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Wireless Networking Security Hardware Science

British Military Deploys Skynet 172

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the have-you-seen-sarah-connor dept.
rowleyrw writes "The BBC are reporting, 'The British military is set to take one of its most significant steps into the digital age with the launch of the first Skynet 5 satellite. The spacecraft will deliver secure, high-bandwidth communications for UK and "friendly" forces across the globe.' It's not yet the Skynet of Terminator, but how long before it becomes self aware?"
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British Military Deploys Skynet

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  • by StringBlade (557322) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:09AM (#18299390) Journal
    ...what can go wrong?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:44AM (#18299868)
      What the hell is wrong with British people these days?

      "Pip-pip! What should we call our new military satellite system?"

      "Jolly good, ol' chap! Let us name it after a fictional military system that runs off the rails and destroys humanity!"

      "Good show! Jolly good! Time for crumpets and tea! After we install cameras in everyone's bottoms!"

      "Aaaah, yes! The bottom cameras will be smashing! They will also broadcast GPS to the government. What should we name them?"

      "Brilliant! Jolly good! Pip-pip! Let's call them AIDS! That's a catchy name!"

      "Smashing! Brilliant! Jolly good! Everyone will come to us to get AIDS! We will give them AIDS! AIDS in their bottoms! And they will feel happy and safe from terrorists now that they have AIDS!"

      "Don't you mean 'safe from terror'?"
      • by WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:49AM (#18299906)
        Would that be Arse Installed Digital Surveillance?
      • by malsdavis (542216) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @11:06AM (#18300022)
        ""Jolly good, ol' chap! Let us name it after a fictional military system that runs off the rails and destroys humanity!"

        Uh, the British Skynet system pre-dates the original terminator movie by about 15 years.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by merikari (205531)
          Uh, the British Skynet system pre-dates the original terminator movie by about 15 years.

          Yup, that's only one of the problems of time travel.
      • "Yes. Ripping good laugh."
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        Let us name it after a fictional military system that runs off the rails and destroys humanity!"

        Relax. Lisa Nowak is changing her name to "Terminator". It's all part of the plan. (Or was it "Dipernator"?)
             
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Instine (963303)
        I find your tone frightfully vulgar. If you were a decent chap, you'd already be apologising, but as you clearly are not, I'll be forced to chastise you in the only becoming fashion your primitive culture can comprehend. Biglesworth, release the centinals!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by thrawn_aj (1073100)

        What the hell is wrong with British people these days? "Pip-pip! What should we call our new military satellite system?" "Jolly good, ol' chap! Let us name it after a fictional military system that runs off the rails and destroys humanity!"
        Hey, at least it ain't "Star Wars" :P
      • Jolly good, ol' chap! Let us name it after a fictional military system that runs off the rails and destroys humanity!"
        A Belgian monopoly ISP [skynet.be] destroy humanity? No way. That just could not happen ... unless they tried to save it. Because, after all, they are Belgians.
        • by trewornan (608722)
          Don't knock the Belgians - they're the only other country in the world that makes decent beer.
          • True, but they were probably trying to make paper, candles or door hinges.

            P.S. Other? I hope you mean apart from Britain!
        • Reminds me of the line in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".

          Q: Who in Gods name makes automatic rifles?

          A: Damned unsporting! Probably Belgian!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In other news, NASA has developed a new computer that will guide the next space mission. Codenamed HAL 1000.
    • Well considering the UK can't actually launch it's own nukes, I wouldn't worry about any judgement day style scenarios, and I think the government slashed the cybernetic killing machine budget to pay for the 2012 Olympics.

    • I'm still wondering when Tony Blair will become self-aware...

      Meanwhile, the Transhuman Party plans to run the following slate in 2008:

      1) For President of the United States: Vladimir Putin.

      2) For Vice-President of the United States: George Galloway.

      3) For Secretary of State: Segolene Royal.

      4) For UN Ambassador: Angelina Jolie.

      5) For Secretary of Defense: Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

      6) For Department of Homeland Security: Osama bin Muhammad bin 'Awad bin Laden.

      7) For Director of the FBI: Leonard Peltier.
    • They considered "Doomsday Device" [wikipedia.org] but were informed that it was used in a Peter Sellers movie [wikipedia.org] already. They only watch films made in England you know.
  • Goddammit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jjthegreat (837151) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:09AM (#18299392)
    There has got to be a stop to these summaries ending with a question. Haha, terminator, we get it thanks. Next!
  • by Caspian (99221) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:09AM (#18299398)
    Someone with Ahh-nold's accent would stick out even more here than in the States.... ;)

    So I think we're safe.
    • by risk one (1013529)
      I say, old bean, did you by any chance see this young girl? Name's Sarah Connor, you see, and I've no idea idea where I might find the little blighter. Quite the bind I'm in, I can tell you...

