from the Air Force. US Air Force via Reuters

NBC News | Mar 5, 2013

By Michael Isikoff

The Obama administration has no intention of carrying out drone strikes against suspected terrorists in the United States, but could use them in response to “an extraordinary circumstance” such as the 9/11 terror attacks, according to a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by NBC News.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who received the March 4 letter from Holder, called the attorney general’s refusal to rule out drone strikes in the U.S. “more than frightening.”

The letter from Holder surfaced just as the Senate Intelligence Committee was voting 12-3 to approve White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director. The vote came after the White House agreed to share additional classified memos on targeted drone strikes against U.S. citizens overseas.

Paul had threatened to hold up Brennan’s confirmation on the floor of the Senate if the administration did not clarify whether targeted drone strikes could be used inside the U.S.

In his letter, Holder called the question of drone strikes inside the U.S. “entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur and we hope no president will ever have to confront. … As a policy matter, moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.”

But Holder then appeared to leave the door open to such strikes in extreme circumstances.

“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could  conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances of a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001.”

In a statement, Paul said, “The U.S. attorney general’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening – it is an affront the Constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

Paul told NBC News that the response by Holder could lead to a situation where “an Arab-American in Dearborn (Mich.) is walking down the street emailing with a friend in the Mideast and all of a sudden we drop a drone” on him. He said it was “really shocking” that President Barack Obama, a former constitutional law professor, would leave the door open to such a possibility.

Paul said he will filibuster Brennan’s confirmation over the issue but acknowledged “we probably can’t stop him.” He did say, however, he intends to co-sponsor a bill with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, to be introduced in the next few days, that would bar the president from using drone strikes in the U.S.

Tens of thousands of domestic drones flying over the US

130304-domestic-drone-hmed-130p.photoblog600
A Draganflyer X6, six-rotor remote controlled helicopter, which can fly up to 20 mph and travel a quarter mile, is pictured at the Grand Valley Model Airfield in Mesa County, Colo. The Draganflyer X6 is a property of Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. Chris Francescani / Reuters

nbcnews.com | Mar 5, 2013

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK — They hover over Hollywood film sets and professional sports events. They track wildfires in Colorado, survey Kansas farm crops and vineyards in California. They inspect miles of industrial pipeline and monitor wildlife, river temperatures and volcanic activity.

They also locate marijuana fields, reconstruct crime scenes and spot illegal immigrants breaching U.S. borders.

Tens of thousands of domestic drones are zipping through U.S. skies, often flouting tight federal restrictions on drone use that require even the police and the military to get special permits.

Armed with streaming video, swivel cameras and infrared sensors, a new breed of high-tech domestic drones is beginning to change the way Americans see the world — and one another.

Powered by the latest microtechnology and driven by billions in defense industry and commercial research dollars, domestic drones are poised for widespread expansion into U.S. airspace once regulation catches up with reality.

That is scheduled to begin in late 2015, when the U.S. government starts issuing commercial drone permits.

Veteran aerial photographer Mark Bateson, a consultant to the film and television industry and some police departments, said one reality show producer asked him last year whether his custom-made drone could hover over a desert and use its thermal imaging sensors to spot ghosts for a ghost-hunter reality series.

Bateson rejected that request. “But I heard they eventually found someone to do it,” he said.

“Commercially, the culture already exists,” said Ben Miller, a Mesa County, Colorado, sheriff’s deputy who has been flying drones with special authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration since 2009.

“Turn on your TV and pay close attention to major sports events. You’ll see that in many cases they are getting aerial shots using a UAS (unmanned aerial system). I would venture to say that if you’ve seen an action movie in the last five years, chances are that a UAS was used.”

Open skies

Federal legislation enacted last year requires the FAA to prepare a plan to open U.S. skies in 2015 to widespread use of unmanned aircraft by public agencies and private industry.

Potential markets include agriculture, shipping, oil exploration, commercial fishing, major league sports, film and television production, environmental monitoring, meteorological studies, law enforcement and the news media.

The aviation and aerospace industry research firm Teal Group estimated last year that global spending on unmanned aircraft will double over the next 10 years, to nearly $90 billion, with the U.S. accounting for 62 percent of research and development spending and 55 percent of procurement spending.

