8 Nightmare Technologies [Nichols]

Student Learning Objectives 

Two simple objectives: To be technology aware and think about their harmful effects on your life.[1]

Emerging vs Disruptive Technologies

There is a difference between emerging technology trends and disruptive ones. Emerging technologies are technologies whose development, practical applications, or both are still largely unrealized, such that they are figuratively emerging into prominence from a background of nonexistence or obscurity. (Wiki, 2021) Some sources say that emerging technologies are taking over the world by a storm and if misused, it could turn out to be our worst enemy. (Rose, 2019) Toward Data Science magazine lists Drone Swarms as number one in their list. The topic is covered in detail in (Nichols R. , et al., 2020). Smart home devices that spy, ex. IoT or AI / IoT is number two, followed by facial recognition, spy dust and autonomous robots. (Rose, 2019)


A Disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry. (Rouse, 2021) , In this chapter, we  explode and explore  nightmare disruptive technologies, that if they come to full fruition may do more harm than good. Some of them might reach Black Swan event status.[2] The technologies are not presented in any particular order. They all have the capability of bringing evil to our doorstep and crushing what is left of our right of privacy.


Surveillance Technologies

On 6 January 2021, the author asked his writing team of twelve SMEs in their respective fields, the following questions: 1) What surveillance technology would you consider the most invasive to our privacy as citizens?

2) What surveillance technology has the potential to be the most damaging to our society or military defenses or law enforcement operations? The list was fascinating and ranged from the real to semi- fantasy.

The list included:

  • Alexa / Siri / Cortona [ASC group] (cute names for a massive systems of systems – always “listening” )
  • Quantum computing, especially when coupled with the ASC group,
  • AI driven quantum systems
  • Voting machines that tilt the scales or select a candidate rather than tabulate / confirm results. Voting machines designed to be the perfect transparency laundering tool. This results in the ability to fake manual voting in scale.
  • Cellphones (an addition that has destroyed personal communications and catalogued our lives for fodder). They are vessels for listening / data collection / tracking / and biometric identification theft.
  • Implant technology – for use on humans – similar to use on animals for location rendering
  • AI driven mechanics / robotics -replacements for humans when not really justified
  • IoT – connecting things that were not meant to be connected and made available online.
  • Blockchain (however, two major pitfalls exist: a) a replacement better security technology see our Chapter 6 on Future Proof Security and b) regulations by banks, IRS, agencies will crush speculative use.)
  • Exploiting Automation & Human-Machine Symbiosis for the wrong reasons. See chapter 2 on this subject.
  • Mini drones (covered in (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd Edition, 2019) . Drones can be made so small Chinese stink bugs can’t tell the difference.
  • Nanobots or intelligent sand (aka MEMS)
  • Drone Swarms [covered in detail in (Nichols R. , et al., 2020) and (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd Edition, 2019)]
  • Face / Voice / Biometrics recognition
  • Weaponized social media – especially FB, & Twitter
  • GPS units in everything from cars, phones, boats, animals, aircraft, watches, hearing aids, you name it the technology has become ubiquitous.
  • Identity cards / Health vaccination cards / Social media scores ( like the Chinese experiment) Real ID/ ammunition purchase cards / gun registration – bureaucratic control -paperwork designed to erode U.S Constitution and its amendments for purposes of “our safety or for our kids”
  • Legalization of every known illegal drug – tracking by health agencies and permission slips to replace doctor’s script.
  • Enforcement of politically correct speech by investigations, informants, indoctrination camps
  • Surveillance of radio stations and advertisers with federal enforcement of against alternative views.
  • Registration and subsequent licensing of every facet of our lives.
  • Coordinating databases and information storage facilities ( where every conceivable piece of information on individuals and All their communications, in every media; in every language with translation capabilities are kept, catalogued, interrogated using keywords and summarized for intelligence dossiers.) (Burrington, 2015) Large amounts of encrypted data are also sucked up by this surveillance vacuum on the assumption that new crypto-cracking methods will be developed as they have since 1972. (Nichols R. K., ICSA Guide to Cryptography, 1999)
  • Ransomware, AI, and Bot-enabled Blackmailing, Hacking and Extortion
  • AI Cloning – Deep fake Technology for Voice and Video recordings.


The above list combines actual technologies with the abuse of those technologies. It is not all inclusive. Every new method of control and surveillance has been abused by authorities and recently by corporations. This abuse is usually discovered and legislated against – from habeas corpus to mail, telegraph, telephones, cell phones, internet, GPS on transportation, to implants. (Elliott, 2019) The trend according to Timo Elliott, noted Innovation Evangelist, is bound to continue – and potentially get much worse- with AI -powered technologies such as face recognition. (Elliott, 2019)


All the above technologies bring together many diverse / disparate information sources [3] to get a single view of an operation, location, geopolitical activity, defense theater of operations, or market. (Elliott, 2019)[4]

This can be a boon to businesses but a nightmare for society if used by malevolent minds.

Col Joel Anderson,[5] OVPR at KSU is quoted: “ He who controls information controls the world.”

To that the chapter author would add that the most effective vehicle to gain information is unrestricted surveillance.