      I think it would work.
      • Speaking as one of the 99.9999999% of Britons that don't speak with a plum in their mouths, I think you would be at the mercy of the NHS's GBH specalists after 3 sentences.

        For those of you that are stupid, American, and can't google, that's "National Health Service", and "Gross Bodily Harm"
    • by lelitsch (31136)
      Really? I think he sounds just like Basil Fawlty....
  • Bandwidth (Score:4, Interesting)

    by baffled (1034554) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:11AM (#18299400)
    Anyone have an idea of how much bandwidth it provides?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:17AM (#18299422)
      I bet it would be equivalent to about T-1000.
    • Re:Bandwidth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JacksonG (82656) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:46AM (#18299878)
      The published figure is approx 700 MHz of satellite bandwidth availible in total. The bandwidth of the individual trunks are subject to classificiation under the official secrets act. I actually worked on skynet5 and the list of bits of information that is classified is ridiculous but I can say that it's nowhere near as much bandwidth as you might think.

      J
      • Re:Bandwidth (Score:5, Informative)

        by HarmlessScenery (225014) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @02:09PM (#18301104)
        I also worked on Skynet 4 and 5. I'd have to disagree with the comment that the amount of information that is classified is 'ridiculous'. When you're talking about a system that all UK operations will be reliant on, you can't be too careful. In most cases, individual snippets of information might seem 'relatively harmless' in isolation, but combined with other 'relatively harmless' snippets of information can quickly reveal exploitable attack vectors on the system.

        As for the available bandwidth within the system - it's actually quite a complicated problem. That was one of the areas I studied. Knowing the power and frequency bands available is not enough to be able to determine a maximum data throughput on each channel.

        Different types of communications traffic use up frequency and power resources with different efficiencies. So the maximum data throughput varies - a lot - according to actual real world use. You also lose resources due to intermodulation products - which again vary widely with usage patterns.

        So when JacksonG says 'nowhere near as much as you might think' - it's probably less than that too ;)
  • by 3seas (184403) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:17AM (#18299426) Journal
    the california govenor.... he'll know what to do....
  • Skynet is not new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:18AM (#18299428)
    Note that this is the launch of Skynet 5. Skynet 1A was launched in 1969. See the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] for more details.
  • by Frozen Void (831218) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:24AM (#18299460)
    When someone designs an autonomous implementation,equipped with AI.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:30AM (#18299476) Journal
    "Right, then, old chap: I'll need your clothing, your wellies, and your motorbike, if you please."
  • Swami says... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How long...?

    About as long as it will be until the average slashdottie stops thinking of the world in terms of the B movies he's seen. In other words, don't hold your breath...

    • About as long as it will be until the average slashdottie stops thinking of the world in terms of the B movies he's seen. In other words, don't hold your breath...

      Cmon, they weren't all B movies. Termanator 2 was very good in my opinion. The Terminator series is more realistic than most movies that get into such subjects. Although I dont think you can hook a laptop up to an ATM and withdraw money.
    • Re:Swami says... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by David_Shultz (750615) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @12:05PM (#18300410)
      B movies? B MOVIES?

      Terminator 2 was, according to many sources, one of the greatest movies of all time. It was in my opinion the greatest action movie of all time. And, it dealt with the topics of artificial intelligence and time travel better than most other movies sci-fi movies. On top of that, Cameron's presentation of the dichotomy between hard/soft AI as presented between the T800 and the T1000 was staggeringly prescient -it mirrors exactly the development that occurred in the actual world of AI, as research progressed from classical, rigid AI to the more fluid, behavior based AI.

      The film tackles time travel, artificial intelligence, consciousness, human emotion, human nature, fate versus free will, and other topics. If you are willing to carry the ideas it presents to you, there is a lot of meaningful content there to think about. If you aren't willing to put in that intellectual effort, you get an incredible action movie anyways. But the philosophy is there. For example, John Conner asks the Terminator if it hurts when he gets shot, to which the Terminator responds "I sense injuries -the data could be called pain." There is a lot of discussion that could evolve from this single line. In what way is his "pain" different from our "pain", for example? The character's albeit brief lines are charged with content "I know now why you cry, but it's something I could never do" -we are given a glimpse into the mind of a Terminator, who we now know is capable of comprehending human emotion at an entirely logical level.