For decades, model airplane hobbyists have been allowed to fly small, remote-controlled aircraft up to 400 feet and at least a quarter mile from any airport. While public agencies can get permission to use unarmed drones, all commercial use remains banned.

“As a hobbyist – I can do whatever I want right now, within remote-control guidelines,” said Bateson, the aerial photographer. “But as soon as you turn it into a business … the FAA says you are violating the national airspace.”

Bateson said that whether his drone shoots video for fun or for profit, “There is no greater danger to the national airspace.”

Last year the National Football League petitioned the FAA to speed the licensing of commercial drones, joining Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association of America, which has been lobbying the agency for several years, an MPAA spokesman told the drone news website UAS Vision.

The FAA has issued 1,428 drone permits to universities, law enforcement and other public agencies since 2007, when the agency formally banned commercial drone use. Of those, 327 permits remain active, said FAA spokesman Les Dorr.

Tough to enforce
Bateson flies a customized 48-inch-wide Styrofoam fixed-wing remote-controlled aircraft that cost about $20,000 – compared with up to $1 million for a helicopter. He said his aircraft has logged 1,800 miles and has recorded 60 hours of high-resolution video. He said he has never run into trouble with the FAA.

Patrick Egan, an unmanned aircraft consultant to the U.S. military and editor of sUAS News, a drone news website, said the FAA’s commercial ban on drones is unenforceable.

“How do you possibly enforce these regulations?” he said.

Earlier this year, Connecticut marketing firm ImageMark Strategy and Design launched a drone-powered aerial photo and video service to offer to its existing clients, which include universities, golf resorts and real estate firms.

Partner Scott Benton said his company invested about $20,000 in remote-controlled multi-rotor copters equipped to carry camcorders or SLR digital cameras with swivel tilts. Benton said he wasn’t even aware of FAA restrictions on commercial drone use until after he purchased all the equipment.

He said his company plans to charge clients for editing and post-production work, not the drone flights.

Many commercial drone operators offer similar arguments. Some say they operate only on private land. Others say they are selling data, not drone flight time.

Still others say they will simply take their chances.

“Honestly?” said one commercial operator, who requested anonymity to protect his business. “My hope is that I’m far afield enough and small enough potatoes to the FAA that I can fly under the radar on this one.”

Privacy concerns

In 2011, News Corp’s tablet news site, the Daily, sent a Microdrone MD4-1000 into the skies over Alabama, Missouri and North Dakota to capture dramatic aerial footage of flood damage. A subsequent FAA investigation resulted in a warning, an FAA spokesman told Reuters. A News Corp spokesman declined to comment.

Last fall, a collective shudder rose up from Hollywood when false reports surfaced that the aggressive tabloid news website TMZ was seeking permission to fly its own drone.

The report was false, but it raised concerns.

“I’m less worried about the police getting a fleet of drones than I am about the news media,” said Egan.

“Imagine what it will be like when the paparazzi can send a fleet of drones into the Hollywood hills.”

The boom in drone use, both private and public, is also raising privacy concerns.

Civil liberties groups are urging federal and state legislators to place immediate restrictions on drone use by U.S. law enforcement agencies, which have historically been quick to capitalize on emerging technology like cell phone tracking.

At least 15 states have drafted legislation that would restrict drone use. In Seattle last month, a public outcry prompted the mayor to order the police chief to return the department’s two new drones to their manufacturer.

Blacksheep drones
An even bigger concern for many is security. The activities of some drone operators are fueling fears about the potential for terrorism or that drones could interfere with manned air traffic and cause an accident.

A group of skilled drone operators using “first person view,” or FPV, technology, has sent Ritewing Zephyr drones that capture high-quality video of visual thrill rides around some of the world’s most famous landmarks.

The group, known as Team Blacksheep, has made a series of videos using drones circling the torch on New York City’s Statue of Liberty and London’s Big Ben clock tower. Team Blacksheep’s FPV drones have darted through the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge and buzzed the peak of the Matterhorn.

The videos, captured at dizzying angles, are wildly popular online, but hobbyists and other drone enthusiasts worry that such videos give the industry a bad name.

“Those are the people the FAA should be going after,” Bateson said.

