Spy Tools of the Future

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techgnotic's avatar
Watch Dogs by AcerSense

What if spies could decode sound vibrations passing through leaves, water and other everyday objects?

Spies of the future will use algorithms to gather information that humans could never dream of capturing. In an astounding breakthrough, scientists are learning how to decode "intelligible speech" by analyzing videotaped sound vibrations.

Science Daily has more:

Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. In other experiments, they extracted useful audio signals from videos of aluminum foil, the surface of a glass of water, and even the leaves of a potted plant.”

In this hypothetical future, no space would be completely sound-proof. To keep a secret, you would have to control your invisible vibrations.

This technology could also be used to reconstruct conversations from silent movies and Super-8 cameras.

But that’s not all. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell proved that they could use portable cameras on wearable devices like Google Glass to capture and decode passwords.

Wired has more about this breakthrough:

They could use video from wearables like Google Glass and the Samsung smartwatch to surreptitiously pick up four-digit PIN codes typed onto an iPad from almost 10 feet away—and from nearly 150 feet with a high-def camcorder. Their software, which used a custom-coded video recognition algorithm that tracks the shadows from finger taps, could spot the codes even when the video didn’t capture any images on the target devices’ displays.”

Since future dream research will soon be identifying future killers who can be incarcerated and exterminated in their childhoods before they can even imagine what criminality they were going to commit, and since nanotechnology will soon give us a world of super abundance in which all our fears about global weather change and peak oil and fracking will be silly memories of our silly do–gooder forebears… there doesn’t seem to be anything for a good citizen to get all outraged about these days.

The scientists (well, a distinct fraction of them, and I’d like to examine their diplomas) and nerd “futurologists” seem to be bringing everything to order in a much more orderly and “feel–good” fashion than Adolf and Benito ever came close to achieving. So why spend the workers’ tax–revenues on “vibration translation” rather than autism? Could it be that as new models for “income reform” supplant dated “capitalism,” our less–than–1% ruling class needs new ways to survive and thrive beyond their splintering old economic and military models? Secrets in our heads just might be the next great natural resource to be tapped by our controllers. And whether by pension check, policemen, drones or knowledge of our every desire—this world is still about the controllers and the controlled.

Your Thoughts

  1. How could spies of the future use these new technologies?

  2. How could people keep secrets in this kind of world?

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Information overload is the key! If I produce so much information it becomes a useless stream of conflicting data and I turn into a thousand people in one gps dot.
AnynomouSam's avatar
Quite honestly, even if technology is starting to become amazing or what so ever, I'm pretty sure humans will destroy themselves before being able to complete these kind of things. Won't be more than 200 years (less than 100 with enough luck) before war, ressources lack, and diseases will annihilate them.
FabioKeiner's avatar
spies!  spies! spies everywhere! and it's so thrillingly sexy, ain't it?... dystopian future - best of all worlds now (in comparison)

I fear the most efficient way to spy and exercise mind control are exactly sites like dA (and facebook, of course).

instead of denouncing the global all engulfing spying by NSA/CIA & assorted services 24h a day EVERYBOY OF YOU, buddies - not a word about; let alone organizing a protest (how feeble it may be) - you show pretty fashionable dystopian comic characters... as if this would be some kind of funny cos-play.


supposedly not, because all brainwashed dA youngsters got not a free minute to inform themselves amidst so many ultral-cool ego-shooters, fashion-weeks and silly cosplay features ... also here at dA.

saying this, we may suspect, that dA itself got some discrete guidelines from NSA headquarters, true? your part is to brainwash sheople people, theirs to spy.. and part of the cops and us-mercenaries to kill at home and abroad.

(I know it positively, because I can read your brainwaves:))
ZeeZacZed's avatar
llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan llama cancan 

FabioKeiner's avatar
think about. use your brain, if you got some.
GabrielsThoughts's avatar
I know I'm disturbed. While I have some limited control over the environment in my dreams the actions of the actors sometimes elude me or are beyond my control. Plus, social isolates are more likely to have violent nightmares than a sadistic @$$hole with a childish sense of justice, so who distinguishes between the two. 
ProNoob13's avatar
The espionage of the future will be full-on cyberwar. The only use of physical spies would be to sneak in on isolated computer-networks and gather new data. I don't think there'll be a lot of opportunities to keep things secret anymore either, given video and audio surveillance.
preadatordetector's avatar
Hate to burst your bubble, but espionage has become based around paperwork and most of the stuff that involves secretly collecting information is outsourced to third parties like Google. Real spies today are now just diplomats and people local to the country they are in getting hired by other countries. Espionage tactics even involve figuring out what people in the enemy countries need most, and giving it to them, where if such actions are done the civilians would become less likely to support the guys shooting at you.
themexbrine's avatar
On a world were technology has helped us communicate with each other but on the other hand can also restrict our privacy and freedom, well, it seems a spy could find his way through this huge maze known as society. 

epic article.
alphabetsoup314's avatar
Other than the obvious purpose of using videotaped sound to receive a quiet conversation from some distance away, you could also use it to send discreet messages to someone else. You put a vibrator on the material of choice (the leafy plant, the glass of water, etc), record video, and someone with the right software could decrypt the original message. You could even do it all on a cell phone if the cell phone has been wired to vibrate in that very specific code. 
AzmericStudios's avatar
Freedom and privacy has always been an illusion, as far back in history as you might want to go. Its always been the one percent controlling the other 99%. The saying keep your friends close but your enemies closer is what spying is all about. If the one percent considers the other 99% the enemy then of course they're going to spy on every single one of us. They're the ones that are afraid of losing. I can lose my job. I can be called crazy, but in the end the truth is self evident. I'm not pushing an agenda. They're the ones that say hate this or like that and as sheep we comply. For if we don't it's easy to be singled out.
KenLit's avatar
PAU- personal antivirus update - like every few seconds! ;)
AMMO91's avatar
Congrats on the work, its great :)
RickOlavi's avatar
the future spy?
the xbox one...