      Another line: "it's in your nature to destroy yourselves" Again, there is so much discussion that can evolve from this line, using the film as a backdrop. This is the fate versus free will theme manifested on the social level. The main theme of the movie is the characters attempting to forge their destiny (freewill) in the face of fate, but we are also confronted with the fate of perhaps humankind. This movie really can make you think, if you are willing to. Another line, "The unknown future rolls toward us, and for once I face it with a sense of hope. Because if a machine -a Terminator- can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."

      I could go on, but I don't think I could do the movie justice. Go watch it -I'm serious- and appreciate the fact that you basically get non-stop action coupled with serious, thought provoking philosophy. Terminator 2 is an intelligent, action packed, brilliantly directed epic.
      • Arguably Cameron's finest work. Frankly, when I heard that he was not involved in Terminator 3 I was inclined not to bother with it ... and as it turned out I wished I had listened to myself. How anyone could take the incredible foundation laid down by the first two films and turn out such dreck is beyond me. Might as well have been a George Lucas production (Episodes I-III ... now there's some "B" material for you.)

        A few years before he passed away, my father gave me the hardcover edition of the Termina
      • by AsnFkr (545033)
        Yea dude. Robots rule.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or do you want terrorists to win over a Skynet that isn't self aware?

    What will your children think when you explain them how terrorists kicked Skynets ass because it wasn't self aware?

    I thought so...
  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:33AM (#18299492)
    Let's start by getting Tony Blair and his Labour government cronies self aware first...
    • Just imagine Blair pointing at his head during an interview and saying: "This is a T-one-thousand learning processorrr". :D
  • Well can it re-assemble itself after the Chinese hit ti with a lazer?
  • Physical security? (Score:4, Informative)

    by solevita (967690) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @09:38AM (#18299516)

    Its technologies have also been designed to resist any interference - attempts to disable or take control of the spacecraft - and any efforts to eavesdrop on sensitive communications.

    I guess this is the sort of thing the Chinese were thinking about when they recently destroyed that sat. Information security is all well and good, but useless if it can just be shot down.
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      large satellites are a waste of time.

      Current work in computing/robotics has shown clearly that clusters are the way forward.

      Which is more durable, large satellites or clusters of tiny, multiply redundant (if less efficient) satellites.

      Thing is, perhaps small satellites are individually less capable, but if they still exist after a satellite takedown attack, then reduced functionality has to be preferable to no functionality at all.
      • by odyaws (943577)

        large satellites are a waste of time. Current work in computing/robotics has shown clearly that clusters are the way forward. Which is more durable, large satellites or clusters of tiny, multiply redundant (if less efficient) satellites. Thing is, perhaps small satellites are individually less capable, but if they still exist after a satellite takedown attack, then reduced functionality has to be preferable to no functionality at all.

        This is a communications satellite. Which means lots of power. Which

        • by rucs_hack (784150)
          Well, this was what my thoughts were based on, although admittedly it isn't micro satellites

          Williams, Edwin, William Crossley and Thomas Lang, 'Average and maximum revisit time trade studies for satellite constellations using a multiobjective genetic algorithm', Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, 49, 3, 385-400 2001
          • by odyaws (943577)

            Well, this was what my thoughts were based on, although admittedly it isn't micro satellites

            Williams, Edwin, William Crossley and Thomas Lang, 'Average and maximum revisit time trade studies for satellite constellations using a multiobjective genetic algorithm', Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, 49, 3, 385-400 2001

            I'm not sure what that article has to do with your comments. The idea of the paper is maximal coverage with constellations of satellites - how to design things so satellites pass over t

            • by rucs_hack (784150)
              you're right, the article does not relate to micro satellites directly. However it does cover the use of many cheaper satellites in low earth orbit to replace a single satellite in geostationary orbit. This extends (or so I think) to the use of micro satellite clusters in low earth orbit.

              Well that's what it led me to think of anyway (I'm writing a thesis, and this was a big issue for me).

              Are micro satellites really not useful for communications though? I have my doubts there. Is there not an effort afoot to
              • by odyaws (943577)

                Are micro satellites really not useful for communications though? I have my doubts there. Is there not an effort afoot to provide that very thing? I have no reference in this case, but I am sure there was something to do with high altitude/low orbit devices to replace comms satellites.

                Like I said, I haven't worked in this area for a while, but I have a lot of doubts about being able to do commercial scale communication with microsats. IIRC the power usage on big comm satellites is something like 5-10 kW,

                • by rucs_hack (784150)
                  You provide interesting food for thought. My thesis isn't about aerospace, I had to locate uses of multi objective optimisation to demonstrate its usage in real world problems. Not that the problem didn't interest me, I was fascinated.

