Soldier Toys Today, Civilian Toys Tomorrow

from the passing-down-the-chain dept

There’s always been a history of military technology eventually making its way (in some form) to the civilian world. The Washington Post points to duct tape and GPS as examples. So, now they’re looking at what’s being used in the current war that may make its way into civilian uses in the near future. Unfortunately, they all seem to be in the realm of surveillance. Specifically, they expect personal “unmanned drone” technology to start showing up for hobbyists fairly soon. They suggest that the days of the “topless sunbather” in their own backyard may soon be over, when the local teenaged boy can send his drone flying around the neighborhood. The other technology they see catching on are basic sensors for collecting any type of data. So, if the military is any indication, we should expect to have less privacy and more data.

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Comments on “Soldier Toys Today, Civilian Toys Tomorrow”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I think we've reached a point

where the two realms of application, civilian and military, are evolving in parallel rather that in series.
Modular robots are now available from lego– which means civilians can already do anything that they put their minds to.
As an example– people are building killer robots in their garages and fighting them for sport.

dorpus says:

2-way street

There are technologies that start in the civilian world and make their way into the military as well. For our generation of government contractors, COTs (Commercial Off-The-Shelf Technology) is the big buzzword.

Civilian versions of military technology tend to be dumbed-down versions that don’t quite have all the capabilities, for reasons of cost or security.

Since WW2, US military and law enforcement have adopted stripped-down versions of Asian martial arts. The original street-wise version of Asian martial arts is practiced in more authentic form within the military, while civilian versions taught at karate schools are sanitized, ritualized, tournament-oriented versions of the real thing. Civilians who brag about being “black belt” in some martial art usually fare poorly in street fights. Just as well, it’s better that the police/military hold a monopoly on superior street fighting techniques.

There is also the issue of “soft” technologies, of how to effectively use a technology. It’s one thing to make surveillance hardware available to civilians, but there is a fine art to using such devices in effective, undetectable ways. Police officers have effective interviewing techniques for drawing the truth out of civilians, but such skills are not publicized, to avoid making criminals better liars. TV shows about cops show only a fraction of all the tricks they have.

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