A Team Blacksheep founder did not respond to requests for comment on security concerns.

Would-be attackers have already tried to exploit drones. Last fall, a Massachusetts man was sentenced to 17 years in prison for plotting to attack Washington, D.C., with three remote-controlled airplanes carrying C-4 explosives.

Last summer, Department of Homeland Security officials challenged Texas aerospace engineering professor Todd Humphreys and his class to try to “spoof” a DHS drone’s GPS system.

GPS “spoofing” is a technique by which a vehicle’s GPS receiver can be tricked and taken over by a slightly more powerful signal that mimics the attributes of the original signal – essentially an airborne hack.

Humphreys and his students succeeded in hacking the drone and took control of its flight path.

If a college class “can spoof the GPS, what can other nation states or terrorist groups do?” Representative Paul Broun (R-Ga.) asked at a recent congressional hearing on domestic drones.

Chinese espionage?

Some U.S. drone designers worry about the consequences of what they see as a slow U.S. response to a rapidly evolving technology.

“The Chinese are going to kill us,” said Texas pilot Gene Robinson, who spent $20,000 designing an innovative fixed-wing drone for search-and-rescue missions. “They have copied every single design, including mine, that they can get their hands on.”

Robinson said he installed Web-tracking software on his drone design Web page and then watched last spring as a Chinese design company “spent a month on my Web page … reverse-engineered my design” and began selling mass-produced copies in December – for $169.

Side-by-side pictures of Robinson’s model and the Chinese model that he showed a reporter look virtually identical.

Robinson went online and ordered one of Chinese models – to see if he could attach his equipment to the cheaper version.

“It was a dog, a pig,” he said. “It didn’t fly worth a damn.”

US media yet again conceals newsworthy government secrets

The Washington Post
The Washington Post this week admitted it was part of an “informal arrangement” to conceal from its readers a US drone base in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Alamy

The collective self-censorship over a US drone base in Saudi Arabia is but the latest act of government-subservient ‘journalism’

The entity that is designed to be, and endlessly praises itself for being, a check on US government power is, in fact, its most loyal servant.

guardian.co.uk | Feb 7, 2013

by Glenn Greenwald

The US media, over the last decade (at least), has repeatedly acted to conceal newsworthy information it obtains about the actions of the US government. In each instance, the self-proclaimed adversarial press corps conceals these facts at the behest of the US government, based on patently absurd claims that reporting them will harm US national security. In each instance, what this media concealment actually accomplishes is enabling the dissemination of significant government falsehoods without challenge, and permitting the continuation of government deceit and even illegality.

One of the most notorious examples was in mid-2004 when the New York Times discovered – thanks to a courageous DOJ whistleblower – that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans without the warrants required by the criminal law. But after George Bush summoned to the Oval Office the paper’s publisher (Arthur Sulzberger) and executive editor (Bill Keller) and directed them to conceal what they had learned, the NYT complied by sitting on the story for a-year-and-a-half: until late December, 2005, long after Bush had been safely re-elected. The “national security” excuse for this concealment was patently ludicrous from the start: everyone knew the US government was trying to eavesdrop on al-Qaida communications and this story merely revealed that they were doing so illegally (without warrants) rather than legally (with warrants). By concealing the story for so long, the New York Times helped the Bush administration illegally spy on Americans.

The Washington Post’s Dana Priest, in a superb act of journalism, reported in 2005 that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret “black sites” where detainees were interrogated and abused beyond the monitoring scrutiny of human rights groups and even Congress. But the Post purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions: “the Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials.”

In 2011, the New York Times along with numerous other US media outlets learned that the American arrested in Pakistan for having shot and killed two Pakistanis, Raymond Davis, was not – as President Obama falsely claimed – “our diplomat”, but was a CIA agent and former Blackwater contractor. Not only did the NYT conceal this fact, but it repeatedly and uncritically printed claims from Obama and other officials about Davis’ status which it knew to be false. It was only once the Guardian published the facts about Davis – that he was a CIA agent – did the Times tell the truth to its readers, admitting that the disclosure “pulled back the curtain on a web of covert American operations inside Pakistan, part of a secret war run by the CIA“.

