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Run away the ray-gun is coming
September 20, 2007 8:53 AM   Subscribe

"It is a horrible device nonetheless, and you are forced to wonder what the world has come to when human ingenuity is pressed into service to make a thing like this." Raytheon says, "The system is available now and ready for action."

The Raytheon entry at Wikipedia is worth reading.

Source Watch on Raytheon, the fifth largest defence manufacturer in the world.

Raytheon Watch site.
posted by nickyskye (188 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder if they come in "Gitmo Orange".
posted by Optamystic at 8:56 AM on September 20, 2007


This will be used for torture and for controlling uppity [students | demonstrators | whatever] sooner rather than later.
posted by everichon at 8:59 AM on September 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


I don't even know where to start here. This is sick, crazy...but what if I had one, just a small one. I love this phrase: Built by the U.S. firm Raytheon, it is part of its "Directed Energy Solutions" programme. "Directed Energy Solutions" sounds great, perhaps a good name for a green energy company, or even some kind of young-person-at-risk mentoring program. Oh, they're the folks who made the death ray?
posted by marxchivist at 9:04 AM on September 20, 2007


Also, the phrase "less than lethal" is more than a bit creepy.
posted by ranchocalamari at 9:06 AM on September 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ouch.
posted by notyou at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2007


I'm confident that this will be used strictly as an alternative to lethal force.

Just like tasers.
posted by LordSludge at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2007


Can I install this on the hood of my car?
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


"It is a horrible device nonetheless, and you are forced to wonder what the world has come to when human ingenuity is pressed into service to make a thing like this."

I totally want one!
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 9:09 AM on September 20, 2007


yes & yes ... I was thinking, more or less what Optamystic & everichon said.

Much like tasers can and are used as torture devices, only this thing is much more efficient.

Now, if we want to, we could torture whole groups of people simultaneously.

U-S-A! NUMBER 1!

(cues up Lee Greenwood)
Well I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I think I'm free

The reckoning that's coming ... not gonna be good
posted by Relay at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2007


This would look great mounted on my BattleMech.
posted by brain_drain at 9:12 AM on September 20, 2007


HAI GUYS THIS IS MY STFU GUN

DO U LIKE IT

ANSWER YES OK
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:13 AM on September 20, 2007 [32 favorites]


Doctor Richard Gatling believed his invention, the Gatling Gun, would put an end to war, since surely no one would would want to either risk or inflict such terrible carnage.

The intentions are good, but we're just well dressed animals, so eventually we'll find a way to kill people with it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on September 20, 2007


Because the beam penetrates skin only to a depth of 1/64th of an inch, it cannot, says Raytheon, cause visible, permanent injury.

I can't fathom how this won't be used for torture.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:16 AM on September 20, 2007


Dan't lase me, bro!
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:17 AM on September 20, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's NOT a "stun gun", it's an agonizer.

Soon all US military personel with be required to wear neat black goatees (yes, even Condi).
posted by bonehead at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is the small version of the 'Active Denial System', covered in some depth on Wikipedia.

Lots of videos of hardened Marines (and AP reporters) sprinting away from it Youtube.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2007


Good lord, I know something's wrong when I find myself agreeing with the Daily Mail!!!
posted by Ted Maul at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2007


"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever."

I think I liked Orwell's version better. At least boot guy would have to pause every now and then to catch his breath.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


Welcome to the present.
posted by trondant at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2007


I just want to make sure that I get to have one too.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2007


From the link: " ...you always have the option to get out of the way."

Apparently, God and the laws of thermodynamics (whichever you observe) prevent it from being used in a small closed room.
posted by ardgedee at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


"You will feel pain in this hand within the box. Pain. But! Withdraw the hand and I'll touch your neck with my gom jabbar -- the death so swift it's like the fall of the headsman's axe. Withdraw your hand and the gom jabbar takes you. Understand?"
posted by cmyk at 9:24 AM on September 20, 2007 [18 favorites]


Raytheon's Mac Jeffery says it is being looked at only by the "North American military and its allies."

Is it common to refer to the collective armed forces of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, etc. as "the North American military?" This felt very New World Order to me. Is Mr. Jeffery just casting about for a new and innovative way of saying "the U.S. and the people we decide are the good guys this week?"
posted by mumkin at 9:25 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


ranchocalamari: Also, the phrase "less than lethal" is more than a bit creepy.

Sounds like a euphemism for "fate worse than death."
posted by Kattullus at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


And the Silent Guardian? Raytheon's Mac Jeffery says it is being looked at only by the "North American military and its allies" and is not being sold to countries with questionable human rights records.

Haw haw haw
posted by interrobang at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


If history has taught us anything, it's that weapons never get used for the wrong purposes.

"It can throw a wave of agony nearly half a mile."

Point and shoot it at a government building.

Are we going to have to set up mile-sized diameters around anywhere we want to protect people? Why are we making terrorists jobs easier?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Gee! That'd make a great toilet seat gag!
posted by doctorschlock at 9:30 AM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


*shaves goatee*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:30 AM on September 20, 2007


I'd buy one of these and somehow reverse engineer it so that instead of emitting waves of intense pain, it emits waves of intense orgasm.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2007 [13 favorites]


I just want to make sure that I get to have one too.

you and every military, para-military, security and terrorist group in the world, not to mention lone nuts

this will end up being used against the powers that be

this isn't rocket science and even with sales strict, someone's going to figure it out that shouldn't
posted by pyramid termite at 9:33 AM on September 20, 2007


I'll hold off buying one for now. How long can it be before the diy version is posted to hackaday or www.instructables.com?
posted by klarck at 9:34 AM on September 20, 2007


"It is so easy to see the Taser being used routinely to control dissent and pacify - as, indeed, already happens in the U.S."

Tou-fucking-che. I can't wait till the handheld version becomes standard issue for rent-a-cops.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2007


Excellent. I was needing a replacement for my waterboard.
posted by neat-o at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2007


> a new and innovative way of saying "the U.S. and the people we decide are the good guys this week?"

Such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia, for their help in Iraq.
posted by ardgedee at 9:39 AM on September 20, 2007


So how do you protect against millimeter wave radiation?
posted by The White Hat at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2007


An agonizer, exactly.
posted by Relay at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2007


Was looking at some ways of protecting against Active Defense, another name for this technology, with some friends. As best as we can figure, you'd pretty much have to encase yourself in metal like a Faraday Cage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2007


This is why I always wear an extra layer of skin on top of my own.
posted by dobbs at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the most alarming prospect is that such machines would make efficient torture instruments.

They are quick, clean, cheap, easy to use and, most importantly, leave no marks. What would happen if they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations where torture is not unknown?


Like, um, the United States? Who writes this stuff?
posted by caddis at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


I figure a couple years until the surveillance cameras that are installed all over most cities start being replaced with versions with this technology built in. Either that, or non-directional versions that just emit pain in some significant radius.

One touch of a button, and you could effectively immobilize and entire city. There's no way this won't happen, as the power and control it would result in is surely too alluring.
posted by evilangela at 9:48 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you remember when the assumption was that the future would be better than the present? When I was 12 ray-guns where part of this future of awesomeness. Learning that the ray-gun is here and that it's a torture device killed a part of me.
posted by Kattullus at 9:50 AM on September 20, 2007 [17 favorites]


One touch of a button, and you could effectively immobilize and entire city. There's no way this won't happen, as the power and control it would result in is surely too alluring.