For years businesses and agencies around the world were essentially leveraged or perhaps held hostage for ransom using software and network flaws that were kept deliberately secret by NSA and CIA to use for 1) against enemies and 2) wield influence. (Elliott, 2019) (Zegart, 2017)

But these same agencies were hacked, and their secrets exposed / spread across the globe. (Kass, 2020)  (Shane, 2019)

Today’s secrets will not stay secret for long. All you have to do is look at the deleted, purged emails, text messages, GPS locations, of politicians, criminals, cheating spouses, drug dealers, terrorists, and movie stars exploited every day in the news media to convince yourself of this fact.


Alexa / Siri / Cortona [ASC group] 

Perhaps the most invasive of the ASC group is Alexa. “Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, “Are you crazy?” Yet that’s essentially what Amazon has been doing to millions of us with its assistant Alexa in microphone-equipped Echo speakers. And it’s hardly alone: Bugging our homes is Silicon Valley’s next frontier.” (Fowler, 2019) “Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize it, but Amazon keeps a copy of everything Alexa records after it hears its name. Apple’s Siri, and until recently Google’s Assistant, by default also keep recordings to help train their artificial intelligences.” (Fowler, 2019) Fowler really hits the target point blank: “For as much as we fret about snooping apps on our computers and phones, our homes are where the rubber really hits the road for privacy. It’s easy to rationalize away concerns by thinking a single smart speaker or appliance couldn’t know enough to matter. But across the increasingly connected home, there’s a brazen data grab going on, and there are few regulations, watchdogs, or common-sense practices to keep it in check.” (Fowler, 2019)

Author Privacy Recommendation: Disconnect and delete everything you can find associated with ASC group.



We are addicted to our cellphones! We are addicted to cell phone market basket of technologies.  Forget the standard addictions (drugs, booze, cigarettes, sex, news, TV, porn). These pale in comparison to the need to immediately respond to a text message (even when driving at 60 mph).

Here is a fun set of statistics compiled by GSAA.

Smartphone usage statistics suggest that an average person spends 2 hours and 51 minutes per day on their mobile device. What’s more, 22% of us check our phones every few minutes, and 51% of users look at it a few times per hour. (Miljic, 2019)  [ My personal stats show a daily average of 8h 16m] [6] Some more fun:

  • 71 billion people in the world own a smartphone in 2019.
  • More than 5 billion people in the world own mobile devices.
  • Kids get their first mobile device around the age of 12.
  • 194 billion mobile phone apps were downloaded in 2019.
  • 92% of Americans believe that cell phone addiction is real.
  • Two-thirds of the world is now connected via mobile devices.
  • Mobile owners worldwide will increase to 7.33 billion by 2023.
  • An average smartphone user has 63 interactions on her phones a day.


Have you ever tried counting the number of times you check your phone during the day? According to recent findings, an average person casually checks his/her phone about 63 times a day. Even 87% of us do it one hour before going to bed, while 69% check smartphones within the first five minutes of waking up.

Further, smartphone usage stats say that 86% of people constantly check their phones while talking to friends, which can be pretty annoying if you are the other person in the conversation. (Miljic, 2019)


5+ hours of smartphone usage a day increases the chances of obesity. Recent health studies have revealed an alarming number of obese people in the world. The risk of obesity has increased by 43%, and much is to blame on the modern and unhealthy lifestyle many people are leading. (Miljic, 2019)


Cellphone usage statistics coincide with this trend, and many doctors suggest that the prime cause for obesity are computers and handheld devices. Some doctors go as far as to say that cell phones and their overuse are the prime cause for some people getting overweight. (Miljic, 2019)


Increasing smartphone usage can diminish our ability to interpret information. A recently published study revealed a fascinating insight into smartphone use. The study included two controlled experiments that were based on current smartphone usage trends. It shockingly revealed that using smartphones too much diminishes our ability to understand the deeper meaning of the information that we get. (Miljic, 2019) You need more proof than the attention the public has on taking selfies and videotaping everything from bugs to riots to ? Do you think people really care about the subject or is it some deep down loss of connection which we had before the cellphone explosion? I have seen an employee fired with just a text or a date dumped on Valentines Day with a brief email. What does that tell you about the level of rudeness that we are experiencing in society today? (Nichols R. , Heinleins-symptoms-decaying-dying-culture, 2016)




Some clever people are designing algorithms to maximize engagement by ad clicks. This is an awful metric for society. Casino’s use analytics to determine exactly how to get gamblers back to the gaming tables after losses – so they can lose more. Social media and gaming companies do the same thing on a massive scale, to make their platforms as “sticky” – i.e., as addictive – as possible. (Elliott, 2019) More engaging does not mean better. Hate is a virus, and we are spreading it more efficiently than ever before thanks to modern algorithm targeting. (Elliott, 2019)  Fake news is engaging, interesting, but it is a lie and those that spread it or create it have no Honor. (Nichols R. , A Case for Honor, 2017) Speaking of fake news, lets look briefly at Deep Fake technology.