The NYT, as usual, justified its concealment of this obviously newsworthy information as coming “at the request of the Obama administration, which argued that disclosure of his specific job would put his life at risk”. But as the Guardian’s Deputy Editor Ian Katz noted, “Davis [was] already widely assumed in Pakistan to have links to US intelligence” and “disclosing his CIA role would [therefore not] expose him to increased risk”.

predator_drone

And now, yet again, the US media has been caught working together to conceal obviously newsworthy government secrets. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that two years ago, the Obama administration established a base in Saudi Arabia from which it deploys drones to kill numerous people in Yemen. including US citizen Anwar Awlaki and, two weeks, later his 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman. The US base was built after the US launched a December, 2009 cruise missile/cluster-bomb attack that slaughtered dozens of Yemeni women and children.

But the Post admitted that it – along with multiple other US media outlets – had long known about the Saudi Arabia drone base but had acted in unison to conceal it from the US public:

“The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the specific location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

“The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.”

The “other news organization” which the Post references is the New York Times. The NYT – in a very good article yesterday on the role played by CIA nominee John Brennan in US drones strikes in Yemen – reported that Brennan “work[ed] closely with neighboring Saudi Arabia to gain approval for a secret CIA drone base there that is used for American strikes”. As the paper’s Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, explained, the NYT was one of the papers which “had withheld the location of that base at the request of the CIA”, but had decided now to report it. That was why the Post did so.

The existence of this drone base in Saudi Arabia is significantly newsworthy in multiple ways. The US drone program is drenched with extreme secrecy. The assassination of Awlaki is one of the most radical acts the US government has undertaken in the last decade at least. The intense cooperation between the US and the incomparably despotic Saudi regime is of vital significance. As Sullivan, the NYT’s Public Editor, put it in defending the NYT’s disclosure (and implicitly questioning the prior media conspiracy of silence):

“Given the government’s undue secrecy about the drone program, which it has never officially acknowledged the existence of, and that program’s great significance to America’s foreign policy, its national security, and its influence on the tumultuous Middle East, The Times ought to be reporting as much and as aggressively as possible on it.”

As usual, the excuses for concealing this information are frivolous. Indeed, as the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade noted, “the location of several drone bases was published as long ago as September last year on at least one news website, as this item on the North America Inter Press Service illustrates.” Gawker’s Adrian Chen documents numerous other instances where the base had been publicly disclosed and writes:

“In the case of the Saudi drone base, the Times and the Post weren’t protecting a state secret: They were helping the CIA bury an inconvenient story. . . . The fact that the drone base was already reported renders the rationale behind the months-long blackout a farce.”

In an article on the controversy over this self-censorship, the Guardian this morning quotes Dr Jack Lule, a professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University:

“The decision not to publish is a shameful one. The national security standard has to be very high, perhaps imminent danger. The fact that we are even having a conversation about whether it was a national security issue should have sent alarm bells off to the editors. I think the real reason was that the administration did not want to embarrass the Saudis – and for the US news media to be complicit in that is craven.”

The same dynamic drives most of these acts of US media self-censorship. It has nothing to do with legitimate claims of national security. Indeed, none of these facts – once they were finally reported – ultimately resulted in any harm. Instead, it has everything to do with obeying government dictates; shielding high-level government officials from embarrassing revelations; protecting even the most extreme government deceit and illegality; and keeping the domestic population of the US (their readers) ignorant of the vital acts in which their own government is engaged.

There are, of course, instances where newspapers can validly opt to conceal facts that they learn. That’s when the harm that comes from disclosure plainly outweighs the public interest in learning of them (the classic case is when, in a war, a newspaper learns of imminent troop movements: there is no value in reporting that but ample harm from doing so). But none of these instances comes close to meeting that test. Instead, media outlets overwhelmingly abide by government dictates as to what they should conceal. As Greensdale wrote: “most often, they oblige governments by acceding to requests not to publish sensitive information that might jeopardise operations.”

As all of these examples demonstrate, extreme levels of subservience to US government authority is embedded in the ethos of the establishment American media. They see themselves not as watchdogs over the state but as loyal agents of it.

