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The Military Communications

Hearing Voices? Could Be the Lasers 225

Posted by kdawson
from the or-maybe-the-sharks dept.
An anonymous reader sends us to Wired for a piece about some declassified Pentagon research from 1998 that has been revealed in a freedom-of-information filing. Apparently the Pentagon has investigated lasers that put voices in your head, among other non-lethal technologies such as microwave heating. The report suggests the techniques could be useful for controlling crowds or in negotiations. There is no context for the research or any indication whether it has continued, although the microwave heating bit sounds rather like the Active Denial System we have discussed recently.
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Hearing Voices? Could Be the Lasers

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  • Real Genius (Score:5, Funny)

    by cthulu_mt (1124113) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:21PM (#22481954)
    Kent: Is that you God?
    • by Samgilljoy (1147203) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:41PM (#22482852)

      Just wait until they sell the technology to the private sector. Instead of poor slobs standing on street corners waving signs, we'll have troops of unskilled laborers running around with laser devices trying to shoot everyone in the head.

      Laser Advertising: straight out your marketers' asses into your customers' heads.

  • by Spectre (1685) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:24PM (#22481990)
    See, the tinfoil hats REALLY DO WORK against the orbital mind control lasers ...
  • by WarJolt (990309) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:25PM (#22482014)
    Torture isn't a reliable means to obtain information. I know...I have a great idea... Lets make them crazy.
    • I Wouldn't Laugh ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:35PM (#22482132) Journal

      Torture isn't a reliable means to obtain information. I know...I have a great idea... Lets make them crazy.
      Yeah, that's funny--although I would mod it insightful. Although perhaps you should read Mikhail Bulgakov's works that were satires of how the Soviet Union tortured him indirectly [wikipedia.org]. From the Wikipedia entry on his most famous work [wikipedia.org]:

      A memorable and much-quoted line in The Master and Margarita is: "manuscripts don't burn" (Russian: ). The Master is a writer who is plagued by both his own mental problems and the oppression of Stalin's regime in 1930s Moscow. He burns his treasured manuscript in an effort to hide it from the Soviet authorities and cleanse his own mind from the troubles the work has brought him. There is an autobiographical element reflected in the Master's character here, as Bulgakov in fact burned an early copy of The Master and Margarita for much the same reasons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MenTaLguY (5483)
      Also known as "psychological torture".
    • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:51PM (#22482332) Homepage Journal
      The obvious use is of course to license the technology to Major League Baseball to tell everyone to buy more MLB merchandise (and of course for marketing research). You didn't think those congresional hearings were really about sterioids did you?
    • Why stop at beaming voices into their heads? We can achieve must more cooperation through the transmission of these fine symphonic works:
      • Britney Spears - Oops!...I Did It Again (can't stop playing these catchy tunes)
      • Bell Biv DeVoe - Poison (if you don't cooperate)
      • Blondie - I Touch Myself (with a loaded shotgun)
      • Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way (we just want answers)
    • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:59PM (#22482424)

      Torture isn't a reliable means to obtain information.
      I see/hear this repeated whenever the subject of torture comes up... but I've never read a convincing explanation of why this would be the case. The standard arguments (e.g. "They'll say whatever you want to hear, just to make you stop") aren't particularly well reasoned - they don't really work unless you assume the torturer comes into the session knowing absolutely nothing related to the information they're trying to obtain.

      FWIW I think torture is wrong, and should not be used just based on that fact. But I wonder if the parent statement has some actual basis in fact, or if it basically amounts to another wikiality.

      • by CorSci81 (1007499)
        Just from a guess, I'd say the "interviewers" probably tend to ask enough leading questions where in a state of panic you might make up something reasonably convincing but wrong. Or for legitimate suspects who are hardened to torture techniques they could still give mis-information based just enough on the truth to be believable.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by petermgreen (876956)
          Just from a guess, I'd say the "interviewers" probably tend to ask enough leading questions where in a state of panic you might make up something reasonably convincing but wrong. Or for legitimate suspects who are hardened to torture techniques they could still give mis-information based just enough on the truth to be believable.
          Sure but there are a couple techniques the torturer can use to at least partially get arround that.

          * they can check that the information is consistant with thier other sources.
          * if
      • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:41PM (#22482844)
        but I've never read a convincing explanation of why this would be the case. The standard arguments (e.g. "They'll say whatever you want to hear, just to make you stop") aren't particularly well reasoned - they don't really work unless you assume the torturer comes into the session knowing absolutely nothing related to the information they're trying to obtain.

