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News A better way to keep the peace?

  1. Sep 2, 2010 #1
    H. G. Wells had his http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat-Ray" [Broken].

    Debuting in an L. A. County, this device was originally developed by Raytheon for the military as a crowd control weapon, but was rejected by the military for unknown reasons.

    It's now being evaluated by the National Institute of Justice for use in jails.

    Some folks consider this a "controversial weapon," http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/aclu-calls-los-angeles-county-sheriff-s-officials-abandon-plans-use-military-heat-r" [Broken], but other organizations are praising it as a less damaging and more humane way of dispersing conflicts than bean bags (which can break bones) and rubber bullets (which can blind).

    While in the military I experienced tear gas, and I was maced by some psycho back in 1989, so I know they're somewhat effective, but I also know a healthy shot of adrenaline and some dogged determination can overcome both to a large extent.

    http://www.cavalierdaily.com/2010/0...er-employs-pain-ray-to-keep-inmates-in-line/", for example, hails it as a means of dispersing unruly fights without causing any physical damage.

    What's better? Mayhem resulting from inmate fighting? Broken bones or blindness from bean bags and rubber bullets? Or intense but fleeting pain which disappears the moment one exits the path of the beam and leaves no lasting damage?

    http://www.kcra.com/r/24792225/detail.html" [Broken]during the August 27 Folsom Prison riot because normal efforts to break up the riot failed, and the guards had little choice but to fire five live rounds into the crowd in order to break it up before someone was killed.

    In my mind, Raytheon's invention is a http://www.kcra.com/r/24792225/detail.html" [Broken].

    I'd like to open this up to discussion as to how this technology works, the physics of it, as well as the moral and legal implications, hopefully preferable, of using this sort of non-damaging technology as opposed to technologies currently in use which can, and do send inmates to hospitals when they're used. I'd also like to discuss this device's use as a crowd dispersal instrument during civilian riots, for the same reasons.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2010 #2
    seems they prefer to call it a "laser", since no one wants to be cooked with a microwave.
     
  4. Sep 3, 2010 #3

    Hurkyl

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    And they want to be cooked with lasers? :confused:

    My apologies if I'm in error, but your post reads as an attempt at cheap fear-mongering, which isn't acceptable here.
     
  5. Sep 3, 2010 #4
    If I'm not mistaken, it's millimeter wave, not microwave. It'll penetrate clothing, but not the skin.
     
  6. Sep 3, 2010 #5
    I dont see it as a problem to use live rounds to break a prison riot.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Sep 3, 2010 #6
    If the new technology is both more effective, and non-lethal (or even less-lethal), there would seem to be no down side.

    I would also assume (and this is an assumption, I don't have any numbers to back it up, if anyone has any numbers, feel free to contribute) that there is far less paperwork (investigations and/or lawsuits) involved when using non-lethal methods of crowd control than potentially lethal ones, even in a prison environment. This could potentially lead to the new technology being cheaper, despite the higher initial cost to purchase it.
     
  8. Sep 3, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    The real drawback with technology like this is not that it will be used as an alternative to firearms or other forms of deadly force. The threat is that it will be used when not needed. It could easily be used as a form of torture that leaves no evidence. So to me that problem is not the technology itself, but how it is regulated and applied.

    Power corrupts. As with tasers, it will be abused - of that you can be sure. First it will be used as an alternative to deadly force, but eventually it will be used as a basic tool for compliance, as is already true with tasers. No doubt it will eventually be applied by guards that just have a bad attitude; or a sick need to inflict pain on others.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  9. Sep 3, 2010 #8

    Hurkyl

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    An issue to consider to be sure.

    What is your opinion on its use as an alternative to firearms or other forms of deadly force, though?
     
  10. Sep 3, 2010 #9
    Used responsibly it seems as though this could save lives (those 5 in prison for instance). As for irresponsible use, as is sometimes the case with Tasers, we all know that once the genie is out, that's going to happen. Only time and awareness can curtail that. Frankly, I'd rather be "heat-rayed" than tased on someone's whim.
     
  11. Sep 3, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    It beats brass knuckles and stomach punches. Ideally, non-lethal weapons can eventually replace all lethal weapons, in law enforcement. But the unavoidable abuse of these technologies does worry me. The biggest danger that I see here, is a public that grows complacent to abuse BECAUSE it is non-lethal. I see great implicit pressure [momentum might be a better word] for torture to become acceptable.
     