Fear not! [Hillary Clinton/Ron Paul/Barack Obama] will save us!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2007


Tongue in cheek, caddis. It's that dry, British wit.
posted by mumkin at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2007


Finally, a scientifically proven method for keeping those damn kids off my lawn.

Also, for torturing my enemies.
posted by sparkletone at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2007


I can't think of a single instance in my long journey through the realms of genre fiction where a "pain ray" wasn't associated with the villain. It's right up there with robotic minions.

Is there a Textbook of Evil at the DoD that they're cribbing ideas from?
posted by uri at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


What would will happen if when they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations stateless actors where torture is not unknown everyday routine?

You'd think after a few hundred thousand years people would be a little less clueless about human nature.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:55 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Half a mile, huh? Just wait until some dude in a van sits at the end of a runway with one of these things and crashes a half dozen planes, then calmly drives off in the ensuing chaos. Or a sentries at the gates of the Green Zone get hit with this (or the home brew version the plans for which inevitably will leak out within 6 months of deploying this thing) and allow a truck bomb (or two or four) to get through, then you'll see the true cost of building what amounts to torture-at-a-distance devices.
posted by Chrischris at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Johnson!"
"Yes, sir!"
"Is there a way we can defeat the enemy without killing him? Killing it looking bad on TV."
"Yes, sir! We have a ray gun that makes the target feel pain, but it's harmless."
"Hmm. Can it be abused?"
"Of course, sir. But so can a regular old gun. A baseball bat can be abused, too."
"Then forget it."
"Forget it?"
"Yep, we can't have a weapon that can be abused like that. MeFites won't like it. So we just need to keep on killing people."
"OK. But what about the dead enemies on TV?"
"Make me a better gun that kills people faster and more efficiently so it doesn't look as bad on TV."
"Yes, sir!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:56 AM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


Wow, that'll keep the kids off the lawn.
posted by mecran01 at 10:00 AM on September 20, 2007


"It is a bit like touching a red-hot wire, but there is no heat, only the sensation of heat. There is no burn mark or blister."

Followed by.......

"and you are forced to wonder what the world has come to when human ingenuity is pressed into service to make a thing like this."

And.....

"We use the word "medieval" as shorthand for brutality. The truth is that new technology makes racks look benign."

Hmmmm..... What has the world come to........

Huge crowds in Rome used to cheer as people were attacked by lions. The Spanish Inquisition used to crush people's bones as they watched. Prince Vlad Draculea's political strategy included lining the road to his home with people impaled on huge poles. In 777 Charlemagne gave the Saxon rebels a choice between baptism and execution. When they refused to convert, he had 4500 of them beheaded in one morning.

A burning sensation that leaves no mark. The horror.
posted by Vorpil at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2007 [10 favorites]


"Non-lethal" weaponry deployed en-mass to the police force is the last step toward totalitarianism. It removes the psychological barrier of using violence against your fellow citizens. They'll use it on demonstrations soon.

What conservatives don't seem to understand is that having a standing army capable of and willing to do the nasty work required to put down a popular insurgency is a bad, bad, bad thing. If we 'win' in Iraq, we'll lose America as consequence. We'll be an empire, not a republic.
posted by empath at 10:03 AM on September 20, 2007


It's that dry, British wit.

yes, it is I see that it is.
posted by caddis at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2007


Kattullus writes "Learning that the ray-gun is here and that it's a torture device killed a part of me."

what the you really think a 'ray-gun' would be?
posted by PugAchev at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2007


replace the with did
posted by PugAchev at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2007


"It is so easy to see the Taser being used routinely to control dissent and pacify"

Does angel dust render this ineffective, as well?
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:14 AM on September 20, 2007


There is some protection from Tasers now available. What about protection from millimeter wave?
posted by pracowity at 10:16 AM on September 20, 2007


Silent Guardian is supposed to be the 21st century equivalent of tear gas or water cannon - a way of getting crowds to disperse quickly and with minimum harm. Its potential is obvious.

Do ya really want a bunch of paniced, stampeding people?

What happens when you turn it off, do people stop running? What happens when you're leaving it a shithole in a war zone and got no place to run to?

What happens when a Marine, enraged over the death of his buddies, decides to turn the power up or doesn't turn it off?

Is it possible to be shielded from the ray, and if so, how long till the crowds figure this out?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Vorpil:

Huge crowds in Rome used to cheer as people were attacked by lions... etc ...A burning sensation that leaves no mark. The horror.

You, si,r are no friend of the Enlightenment
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


"They'll use it on demonstrations soon."

Right now, today, they use rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored riot squads with clubs. I fail to see how replacing those with something that causes a burning sensation is going to put us closer to totalitarianism.
posted by Vorpil at 10:19 AM on September 20, 2007


Metafilter did that to my comma, I swear it on 4500 headless Saxons.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:19 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like they way they act like this is some super-high tech device, the knowlege of which is beyond anyone in the third world. The moment they shoot it at someone who has the right equipment, he knows what your wave form looks like.

Since there are people out there making their own vacuum tubes out of jelly jars I can't imagine it will be very long after the secret is out before the first "rogue" ones appear in the field. I have no idea what happens after that but I'm going to work real hard on not looking hostile. To anyone.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:19 AM on September 20, 2007


Prince Vlad Draculea's political strategy included lining the road to his home with people impaled on huge poles. In 777 Charlemagne gave the Saxon rebels a choice between baptism and execution. When they refused to convert, he had 4500 of them beheaded in one morning.

vorpil: in most of the cases you cite, the victims died relatively quickly, and the horrors you describe aren't really intended to cause the victims further suffering so much as to intimidate others. the raytheon device is specifically intended to cause pain--in fact, levels of pain that could only have been induced and sustained through potentially fatal applications of force in the past. basically, this device potentially lets you inflict on someone the pain of being boiled alive indefinitely without even the hope of relief in death. how is that not an abomination?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


The Silent Guardian™ protection system is a revolutionary less-than-lethal directed energy application that employs millimeter wave technology to repel individuals or crowds without causing injury.

Some scientists debate the possibility of RF to cause cancer and here Raytheon's customers are set to bathe people in "millimeter wave" rays.

A shout out to Marie and Pierre Curie if I ever heard one.
posted by mistersquid at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2007


"Authorities have announced that yet another of the so-called plague meteors has landed, this time amidst a protest group just outside of President Bush's Crawford Texas compound. The national guard quickly evacuated and cordoned off the area and denied all photo access to the site, which is presently filled backhoes and trucks, presumably to excavate the meteor.

We're currently trying to speak to someone at the McDonald Observatory, as this unusual landfall was completely unexpected, and... I'm being told now that there is no need to speak to anyone at the McDonald Observatory.

Some protesters have been treated for meteor-shock, as well as meteor-contusions and meteor-lacerations, but officials report no serious injuries, and a representative for President Bush confirms that he was unharmed by the landfall and magnanimously wished the protesters a speedy recovery before pledging to bring all rogue satellites to justice."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


i'm not as worried about its supposed 'legitimate' uses in crowd control as i am its potential abuse as the be-all-end-all of torture devices.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:26 AM on September 20, 2007


levels of pain that could only have been induced and sustained through potentially fatal applications of force in the past.

You don't have a very good imagination if you really believe that.
posted by The World Famous at 10:27 AM on September 20, 2007


So how do you protect against millimeter wave radiation??

Lightweight metallic mesh under / in the clothes, like the vest you wear when foil fencing?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


The World Famous:

Well, not without leaving a mark anyway.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:30 AM on September 20, 2007


Well, not without leaving a mark anyway.