Recall the extraordinary 2009 BBC debate over WikiLeaks in which former NYT executive editor Bill Keller proudly praised himself for concealing information the Obama administration told him to conceal, prompting this incredulous reply from the BBC host: “Just to be clear, Bill Keller, are you saying that you sort of go to the government in advance and say: ‘What about this, that and the other, is it all right to do this and all right to do that,’ and you get clearance, then?” Keller’s admission also prompted this response from former British diplomat Carne Ross, who was also on the program: “It’s extraordinary that the New York Times is clearing what it says about this with the US Government.”

After the Guardian published the truth about Raymond Davis, former Bush DOJ laywer Jack Goldsmith, in 2011, defended the New York Times’ concealment of it by hailing what he called “the patriotism of the American press“. He quoted former Bush CIA and NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden as saying that “American journalists display ‘a willingness to work with us’ . . . but with the foreign press ‘it’s very, very difficult'”. Goldsmith said that while foreign media outlets will more readily report on secret US government acts (he named The Guardian, Al Jazeera and WikiLeaks), US national security journalists with whom he spoke justified their eagerness to cooperate with the US government by “expressly ascrib[ing] this attitude to ‘patriotism’ or ‘jingoism’ or to being American citizens or working for American publications.”

That is the key truth. The entity that is designed to be, and endlessly praises itself for being, a check on US government power is, in fact, its most loyal servant. There are significant exceptions: Dana Priest did disclose the CIA black sites network over the agency’s vehement objections, while the NYT is now suing the government to compel the release of classified documents relating to Obama’s assassination program. But time and again, one finds the US media acting to help suppress the newsworthy secrets of the US government rather than report on them. Its collaborative “informal” agreement to hide the US drone base in Saudi Arabia is just the latest in a long line of such behavior.

Science Museum unveils $1million ‘bionic man’ with his own heart, blood and lungs

bionic man
Bertolt Meyer, a social psychologist from Switzerland, stands beside the bionic man whose face is modelled on his own face

Bionic man has artificial organs and a functional blood circulatory system

He is modelled on Swiss man Berthold Meyer, who has bionic hand himself

Daily Mail | Feb 5, 2013

For years it existed only in the wildest realms of science fiction.

But now a team of leading roboticists have created a real bionic man – complete with artificial organs, synthetic blood and robot limbs goes.

The astonishing creation incorporates some of the latest advances in prosthetic technology, as well as an artificial pancreas, kidney, spleen and trachea, and a functional blood circulatory system.

The 6ft 6in (2m) humanoid shares quite a bit in common with Steve Austin, the original ‘bionic man’ from the cult 1970s TV series the Six Million Dollar Man.

But costing almost £640,000, it is cheaper.

Known as Rex – short for robotic exoskeleton – his hi-tech frame is made up of an array of artificial limbs and organs from around the world.

It was assembled for a new Channel 4 documentary, How To Build A Bionic Man and will go on display at London’s Science Museum this week.

The Science Museum exhibit opening on Thursday will explore changing perceptions of human identity against the background of rapid progress in bionics.

In the documentary, to be screened at 9pm on Thursday, experts at the forefront of the research talk to Swiss social psychologist Bertolt Meyer.

Mr Meyer was born without a left hand and has a £30,000 bionic replacement with the ability to grip and twist.

But although his hand is the most advanced on the market, it could soon be obsolete. In the programme Meyer tries out the much more advanced modular prosthetic limb (MPL), which teaches itself how to recognise tiny control signals from the upper arm.

He also meets teams of British scientists who are restoring sight to the blind by implanting microchips in their retinas, and building artificial organs to replace failing lungs, kidneys, pancreases and spleens.

‘I’ve looked around for new bionic technologies, out of personal interest, for a very long time and I think that until five or six years ago nothing much was happening,’ said Mr Meyer.

‘Then suddenly we are now at a point where we can build a body that is great and beautiful in its own special way.’

David Glover, senior commissioning editor for Channel 4 Factual, said: ‘Following Bertolt Meyer, who has a bionic arm himself, as he investigates the reality of building a bionic human takes this brilliantly made documentary into new territory. If what scientists can do now is jaw-dropping, the future is mind-boggling.’

The project is supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award which aims to help the public explore biomedical science.

Clare Matterson, director of medical humanities and engagement at the charity, said, quoting from the introduction to the One Million Dollar Man: ‘Throughout history people have always sought to enhance themselves to overcome disabilities or to become ‘bigger, better, stronger and faster’.