AI Cloining (Deep Fakes)

All that is needed to clone a person’s voice is AI and a snippet of audio. Similarly, AI can take several photos or videos of a person and then create an entirely new – cloned video that appears to be original but with a very different message. AI can create an artificial YOU. The results are so convincing our brains have trouble differentiating between what is real and what is cloned. (Marr, 2019)


Deep fake technology uses facial mapping, machine learning, and AI to create representations of real people doing and saying things they never did. Celebrities are not the only targets; ordinary people are too. The technology is so advanced that it does not require much raw data to create a convincing fake video, plus there are a lot more images and videos of ordinary people from the internet and social media channels to use. (Elliott, 2019) An example is Facebook (FB) which people use extensively to swap images or post publicly things that 99% percent of us don’t care a cent about. FB owns all those images!


De-Censoring Images

There is an interesting analog to deep fake technology called de-censoring images. The technology is not perfected but is making great strides via AI.  A censored photo is an image with certain parts of it painted over or pixelated. Like this:

Figure 8.1 Censored Image The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 Source: (Birth of Venus, 2021) (InPlant, 2021)


It seems surprising that anyone would want to censor the extraordinary skill of Botticelli.  Can this somehow be fixed? Is there a way to uncensor such an image and get its censored parts back? To answer this question, let’s go into what a censored image is. A photo can be censored in multiple ways of which the most popular are two: painting over and pixelating. Censorship of the first type is a black (or any other color) box painted over some part of the image, possibly with a “censored” mark on it. The second censoring method takes the area of the photo to censor and artificially lowers the image resolution of that area. The resulting image loses quality and becomes unreadable. Censoring is irreversible. You cannot restore original pixels of the image that are now painted over or blurred. There is a way to recover a part of original information using the surrounding (uncensored) pixels using Inpaint.© There are three steps: 1) Load the image into implant; 2) Mark the censored area using the marker tool; and 3) Run the retouching process.  Inpaint lets you retouch the censored area and hide it from the picture by extrapolating surrounding pixels to the censored part of the image. Inpaint© will try to recover information from the surrounding pixels and makes the whole image look like it is not censored. (InPlant, 2021)


Can I uncensor a face or a bikini?

No, not yet. The censored image simply does not contain information about face or body features anymore. After all, that’s the point of censorship, is it? Inpaint can only restore the censored part of the image by analyzing its other parts and applying them as a patch to the censored zone. As long as your photo does not contain another copy of the same face, there is nothing you can do here. However, Inpaint© can remove censored boxes from logotypes, labels, vehicle number plates and such. It can recover non-essential parts of the photo that was censored, like smoking cigarettes or any other small objects, censored territories on satellite photos and such. (InPlant, 2021)


Weaponized Algorithmic Addiction (Social Asymmetric Warfare)  and Asymmetric Warfare

On Asymmetric Thinking / Warfare / Fear (Nichols R. , 2017)


Before we jump into social asymmetric warfare (aka Weaponized Algorithmic Addiction), let’s review some important concepts:  terrorism, asymmetric thinking / warfare, and fear.



Terrorism is violence or threatened violence against innocent people or symbols to change behavior by producing fear. Our foes of the future, will by necessity, engage in asymmetric warfare – the strategy, tactics, and tools a weaker adversary uses to offset the superiority of a foe by attacking the stronger forces vulnerabilities, using both direct and indirect approaches to hamper vital functions or locations to exploit advantage.

The author sees this as a struggle of intangibles constituting will: fear, morale, surprise. We will see both the kinetic (symmetric) elements (bullets, bombs and attrition) and non-kinetic elements (asymmetric) – such as perception management, deception, knowledge exploitation, and cyberspace assault. The war against terrorism is a struggle for survival for a way of life and conflicting cultural and religious perspectives.


Our asymmetric foes of the future hope to recreate the massive second-and third- order effects that struck our country’s social, political, economic, financial, military, and information systems on 11 September 2001. Asymmetric warfare and hence thinking, involves intangibles- achieving offsets through surprise, shock effects, and the ability to influence information ICGs[7] to create aggregate effects in command-and- control systems, the decision making of leaders, the will of the public to support them. (Nichols R. , 2017)


Knowledge War and Fear

Two areas where everybody can help defeat terrorism are: Knowledge war and recognizing Fear for what it is. Knowledge war deals with how people use information and knowledge in the intellectual sense – it’s about superior thinking, planning and decision making under uncertainty.


One of the most important implications for people involved in knowledge war lies in the absolute requirement for expending resources to find and identify the intricacies of the opponent’s decision-making processes. The concept of information center of gravity (ICG) has emerged. ICG is confluence of streams of communication, collection, automation, thinking, planning, and decision-making. Whether found in physical or virtual space, it is so important that its demise or manipulation can seriously jeopardize the success of a mission or task.



Asymmetric thinking involves aggregation. A great force comes from the power of aggregation. When we find relationships, then combine and exploit them, we are aggregating for advantage. A certain degree of synergy (the whole greater than the sum of the parts) comes from aggregating and connecting things, activities, actions, networks, and societal values. When things are connected in tightly woven relationships, they move together. However, the slightest perturbation or variance in one critical element can cause dramatic changes to whole (dominoes falling). This also explains the incredible power in the second-and third order cascading effects we witnessed after 11 September 2001.


Our most recent example of aggregation was on 6 January 2021, when the capital was stormed and Congress was breached by protestors. They were allegedly unhappy about President Trump’s loss of his presidency and VP Pence not standing up to decertifying the results of the electoral college. They wanted an  an audit of states laws, practices, and alleged allegations from 1000’s of deposed witnesses in 6 key states. Witnesses claimed they were involved with / or witnessed fraudulent ballot counting or practices, and allegedly questionable results from Dominion machines.