Makes torture claims awful difficult to prove.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:32 AM on September 20, 2007


Well, not without leaving a mark anyway.

I'm just not sure how "not leaving a mark" makes this less humane than leaving a mark. Just yesterday, I was reading the article about modern-day pirates drowning a guy's son and then cutting each of the guy's fingers off one knuckle at a time because they believed that he was hiding something in his boat. I'm pretty sure that's worse than a no-mark pain ray.
posted by The World Famous at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2007


now who's not using their imagination, The World Famous?

Does the phrase "Approved Alternative Interrogation Techniques" ring any bells?

How about "plausible deniability"?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:36 AM on September 20, 2007


I'd buy one of these and somehow reverse engineer it so that instead of emitting waves of intense pain, it emits waves of intense orgasm.

Something along these lines, perhaps?
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2007


A burning sensation that leaves no mark. The horror.

It was an unendurable burning sensation for a split second. And yes, the horror.
posted by nickyskye at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2007


Right now, today, they use rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored riot squads with clubs. I fail to see how replacing those with something that causes a burning sensation is going to put us closer to totalitarianism.

Because this comes closer to being a total response than those weapons.

When someone shoots tear gas at you, you know who did it, and chances are that not only do you know why, but that you willingly put yourself in a situation that was likely to lead to it happening.

Tear gas can't always get shot off at random in the business district during the workday, since there's no way to target it. And mobilizing a large squad of riot cops to use tear gas or rubber/plastic bullets is time and resource intensive and, for those still concerned about such things, a bit heavy in terms of optics. In theory, the people deploying these things can also be reasoned with, or, at the very least, their behaviour can be occasionally tempered by a fear for their own safety.

This, however, is a push-button solution, potentially remote, easy to deploy both logistically and emotionally, and, most frighteningly, doesn't necessarily involve any causal relation in the victim's mind.

It can conceivably be used to make people feel that punishment comes from the built environment itself, from the omnipresent atmosphere of authority, from the totality of their surroundings.

Fucking terrifying indeed.
posted by regicide is good for you at 10:41 AM on September 20, 2007 [17 favorites]


Well, not without leaving a mark anyway.

Makes torture claims awful difficult to prove.


I don't know what happened. We were just sitting here talking about stuff and he went completely insane.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2007


So how do you protect against millimeter wave radiation??

Perhaps a large metal reflector will bounce the waves back to the projector? Wouldn't that be delicious?
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:44 AM on September 20, 2007


This is the small version of the 'Active Denial System', covered in some depth on Wikipedia.

Also covered in some depth here on Metafilter.
posted by quin at 10:45 AM on September 20, 2007


So how do you protect against millimeter wave radiation??

Perhaps a large metal reflector will bounce the waves back to the projector? Wouldn't that be delicious?


That would be awesome if it could be defeated with something that simple.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:46 AM on September 20, 2007


In 20 years, everyone in the U.S. military will look like Iron Man.
posted by The World Famous at 10:47 AM on September 20, 2007


"the horrors you describe aren't really intended to cause the victims further suffering"

Huh? This device, it seems to me would cause a lot less "further suffering" than the methods currently used to torture people. And wildly less "further suffering" than methods used in previous centuries.

We already have ways to brutalize crowds, and people more than willing to do hands-on physical torture. I fail to see how something like this device makes those situations worse.

And lots of congresspersons just got voted out of office because they failed to speak out strongly enough when the president claimed it was okay to make people stand in one place for long periods. The idea that "the man" will be able to use this with impunity seems unrealistic.
posted by Vorpil at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2007


In 777 Charlemagne gave the Saxon rebels a choice between baptism and execution. When they refused to convert, he had 4500 of them beheaded in one morning.

My personal favorite example of this is when Byzantine Emperor Basil II blinded 20,000 Bulgarians after a battle. The finishing touch: he left 1 man out of every 100 with one eye, so he could lead them back to their leader (who died of a stroke two days later).
posted by nasreddin at 10:50 AM on September 20, 2007


What would happen if they fell into the hands of unscrupulous nations where torture is not unknown?

Like the US?
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:52 AM on September 20, 2007


Milgram Experiment, anyone?
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


I guess now's the time to start knitting your Faraday BVDs...
posted by stenseng at 10:58 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was meant as a comment on regicide's observation:
This, however, is a push-button solution, potentially remote, easy to deploy both logistically and emotionally...
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:00 AM on September 20, 2007


... and think of such applications as new kinds of spectator sports ("And Roderick scores, unleashing agony on the other half of the field!"), game shows (Title: "No pain, no gain")...
posted by yoHighness at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2007


This should be readied for deployment wherever Kerry speaks next. Eat freedom, rowdy students!
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crucio!
posted by rusty at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2007 [14 favorites]


You put them near security cameras, on light posts, you don't even need people involved.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2007


I'm guessing a tinfoil suit wouldn't help deflect the pain rays, then?
posted by jokeefe at 11:11 AM on September 20, 2007


Tin foil armor.

You know how your microwave has a mesh screen in the front window? That keeps all the microwaves inside. Same principle should allow you some defense against this, though I won't vouch for effectiveness / practicality.

Or, since it doesn't cause any immediate real damage, see if you can train people to resist the non-damaging pain, especially once a device falls into your hands. BDSM legions.

Or sniper the guy running it without him even seeing you. IED his Hummer.

Basically, this will sure be good at terrorizing innocent civilians, not prepared insurgents.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:12 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


game shows (Title: "No pain, no gain")...

How about "You Don't Know Pain", "Who Wants to Be in Pain" and "Wheel of Pain".
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:13 AM on September 20, 2007


Right now, today, they use rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored riot squads with clubs.

Shooting somebody and beating somebody is a lot different from just pushing a button and having an invisible ray make people move. It's removing people one step further away from the consequences of their actions.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


A burning sensation that leaves no mark. The horror.

Yes, this is horrifying.

It's not "just" a burning sensation. "Just" a burning sensation is a really terrible sunburn, which is bad enough. From what I've heard, the "sensation" from this ...... this thing -- can best be described as being doused in gasoline, set on fire and burned alive -- but without ever being killed.

[insert something here about Hell not being real, until we manage to invent it]

It leaves no marks, no evidence, nothing that could ever proove you were being tortured. Thats what this device is: push-button torture. You just strap someone into a chair, flick the switch and come back in fifteen minutes to find a jibbering madman covered in his own vomit and urine. Thats not horrifying?

You wanna talk about civil liberties? Kittens [above] said it best: this is literally a "STFU Gun". Nasty hippie protestors ruining your WTO summit? Create a "No-Go" zone bathed in this Pain-Field[1] and all the protestors will be forced to impotently protest in a "Free-Speech Zone" 10 miles away from the media, if at all. This device is a dictator's wet dream, but don't worry folks, it'll only be used for Freedom!

[1] Okay, you know that we're really living in a futuristic dystopia when somebody says "Hey Bob, wanna go protest the World Government?" and Bob says "No way, man, they've set up Pain Fields all over the city! Plus, they've got Attack Droids all around the Free Speech Zone!"
posted by Avenger at 11:15 AM on September 20, 2007 [13 favorites]


All EM weapons have the vulnerability of being defeated by a simple Faraday cage mechanism. You could protect most or all of someone's body from this pretty easily, if you expect it to be used. However, that's not really useful for anyone at whom the weapon is directed because as soon as you exhibit immunity to it, you've revealed that you're probably a person they want to be using lethal weapons against anyway. So, in the scenarios for which this weapon is designed, a defense against it is often not going to be useful unless your location is hidden.