‘Science is making aspirations and even fantasy ever more possible. We only have to look back at last summer’s Paralympics to see how transforming technology has become.

‘Whilst exploring the latest medical developments, How To Build A Bionic Man hints at the implications these advances may raise for mankind in the future.’

bionic man schematic
Scientists have built a man from artificial limbs known as Rex which is made up of limbs and organs from around the world

Israeli Drone Strikes in Gaza in November 2012 Attack: Two-Thirds Killed Were Civilians

s_500_opednews_com_0_israeli-drone-7-jpg_4347_20130206-711
Heron Drone

More Palestinians Killed by Drones Alone in eight DAYS than Israelis Killed by rockets in eight YEARS

opednews.com | Feb 6, 2013

By Ann Wright

Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians. 

This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.

Data taken from reports of two human rights groups in Gaza documented that, of the 162 Palestinians killed during the eight-day attack, drone strikes killed 36 and injured 100. 24 of the 36 killed in Gaza by Israeli drones were civilians. Drone strikes (72) were 5 percent of the total Israeli military strikes (1,350) but accounted for 23 percent of the deaths in Gaza, a very high percentage of deaths from the number of drone strikes when compared with deaths from strikes of jet warplanes, artillery and naval bombardment.

Memo justifies drone kills even with patchy intelligence

The UN team will investigate drone strikes and their effects on civilians around the world, but primarily the United States and United Kingdom’s drone strikes in Afghanistan, the US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines and Israeli drone strikes in Gaza.

The objective of the UN investigation is “to look at evidence to determine if drone strikes and other forms of remote targeted killing have caused disproportionate civilian casualties and to make recommendations concerning the duty of States to conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into such allegations, with a view to securing accountability and reparation where things have gone badly wrong with potentially grave consequences for civilians.” The statistics indicate that Israeli drone strikes did cause disproportionate Palestinian civilian casualties.

The Israeli military publicly identified on its website 1,500 targets in Gaza that it intended to destroy in its mid-November, 2012 military operation (named “Pillar of Clouds”). The targets named on its website were 30 Hamas and Jihad leaders, 19 high-level command centers, 980 underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 tunnels used for “terrorist” actions, 42 Hamas operations rooms and bases and 26 weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.

For many years, both the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the Al Mazen Centre for Human Rights have had field workers who investigate the frequent, almost daily, Israeli jet plane, drone, helicopter and artillery attacks, naval bombardment attacks and naval firing at Gaza fishermen. The investigators talk with survivors of the attacks and photograph the destruction caused by the attacks and remains of the ordnance found at the attack site.

Following the 14-21 November 2012, eight-day Israeli attack on Gaza, the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights produced a 67-page report titled “Field Report on Israel’s Attacks on Gaza 14-21 November 2012.” The Palestinian Center for Human Rights documented its findings for this period in its “Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Territories 14-21 November, 2012.”

Both reports provide a region-by-region, day-by-day, attack-by-attack account of individual Israeli military strikes in Gaza. Using information from the reports of both human rights organizations, data documented that the Israeli Defense Forces conducted 72 Israeli drone strikes using 100 missiles during the November 2012 attack on Gaza.

The Al Mezan report documents that at least 162 Palestinians were killed in IDF attacks, including 37 children and 13 women. (Later reports  state that 178 were killed.) Another 1,039 people were injured, including 315 children and 191 women. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed, including 92 completely. Of those 92 houses, 52 were directly attacked; including 35 “roof-knocking” attacks to indicate to residents that the house was about to be destroyed by a second attack. Another 179 houses sustained serious damage. Additionally, IDF attacks caused damage to 10 health centers, 35 schools, two universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, one UNRWA food distribution center, eight government ministry buildings, 14 police/security stations, five banks, 34 vehicles, three youth clubs, three cemeteries, and two bridges.


Scout Drone

Data from the Al Mezan and PCHR reports on IDF drone attacks on Gaza identify that:

Drone strikes killed 36 persons, including 4 children under the age of 16, and wounded 100 persons.

24 of the 36, or two thirds, of those killed by drone strikes were considered to be civilians.

Read More