Coping with Asymmetric Warfare

Asymmetric warfare represents the most significant challenge to this country in our entire history. How do we cope? First, we must change the way we think, plan and view the world. Second, people involved with security have to accept the concept of possibilities (potentialities not bound by constraints and avoid falling into the well-camouflaged trap of following the past and concentrating on capabilities (potentialities bound by constraints) and intent. Third, we must avoid mirror imaging our self on the world. This is a fatal flaw in our national character. Fourth, planners must consider the perceptions of the public, because asymmetric foes will target them as soft and vulnerable. The next big attack is on the National Will. The opponent’s perception is more important than ours in this concept. Fifth, asymmetric assaults should be anticipated from any quarter, any time, and any place. Sixth, a learning, adaptive threat could very well know and understand our systems, process, and psyches almost as well as we do. Knowledge is available to all people and this must force improved decision-making and anticipation on our security people. (Nichols R. , 2017)



The second factor is Fear. In teaching my self-defense and rape defense courses, I ask participants to experience meeting their Fears head-on. We all have them. Many of them irrational and many are real. Note, I did not say understand Fear. (In life, understanding is the door prize, whereas experiencing something is truth and self-actualizing.) Let me give you a new definition for Fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear can be reduced / controlled / used to our own advantage / energizing and channeled into effective action through training and practice of skills.


In life, with or without terrorism, we have One Encounter- One Chance to make the correct decisions to protect ourselves. There is no going back. We embrace our fears, we improve our skills, we challenge our knowledge assumptions, we create new choices, we think asymmetrically (potentialities not bound by constraints), better, faster, more holistically, making more effective decisions. (Nichols R. K., ONE ENCOUNTER – ONE CHANCE, 2018)


Weaponized Algorithmic Addiction (aka Asymmetric Social Warfare)

In traditional fighting, smaller armies using guerrilla tactics win much more often than would be expected. Now we are seeing asymmetric social warfare, where small groups with an agenda can destabilize society. Large companies like Facebook,© Google, © and Twitter© who all have public, on-camera, clear biases can leverage the potential deliterious effects of these small groups with an agenda by setting their business algorithms to support their attacks (aggregation). There are two very decent examples of this weaponization COVID-19 and social media reaction to POTUS after 6 January 2021 Congress breach. (Both these are discussed in detail.)




COVID-19 (and variants) has viciously struck the world. So many have died. COVID -19 does not discriminate on the basis of color, race, origin, sex, time, curfews, laws, business type, or age. It doesn’t give a damn. It just kills. Evidence of the terrible numbers and losses are out there, all you have to do is let the information in. [8] Scientists all over the globe have been developing a vaccine to counter COVID-19. At least two companies, Pfizer and Moderna in the US have reached the goal posts and are distributing their life-saving vaccines in two inoculation packages. They are ~95% effective! It is no secret that the US government under President Trump’s urging / direction sped up the normally long-time federal approval process and contracted for millions of doses to be distributed to the American populace. It is also no secret that Democrats as a group are not fans of the outgoing president.  Extremists in their party have publicly derided the effort and fostered FEAR about the vaccine as ineffective (all scientific evidence to the contrary). Many have called for Not taking the vaccine even though it represents a life-saving measure available to 100,000’s citizens / non-citizens – especially seniors.


Americans have a relatively low understanding of disease and vaccines, in general. Many respondents a consumer survey[9] were unable to name the leading COVID-19-vaccine manufacturers and had limited knowledge of the vaccine candidates’ key attributes. There are multiple reasons for this reality including the emergence of social media as a major source of information and the well-documented growth of the “antivaccination” or “ANTIVAX” movement. A recent in-depth analysis of online narratives about vaccines on social media by the organization First Draft found that the majority of social media discussions about COVID-19 focus on “political and economic motives” of actors and institutions involved in vaccine development and the “safety, efficacy, and necessity” concerns around vaccines. (Conway, 2020)


Regardless of which vaccines emerge, it is reasonable to assume that significant amounts of incorrect or misleading information will be spread. This is especially problematic given that, based on a recent survey, more consumers source their COVID-19-vaccination information from social media (27 percent) than from physicians (16 percent) or from state-, local-, and federal-government officials (22 to 24 percent). (Conway, 2020)


According to a recent US-consumer research, 63 percent of respondents are cautious about or unlikely to adopt COVID-19 vaccination. The “cautious,” who comprise 45 percent of respondents (the largest segment), are those who will wait and see how a vaccine performs in the “real world” before deciding if they will get vaccinated. Another 18 percent say they are unlikely to vaccinate. The relative proportion of consumers in the “interested,” “cautious,” and “unlikely” segments has remained largely consistent in the past five months, with some slight positive shifts in subsegments of the “cautious”, even following positive readouts from the clinical trials of the Moderna and Pfizer–BioNTech vaccines. (Conway, 2020)