I think the both sides of the debate in this thread make good points. I don't doubt that this will be abused, sometimes in truly horrific fashion. But I also think that people overestimate how appealing a "no marks" torture device is, in general, and also they are not considering the fact that there are tried-and-true "no mark" torture methods, anyway. And within the context this device is intended, it's better than the alternatives.

Within the context of democracies and protesters, the effectiveness of crowd dispersal methods and the high effectiveness of this weapon is a red herring. All crowd dispersal methods are effective enough and are generally bad things when used against peaceful civil protesters. The real battleground for the issues involved in this context is the political battleground. Either we have a political and legal structure that allows protesting, or we don't. The right to protest has been eroding in the US, and that's the real problem. When the authorities are able to use crowd control devices against peaceful protesters, then they can limit protests. Which they already do. Worse, in the current environment, protests don't even happen or are regulated away from anywhere they would be effective, thus rendering them impotent. Again, that's the real threat here, not a more effective crowd dispersal device. Any crowd dispersal device is already too effective in terms of it being a threat to the civil right of protest.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:17 AM on September 20, 2007 [9 favorites]


Heh, that TALON robot looks to me like a delivery system to give free M249s to insurgents, unless it's real good at unarmed combat.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Heh, that TALON robot looks to me like a delivery system to give free M249s to insurgents, unless it's real good at unarmed combat.

It won't have to be "good at unarmed combat" if it's carrying a short-range (say, 3 meters) omnidirectional Pain Generator.
posted by Avenger at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would love to have one of these in my car. It would be great to keep people from trying to wash my windshield.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2007


I can't believe the naysayers here. Evidently some people haven't read the recent taser misuse threads....
posted by JHarris at 11:29 AM on September 20, 2007


ROU_Xenophobe: Lightweight metallic mesh under / in the clothes, like the vest you wear when foil fencing?

Right, but you'd want to incorporate a set of mittens and a hood that you could deploy in a hurry. (It's a little troubling that this technology makes the aluminum beanie people look sane.)

Big reflectors won't be useful; the people using these will be inside faraday-caged trucks (seeing how many demonstrators they can corner in blind alleys).
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:30 AM on September 20, 2007


You know, aluminum-foil longjohns would work pretty well. I wonder if aluminized mylar would be good enough.
posted by bonehead at 11:39 AM on September 20, 2007


start saving your aluminum pie plates, broken fluorescent lightbulbs, discarded microwave ovens, and such. Make should have the build-your-own article ready by next spring.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:41 AM on September 20, 2007


We have met the tin-foil people, and they is us.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:42 AM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


If it penetrates half a millimeter of skin, there's on idea on defeating it.

But really, wire mesh in clothes. Or steam.

Also, they deny each other. Build the same thing but targeted, and you can invisibly burn it out. I also doubt that they can keep the emission spectra just perfect for long in the field.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2007


If it penetrates half a millimeter of skin, there's on idea on defeating it.

So would a leather gimp suit defeat it? Or does it have to be living tissue?
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2007


I would love to have one of these in my car. It would be great to keep people from trying to wash my windshield.

Damn poor people!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:50 AM on September 20, 2007


If it penetrates half a millimeter of skin, there's on idea on defeating it.

Fat people are immune?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:55 AM on September 20, 2007


Damn poor people!

I don't have anything against poor people, however, having some guy come up and spray dirty water on my clean windshield and then demand money for wiping it off is bullshit.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:55 AM on September 20, 2007


Fat people are immune?

No, they still have nerve cells in their skin.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:00 PM on September 20, 2007


My Google-fu is weak, but I remember a post here some time ago about a scientist that develops technologies for protester defense.

She had a portable parabolic antenna to bounce back sound waves from the nausea inducing sound wave crowd control weapon. The antenna is cheap enough that you can get dozens of people on the front line to deploy it, spending hundreds of dollars to make a million dollar weapon useless.

I propose parabolic aluminized placards and banners to be used by democracy loving, law abiding citizen protesters who may find themselves under an oppressive and tyranical government. It would be a shame if these millimeter waves were accidentally bounced into financial district offices, reporters or cops.

And I am in terrible fear that an enemy combatant somewhere develops some kind of rocket that homes into the source of high energy 1mm wavelength radio waves, endangering freedom fighting soldiers manning this device. Someone could figure out that it is easier that infrared homing.
posted by Dr. Curare at 12:01 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just imagine if they started asking you questions about the last federal election, too.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2007


Argh, that was directed here.
posted by regicide is good for you at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2007


I'd be worried that though this would qualify as an "unusual" sentence, it's non-lethal and non-crippling nature may prevent it from being disqualified as a "cruel and unusual" punishment.

Creepily, this could be used to "solve" the overcrowding problem in prisons.

Sentences could be slashed to tiny fractions of their current duration, sentence to be served in a cell bathed in millimeter-wave pain fields.

"For the crime of murder in the second degree, you are sentenced to 2 hours in a pain closet. Recordings of the sentence to be made available to the victim's next of kin upon request. Next case."

Scary thought: What if it actually discouraged recidivism?
Scarier thought: Why would the courts stop at major crimes?
posted by Crosius at 12:05 PM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


This is psychologically so much easier to use than other forms of crowd-control and forcing compliance (which TASERs are already used for).

You don't have to get up close and personal, it would be like operating a video game - sweep the crowd with the invisible beam and watch them scatter!

And hey, no permanent damage, right? If they trample each other it's their own damn fault for being careless.

I wonder what research has been done so far about the lasting ill effects of extreme pain - I could easily imagine rashes of PTSD cases in victims of this technology. Permanent damage doesn't have to be visible.
posted by JAHxman at 12:06 PM on September 20, 2007


In the wrong hands, this could drive people crazy. If you (and those around you) don't know it exists, how will you react when I secretly zap you? Which way will you try to run?

People will randomly scream, drop and roll, curse, run, etc..., and then be fine a second later. Imagine this happening while you're in court, detained by police, talking to your boss, taking an exam, etc... A few repeat performances, and most people will be willing to certify you insane.

If they get small enough, all public events could be ruined. On the plus side, my sports betting career is going to take off. I'm willing to bet if a Marine can't stand it, it's more than enough to throw a professional athlete off his game.
posted by ShadowCrash at 12:11 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can see the ads in "Sweatshop Today" or "Mining Mogul":

The Road to Yes is now The Greased Luge Track to Yes, thanks to The Negotiator TM!
posted by maryh at 12:14 PM on September 20, 2007


Getting more geeky about this, I believe the system relies on waves converging to cause pain on a focus point or along a plane or curve surface, so it may be reflected away, but the reflections wouldn't affect anyone else. I'm pretty sure this was a design requirement.

Nice try with the reflective protest signs, anyway.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:19 PM on September 20, 2007


We already had this argument, and as far as I'm concerned, I already won.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:25 PM on September 20, 2007


Death ray? Fiddlesticks!
posted by klangklangston at 12:28 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Basically, Cool Papa Bell sums up very well how I feel about this.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:39 PM on September 20, 2007


We already had this argument, and as far as I'm concerned, I already won.

Basically, Cool Papa Bell sums up very well how I feel about this.


Who cares?
posted by nasreddin at 12:42 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, if they put them on light posts or other public areas, shortly they will be in the hands of anyone who wants one enough to rip it off. That's frightening.
posted by Blackanvil at 12:57 PM on September 20, 2007


Just yesterday, I was reading the article about modern-day pirates drowning a guy's son and then cutting each of the guy's fingers off one knuckle at a time because they believed that he was hiding something in his boat.

