Friday, October 20, 2006

Cloaking Cloaks: Exploiting the Availability Heuristic

Apparently a group of American and British scientists in the U.S. have developed a material which can bend light (only radar waves at the moment) around an object to create a cloaking like effect. The researchers insist that it is some way away from being a practical proposition, apparently we need to be able to make these meta materials at a nanotechnology scale, but the military implications (hiding tanks is usually difficult) should speed things along.

Once this stuff can conceal people it will be brilliant for law enforcement. Give it to police officers so they're invisible. Make that policy very public and watch the availability heuristic (people overestimate the frequency of events which are widely reported) do its thing. The policemen won't be undetectable and major crime is unlikely to be seriously affected but petty criminals will hear a policeman in every bump in the night. You'll be able to achieve Giuliani-style broken windows policing without vast numbers.

It's like my strategy for winning the war on drugs (I'm not terribly attached to winning the war on drugs but if you want to...): every time the police seize drugs return a small portion of them to circulation laced with some kind of poison. You could have it kill a tiny number of people but the idea that your government might poison you would be so horrific and newsworthy demand for drugs would die overnight. Of course, the idea of poison cannabis isn't exactly compassionate conservatism exemplified but this whole Cameroon facade has to crack eventually.


Bel said...
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Bel said...

This had me laughing out loud. I am a very bad person.

Dave Cole said...

Would this be covered by the right to bear arms provision of the US constitution on the basis that we need it to protect ourselves in case [insert country] invades and as it will give the state too much power against the individual if we did not allow this?