Sunday, April 20, 2008

To Be A Fly On The Wall

Have you ever sat in your living room, watching a television show, and had the sudden realization that there was an annoying little creature perched on your wall? The little multi-eyed pain in the butt that moves much too quickly for you to get a good swat at, and so it sits there watching You as you try to ignore it. Have you ever wondered just what those damned things are looking at anyway? If the U.S. Military is successful in a new program they're coming out with, that fly on the wall may very well be watching, listening to, and transmitting back to home base all of your everyday movements.

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, an arm of the United States Military, has been on the cutting edge when it comes to the development of new military systems for fifty years now. These are the experts that brought us the Saturn 5 rockets in response to the Soviet's launching of Sputnik. DARPA has also been the main thinkers behind not only the Internet itself, but they were the ones that came up with stealth technology, unmanned aerial vehicles, and night vision goggles among a few of their industrious accomplishments.

So we're not talking about some geeks in a back room laboratory fiddling away in the hopes of inventing something. These people are the real deal when it comes to new applications, and what they're up to now might give us all just a moment's pause.

The project known as HI-MEMS, short for Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical System, is the brain child of scientist Amit Lal, and his team is hard at work raising insects that will be implanted with electronic circuitry that will use GPS systems to guide these little cyborg fliers to their intended targets, where they will relay back audio as well as real time visuals through the use of microphones and mini cameras. Other potential uses could be using the bugs to detect poison gases, much in the way coal miners use canaries now.

The way they are accomplishing all of this is by introducing the mechanical elements into the larvae, caterpillar, and pupae stages, as they say this allows for the growth of tissue to form around the micro mechanics, and forming a reliable and stable tissue-machine interface. Dr. Lal also says that each of these new super cyborgs will be able to carry multiple sensors.

Ok. One can presumably make the argument that these things would be great for spying on the Chinese or whomever. But is anyone under any illusion that what the DARPA team is making will be used strictly for military purposes? In this day and age of data mining, tapped phones without warrants, renditions, and who knows how many domestic spying laws broken, one can be as sure as can be that these little beasts will find their way into the average American home.

One must imagine just who at the Pentagon sat in their chair one day musing upon how it would be awesome to be a fly on the wall in any household they wanted, and then said to the DARPA team, "Make it so". DARPA, being the brilliant scientists that they are, went ahead and did just that.

If all of this sounds like so much phooey and science fiction, think again. No less than Time magazine has reported on this, and they quote DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker as saying that "living, adult-stage insects have emerged with the embedded systems intact." Forget the old newspaper swatting of these creatures. Call the exterminator. Keep the bug, bee, wasp, roach and whatever other insecticide that you can get your hands on around the house, because we're about to be invaded by not a massive army of killer bees, but a monstrosity of nature made in the good old U.S.A.

Next, they'll be taking infants in the womb and implanting them with this technology in an attempt to create the ultimate soldier. Oh, and don't you sit there and say it could never happen. Because even five years ago, no one would have thought it possible to integrate living tissue with machine, or twenty years ago, you would have been laughed at for talking about something called the Internet. Bearing that in mind, remember that the very same people that invented the Internet are the ones who have dreamed this baby up.

So the next time you see that annoying little creature buzzing around in your living room, swat it, spray it with Raid, kill it at all costs. Because that fly on the wall may not only be observing and listening, but may be showing what it sees to others.

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