Well, its is very likely it has been discussed in some thread previously, but since I had a personal experience, I feel compelled to share it with
you. It is not classified. It is not denied. It is not from out of this world. But it is pretty damn cool... and chilling.
Very recently I attended a local software security seminar where we had a speaker from IBM. The topic was SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) security
and related stuff. During his presentation the IBM representative mentioned that one of their clients is the the US government of-course. He displayed
a nice abstracted schematic of their service structure, explaining how all the branches of the army and civil services have access to each others
Then he added that Homeland Security is also plugged into this network and went into some depth about the Homeland Security abilities. There were a
few that took me a bit by surprise by their level of complexity.
data analysis. Programs are running constantly looking for patterns in the banking, airlines, car-license etc etc systems and between
them, trying to identify potential terrorists. He said that on retrospect their program could identify links between all the perps in the 9/11 attack
- stuff like using the same frequent flyer miles, using same ATM somewhere etc. Obviously we did not get a detailed overview of the abilities.
one more program running on the Homeland Security from IBM is listening to foreign TV channels, translating the audio in real time
into English text, allowing search and pattern recognition based on that also. His examples were from Chinese and Arabic channels and we also saw a
video of the user-interface in action. As I inquired about the precision of the translation he was a bit vague, giving me later a figure of 90-95% or
so. I do not know how they measure that - i am sure it does not mean that 9 out of 10 words are translated, but something more complex
in connection with the previous point, he said that there are sort of 'babelfish' boxes in use by troops in Iraq. Soldiers speak
English and the box translates it into local language. And back again. Pretty cool and effective I imagine. No need to use local translators any more,
who would just get shot as traitors anyway.
As I said - none of these technologies are THAT complicated, but they all seemed advanced enough for me. Also what is important is that these are
commercial, non-classified technologies, which should give us an idea of how much more advanced the BEST stuff must be. I also asked the guy if they
are under any restrictions as to who they can sell these technologies to and he said that not really - that the regular US customs regulations apply
about selling to rogue nations, but thats all.
Anyways, thanks for reading. Happy I got this off my chest