                  My primary interest, aside from my doctoral thesis (which was selected because it had funding), Is celestial dynamics. I'm planning on having a go at the satellite problem when I can find the time.
    • by Cartzca (977233)
      Surely it's much better for it to get shot down than hacked/eavesdropped upon. Expensive, though.
  • "The International Sock Puppet Corporation is announcing, 'The International Sock Puppet Corporation is set to take one of its most significant steps into the digital age with the launch of HAL. This sock puppet is made of soft luxurious cashmere and will deliver comfort and style to the user and "friends" across the globe.' It's not yet the HAL of 2001, but how long before can read lips!?" 'Look this system is going to rev 80.22.6 from rev 80.22.5 and it has the same name as something ominous I have seen
  • by aztektum (170569) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:15AM (#18299716)
    That August 4th, 2007 is ten years from the date the movies specified? Coincidence. Or did the time travel just screw up everyone's memories?

    If you'll excuse me, I have a bunker in my backyard to finish.
  • Self Aware (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:28AM (#18299796) Homepage
    but how long before it becomes self aware?

    Probably when it starts posting insightful comments on Slashdot.

    It'll start posting on Digg first but... well, you know...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jamstar7 (694492)

      but how long before it becomes self aware?

      Probably when it starts posting insightful comments on Slashdot.

      Oh, in that case, we're perfectly safe.

  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:41AM (#18299854)
    It would be a bit of a dull film since there are really no guns in the UK. You can't want into a shop and buy some and most police don't carry them. It would be down to fist fights or knife fights.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      There are a shitload of guns in the UK. They're just not all in private ownership. To own a gun in the UK, you have to show why you need one - the right is not automatic (no pun intended), but as long as you can demonstrate a good reason, and demonstrate your firearms will be stored in locked cabinets, you can have rifles/shotguns/etc. Just no handguns. The cops and armed forces have those.
      • These non-existant handguns seem to kill some kid in the UK every week. The gun prohibition is as effective as all prohibitions in removing the prohibited thing from society.
      • by trewornan (608722)
        Technically incorrect. You don't have to demonstrate a good reason to own a shotgun, the police have to demonstrate a good reason not to let you (criminal record, nutcase, etc). However it is true that you must prove you can store it in a secure manner - not an unreasonable requirement.
  • Secure... (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr@hotmail.STRAWcom minus berry> on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:47AM (#18299888) Homepage
    Forget the stupid terminator reference to something that's been around a lot longer than the Terminator series. I want to know how long before the 'secure' transmissions are decrypted by some black-hat hackers in North Korea and one time pads become a requirement. Also I hope they've cooked up some excellent misinformation to sift into the normal transmissions.

    Anyone care to guess what kind of encryption they'll be using? Something they cooked up for the job or something that's been out a while? I'm not a cryptographer. I am curious though, what kind of digital encryption is out there that's considered unbreakable?

    TLF
    • by Aardpig (622459)
      Well, given that this is the Brits, who discovered (overnight, by a single person [wikipedia.org]) RSA encryption five years before RSA, I'm sure they will have something sufficiently robust and obscure.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      I want to know how long before the 'secure' transmissions are decrypted by some black-hat hackers in North Korea and one time pads become a requirement.
      Like all modern military encrypted communications systems, keys are rotated on a regular basis, so the answer to the above is pretty much "never".
      • Ok so even though they're rotated on a regular basis... If you know exactly what sort of encryption is used it will still take a long time to crack it?

        So what happens when QC becomes available to the public. Yesterday's article about the D-wave 16qbit computer sparked my interest in this stuff. I mean, far as I know it can only attain 'quadratic' speedup, as opposed to exponential. And it can't solve NP-complete problems.

        So, how does this relate to today's cryptography. And is it possible to do 'quantum
    • by VJ42 (860241) *
      ROT13:
      Whfg yvxr guvf. ;-D
  • Funny, really when the world comes to an end I don't think it will be robots. It will be commercials. I'm serious.
  • I welcome our future robot satellite overlords. And at least its the UKs fault and not Americas
  • Would this be a story at all if it was named anything other than Skynet?
    • "Would this be a story at all if it was named anything other than Skynet?"

      Every time somebody posts a silly quip, another ad is served.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Saturday March 10, 2007 @10:33PM (#18304950) Journal
    how long before it becomes self aware?

    Do you have the slightest hint of how a computer works? If you do, answer me this: how mant beads do I have to put on my abacus before it becomes self-aware?
  • It's not yet the Skynet of Terminator, but how long before it becomes self aware?

    My guess is well before the morons that built it.

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequilla. -- Mitch Ratcliffe

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