Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sauron's Eye

The papers today carry a story about a new camera, called Aware-2, developed at Duke University in a $25 million project sponsored by the Defense Department. It can take a picture made up of 1 billion pixels. The image is taken by 100 tiny cameras, each able to capture an image with 1 million pixels. The camera (about the size of a football) has a computer that merges the products of each camera into the final image, but using the different images singly produces enormous detail of any selected part of the image when desired. Use? Military, defense, surveillance, etc. As you jaywalk across an intersection, a camera like that can look down into the deep chasm of your sweating pores.

Modern technology is really all about optics and computing. The soldier is weighted down by carrying a huge weight of batteries—just to see in the dark, as it were, to communicate instantly, to sense what eyes can’t see, to direct destruction to the machine-seen target. The overhead of all this complexity is getting burdensome—so that the other day, in the Wall Street Journal, I think, there was a story or headline saying: “I don’t want any more features—give me simplicity.”

When Orwell wrote his 1984, little did he imagine what the eyes of Big Brother actually look like—or, for that matter, J.R.R. Tolkien writing about Sauron’s all-seeing eye. Now we know. Let me introduce you to Aware-2. Here’s looking at you.
Image source: Duke University (link).

1 comment:

  1. This brings to mind the Wolf-Granny who answered Little Red Riding Hood's question why she had such big eyes..."to better see you with, my dear..." There have always been rapacious wolves but Little R.R.H. soon learned that this granny was lying.