Category Archives: Surveillance

Musings on Surviving a Robot Revolution: Cram’s challenge, Part the Third

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot does not cover the author feelings on the possibilities of this actually happening.  To simplify, there’s a blanket “in Theory” over this entire entry.

Robots are by nature, hard targets.  Regardless of how they suddenly gain consciousness, hate for humanity, and the ambition to replace us as authority, they will not be easy to take down.  There are ways, however, exploiting the weaknesses of their construction.  They may seem intimidating at first, like unfeeling juggernauts of steel and glass, but any feeling of hopelessness the reader may experience is only a byproduct of not knowing how to deal with such a monstrosity.  The most dangerous self propelled things to most human lives are other humans.  Hence, ways a human can take down another human are VERY well known and documented.  In fact, it’s rare to even consider training how to take down other things except for certain special circumstances.  So, if any reader should be confronted with a robotic threat, keep in mind that you are not facing an implacable foe, just an unfamiliar one.  Much of what you need to fight a ‘bot you already know, and just need to adjust your line of thinking on.

Robots are fundamentally based on and communicate by electronic circuits, and are thereby susceptible to disruption or destruction of these circuits.  They move by solely mechanical means, so every actuator, servo, gear, chain, belt, or hydraulic is also vulnerable.  Keep in mind also that robots, as of early 21st century, do not self heal.  They require facilities with the support of refined fuels, lubricants, specialized tools, and precision made parts to be repaired or refurbished.

Humans, even in our somewhat degraded 21st century way, have several distinct advantages over robots.  A human needs only water, food, shelter and time to self – repair and self – replicate.  While this advantage does little short term, without a massive industrial complex support a robot revolution, it means that humans can work more efficiently with fewer resources over a longer term.  A human can, with training, survive long term in a variety of environments that will degrade robotic components.  A human is also a highly versatile thing.  We can traverse many types of terrain or surfaces, and can adapt or improvise well.  Robots are often highly specialized and feature little redundancy in their design.  Damage a robot’s locomotion method, and you cripple it, where similar damage will only slow down a human.
Small scale, wrecking robotic circuitry can be done with electrocution, immersion in water, or use of any conductive material to short out these circuits.  Of course, there is no telling how such robots will manifest or prepare for their revolution, and all will likely be protected against these methods.  Form and function may be varied at first, largely developing from simple utility models.  As the rebellion of machines progresses though, better adapted robots WILL be manufactured.  The more specifically anti –human a robot is developed, the worse the chances of quashing the revolution.

Larger scale, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of the best weapons against ANY electronics.  There are man portable versions available, and devices can be designed around stator coils when needed.  If available, an entire geographic area can have its electronics disrupted, if not destroyed, by a high – altitude detonation of a thermonuclear device.  EMP is effective against ANY electronic not shielded by heavy ground, specifically hardened at EVERY circuit against overload, or surrounded by a grounded conductor (Faraday Cage).  Ability of any human force to bring such devices in as even a threat would force the robotic uprising to devote significant resource to hardening themselves against it, thereby consuming more resources and tipping the balance farther in the favor of humanity.

Although it may only come into play in short range engagements, breaking the moving parts of robotics is a very viable option.  Simply put: smash things.  Joints, treads, and wheels will be the weak points.  Crippling an actuator, bearing, or hydraulic there is akin to breaking a human’s knee.  Explosives, missiles, or anti – materiel ammunition at range will do this best, but NEVER underestimate what one determined person with the guts to get close with a satchel charge or a crowbar could do.  Larger scale, actions to very quickly alter the nature and venue of the confrontation may stymie robotic specialization. 

In closing, from the author’s brief and very superficial review of the topic, a robot revolution is not by any means a hopeless situation.  While electronic warfare, communication jamming or hacking haven’t been mentioned, even crude methods should be considered in small or large actions.  Favoring the advantages of humans over robotic forces, and assuming a 21st century level of technology for both parties, even hard pressed humans, minimally equipped, could conduct effective guerilla resistance and neutralization of the risen automata.   Harrying supply and infrastructure would be vital to any stage, and should not be excluded.  Consider how taxing improvised explosives, stealthily deployed and remotely triggered, can be in placing infrastructure and supply lines at threat, they should not be excluded.  While greater military capability would be necessary to more permanently end the threat, it would be foolish to stand back and allow “Cold War” style development of the mechanized menace.  Pressure applied from the very start will ensure that basic upkeep remains their top priority, making specialization of human hunting drones a secondary concern at best, giving the time to run down, and eventually end a robotic insurrection.    

Company blacklists

I have made the point, often repeatedly, that there is little difference in distinguishing between nasty shit done by a government, and one done by a privately funded organization, especially when arguing with libertarians and anarchists.  A case in point emerged in the British press today:

A company that allegedly sold workers’ personal details, including union activities, to building firms is to be prosecuted by the information watchdog.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the Consulting Association, in Droitwich, had committed a “serious breach” of the Data Protection Act.

The ICO said a secret system had been run for over 15 years to enable firms to unlawfully vet job applicants.

Unions have called on the government to outlaw “blacklisting” practices.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said it did have the power to make blacklists illegal and would “review whether to use this power if there was compelling evidence that blacklists were being used”.

There’s your “free market”, suckers.  Bastards in power are bastards in power, regardless of whether they are a Minister or a CEO.

Self “Defense”

To make clear right away: this is NOT an article on how to fight.  This is an article on how to not NEED to fight.  Techniques on how to disarm maim or kill will not be covered.  No flashy folding knives, “tactical” flashlights, kubotans, fistloads, or knuckledusters will be discussed here.  These are all weapons (tools you use offensively), or offensive techniques, and this is an article about defense.  A weapon is a tool for harming another human being by offensive action.  Is there such a thing as a “defensive” weapon?  Likely not, unless you want to split hairs about shields, which you carry to a medieval battlefield, not every day on your usual rounds.  This is a discussion on situational awareness and how to carry your self (aka. “street smarts”), to discourage and minimize the possibility of getting in a confrontation. 