World Famous, you were probably reading this, but here's how it reads:
One 19th-century episode involved the capture of British Captain James Ross. Believing his ship held a stash of silver coins, lanun forced him to watch as his young son was lashed to an anchor and drowned. Then they cut off Ross’s fingers joint by joint.
Unless you're using geologic time, that's not "modern-day."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2007


Working link.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:00 PM on September 20, 2007


Ah, right you are. My skimming skills are apparently lacking.

Nevertheless, it's not like ruthless people can't do that sort of thing now, too.
posted by The World Famous at 1:02 PM on September 20, 2007


"Right now, today, they use rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored riot squads with clubs. "

A man with a club can hold off one or two people. How many people can you control with a magic pain box?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2007


I think that the existence of ruthless people is why this is not a positive development.

Captain Ross: "That guy cut off my fingers! See?" Judge: "Ouch! Life in prison for him!"

Dissenter: "That guy tortured me for days with his pain machine!" Judge: "Prove it."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:13 PM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


So...WE’RE in the mirror universe?
*grows goatee*
(It’s far easier for civilized men to behave like barbarians than it is for barbarians to behave like civilized men)

Reminds me of the cops who swabbed the eyes of the protesters with mace. Justifiable because it was done “gently.”

“It's removing people one step further away from the consequences of their actions.” -posted by empath

Well said. (+ what EB said about efficiency in suppression of dissent)
And the biggest flaw is in provocation. Because if I’m no threat and this is turned on me I will kill the MFer using it (probably a bit later from some distance out). And in court the defense is “Bu-bu-but it’s harmless! What you did is violence.” Yeah, sorry pal, I’m a barbarian, violence to me is anything that increases hate.

“It is excellent To have a giant’s strength. But it is tyrannous to use it like a giant” - Measure for Measure
posted by Smedleyman at 1:32 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Han? Dune pain box?
posted by Muddler at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2007


There's a disconnect between those who think that the painray is basically a good idea and those who are horrified by it (I'm in the latter camp, by the by). Its stated purpose, of being an alternative to the use of lethal force, is a good one. I'd rather be zapped by one of these than shot by a gun. But those of us who are horrified by this technology know that this won't be the case. The painray will be used not only on the dangerous but also the annoying. Here's an example:

A cop has been called to the scene of a car accident where the two drivers are arguing furiously. The cop arrives. Driver A backs away. Driver B starts shouting at the cop. Before things like tasers and the painray the cop would be forced to either calm Driver B down or use violent force. In the majority of cases the cop will choose to calm Driver B because the violent force he has access to is too severe (gun, nightstick) or has the possibility of resulting in harm to the cop (restraining physicially). With a painray or a taser there's a third option, and as we've learned in recent years, that third option is very, very tempting.
posted by Kattullus at 1:42 PM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dissenter: "That guy tortured me for days with his pain machine!"

Judge: "Prove it."

Dissenter: [offers sworn testimony accompanied by other evidence specifically re: pain machines]

Jury: "We believe the dissenter, because we read a Metafilter thread that predicted this very thing!"

Why are we acting as if scars are the only kind of evidence that is admissible in court?
posted by The World Famous at 1:57 PM on September 20, 2007


I'm guessing the field radiates out in some sort of cone. This would make it rather difficult to use it on more than one person at a time at close range. I think protesters should start practicing flanking maneuvers as soon as possible.

"You will feel pain in this hand within the box. Pain. But! Withdraw the hand and I'll touch your neck with my gom jabbar -- the death so swift it's like the fall of the headsman's axe. Withdraw your hand and the gom jabbar takes you. Understand?"

Seriously? Of all the sci-fi novels we could be living in now, it had to be Dune? So now an army of fanatical desert tribesmen is going to defeat our attempts to take control of the one substance that enables all transit, manufacturing and commerce?

Oh, well...the spice must flow.

*puts on styrofoam underwear*
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:02 PM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Science marches on.
posted by vronsky at 2:03 PM on September 20, 2007


Why are we acting as if scars are the only kind of evidence that is admissible in court?

Umm...The Jon Burge case?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


"See this... Put your right hand in the box."
"What's in the box?"
"Pain."

Welcome to the Frank Herbert Dystopian Future.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Bullies aside (granting there are those cops who do use pain as provocation so they can “defend” themselves)
I also question the lack of not only immediate experiance in the use of force this might foster, but also the discipline training in use of force instills (in my experiance).
Most excessive violence stems from a lack of control and self-assurance.
Indeed, one of the (many) problems I had with the Rodney King beating was the utter lack of technique. If one cedes the point to the officers involved in that scenario, that King was threatening them, one has to ask why were they so ineffective in neutralizing him (most particularly given superior numbers).

Training costs time and money but technique can be tempered to fit the situation. This can’t.
I agree given it stays in it’s niche it could be useful.
But I very much suspect that money will be spent on this (and things like this, as it has been in the past) instead of training.
I think the majority of police officers are fairly professional, but those people aren’t born, they’re built through training and discipline. This requires neither. Get more magic cures like this and then you have yet more marshmellow push button cops who would be better off on the rubber gun squad because they have no idea how to subdue a suspect or force compliance without causing pain.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:43 PM on September 20, 2007


One thing to remember...whenever something like this is displayed to the public (as in the article) it's a sure bet that they are showing you v.1, and that v2, 3, 4, etc. are most probably either well into development or actually deployed.

The idea of the redneck chuckleheads in my hometown police having access to anything like this evacuates my bowels in mere nanoseconds.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:00 PM on September 20, 2007


The idea of the redneck chuckleheads in my hometown police having access to anything like this evacuates my bowels in mere nanoseconds.

Stop giving them ideas for the next device: The bowel ray.
posted by The World Famous at 3:03 PM on September 20, 2007


This technology is too dangerous to be left to human operators. What we need to deploy this system safely and effectively are large autonomous robots with a sophisticated AI.
posted by Krrrlson at 3:05 PM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


”What we need to deploy this system safely and effectively are large autonomous robots with a sophisticated AI.”

One thing I like about the Neil Asher Polity books (and a few others I can think of) is that they portray controlling AIs as truly beneficial to humanity, which is, of course, a possibility.

The Polity books are sort of funny and thought-provoking at the same time as in his Polity there are always some rebellious humans who just instinctively rebel at what is, in fact, the tyranny of the AIs. But in these books, the AIs run an interstellar government that is more benign than any of the human-run alternatives. We—or at least some of us, certainly many Americans—have an instinctive revulsion to this, feeling sure that there must be a dark side to this AI tyranny. But, so far in these books, there's not.

Asher is a Brit.

So much of science-fiction is dominated by the American sensibility which will automatically emphasize individuality and independence at the cost of social cohesion and social justice. A lot of the tropes that we take for granted are deeply influenced by these biases and should not be seen as a barometer for either what is truly rational or what most people are likely to think. All this is to answer this comment and the earlier one that talked about pain devices only being used by bad guys in science-fiction. Well, so? Science-fiction cliches are an accurate measure of morality and justice?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:17 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Jury: "We believe the dissenter, because we read a Metafilter thread that predicted this very thing!""

Quick, send every jury to this thread!

(haha internerdz)
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on September 20, 2007


Science marches on.
posted by vronsky at 4:03 PM on September 20 [+] [!]


How come no one ever writes this when a new cure for a disease is found or anything else positive science has produced. It would make much more sense writing:

Philosophy marches on.