        Suppose I planted some bombs and you caught me and demanded the information by torture. First I'd deny, then I'd lie, and presumably eventually I'd give up the locations and the city would be saved. hooray! right?

        The trouble is -- what if you caught my completely innocent brother instead? You'd start in on him, and he deny. And deny. And then deny some more... but if you don't let up, he'll give up and start naming places. Of course there won't be any bombs there unless he's incredibly lucky-- but really you expected him to lie. So you torture him some more, and he'll come up with some new locations.

        And all the information he'll give you will be unreliable. But he'll swear by his mothers grave its the truth everytime. until you come back tell him he lied and you want the real locations this time... and he'll come up with another set. You see? He'll just keep saying what you want to hear.

        Now if you happen to know where the bombs are, and tell him to confirm it. He'll do that too. He'll jump at the chance. And admit to planning it. Buying the explosives, etc... whatever you tell him... he'll give it back to you.

        And when you look at some of the information that's come from people who've been tortured. They rarely want anything so verifiable as the location of bombs... they want

        a) you to confess to crimes that they'll outline for you
        b) tell you name co-conspirators

        In which case you eventually do both. Except if your innocent the people you name in b) are just going to be random friends and family and acquaintenaces etc... which is unverifiable... because they all deny it... unless you torture them too, of course.

        The trouble with torture is ultimately there is no real way to tell the difference between some who is supressing information and someone who simply doesn't know. Either will deny knowing. And either will give you false information -- the former in defiance, the latter because that's all they've got, and you don't let up until they give you SOMETHING.

        And if you know the information your getting is false, well.. they must be in defiance... so you just torture them some more.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by repapetilto (1219852)
          Johnston: "It appears the intel was faulty again sir" Base Cmdr. Assertion Fallacy: "Well, then we obviously haven't tortured him enough have we"
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by tsotha (720379)

          The trouble with torture is ultimately there is no real way to tell the difference between some who is supressing information and someone who simply doesn't know. Either will deny knowing. And either will give you false information -- the former in defiance, the latter because that's all they've got, and you don't let up until they give you SOMETHING.

          And that's why it's not effective in every situation. Yes, you need some way of corroborating the data. As you pointed out, in the case of bombs it's pretty

          • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:41PM (#22483798) Homepage Journal
            On the contrary -- people who say torture works watch too many movies. Ditto for people who think lie detectors work. You do realize the CIA has admitted to never actually outing an agent with a lie detector, right?

            Torture is a useful way to justify your own actions and beliefs, and it may be a way to get information from someone IF they have that information but it is NOT a good reliable way of ascertaining if they even know that information nor if the information they give you is accurate.

            Some people you can beat half to death and they'll just let you kill them out of spite. Some people will lie from the start just to see if they can outwit you. Some will give up everything after being threatened once. Can you tell the difference? I'll tell you one thing, a lot of those doing the torturing sure can't, not to mention that you wouldn't be able to admit to having torture training in the first place.
            • by tsotha (720379)

              On the contrary -- people who say torture works watch too many movies. Ditto for people who think lie detectors work. You do realize the CIA has admitted to never actually outing an agent with a lie detector, right?

              The CIA is hopelessly bound by bureaucracy. I'd be seriously surprised if they actual found out anything of any value and managed to communicate it to people who need to know. Lie detectors can work, but they don't usually. I would certainly investigate someone who failed a polygraph test, bu

              • by cyphercell (843398) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:51AM (#22485028) Homepage Journal

                So, lets say you spend months torturing the wrong person? Do you let them go? Let them back to their people so they can tell everyone what hideous hell awaits them whether innocent or guilty? Fuck no! you bury that shit, you either A) never let them out of prison OR B) finish it. The best case scenario here is where you have executioners and torturers in a total disconnect. The torturer thinks the innocents go free, the executioners think only the guilty are exterminated. But outside of a perfect world, the only thing that holds the soldiers' belief in upstanding behavior is denial.

                So, knowing how it works, I know that if torture is going to be used against the enemy (whether innocent or guilty) the innocent will develop plans fashioned around protecting their loved ones, and the guilty will fashion plans to look innocent. What you get is a despotic snowball where both the guilty and innocent rat out their friends in order to protect their families and co-conspirators. Forcing the interrogating force to lock up or kill more and more of the wrong people. (possibly developing a paranoia that all co-conspirators are blood related - the interrogator will sense that everyone is lying about the same thing.)