sure now you do not HAVE to put on the camera, but you will connect it in any case...
JenFruzz's avatar
Look at all them Massachusetts research groups... MIT, UMass Lowell. We're wicked smaht ;)
hockeymask's avatar
Keep your secrets the old way - to yourself.Never write anything or put anything in any electronic device.( I doubt if they could ever really know how the mind works ).These are first world concerns anyway most of the world doesn't have reliable electricity anyway. Torturers are pretty good at getting information the old fashioned ways if they need to.The majority of people are already happily brainwashed - now where is that T. V guide ....?
devijavi's avatar
THis.... is..... just... mindblowing,...

Im a huge Splinter Cell, Metal Gear, James Bond fan, and find this truly fascinating!!!

I have no words for the feelings I have right now!
Vermin-Star's avatar
Great art.
I'd like to think we would evolve technologies to successfully safeguard against hackers and spies in the future. Instead of just passwords, maybe retinal scans and the like...although I guess even that could have an override system that could be exploited...or someone could gouge out your eye :)
Maybe some kind of advanced A.I could be programmed to oversee everything and make sure unauthorised access was denied...but the implications of that being hacked- or the control of whomever programmed it- is quite terrifying.

Gdon-Freeman's avatar
Love all the artworks in your article, congratulations to their respective artist.
As a student in the IT, I can tell you that gathering information about someone is not difficult.
For example, take a random Windows user, an update for his system is required, he doesn't do it, because of X reason, well, without this single update, it can create a backdoor, and if you have enough skills, you can access this computer easily, with the proper tools of course (Metasploit, Kali,..), and the most terrifying is that you can do everything you want with it, and I insist on everything. The hacker can take pictures of you with the webcam, gather all the information in your computer, private documents, etc. I took Windows for the example, but it's the same on every OS, Mac, and Linux distros, well of course Linux distros are more secure because of its community, but that's not the point.
To say that, you can have passwords everywhere on your laptop, you're never truly safe of cyber attack.
And it's actually doable to hack into someone's phone or tablet in the street and drain all its data.
Another point, the internet.
To kind of reply hosagu Big Brother is already there, its name is Google. Everything you do on the internet is recorded. Erasing data is impossible, never forget it.
This data, is called exogenous data, and some enterprises, can buy this data to Google, to gather information about someone before hiring him for example.
Considering that we'll soon be able to store data in someones's DNA, what if all the bank accounts, private information were stored in you DNA, locked by a single and unique key, and that just a single drop of blood can give you access to someone's else information, if you can actually decipher his key of course.
But where will this single example will lead us in future spying programs, I don't know myself, but it's kinda terrifying.
And as for the sound vibrations, knowing that anywhere, at anytime, someone is maybe actually listening to everything you say, we may have just in front of us the disappearance of private life, and fall into an Orwellian society. 
ReptillianSP2011's avatar
Some stuff here like DNA thing is just way off the mark. But, yes people already have access to your information, and in theory, even if you have a perfectly secure operating system, there's always hardware backdoors which is not too far off the mark from being a reality. Oh, and for the records, your average Windows with update is very poor for security compared to Windows that is properly maintained with the right security suite setup at high and zero-day protection along with support from Linux (Live CDs from reputable security companies). 
Gdon-Freeman's avatar
I know someone who is a nano-biologist, and DNA storage is not way off the mark, it might even be the future of storage.
hosagu's avatar
Orwellian society is what terrifies me the most.
Actually thx for the precision.
Am not a student anymore, and I remember in 1984 when 7 year old my father buying a Thompson MO5, which I know might make smile a lot of people... It was kind of such excitment...
I witnessed until now (roughly 30 years) how technology, and spread of internet, have joined and mutualised to exponantially blow and be used in order to definitely threaten our freedom.
I agree with you and maybe more: our freedom is already lost.
Google has savagely occupied a first place in some activities which are not linked primarily to internet. Beyond, their researches on biology and DNA are totally not relevant with their first activity. It demonstrates at least one thing: monopole, control and power over people (I know I sound dramatic, heck it is sadly our world actually) is an eternal human history repeating itself.

But we are crossing now some doors which might disrupt definitely the historical cycles.
Gdon-Freeman's avatar
Actually, even for an IT student like I am, it's a bit scary how fast the technology is evolving, I mean, at this pace, how can we know what our future will be build of ?
Will we always be able to control the machines we create to work faster and without any human lost ? 
What I'm the most afraid of, even if it's very impressive, is the progress in robotics.
It's obvious that today we're truly slaves of technology, in most countries on Earth. I don't say technology is bad thing, no but learning to not use it every day might be our chance to save humanity from being enslaved by technology, learning to appreciate life as it is, not through a screen.
I agree with you about what you said about Google, it's going to far.
hosagu's avatar
This is impressive and both terrifying... Big brother principle might be one day a reality, who knows... This opens truely breaches in our intimacy, privacy, meaning "our" like for us common human beings...
This would mean to preserve our integrity as free thinking and living people that our life would have to reach the status of secret, and how to? I guess by going back to old school methods... Or new super counter spies of the future methods? :)

Oh and by the way : awesome selection!!!!!!!! :la:
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