Ethics marches on.

Or perhaps even,

Humanity marches on.
posted by ozomatli at 3:22 PM on September 20, 2007


I'm pondering who I should fear more...
...the folks that proposed and built this...
...the folks that built it knowing that it would be marketed...
...the company selling it...
...the folks that will buy it...
...the folks that having bought it plan to use it.

My list keeps growing longer...
posted by batgrlHG at 3:54 PM on September 20, 2007


Ethereal Bligh, if I remember correctly, the last story in Asimov's I, Robot has the premise of benevolent AIs running the world.
posted by Kattullus at 3:59 PM on September 20, 2007


“Ethereal Bligh, if I remember correctly, the last story in Asimov's I, Robot has the premise of benevolent AIs running the world.”

There are a few. It's a minority plot element in comparison to the much, much more common evil overlord AIs. AIs are usually seen as bad.

Whether AIs could be good and whether an AI dictatorship over humanity could be a good thing, are of course two different matters. The former may be true while the latter false. But I dislike the general negative AI theme because I believe that AI is possible and we'll one day achieve it, and I fear that we won't recognize their rights and we will create a large slave population. In other words, I don't subscribe to anthropocentric chauvinism. Being a thinking being is special, being a human being, not so much.

I haven't read Asimov since childhood. He was an important influence, but I started to find his writing flat and unpleasant when I was an early teen. But of course I do recall the favorable portrayal of robots in I, Robot and some other books. That's probably among the first influences on me such that I see things this way. I can't remember ever thinking that machines must necessarily only be simulacrums and not people.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:11 PM on September 20, 2007


Who cares?

Well, we already had this exact discussion is what I'm saying... a couple times in fact. Nothing has changed. So apparently nobody cares that this is basically a double, with editorial content added as well. And if someone has stated my position already in the thread, why not throw my support behind him by saying I agree? It's pretty simple; why do you need to be an asshole about it?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:18 PM on September 20, 2007


As my earlier comment suggests, this is at least a hextuple.

hextuple?
posted by quin at 4:25 PM on September 20, 2007


One thing I like about the Neil Asher Polity books

Please tell me you've read Banks' Culture books. The Polity books are sort of a goofied-up version of the Culture with extra asplosions.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:32 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there a wave of stories right after the Iraq invasion of US troops using large, humvee-mounted energy weapons of some sort?
Oh, yeah. There were.
Apologizes in advance for the Rense link. But, what the hell...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:48 PM on September 20, 2007


"How come no one ever writes this when a new cure for a disease is found or anything else positive science has produced.'

Umm, cause they do? It is usually the lead in sentence or the headline.
posted by vronsky at 4:50 PM on September 20, 2007


If used with its intended purpose in mind, then great. We all know it'll fall into the wrong hands, if it hasn't already, and create the ultimate torture device. I can just extrapolate 20 years into the future that I would be on the receiving end of that thing for God-knows-why. *shudder*
posted by zardoz at 4:53 PM on September 20, 2007


> The bowel ray.
See also: Brown note.
posted by ardgedee at 5:33 PM on September 20, 2007


“Please tell me you've read Banks' Culture books.”

Of course. But only a few of them, most are out of print in the US. But if your point is that Banks is in a different league than Asher, than I agree.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:47 PM on September 20, 2007


I've always recognized your username.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:48 PM on September 20, 2007


I work across the street from a Raytheon office, and I'm always captivated by the ominous radar that turns 24/7 on top of the building. I can definitely imagine something like this being produced there.
posted by saraswati at 6:00 PM on September 20, 2007


It doesn't kill. that's good. could be used to easily break up otherwise lawful free speech protests without seeming like the government is committing a wrong. that's bad.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:04 PM on September 20, 2007


I'm pondering who I should fear more...
...the folks that proposed and built this...
...the folks that built it knowing that it would be marketed...
...the company selling it...
...the folks that will buy it...
...the folks that having bought it plan to use it.

My list keeps growing longer...


Looks like it is working great. A few more fears and they will have completed their objective.
posted by Mr_Zero at 6:56 PM on September 20, 2007


Sentences could be slashed to tiny fractions of their current duration, sentence to be served in a cell bathed in millimeter-wave pain fields.

Stage 3 Guild Navigator: Do as we say, or you will live out the rest of your natural life in a pain amplifier!
posted by kid ichorous at 7:18 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


So how much pain can a human take before they die? I'm sure I saw this on an episode of House.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:24 PM on September 20, 2007


So how much pain can a human take before they die?

A. 9.5 * 10^5 stubbed toes
B. 5 Raytheon death ray minutes
C. One broken heart
D. I dunno... but we're about to find out!

Pencils down.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:50 PM on September 20, 2007


Out of print, but widely available at cheap prices through the usual online used booksellers...

Which reminds me that I need another copy of Against A Dark Background since I left mine on a plane in May...

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 PM on September 20, 2007


It will be fantastic when this finally trickles down to a key fob sized device. Driving slow in the fast lane. Oh hey, I can sense that the guy behind me wants me to move over. Eat your vegetables. For the second time, I don't want to dance with you. NO, NO, I don't wash my windshield washed while I am stuck at this red light. Or hey, where are my breads sticks? Or, What do you mean you don't want to see each other any more. Or hey, you are making a personal call on company time. Or hey, may I have all you Halloween candy. Or hey, are you trying to get an abortion. Or hey, hold still while I (not me) violate you. Oh hey, do you understand how come you should believe in my god. Oh hey, I don't want you to score that touchdown. Sorry about all the Oh heys, but I felt like I was on a roll. I am sure I was not. But, now that I have thought about it, this technology is the end of civilization.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:32 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The tech itself isn't the end of civilization. Just think of how it would have been had this been invented, say, 20 years ago. We'd have been confident that it would not have been misused by "the good guys". We'd have been wrong. Just stupidly, completely wrong, but there would be that persistent belief.

We fear and hate this tech because we know it will be misused. We have an overabundance of evidence that abuse of power is rampant and yet on the rise. This isn't the end of civilization. The Horsemen are simply acquiring better tools to do the job.
posted by dreamsign at 9:24 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, good. Couldn't we at least have invented the tasp first, instead of inventing the exact opposite device?

And, it penetrates only a 64th of an inch? So, say, the average wetsuit would be adequate protection?
posted by FormlessOne at 10:12 PM on September 20, 2007


The Silent Guardian™ protection system ...

The military is deploying it as Shock Gnaw™ (because you'll want to chew your hand off after brief exposure). And guess what its brand name is in Arabic? Tabu Ghraiv™.
posted by rob511 at 11:05 PM on September 20, 2007


And, it penetrates only a 64th of an inch? So, say, the average wetsuit would be adequate protection?

Unlikely, unless neoprene highly absorbs at 95 GHz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System
"As the beam excites the water molecules in the skin, water bearing materials such as wet clothing/towels, wet pastes/gels, vegetables or meat could effectively absorb the energy, although the military claims that wearing wet clothing actually intensifies the effect."

Vegetables or meat. Hmm...
http://www.artnet.de/artwork/424316969/137214/zhang-huan-my-new-york-4.html
[NSF-PETA]
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:39 PM on September 20, 2007


Vorpil writes "today, they use rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored riot squads with clubs. I fail to see how replacing those with something that causes a burning sensation is going to put us closer to totalitarianism."