                If I were guilty I would go to the smartest innocent "friend" I have and make a deal that if either of us are captured we will protect our families. I would develop a wild goose chase complete with corroborating evidence, eventually framing my buddy or an enemy. I would instruct all of my closest recruits to do the same (creating more corroboration in a predatory fashion). Fear would drive my friend to do unspeakable things, he at the same time would assume I was under that same pressure of fear - he would be wrong. Spies often work by using people that do NOT know anything of value. Hell if I was a spy I'd set shit up and call the damn interrogators just to keep them busy. Torture is a crude tactic in the intelligence game - it only works against those that are bad at playing the game. What's more, is if your enemy is bad at playing the game, why do you need it?

                • by tsotha (720379)

                  Spies often work by using people that do NOT know anything of value. Hell if I was a spy I'd set shit up and call the damn interrogators just to keep them busy. Torture is a crude tactic in the intelligence game - it only works against those that are bad at playing the game. What's more, is if your enemy is bad at playing the game, why do you need it?

                  I think you would find it very difficult to set up a wild goose chase that would fool a reasonably intelligent interrogator. There's all sorts of physical ev

              • But someone like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, for instance, was a perfect candidate....

                But there IS no perfect candidate for torture. The same effects of torturing an innocent person come into effect. You have no clue at what point you're getting no new, valid information as the subject will respond the same way; telling you whatever you think they want to know including making it up. Remember after 9/11 how we kept getting bogus terrorist alerts? I'm not so cynical to think this was a pure scare tactic, I

                • by tsotha (720379)

                  But there IS no perfect candidate for torture. The same effects of torturing an innocent person come into effect. You have no clue at what point you're getting no new, valid information as the subject will respond the same way

                  First off, just because you don't know when you've got everything doesn't mean you're not gonna get anything. Secondly, the problem with innocent people is you don't know if they know anything. But with a person you're sure has information, you don't have that problem. Of course he

            • After terrorists assault the government offices, killing some ministers but missing the president, the police "torture" one of the terrorists captured during the escape. In a technique reminiscent of waterboarding, they put him blindfolded into a helicopter, and after several minutes of questions in the hovering helicopter, which he refuses to answer, they push him out the door. He screams, but lands on the grass unhurt - the helicopter is hovering only a few feet above the ground. They threaten to keep
            • The difference being that the movies rarely go to the extent that man really will. A former friend, passed away, who served in Vietnam described some stuff the locals would do to get the information they wanted. For all the crap we hear about in Gitmo, Gitmo has nothing on what these monsters would do. The key wasn't to do one person but use a crowd. Let the others see what was coming up. Since most information extracted could be acted on immediately they could verify what they were after.

              waterboarding
      • by ross.w (87751)
        "Dantooine. They're on Dantooine"
      • This reasoning seems unclear. Theh torturer, of course, knows what they are looking for. The victim responds with anything they can think of to fulfill the desire of the torturer, and between them they come up with a sory that fills the needs of the torturer to report something and the victim to escape immediate punishment. The victim may well leak some relevant information if they have it, but their desire becomes one of escaping the torture, so even valid information may not fulfill the desires of the tor
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ravenshrike (808508)
      Done properly, while asking the right sort of questions, torture works perfectly well. Especially if you keep torturing them until their story remains consistent. It's hard enough to build elaborate lies against interrogation alone, adding severe pain and mental anguish makes it impossible. That being said, just picking up an average Joe off the street and torturing them won't get you anything useful, because you don't know enough to ask the right sort of questions.
      • a twisted little beastie.

        I'm sure you'd go far with the right employers.

        Here's a question: How do torturers practice their skills? How does an agency determine the best way to exact pain? A homeless test subject scooped from the streets has nothing to confess which will stop such "explorations". --Of course, information collection is just an excuse. The real reason people torment one another is to feed, so accuracy is hardly an important issue, except to keep the self-deception spinning so long as it is
      • by WK2 (1072560)

        Done properly, while asking the right sort of questions, torture works perfectly well.

        Interesting theory. It's too bad that no one has ever done it properly, unless by "properly" you mean that the goal is to extract a confession.

        Especially if you keep torturing them until their story remains consistent.

        If you continue to torture them after they tell you the truth, their story will NOT remain consistent.

