Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook’

Conspiracy theories are nothing new, of course, and they can even be entertaining at times (I especially liked 7 and 8). Too often, though, conspiracy theorists take their silly ideas a step too far.

Sandy Hook “Truthers,” in particular, spread an extraordinarily vile brand of lie that hurts people already harmed by tragedy. They insist that Sandy Hook was some type of government plot to take away citizen’s gun rights, which is just foolish nonsense. I’ve even been confronted by some of these misguided souls on Twitter who have insisted to me that Sandy Hook never happened at all and that I was participating in a conspiracy to spread government lies.

Yeah, that’s right. Government lies.

Grace McDonnell was killed at Sandy Hook

Grace McDonnell was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012

Children died at Sandy Hook, and the government had nothing at all to do with it. In fact, all of the ridiculous claims by Sandy Hook Truthers have been easily debunked. For whatever reason, though, the Truthers have persisted in their efforts and are hurting people in the process, including one mother of Sandy Hook victim, Grace McDonnell.

According to a Huffington Post article, one Truther recently stole a memorial sign at a playground named in honor of Grace and then contacted the child’s mother to tell her that her dead daughter never existed in the first place. 

Peace Sign Stolen From Conn. Playground Honoring Sandy Hook Victim

I hate to give any type of audience or attention to these obviously disturbed people, or even acknowledge their existence at all, but they’re taking away energy and focus from the real issues that we need to address. We need to be developing ways to avoid these types of tragedies by effectively intervening with people experiencing serious mental health crises, not getting bogged down in nonsense about Sandy Hook being a hoax.

Not only was Sandy Hook not a hoax, I would argue that it’s nearly impossible for the government to pull off any type of large-scale hoax without everyone quickly finding out about it. They’re just not that good, and any people involved would have an incredibly hard time keeping something like that secret.

So, enough already. Let these parents grieve and, if you buy into these nutty theories, find yourself some help.

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We’ve all seen surveillance cameras in public spaces – hanging under the eaves of local businesses, lashed to public towers, and staring back at us from the ceilings of airports and transit stations. Cameras are ubiquitous tools of our safety-inclined culture and, if one startup has its way, they’re about to go mobile, predictive, and social.

Security sign

In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, a company called Knightscope is seeking funding for their version of a security robot, with the odd sounding name, K5 Autonomous Data Machine, that they assert will protect public spaces, like schools, from security threats.

School shootings, although rare, do generate a lot of fear – not to mention a profound sense of helplessness – among students, teachers, parents and others concerned about child safety.

That fear, warranted or not, also generates business opportunities for safety companies, like Knightscope, to develop and sell technologically-based security solutions.

The Knightscope K5 – Autonomous Data Machine

The K5 prototype can carry a wide variety of sensing technology, including optical character readers, standard video capture, thermal imaging, infrared, radar, and acoustical monitoring equipment that allow it to thoroughly scour its environment for security and safety threats.

It also appears from the above promotional video that facial recognition and license plate scanning will be options as well.

According to the Knightscope web site, the robot also uses a type of predictive algorithm and “crowdsourced social data sets” to make decisions about what to do once it detects a threat:

The Knightscope K5 Autonomous Data Machine utilizes a combination of autonomous robots and predictive analytics to provide a commanding but friendly physical presence while gathering important real-time on-site data with numerous sensors. Data collected through these sensors is processed through our predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business, government and crowdsourced social data sets, and subsequently assigned an alert level that determines when the community and the authorities should be notified of a concern. If an alert is pushed, the K5 machine will turn on all of its sensors to allow the entire community to review everything and also contribute important real-time information. Our approach alleviates any privacy concerns, engages the community on a social level to effectively crowdsource security, and provides an important feedback loop to the prediction engine.

Needless to say, privacy advocates are concerned about yet another method for monitoring, recording, and analyzing law-abiding citizens’ public behavior.

Given that we have yet to develop a clear consensus – not to mention a workable legal framework – regarding the balance between privacy and safety, the Knightscope project seems to be jumping the gun a bit, so to speak.

Perhaps if the developers installed a cynicism sensor on the K5, they’d detect the potential for public concern about yet more surveillance of an already overly watched society.

What are your thoughts about the K5? Is it the next step in public safety, or yet another tool of Big Brother?

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