This is a selective, low resource, area effect weapon. I bet it's possible to fire it through a sheet of plastic meaning even if you were video taping 360x180 degrees around you still might not be able to prove it was being used. Bullets, tear gas, and armoured riot squads are all very visually noticeable. The ray is electrical so no serious concerns about resupply. It's a horrific weapon IMO.


Ethereal Bligh writes "However, that's not really useful for anyone at whom the weapon is directed because as soon as you exhibit immunity to it, you've revealed that you're probably a person they want to be using lethal weapons against anyway."

If this gets wide spread deployment I can see burka like garment becoming popular. Unlike say encryption, a burka is easy to deploy and doesn't require a bought in base (IE: it still works even if people you associate with don't use it).

The World Famous writes "Why are we acting as if scars are the only kind of evidence that is admissible in court?"

Are you trolling or just completely ignorant of the history of human rights abuses by totalitarian and police state governments? Because historically the only claims of brutality that hold up are the ones with physical evidence.
posted by Mitheral at 12:04 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Formless one: Just what I tought when I saw the thread.
posted by Harald74 at 12:22 AM on September 21, 2007


According to Wikipedia's article on the Active Denial System, it's a short range 95 Ghz microwave transmitter that raises the temperature of water molecules in your skin. Basically, your little goose is getting cooked.

Obviously, the best defense is to not be there when it happens, and even a dispersed crowd can move around and regroup quickly into a threat from a new direction. These babies ain't cheap: can enough ADS weapons be fielded to have a real deterrent effect?

Assuming that your average mob is dumb enough to charge a weapon like this head-on — Over the top, lads! — it seems like a simple plywood shield, with a hand strap on the back (and possibly wrapped in water-soaked cloth) would absorb the radiation before it reaches your skin.

The metal grille in the door of a microwave oven reflects radiation back into the oven, but it's perforated so you can look through it. Perhaps a small opening could be cut in the plywood and covered with sheer water-soaked cloth.

What common household or construction materials reflect microwaves at 95 GHz? How about foil-faced insulation board?

Can ADS weapons be used in fog or rain? What happens when the dish gets wet, gets dirty, or gets hit with a paint balloon?
posted by cenoxo at 12:25 AM on September 21, 2007


I'd guess the dish getting hit with paint wouldn't do much. Either the paint is transparent to the operational frequencies in which case no effect or the paint is reflective but because it is fairly evenly distributed over the surface of the dish it just acts like the surface of the dish.

Now if you could hit the emitter with either an aluminum paint or a magnetic paint1 you could at minimum attenuate the emitter and at best burn the emitter out.

I wonder if a potato gun shooting aluminum foil spit balls at the dish would be effective.

[1] magnetic paint has a suspension of iron grit.
posted by Mitheral at 3:43 AM on September 21, 2007


The "Cheney Special" model that is soon to be installed around the White House has three power settings: Medium, Well Done, and Extra Crispy.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:45 AM on September 21, 2007


i was pretty iffy about tasers being introduced over in new zealand (still pending review, formal introduction likely) because the idea of them being used as an alternative is just an ideal. frankly, i don't believe anyone seriously believes that they would only be used as an alternative, and i have the same worry here.

myself, i believe that such a weapon is horrific. after reading this article i actually felt physically ill. i'm sure i was not the only one. can you imagine it being used appropriately by *anyone* ? the kind of power a device like this grants is ridiculous, whether in the hands of a police officer, soldier, over-zealous security guard or even the average citizen. the fascist in me is squealing with joy at the possibilities, i'll admit, but it's a feeling i only permit to the extent that i can analyse it. this device allows pain to be caused to an extent that is not possible without it, because said pain would result in death. this can be extended indefinately. allowing *anyone* that power is a terrible idea. it's that simple.

you can talk about "alternatives" all you like, but that's just marketing speak. companies like raytheon, outside of their press releases, speak of "adding to the arsenal" which is far closer to the truth.

i can't speak for the police in the states, as i have no experience of them, but i wouldn't trust ours with such a weapon. the temptation is too great. the thing about giving police firearms is that, worse come to worse, they can retaliate with lethal force, but the significant nature of said force is such that it emphasises they should only be used as a last resort. having this abrupt kind of distinction focuses the officers on the *real* tools of dealing with problems, communciation and reason. you can talk about giving people more options, but people are lazy. why talk down a belligerent man when it's easier to taze him, handcuff him and take him down to the station? hell, i'm only a young guy, but i think i know enough about human nature to say with certainty this weapon would be used far more than is necessary and that "alternative" would fade away pretty quickly.

in short, i know it's reactionary and alarmist, but imagining the potential for this weapon ( someone restrained in a room with one of these on maximum setting for hours or even days ) and that it would massively increase the potential for human suffering caused by other humans, very little could justify it ever being released from a locked vault somewhere very deep under the earth.

i have a picture in my head of two opposing parties been given "doomsday" weapons, with the argument that both of them having such power that it would cause stability. in practice, however, this is far from the case. we know better. i hope.
(sorry for going on so long ;) )
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:31 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Mitheral — aluminum roofing paint balloons, then.

The truck-mounted ADS weapon looks somewhat like the beam cannon in Forbidden Planet (1956) [YouTube — start about 40 seconds in with Phil Tippett's remarks]. Perhaps the ADS is the real monster from the ID.

If it was aimed down typical city canyons lined with glass and metallic building panels, wouldn't the microwave beam reflect every which way? It can't penetrate building walls, but what about glass windows? No more innocent bystanders (or journalists) hanging around to watch the action...
posted by cenoxo at 8:11 AM on September 21, 2007


...Medium, Well Done, and Extra Crispy.

Put ADS on an all-terrain tripod mount, and you'll really be cookin'.
posted by cenoxo at 8:39 AM on September 21, 2007


You guys got it quite wrong, I suspect. You don't put this thing on someone and leave it on! That's really no fun at all. You put them in a box, or even a cell. You leave them there. At random intervals, this turns on. Perhaps only for a fraction of a second. Maybe a minute. You can have fun playing with how long you allow between application.

Surely you understand, with intense pain, it is important to allow the subject a chance to recover their breath, and let their heart slow to something approaching normal? One doesn't want to have a corpse, avoiding corpses cluttering up the place is the whole idea. You want someone compliant, perhaps even broken. But not dead, that's quite useless.

With a little sophistication added to the menu, you will end up with someone that happily believes whatever you want them to believe. They will be whatever you want them to be. And all it takes is a few days in a box, or a cell, and a suitably sadistic and trained operator (who could probably supervise many individuals at once).

You will be 'all you can be', for whatever value of 'all' whoever holds the controls decides. And nothing more. It is quick and easy to turn a person into a mindless slave with such tools. With more effort, you might even keep the mind in tact, burning out only the soul. Oh, and yes, you will believe in a soul when this thing turns on you.
posted by Goofyy at 8:56 AM on September 21, 2007


the thing about giving police firearms is that, worse come to worse, they can retaliate with lethal force, but the significant nature of said force is such that it emphasises they should only be used as a last resort. having this abrupt kind of distinction focuses the officers on the *real* tools of dealing with problems, communciation and reason.

Exactly. Well said.
posted by dreamsign at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It won't have to be "good at unarmed combat" if it's carrying a short-range (say, 3 meters) omnidirectional Pain Generator.

It would be fuck-all use against my 3.5m stick. You can increase the range of your OMFG (Omnidirectional Microwave-Firing Gun) but I will just buy a longer stick.

At some point I* will replace that stick with an RPG when the length gets just a bit too far and then you'll have a device that costs tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars FUBAR'd by something that cost about $50.