    • by afxgrin (208686)
      Well, yeah that might actually be somewhat successful. You'll get a lot of wrong information, but dosing someone with a hallucinogenic drug may make them blurt out all sorts of random shit, some of the things might be what's floating around in their head, other shit just maybe incoherent babbling. It's a matter of someone who knows what the drug feels like to decipher useful information from utter bullshit. I bet making someone feel paranoid while under the influence, and then making them feel like they h
      • My god. You are obviously not old enough to remember the use of LSD for interrogation by the CIA and DEA in the 1960's, and the results on innocent people questioned this way or of the college student testing subjects they used while experimenting with the techniques. Nor apparently old enough to remember the reports of torture and its mishandling by US military in Vietname and Korea. And when you leave torture victims behind, or slaughter them to hide your wrong-doing, you alienate the locals and give them
  • Thanks to my tinfoil hat.
  • obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:26PM (#22482036)
    what's the frequency, Kenneth?
  • by Fëanáro (130986) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:27PM (#22482048)
    We should use this awesome technologie to help guide ill people.

    Especially Paranoid Schizophrenics. [theonion.com]

    We can send them reassuring messages, like "you are not alone. we are there to get you (help)"

    or warn them of imminent dangers, like which bus drivers hate them.
  • Voices (Score:4, Funny)

    by jumpinp (1144189) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:27PM (#22482060)
    I knew I wasn't crazy.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Wait, does this mean I'm not crazy? :(
    • Who said that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Philip K Dick. Hell yes. My exact thought when I read this, that pink laser of enlightenment.
    • according to TFA, the microwave-induced voices in your head was developed and even demonstrated

      except that it could only be heard within a persons head. In one experiment, communication of the words from one to ten using speech modulated microwave energy was successfully demonstrated. Microphones next to the person experiencing the voice could not pick up these sounds. Additional development of this would open up a wide range of possibilities.

      I mean...!!! This is, as I see it, proof that the rumors an

  • by sssmashy (612587) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:32PM (#22482098)
    The microwave heating technique was tested on a Rhesus monkey, where a 225 MHz beam caused an increase in the animals body temperature. Depending on the dosage level, the temperature increase occurred within a time of 15 to 30 minutes. After the beam was removed, the animals body temperature decreased back to normal. The report suggests the technique could be useful for controlling crowds or in negotiations.

    "What's that, you say? Getting a little hot in here? We'll get you a cool glass of water... but first, let's finish negotiating the terms of your unconditional surrender."

    • by westlake (615356)
      The microwave heating technique was tested on a Rhesus monkey

      One of the earliest questions Churchill asked was whether a radar beam could disable a pilot - whether a "death ray" was a realistic possibility. The short answer in 1940 was no.

  • by prajjwal (965508) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:34PM (#22482112)
    Damn.. back when I had decided to investigate this, voices in my head kept telling me that it was a wild goose chase!
  • pkd (Score:5, Funny)

    by KrazeeEyezKilla (955150) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:38PM (#22482174)
    PHILIP K DICK WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG now we just have to wait for the pentagon to admit that we are living in the roman empire and that it's 79 AD
    • by aled (228417)

      PHILIP K DICK WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG now we just have to wait for the pentagon to admit that we are living in the roman empire and that it's 79 AD


      That was like in the '70s. Right now we are in may be 109 AD. But he was all right, or at least the little voice in his head generated by lasers was.
  • by paulpach (798828) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:48PM (#22482308)
    There is an obvious application [coolest-gadgets.com] for this technology.
  • Not a laser. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Laser = light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.
    In the article they talk about using microwaves.

    As far as I know there in no way to make a coherent beam of RF energy.
    Or can it be done using a dipole aerial array like they use for radar?
    It's still not light anyway.
    • As far as I know there in no way to make a coherent beam of RF energy.

      What do you think light is?

      • by Animats (122034)

        As far as I know there in no way to make a coherent beam of RF energy.

        Most RF emitters are coherent. A spark transmitter isn't, but anything driven by an oscillator is. That's how radio works.

      • by lachlan76 (770870)
        Light, I believe, isn't considered to be RF---it may be electromagnetic, but its frequency is too high to be considered "Radio Frequency".
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      As far as I know there in no way to make a coherent beam of RF energy.