At-risk Americans are also uncertain. Despite the well-documented risks that elderly people face when contracting COVID-19, only 65 percent of respondents older than 65 years reported that they are interested in getting vaccinated. Only 31 percent of black respondents and 36 percent of Hispanic respondents said that they are interested. Other recent surveys show similar results. While 60 percent of those earning more than $100,000 per year report that they are interested in getting vaccinated, only 31 percent of those who earn less than $25,000 report the same. These findings are consistent with observed, historical behavior among higher-risk segments with respect to other vaccines. (Conway, 2020)


Consumer sentiment does not always predict actual behaviors, of course. First, sentiment can and does evolve. Second, there has always been a gap between what people say they will do about public health and what they actually do. That said, the research suggests that about 30 to 50 percent of people are interested in getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and the other 50 to 70 percent are uncertain or unlikely. That means that among the 195 million Americans who would likely need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity in the population, about 100 million to 150 million would need to be engaged further to decide and take action to get vaccinated. (Conway, 2020)


Another look at the COVID-19 through the eyes of a destabilizing social agenda is superbly illustrated in the cartoon ( Figure 8.2) below on the ANTIVAX movement by Dragoes de Garagem.

Figure 8.2 Antivax Movement by Dragoes de Garagem (Elliott, 2019)


Twitter© & Facebook© Actions

The headline read Twitter, Facebook (permanently)[10] block Trump from posting amid Capitol violence. In an unprecedented step, Facebook and Twitter suspended U.S. President Donald Trump from posting to their platforms Wednesday following the storming of the Capitol by his supporters. (Hindi Staff Editor, 2021)


Twitter locked Mr. Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations by Mr. Trump could result in a permanent suspension. The company required the removal of three of Mr. Trump’s tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election. Mr. Trump’s account deleted those posts; had they remained; Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension. (Hindi Staff Editor, 2021) Facebook followed up in the evening, announcing that Mr. Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies.


While some cheered the platforms’ actions, experts noted that the companies’ actions follow years of hemming and hawing on Mr. Trump and his supporters spreading dangerous misinformation and encouraging violence that have contributed to Wednesday’s violence. (Hindi Staff Editor, 2021)

Forget the obvious position of the aforementioned report and clearly recognize two things: 1) two organizations have so much control that they can cut off millions of interested people (globally) from any discussion or reasoning because they are setting the agenda. They can force their opinions and bias on a huge populace. This is a disturbing technology trend. How can an organization be so arrogant as to think they know the hearts and thoughts of millions based on their weaponized algorithms?



Drone Swarms

The British, Chinese, Russians, Israelis, Iranians, Syrians, North Koreans, South Koreans, and United States  armed forces are testing how interconnected, cooperative drones can be used in military operations. Drone Swarms represent a real threat and technologies to support their use are in major development. (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020), (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd Edition, 2019), (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020), and (Nichols R. K., 2018) all devote considerable writing effort to the operation, organization, threat, application, risks, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures required for Drone Swarms.


Inspired by a swarm of insects working together, drone swarms could revolutionize future conflicts by overwhelming enemy sensors with their numbers and unrelenting mission devotion, or to effectively cover a large area for S & R missions[11].  They can reduce lives lost or cause more to be lost.

The difference between swarms and how drones are used by the military today is that a swarm can organize itself based on the situation and through drone interactions with each other to accomplish its mission. (Marr, 2019) The reality of a swarm smart enough to coordinate (without human intervention) its own behavior is approaching. The thought of killer machines being able to “think” for themselves is fodder for nightmares and movies. (Marr, 2019) Swarm technology is being deployed in all conflicts and will be in future conflicts. (Nichols R. K., et al., 2019) (Nichols R. , et al., 2020)


IoT and ASC Devices in the Home – The spy in the home

For smart home devices to respond to queries and be as useful as possible, they need to be listening and tracking information about you and your regular habits. This is exactly what the ASC group does. When you added the Echo to your room as a radio and alarm clock (or any other smart device connected to the Internet via IoT or directly or wirelessly or Bluetooth or IR), you also allowed a spy to enter your home. All the information smart devices collect about your habits such as your viewing history on Netflix; where you live and what route you take home so Google can tell you how to avoid traffic; and what time you typically arrive home so your smart thermostat can make your family room the temperature you prefer, is stored in the cloud. Of course, this information makes your life more convenient, but there is also the potential for abuse. In theory, virtual assistant devices listen for a “wake word,” before they activate, but there are instances when it might think you said the wake word and begin recording. Any smart device in your home, including gaming consoles and smart TVs, could be the entry point for abuse of your personal information. There are some defensive strategies such as covering up cameras, turning off devices when not needed and muting microphones, but none of them are 100% foolproof.  (Marr, 2019)


Smart Electric Meters

One of the most deceptive and invasive devices is the smart electricity meter. Modern meters can track not only when you’re not home, but what you’re up to when you’re there. When you are home, it can determine how many times you flush your toilet. [12] (Nichols R. K., Invited Speaker, (19 September 2018) Lions Club, speaking on Personal Privacy: How to Defend against Invasions of It, 2018)


Consumers already face a laundry list of daily privacy issues ranging from Facebook’s failure to police how user data is abused, to ISPs that routinely track your every online movement down to the millisecond.