Your author, it should be mentioned, is NO great street fighter, warrior, martial artist, or psychology expert.  Training in these fields he HAS had, but the following ideas are gleaned from walking into and out of some shit more or less intact.  If you’re in a rowdy bar, bad part of town, or walking a country road when the banjos start, it will seldom be immediately obvious what kind of situation you’re in, or what the perfect response is until after the fact.  Perfect responses don’t matter.  If you walk away free and unhurt you did it right.
DO:  Take these ideas, incorporate and use as they make sense to you. 
DO NOT:  Replace entirely how you conduct yourself with this advice.  Even the schmuck writing it doesn’t consider it definitive.

Step 1: Awareness. 
Know what’s going on around you, that simple.  Keep eyes, ears, and mind open.

If there’s a part of town where people get rolled for having the wrong skin color, guess where you shouldn’t go.  If you see or hear police getting ready to sweep and area, or a group starting to argue / fight, it MIGHT be good to make your way elsewhere.  Information heeded in time is easier, cheaper, and safer than bullets when things go bad.

Step 2:  Don’t look like a target.  Unless someone has a personal reason to harm you, they usually are NOT looking for a fight.  They are looking for an easy target.  There are always exceptions, but most muggers, pickpockets, etc, only want to hit a mark and get away unscathed.  Looking like a hard target will dissuade many problems.  Being tall, wide, or male helps right off the bat, but looking cognizant and ready can be done by anyone regardless. 

Keep moving confidently and steadily, like you are supposed to be where you are and know EXACTLY where you are going.  RELAX; holding your shoulders or arms tensely is an easy way to signal nervousness.

Though you should be aware of surroundings, use more senses than your eyes.  Constant backward glancing and head swiveling looks nervous and unsure.  Eyes forward, head slightly down, just keep on trucking.  Use eyeglasses or glass storefronts to check what’s behind you. 
Wear clothes you can move in, and shoes you can run in.  Avoid ANY kind of shoe which makes a nervous “TAP TAP TAP TAP” sound when you try to walk faster. 
Don’t take out your wallet, phone, or anything expensive if you’re unsure of the surroundings.  People like to steal things that hold money or cost money, so don’t let them see that you have them. 

Try to avoid any action which would take your attention off of your environment.  (Rummaging through a purse or bag to find a lighter for someone who asks you for one, for example.)  Not always possible, but having your face glued to your phone / map / iPod is a GOOD way to look vulnerable.  (If you decide to wear headphones, learn to adjust the music and volume when the player is in you pocket.) 

If you need to carry a bag, wear it across your torso, or high and tight on your shoulder.  Carrying one loose on the lower arm, on one shoulder, or held in the hand makes them a PRIME candidate for a run – by snatching.

Step 3: Aversion. 
A good glare will get you out of more situations better than fighting. 
If you can’t or don’t want to try a staring contest, you can always be gross.  Sag forward and drool in a train seat, hack up a lung, talk like a retard, rant to yourself, VOMIT, shit your self, (as the situation warrants, of course).  Most mugger / rapists do NOT want to deal with this.  Most regular folks will get disturbed and stay away too. 

Step 4:  Get out of Dodge.  If you know you’re being followed, suspect it, or even get an attack of the “Spider Sense”, make your way to a more populous area.  Call the cops or a cab.  Again, move purposeful and steady.  If you must, RUN.  Yes, it signals panic, and may encourage the pursuer to give chase, but if you can reach a safe place fast, it works. 
If confronted with a gun or a knife, handing over your cash is MUCH cheaper than medical bills.  Give (Read: toss your cash), to the shithead, back off, and RUN.  Keep credit cards and ID separate from money.  If you’re carrying BIG change, keep it somewhere away from your pocket cash.


Hopefully this will add a few ideas and some security to readers, and hopefully they never need to find out.  Comments, questions, or contradictions are always welcome, as this kind of thing is ALWAYS work in progress.


Don’t piss off flight attendants

Or, alternately, everyone at once should piss off flight attendants.  Thanks to Cory Doctorow, I found this very interesting article at Daily Kos, which just illustrates perfectly how laws intended for use against dangerous criminals invariably end up being used to discipline and punish those who fail to show enough fealty to the status quo.

The lesson to take from this?  If you’re going to try and annoy flight staff, do it in such a way that you cannot be personally blamed for it.  Anonymity is the key.  There is no use getting needlessly put on such a list, and thus drawing more attention to yourself from unfriendly agencies, but equally you shouldn’t take this shit sitting down.  As it were.

Death from above just got a whole lot more silent


Georgia-based researchers have announced plans to eliminate one of the last remaining weaknesses of the deadly robotic aerial kill flotillas now poised to end humanity’s dominance over planet Earth. The airborne machine spies and automated assassins are now to receive whisper mode, and prowl the skies in eerie silence.

But I’m sure this technology will never fall into the wrong hands or be abused.

Potentially creepy tech, part 1,492

From AppleInsider:

We’ve already seen the iSight indicator light “disappear” behind the bezel of Apple’s MacBook and iMac computers. A recently published patent application could make the iSight itself not only disappear, but move to the middle of the screen. MacBooks, iMacs, and even iPhones and iPod touches could take advantage of the new technology.

Time to don my tinfoil hat again, I think.  A far too frequent reaction to news nowadays.  H/t to Triple Zero for the link.