How China Uses Facial Recognition to Control Human Behavior ; Researchers One Step Closer to Bomb-Sniffing Cyborg Locusts ; and More Picks 8/17

How China Uses Facial Recognition to Control Human Behavior (Dana)

The author writes, “China’s aggressive development and use of facial recognition offers a window into how a technology that can be both benign and beneficial — think your iPhone’s Face ID — can also be twisted to enable a crackdown on actions that the average person may not even consider a crime. Chinese officials have used surveillance tools to publicly shame people wearing sleepwear in public, calling it ‘uncivilized behavior.’ The punishing of these minor offenses is by design, surveillance experts said. The threat of public humiliation through facial recognition helps Chinese officials direct over a billion people toward what it considers acceptable behavior, from what you wear to how you cross the street.”

CT’s Governor and Health Commissioner Have Authority to Force Residents into Quarantine (Reader Steve)

From the Hartford Courant: “In a case that invites uncomfortable comparisons to the ongoing pandemic, a court ruled Friday that Connecticut’s governor and public health commissioner have broad authority to force residents into involuntary medical quarantines — even if the residents have had no conclusive exposure to a contagion and show no symptoms of infection. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit came in a federal suit by two groups of West African residents of Connecticut who were ordered into 21-day quarantines — enforced by police guards — after arriving in the state from West Africa weeks after a regional Ebola outbreak in Africa was declared a health emergency in 2014.”

I Resigned From US Government After My Own Leaders Began to Act Like the Autocrats I Analyzed (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “I recently resigned as a senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency after experiencing firsthand the actions of U.S. government leaders to suppress nonviolent dissent during the recent nationwide protests for racial justice. I was among the thousands of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters tear-gassed in Lafayette Square and nearly knocked to the ground by the downdraft from a military helicopter hovering over Pennsylvania Avenue. In the course of my work, I have watched autocratic leaders around the world employ similar tactics, actions that often precede broader uses of violence against domestic opposition. Unidentified federal forces in cities across the United States committing abuses against demonstrators is an evolution in the Trump administration’s authoritarian approach to dissent, not an anomaly.”

How Diseases Sweep Through the Sea (Dana)

From Hakai Magazine: “New research … shows that disease outbreaks among marine mammals have quietly been on the rise. Between 1955 and 2018, a sixth of marine mammal species have suffered a mass die-off caused by an infectious disease. Reports of disease-induced mass die-offs in marine mammals have been increasing since at least 1996. This could be due in part to increased surveillance. However, it’s also likely that scientists are still underestimating the true numbers of outbreaks in these populations. Marine mammals travel great distances in remote parts of the oceans, and often the only indication that something has gone wrong is when carcasses start washing up on shore.”

Researchers One Step Closer to Bomb-Sniffing Cyborg Locusts (Mili)

The author writes, “Researchers showed how they were able to hijack a locust’s olfactory system to both detect and discriminate between different explosive scents — all within a few hundred milliseconds of exposure. They were also able to optimize a previously developed biorobotic sensing system that could detect the locusts’ firing neurons and convey that information in a way that told researchers about the smells the locusts were sensing.”