But another, less talked about privacy problem has slowly been gaining steam: the modern, electrical utility smart meter. Modern electricity usage meters provide innumerable benefits to utility companies, including a variety of remote access and monitoring tools to better manage the power grid. They also dramatically reduce the cost of technician visits for on-location meter readings. The benefits to consumers have been less impressive, however. Some models have been found to interfere with some home routers, and, like so many internet-connected devices, other variants are easily hacked. But these devices also collect an ocean of private customer data, including detailed information that can be used to infer when you wake, when you sleep, and when you’re at home or away. In the past, electricity meters delivered a lump monthly KW use figure to utilities; but smart meters transmit data in granular detail, often in increments ranging from fifteen minutes to every few hours. This, in turn, has sparked concern from locals in places like Naperville, Illinois, where, since 2011, one citizen group has been fighting the intrusive nature of the devices. Under the name Naperville Smart Meter Awareness, citizens sued the city over a policy mandating that all city residents must have smart meters installed by the local city-owned power utility. In their lawsuit, they argued that the city’s smart meter data collection violated their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. This week, the group notched a notable win when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Fourth Amendment does in fact protect energy-consumption data collected by smart meters. The ruling leans heavily on the Kyllo v. United States precedent that declared the use of thermal imaging tech to monitor citizens without a warrant also violates the Fourth Amendment. (Bode, 2018)


The court was quick to point out smart meter data collection often provides much deeper insight than could be obtained via the thermal imaging tech that was at issue in the Kyllo ruling. In large part because modern appliances often have distinct energy-consumption patterns or “load signatures” that not only tell the utility when you’re home, but precisely what you’re doing. (Bode, 2018)


“A refrigerator, for instance, draws power differently than a television, respirator, or indoor grow light,” the ruling notes. “By comparing longitudinal energy-consumption data against a growing library of appliance load signatures, researchers can predict the appliances that are present in a home and when those appliances are used.” The ruling could prove to be important for the growing number of homes that have smart meters installed. This is especially true given the growing interest among law enforcement and intelligence agencies in gaining access to this data without a warrant, and the apparent lack of interest in meaningful federal or state privacy protections for consumers. “The Seventh Circuit recognized that smart meters pose serious risks to the privacy of all of our homes, and that rotely applying analog-era case law to the digital age simply doesn’t work,” Jamie Williams, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Motherboard. “We hope that courts around the country follow the Seventh Circuit and find that the Fourth Amendment protects smart meter data,” Williams added. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, roughly 70.8 million smart meters were already deployed by the end of 2016, with roughly 88% of them in residential homes. It’s expected that about 80% of U.S. homes will have a smart meter installed by 2020. While this ruling generally only applies to government access to this smart electricity data, Williams noted that state regulators can also play a sizeable role in preventing corporate utilities from collecting and potentially selling this data without your permission. Said data could prove invaluable to data brokers that also traffic in cellular location data. In 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission passed regulations protecting the privacy and security of consumers’ electrical usage data. In 2014, the CPUC also passed rules that let users pay a fee to opt out of such data collection. California’s Pacific Gas and Electric wasn’t a fan; and was busted for spying on activists in a bid to undermine smart meter opposition. “In order to protect consumers, other state utilities commissions, including the Illinois Commerce Commission, should pass similar regulations,” Williams recommended. (Bode, 2018)


Back in Illinois, the court warned that the entire fight could have been avoided if the city-owned utility had simply provided users with the option of using a traditional meter instead of forcing the upgrade. They also could have provided consumers the ability to opt out of data collection. “Naperville could have avoided this controversy—and may still avoid future uncertainty—by giving its residents a genuine opportunity to consent to the installation of smart meters, as many other utilities have,” the court said. (Bode, 2018)

As the country debates new privacy rules in the wake of endless hacking scandals, rampant social media and broadband ISP data collection, it’s important not to forget about the lowly electrical meter.


Facial Recognition

There are some useful applications for facial recognition. However, it can easily fall into sinster hands. China stands accused of using facial recognition technology for surveillance and racial profiling. They can spot Hong Kong protestors and monitor to control Uighur Muslims who live in their country. Russia’s cameras scan the streets for “people of interest”. Israel tracks Palestinians inside the West Bank.

What about the US?

A raging battle over controversial facial recognition software used by law enforcement and the civil rights of Americans might be heading to a courtroom. The latest salvo includes the American Civil Liberties Union suing the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Agency for those federal agencies’ records to see if there is any secret surveillance in use nationwide. The lawsuit, filed Oct. 31, 2019 comes as organizations and law enforcement are going toe-to-toe over what is private and what isn’t.