      One word: Maser.

      rj

  • by Essron (231281) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:53PM (#22482364)
    see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/10/AR2007011001399.html [washingtonpost.com]

    you know, economically speaking it is inevitable these things will be researched, like chemical weapons (some of which turn you gay in the foxhole), pentagon contingency plans for aliens showing up and cheating with electronic voting. too much upside to ignore the possibility, or too ominous to not aggressively understand.

    it does sound like an interesting line of research, no?
  • The article is garbled (as usual) but none of the stuff discussed involves lasers.
    • The article is garbled (as usual) but none of the stuff discussed involves lasers.
      They might be using the code name "Alan Parsons Project".
  • Gay Bomb (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    They can use this in conjunction with the "gay bomb" (hormone tweaker) they were working on. Now voices can say, "It's okay, don't feel guilty. He's cute, go for it!".
  • As I recall, putting annoying sound - bad music? - directly into the brain was used to control the wrongful in Childhood's End.
    • Can't be bad music -- the RIAA would never allow someone to listen to their music without paying the royalty :P
  • Microsoft (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088)
    "Clippy followed me home from the office! Make it shut up, aaarrrrrrggghh!"
  • by bughunter (10093)
    Why does the news these days sound more and more like a Steve Jackson game [wikipedia.org]?

    "In other news, the Bavarian Illuminati today used The Pentagon to make an attack to control The Orbital Mind Control Lasers, aided by the Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow. In response, the Gnomes of Zurich committed 3 Megabucks to interfere, which The Pentagon was unable to counter. The Pentagon then attempted to spend 5 Megabucks to make the attack Privileged, however The Discordian Society and Servants of Cthulhu objected,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:05PM (#22482494)
    How hard would it be for some random Air Force flunky to classify a document referring to using lasers to put voices in people's heads, knowing that it would get declassified later?

    And he's now off somewhere just laughing his ass off.
  • But I think this is f*cking disgusting. How can anyone with a clear conscience develop this to control its own kind?

    Oh wait, it's the DOD. They have no conscience.

    I say again, this is f*cking disgusting.
  • could be useful for controlling crowds or in negotiations

    Really? How so? Sounds more like a tactic that could be used against a hostage taker to confuse or agitate him, but clearly not useful to conduct negotiations.

    Negotiate implies a discussion between 2 parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. I don't see any part of a laser beam sending "voices" (plural would be even worse) into somebody else's head facilitating a discussion.

    Now maybe taking this whole technology away from the menaci

    • I guess they mean "negotiations" in the sense of hostage negotiations or similar. That is basically to persude the criminals that resistance is futile and attempts to resist will just make the situation worse for them (not an easy task when the criminal knows full well that even if they cooperate they are still looking at serious time in prison).

      • by EdIII (1114411) *
        I don't see it valuable even in those situations. How is "beaming" your voice into a hostage takers head a positive ability? It is without their consent. I don't say that to advocate privacy rights, or human rights, even they I hold them both to be sacrosanct. I say that since doing so can be quite unnerving and agitating to an individual. They will not have the ability to "turn it off". I don't think we need to find out how hostage takers will respond to this in the field. I think I already have an
  • Sorry. The laser made me do it!

  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:43PM (#22482868)
    in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Thought control lasers make more sense than the election results did.
  • by woolio (927141) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:22PM (#22483226) Journal
    non-lethal technologies such as microwave heating.

    I think many a feline would disagree about the non-lethality of a microwave oven.
  • As long as my brain doesn't go all Jiffy-pop.

    Ew.

  • the HyperSonic Sound [atcsd.com] technology. not a laser, just highly-directed ultrasound. I read about this a few years back in some science magazine (pop sci maybe?). Not only can you point it at someone and have them be the only ones who can hear it, but if pointed at a suitable surface (glass, stone, etc), it will emit sound from that point. imagine a surround sound speaker system contained in a small box, pointing these ultrasonic beams of sound at different parts of the room. You could imagine a completely contin
  • I've got the perfect protection from their mind control lights!

    http://elektronkind.org/localimg/laserprotection.jpg [elektronkind.org]

    (no, don't worry... it's not goatse bait)
  • US Patent 4,877,027
    Issue date: Oct 31, 1989
    Inventor: Wayne B. Brunkan

    Abstract

    Sound is induced in the head of a person by radiating the head with microwaves in the range of 100 megahertz to 10,000 megahertz that are modulated with a particular waveform....
  • The GOVERNMENT has been doing MIND CONTROL experiments to induce VOICES IN THE HEAD using technology that can be combatted by TINFOIL HATS.

    Maybe there really are alligators in the sewers too.
  • i knew i wasnt crazy the medication wasnt helping much!
  • From TFA, it looks like some people in the Pentagon really thought they could develop mind control RF beams. For those who didn't read it, it is about generating pulses of electromagnetic waves directionally (hence the abuse of the word "lasers") in order to make some part of the skull vibrate (to produce sound) or even to trigger neurons in some parts of the brain, mainly to cause spasms and unconsciousness.

    I for one am afraid of the military (and police) potential for these, but I am clearly interested

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