So yeah. Another fucking grand idea for T.W.A.T. that will end up being used against students and hippies.


*I being a terrorist/freedom fighter. Well, I'm not but you get the picture.
posted by longbaugh at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a mistake in the making.
posted by pracowity at 1:50 PM on September 21, 2007


With a little sophistication added to the menu, you will end up with someone that happily believes whatever you want them to believe. They will be whatever you want them to be. And all it takes is a few days in a box, or a cell, and a suitably sadistic and trained operator (who could probably supervise many individuals at once).

Why would you need an operator at all? A microcontrolled relay fed by a suitable random number generator would be much cheaper.
posted by odinsdream at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2007


Okay, so build this thing, and sell it to the military, and then someday someone gets hold of one privately, and their kid uses it to shoot at people driving cars past his house from his bedroom window, and people go crazy, and the media goes crazy, and the gun lobby defends thsi person's right to have one, and eventually they legalize it, then everyone has a ray gun, only they modify 'em (from plans on the interweb) to melt normal guns and other ray guns from a distance, and now it's a mad dash to see who can be the last one with a ray gun, at least until the next shipment arrives from Raytheon.
posted by davejay at 3:51 PM on September 21, 2007


Okay, so build this thing, and sell it to the military, and then someday someone gets hold of one privately, and their kid uses it to shoot at people driving cars past his house

Why do you think the technology will become instantly, readily available to the average joe? The military has oodles of 100-year-old technology ...

* Chemical weapons
* Machine guns
* Rockets
* Grenades

... that have become commonplace, militarily-speaking, that have not as-yet become easily available to the average joe, because of various restrictions on sale and manufacture, or exorbitant cost.

What you're arguing here is a slippery slope fallacy.

I mean, I've wanted a cell-phone jammer for years now, because I hate driving in this city with yahoos on the phone changing lanes. That tech exists, but they're a little hard to track down, they're expensive, and it wouldn't be difficult for the phone companies to find me and report me to the FCC.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2007


Cool Papa Bell writes "* Chemical weapons
"* Machine guns
"* Rockets
"* Grenades"


All these things are both single use (well machine gun ammo) and require the ability to safely handle dangerous chemicals. Chemical weapons are a poor choice for hobbyists especially because they are non selective even when deployed by conventional forces. Many of the precursors to the dangerous stuff is tracked and/or is difficult to buy. As well a significant portion of vandals refrain from activities that injure or kill people.

Contrast to the pain inducer. It's very selective. Obviously we don't know what's in the black box so the following is conjecture. However it's a safe bet the only consumable is electricity. The device itself probably isn't much more than some electronics, a wave guide and an oscillator plus driver. All well within the ability of even the minorly skilled electronic hobbyist and figurable through reverse engineering. And if you fail the worst that happens is you let the smoke out.

As you said cell phone jammers depend on omni directionally broadcasting their location in places where there is a net of receivers capable of pinpointing their location. The owners of those detectors have a strong vested interest in catching people jamming the signals. Contrast to the pain inducer which is both directional and doesn't have anyone routinely looking for the radiation being produced.

The pain inducer is going strongly appeal to the kind of asshats who drop cinder blocks off of overpasses.
posted by Mitheral at 2:24 PM on September 22, 2007


Nah, you can get most of those easily enough.

* Chemical weapons

Bleach and ammonia are readily available.

* Grenades

Pipe bombs are basically grenades. To make a pipe bomb, you need some pipe and some matchheads, neither of which are hard to obtain.

* Rockets

Take pipe bomb. Leave off a cap. You have a bad rocket. If you want a better rocket, make some fins out of sheet metal and make your own solid rocket fuel, which I've not done but gather is not difficult. Or just go and buy black powder, which is readily available. Or buy ammunition, which is readily available, and remove the propellant.

* Machine guns

I have no way of knowing how true it is, but I've seen it commonly asserted that any serious metalworking hobbyist could build a sten gun if they really wanted to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:14 PM on September 22, 2007


Nah, you can get most of those easily enough.

That's not entirely the point, though. The point is that while most of these things are common in the military, or even easy to make, they are not common in the general populace, despite what you might think. Go ahead -- buy a fully automatic machine gun. Come back when you have one. I'm not saying you couldn't. Just that it's unlikely you would.

So, the "oh noes if we make one, everyone will have one" reaction just doesn't wash.

The device itself probably isn't much more than some electronics, a wave guide and an oscillator plus driver. All well within the ability of even the minorly skilled electronic hobbyist and figurable through reverse engineering.

So, make one. I'm sure you can. But I'm betting you won't.

The kind of people that have both the know-how and the inclination to make a homebrew version of this machine, and then abuse it, are extremely rare. And just like a cell phone jammer, commercial availability can be restricted.

The pain inducer is going strongly appeal to the kind of asshats who drop cinder blocks off of overpasses.

I think you'll find these asshats will just stick with the cinder blocks and .22 rifles, rather than advance to electrical engineering. Cinder blocks are easier.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:20 PM on September 22, 2007


Well, I've built an (unlicenced) microwave transmitter before. But I didn't design the thing, my electronics engineering practical knowledge is just above know which end of a soldering iron to hold (the non pointy end). I just downloaded the plans off a BBS.

The hard part of a radar gun is the doppler comparator. I didn't need that part for TFT so I didn't bother. I don't know what the tricky part of the pain inducer is, maybe it's not something you can brew up at home. However it may be simple, we won't know until the plans are out there.

However unlike a bomb or a bullet or chlorine gas (or a brick thru the windshield) this thing leaves no physical evidence. Hit someone with it as they are rounding a corner at a 110 and even if they don't crash the police don't have a whole lot to go on. Trying to figure out which apartment in the high rise overlooking the sidewalk is tingling pedestrians is going to be tough. Remember how annoying laser pointers in theatre were when they became affordable? The risk of being caught was low because it was hard to figure out where they were being pointed from. Same thing here. Making blue boxes illegal didn't cut down on freaking, going to out of band signalling was the solution.
posted by Mitheral at 9:03 PM on September 22, 2007


The point is that while most of these things are common in the military, or even easy to make, they are not common in the general populace, despite what you might think.

they don't have to be for a few people to cause trouble with them

* Chemical weapons

it's been done

* Grenades

there was a story in the local paper a few years back about someone who handed his girlfriend a live grenade with the instruction not to let the button go up if she wanted to live and then walked away

people get ahold of those more than you think

* Rockets

you don't have to be a rocket scientist to get those, either - ask hamas

* Machine guns

it's my understanding that some semi-automatic rifles can be changed to fully automatic with a simple kit - illegal as hell, but ...

if a bunch of low-tech guns shops on the pakistan-afghan border can make ak47s from scratch, americans could

The kind of people that have both the know-how and the inclination to make a homebrew version of this machine, and then abuse it, are extremely rare.

right now, yes - fast forward to a time of bitter division and national crisis and who can say?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:04 PM on September 22, 2007


if a bunch of low-tech guns shops on the pakistan-afghan border can make ak47s from scratch, americans could

Heh. That's quite funny. Modern western consumer types don't make things - cut off your access to supply chains and we're as helpless as babies.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on September 23, 2007


Old news [self/], of course.

The real fun comes when someone hooks up an array of these devices to a monitoring system so that you can use it to continually induce burning pain in random places all over a subject's body. Then you haven't just got an agonizer anymore -- you've got an agony booth.

(This is one thing mundane SF could be good for...)
posted by lodurr at 5:44 PM on September 27, 2007


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