A facial recognition system uses biometric software to map a person’s facial features from a video or photo. The system then tries to match the information on databases to verify someone’s identity. (Collins, 2019)


Police departments regularly use facial recognition to find potential crime suspects and witnesses by scanning through millions of photos; the software is also used to provide surveillance at public venues like concerts and schools and used to gain access to specific properties. But there’s organized opposition against it, buoyed after California passed a law that puts a temporary ban on police across the state from using facial recognition in body cameras. The move comes while more than half of Americans polled in a recent Pew Research Center survey trust that officers would use the software responsibly(Collins, 2019)


Apple’s iPhone uses its Face ID facial recognition authentication system to help unlock the device for users, and is the subject of a $1 billion lawsuit. Social media giant Facebook uses facial recognition to recognize when members or their friends are tagged in photos. Some U.S. airports use facial recognition scanners in cooperation with the government to improve how travelers enter and exit the U.S., and some major airlines use facial recognition to help passengers check in flights, luggage, and boarding. The National Human Genome Research Institute also uses facial recognition to detect a rare disease that causes a change in appearance known as DiGeorge syndrome. (Collins, 2019)


Currently, there are no federal regulations on the use of this technology for commercial or government use as several questions emerge about whether facial recognition violates the First Amendment, granting certain freedoms including speech, religion, assembly, and the press; the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unlawful searches and seizure; and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection of the laws. (Collins, 2019)  Some companies may also use facial recognition to pitch products based on our social media profiles. This practice occurs despite the fact that many Americans despise the practice, according to the Pew Center survey; others may use the technology when it comes to people getting a loan to purchase a car or a house, and even hiring for jobs. (Collins, 2019)


While Congress has held multiple hearings about whether to ban or regulate facial recognition, law enforcement contends that the software is an invaluable tool that can quickly root out dangerous people.

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, there are more than 640 million facial photos that are available for use that come from databases that can be searched by the Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation, also known as FACE, an internal unit of the FBI. (Collins, 2019)


In addition to tracking people without their knowledge, facial recognition is plagued by bias. When the algorithm trained to a dataset that is not diverse, it is less accurate and will missidentify people more. (Marr, 2019)



Ransomware is malware that is used to prevent access to a computer system to achieve criminal and malicious activities. According to CISA, It is on the rise and the ransoms cost less than just one year ago, because it is a popular scam and people pay. Scary as it is, standard encrypted backups of the user’s PC’s and networks to off-site and disconnected storage is a simple solution coupled with a complete wipe of the machines after infection.  Or pay the $500 dollars. Generally, the hacker will give you the decrypt key. And if you think you are not vulnerable later, well there is a bridge in…. Why? When the infection has been successful, the target generally does not remove the original vulnerability. So fake emails, spear phishing,  used to get private information are successful again and again and again. They have an “in” to the target. They usually leave backdoors. (Nichols R. K., Invited Speaker, (19 September 2018) Lions Club, speaking on Personal Privacy: How to Defend against Invasions of It, 2018) (Marr, 2019)


Smart Dust ( MEMS)

Nichols covers the use of MEMS technology for taking down malicious UAS by Accoustic or DEW means. (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020) MEMS are Micro-Electro-Mechanical systems, the size of few grains of salt. They have sensors, communications mechanisms, autonomous power supplies, cameras and SCADA controls. (Nichols R. , et al., 2020)

Another name for MEMS is motes, or smart dust, and the technology has many postive uses. It also can be used to invade privacy practically without detection. This is an advanced technology and it is in play. (Rose, 2019)


Fake News Bots

GROVER is one AI system capable of writing a fake news article from nothing more than a headline!. The articles created such are believable.  Elon Musk created the “deepfakes for text” that produces news stories and fiction so effectively, the organization initially did not release the research to the public. (Marr, 2019)


Lethal Autonomous Robots

Our last disturbing, nightmarish technology is Killer Robots (real life terminators). Currently five countries are developing autonomous robots with the intent to use them in combat. Our friendly Amazon and Microsoft have already come up with prototypes of terminator robots! (Rose, 2019)  “Buy our product and we don’t break legs anymore, we have a new collector.” Can you imagine when one of these robots gets hacked? Hollywood has already developed the screen play and looking to buy the rights.





Technology is meant to make life simple, but it is imperative to make sure that these technologies are used only for good. This might mean regulations, new laws, restrictions on imports, quality checks, security audits, whatever. Per Neil Postman: “The effects of technology are not always unpredictable. But they are not always inevitable.”  (Rose, 2019)





1) Review the list of Disturbing Technologies in the first section. Choose two that interest you. Develop the Risk profile for your choices which includes the Risks , Threats, Vulnerabilities, Impact and Countermeasures for misuse of those technologies. [13]

2) What is your prognostication about the misuse of social media? Where do you see the solutions?


3) Choose your top three Disturbing Technologies, rank them, research them, justify your arguments.







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Bode, K. (2018, August 24). your-smart-electricity-meter-can-easily-spy-on-you-court-ruling-warns. Retrieved from www.vice.com: https://www.vice.com/en/article/j5n3pb/your-smart-electricity-meter-can-easily-spy-on-you-court-ruling-warns

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Collins, T. (2019, November 19). police-technology-and-surveillance-politics-of-facial-recognition. Retrieved from eu.usatoday.com: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/2019/11/19/police-technology-and-surveillance-politics-of-facial-recognition/4203720002/

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Elliott, T. (2019, June 17). 10-interesting-disturbing-technology-trends-impacting society and business. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com/pulse/: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-interesting-disturbing-technology-trends-impacting-timo-elliott

Fowler, G. A. (2019, May 6). Alexa-has-been-eavesdropping-you-this-whole-time. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/06/alexa-has-been-eavesdropping-you-this-whole-time/

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InPlant. (2021, January 7). /how-to-remove-censored-parts-from-photo. Retrieved from theinpaint.com/tutorials/: https://theinpaint.com/tutorials/pc/how-to-remove-censored-parts-from-photo