  12. Sep 3, 2010 #11
    Oh, yeah, I agree, law enforcement is a trigger happy species. Take them as individuals, they are law obeying citizens, no different from me and you. Take them as a group, in their uniforms, with their gun and badges, they become rabid dogs. As you and me would probably become with a gun and a badge :P But who indeed try to protect the sheep from the wolf . (As a mission. Some rabid dogs do become wolfs in practice)
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  13. Sep 3, 2010 #12
    Why ? Does it matter how you inflict pain as long as you don't do permanent damage ? Or you mean it's easier for the law enforcement officer to inflict pain from distance, because he doesn't have to deal with the psychological fact that "he has blood on his hands" ?

    An interesting question, when you trigger pain remotely, will you stop faster than when you psychically pummel another human being with your hands or the grip of a firearm? Im really interested if someone specializing in social psychology can answer this question. When are ypu less likely to inflict superfluous pain: when you act remotely, separated of the victim, or when you maim someone with a gun and your bare hands, up close and personal ?
     
  14. Sep 3, 2010 #13
    At first I thought you were talking about M.E.D.U.S.A., the non lethal weapon which can beam sounds into your head via microwave.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14250

    These kinds of things are better kept secret and not used. Once they start getting mass produced and distributed all over, they will inevitably end up in the hands of the wrong people.

    Just imagine all the dictators, cult leaders, psychopaths, and terrorists in the world. Ends up just being another proliferation nightmare.
     
  15. Sep 3, 2010 #14

    Hurkyl

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    :rolleyes:

    A point of weapons like the heat ray is that they are less likely to do permanent (or even short-term) damage.
     
  16. Sep 3, 2010 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Based on what I've heard and seen, I would rather be hit with a heat ray than punched in the gut, or kicked between the legs.

    I see two possible factors in play here: First, by acting at a distance, one is less likely to become emotionally involved. This may help to prevent abuses. One of the hardest things about being a good cop [or related] is the need to suppress one's natural [human] tendencies, and remain professional. e.g. If someone hits me, I want to hit them back!

    But I also agree that a person is more likely to inflict pain when the method of delivery is non-violent and indirect. I forget the name of the experiment, but a famous experiment in psychology showed that the average person could be bullied into inflicting terrible pain, or even death, on someone they had never met, if it only required that they turn a knob. So yes, I think that is a great concern.

    Interestingly, people were more resistant to giving sexual pleasure to others, by turning a knob, than they were to inflicting pain.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2010
  17. Sep 3, 2010 #16
    Agreed. however, I wonder how much pain can a man stand before going into shock then die. In the case someone feels playful and decides to focus a pain causing device on a single creature for a long time.
     
  18. Sep 3, 2010 #17
    Milgram, obedience experiments.
    Asch, conformity
    Zimbardo, a lesser devil himself, IMO, Stanford prison experiments

    Im willing to bet, they'll (prison guards) abuse the **** out of any device. And IMO it will be much easier for them to doit impersonally.
     
  19. Sep 3, 2010 #18

    Hurkyl

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    The experiment was about compliance with authority, not about the willingness of a person to inflict pain. IIRC, the subject was led to believe he was assisting a medical procedure or something (being done with consent of the "victim"), and was acting under the direction and constant supervision of someone he was led to believe was a doctor.
     
  20. Sep 3, 2010 #19

    Hurkyl

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    I wonder if you have anything to contribute other than vague implication and specious fear-mongering. :rolleyes:
     
  21. Sep 3, 2010 #20
    Wonder on, Hurkyl . Fear has its uses. Not that I would know anything about it. Im here on phsyiscs forums to learn.o:)
     
  22. Sep 3, 2010 #21
    False premises. It wasnt done with "consent" of the victim. But you are right, experiment was about obedience.

    And in a prison, guardians answer to the warden. He is the authority.
     
  23. Sep 3, 2010 #22

    Ivan Seeking

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    But that was still apparent. It would be much harder to motivate this behavior if it required direct contact with the victim.

    Likewise, it is much easier to bomb a village, than it is to kill a man [or woman, or child] with your bare hands.
     
  24. Sep 3, 2010 #23
    yes, you are in error. i genuinely believe that the re-branding of the device as a laser is a cheap attempt to gain public acceptance for it.
     
  25. Sep 3, 2010 #24

    Office_Shredder

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    It in fact had nothing to do with a medical procedure. Instead they were shocking a "student" for getting the wrong answers

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
     
  26. Sep 3, 2010 #25
    Electronic logs for use and kept off-site, perhaps at the governor's office, two-person control requirements and perhaps consent/authorization from the warden before it's used...

    Your objections are certainly valid, Ivan, though all can easily be addressed through modern technology to prevent it's abuse in any fashion. If nothing else, then a locked and sealed hard drive recording the boresighted HD camera pic as it's being used, much like the linked demonstration, along with two keys to enable operation for two-person control policy.

    If the camera and hard drive aren't working, an interlock would disable the device. At that point it's back to bean bags and bullets.

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/12/72236" [Broken]on the testing that's been done to date.
     
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