Tuesday, January 16, 2007

They Blinded Me With Science

The latest issue of Popular Science (Feb 2007) came in the mail today (the issue pictured is actually last month's, but I thought I'd remind you what the magazine looks like, since a lot of folks haven't seen an issue in years), and as usual it was a "put everything else down and read it first" magazine.

I've always enjoyed Popular Science; when I was a kid, I would get to school early so that I could stop by the library and read the latest issue. I always thought it was incredible that the school would actually spend money to subscribe to lots of magazines like this that I would have subscribed to if I could afford it--but thanks to their willingness to pay for them, I didn't have to!

The newest issue has a great section called "Cop Tech--Inside the Police R&D Lab" that offers a look at the cutting-edge technology that might enable police to carry out their jobs more safely and effectively. GPS devices that can be fired from police cars so that they attach themselves to fleeing cars; video "grenades" that offer 360° views of the immediate vicinity; highly focused pain beams that do no permanent harm; these are the sorts of SF devices that are long overdue for police enforcement. The idea behind most of these devices is more effective apprehension and prevention with less deadly force; I don't see how anyone can argue with that.

My favorite part of each issue, though, is "How 2.0," offering tips on how one might implement various tech-geek concepts at home. A lot of it is beyond my level of expertise, but not all--and even when it is, it's fun to daydream.

If you haven't checked out PopSci in a while, pick it up the next time you're at the magazine rack; it's a great read!


Anonymous said...

--The idea behind most of these devices is more effective apprehension and prevention with less deadly force; I don't see how anyone can argue with that.--

Well, have you considered that the people who use these devices now or in the future, may have less then a noble reason for it.

They only do no real harm if they are calibrated exactly, and used exactly the way they're supposed to be.
It sure would have put have made it easier for the cops during the civil rights movement if they could have swung a microwave around at people instead of just a short ranged firehose.

At least when something decides to use deadly force, we hope the choice will be difficult to make.

No matter what you think, I bet 10 minutes alone in a room with this device and I could convince anyone, that it's a bad idea.

cliff said...

The same is true with a stick, or a rock, or a pencil, or my bare hand--if my intent is to cause you grievous harm, then ten minutes is all I would need to convince you that these items (or appendages) are also harmful.

The good thing is that the weapons are designed to minimize harm; any object can be used to inflict more pain and harm if that's the intent of the user.