Kass, D. H. (2020, June 20). cybersecurity-breaches-and-attacks/cia-hacker-tools-stolen. Retrieved from www.msspalert.com/: https://www.msspalert.com/cybersecurity-breaches-and-attacks/cia-hacker-tools-stolen/

Marr, B. (2019, September 23). The 7 Most Dangerous Technology Trends In 2020 Everyone Should Know About. Retrieved from www.forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2019/09/23/the-7-most-dangerous-technology-trends-in-2020-everyone-should-know-about/

Miljic, M. (2019, October 7). 29+ Smartphone Usage Statistics: Around the World in 2020. Retrieved from leftronic.com: https://leftronic.com/smartphone-usage-statistics/#:~:text=5.-,More%20than%205%20billion%20people%20in%20the%20world%20own%20mobile,66.5%25%20of%20the%20world’s%20population.

Nichols, R. (2016, September 3). Heinlein’s-symptoms-decaying-dying-culture. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com/pulse/: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/heinleins-symptoms-decaying-dying-culture-randall-nichols-dtm/

Nichols, R. (2017, March 20). A Case for Honor. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com/pulse/: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/case-honor-randall-nichols-dtm/

Nichols, R. (2017, February 26). Asymmetric Thinking /Warfare/ Fear,. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/asymmetric-thinking-warfare-fear-randall-nichols-dtm/

Nichols, R. K. (1999). ICSA Guide to Cryptography. NYC: McGraw Hill.

Nichols, R. K. (2018, September 19). Invited Speaker, (19 September 2018) Lions Club, speaking on Personal Privacy: How to Defend against Invasions of It. Salina, Kansas : Professor Randall K . Nichols KSU.

Nichols, R. K. (2018, August 16). ONE ENCOUNTER – ONE CHANCE. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6435954717997744128

Nichols, R. K. (2018). Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) In the Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets. 1st Ed. Manhattan, KS: New Prairie Press.

Nichols, R. K., Mumm, H. C., Lonstein, W. D., Ryan, J. J., Carter, C. M., & & Hood, J. P. (2020). Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technologies & Operations. Manhattan, KS: New Prairie Press #31.

Nichols, R. K., Mumm, H. C., Lonstein, W. D., Ryan, J. J., Carter, C., & and Hood, J.-P. (2019). Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the Cyber Domain, 2nd Edition. Manhattan, KS: NPP eBooks. 27. Retrieved from www.newprairiepress.org/ebooks/27

Nichols, R. K., Ryan, J., Mumm, H., Lonstein, W., Carter, C., Hood, J., . . . & Jackson, M. (2020). Unmanned Vehicle Systems & Operations on Air, Sea, Land. Manhattan, KS: New Prairie Press #35.

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[1] Disclaimer: This chapter contains opinions not necessarily endorsed by the author’s employer, clients, writing team or any entity quoted or cited. The author takes full responsibility for his opinions.

[2] A Black Swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight. (Scott, 2021)

[3] See (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020) Chapter 1 and Dr Ryan’s Chapters on Information superiority in (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020), (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd edition, 2019), (Nichols R. K., et al., 2019).

[4] Author added to this citation.

[5] See Contributors for a biography of this brilliant man.

[6] One of my first assignments I give in my graduate Homeland Security classes is to not allow students to use their cell phones short of an emergency for the first weekend. A prize is given for the longest time reported without the phone. In a class of 22, only 1 student went the entire weekend. He was on his honeymoon. The rest of the class average was 2 hours or less.

[7] ICG = Information Centers of Gravity. See Dr Ryan’s brilliant chapter in (Nichols R. K., et al., 2020) & (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd Edition, 2019)

[8] Author interpretation / paraphrase of a Tom Selleck- Jesse Stone movie line.

[9] The Carlisle Sentinel, Carlisle, PA

[10] Two days later Twitter completely banned Trump and several of his major supporters.

[11] S & R = Search & Rescue

[12] How? Simple. Flushed water is measured in exact units of 1gpf or similar. Water comes to the toilet via a valve that is electrically controlled to determine how much hot water (sink, shower) is needed. The valve electrically opens or closes based on the need for hot water / cold water. It also measures the amount of water transferred and registered the minute amounts of electricity used to open or close the gate valve.  Trace the water back to the water heater. Heat is generated by electricity to the heating coils. The measurement of how much heat is required and the flow of water through the heater to the gate valve (regardless of other cleaning or purifying systems) is measured and logged by the smart meter. This system, in turn, can and has been hacked. Now the criminal knows your behaviors: microwave, TV, bed warming blanket, telephone, alarm system toilet, radio alarms, lights, internet, AC.. if its attached , it is measured, catalogued and discoverable.

[13] Students will recognize that this is set up for parameters of the qualitative information Risk equations- the Ryan-Nichols equations. Where Risk = Threats x Vulnerabilities X Impact / Countermeasures. And Risk ~ F( Threats / Countermeasures). The latter equation recognizes the differential state, where both Impact and Vulnerabilities are held constant with respect to time. See: (Nichols R. , et al., Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Cyber Domain: Protecting USA’s Advanced Air Assets, 2nd Edition, 2019) & (Randall K. Nichols, 2000)