SAFE: Science and Technology in the Age of Ter (Google eBook)

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HarperCollins, Mar 17, 2009 - Technology & Engineering - 416 pages
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If our society is the most technologically sophisticated on Earth, then why can't we protect ourselves from terrorists and other threats to our safety and security?

This is the question that frustrates—and scares—all of us today, and the answers have proved maddeningly elusive. Until now. Through dramatic, enlightening, and often entertaining narratives, SAFE makes visible—and understandable—the high-stakes work being done by some of the most ingenious problem-solvers across the country and around the world, people committed to creating real and dependable security in the twenty-first century.

The characters in these pages, from scientists and engineers to academics, entrepreneurs, and emergency workers, take us into a fascinating world of inquiry and discovery. Their stories reveal where our greatest vulnerabilities lie and where our best hope deservedly shines through. They show why the systems we rely on to protect ourselves can also be exploited by others to create catastrophe—and what we can do to outsmart the terrorists. We have ample proof that terrorists will go to great lengths to understand how our technologies can be put to destructive use. Now it's time to ask ourselves a question: Are we willing to let them keep beating us at our own game? For the brilliant and colorful innovators in these pages, the answer is no.

Among them are Eric Thompson, an expert digital code breaker instrumental in deciphering hidden Al Qaeda messages; Mike Stein, a New York City firefighter turned technologist who is working to overcome the numerous communications failures of 9/11; Eve Hinman, who conducts structural autopsies at the scene of explosions, including the Oklahoma City bombing, in order to develop more blast-resistant designs; Ken Alibek, the infamous architect of the former Soviet bioweapons program and now an American entrepreneur working in the business of defending his adopted country from bioterrorism; Kris Pister and Michael Sailor, university researchers developing sensors no larger than a speck of dust; Rafi Ron, former head of security for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and now a leading strategist on U.S. airport security; Tara O'Toole, who stages doomsday bioterror scenarios in order to craft better biodefense systems; and Jeff Jonas, a high-rolling Las Vegas software entrepreneur whose methods for spotting casino cheats might just have uncovered the 9/11 plot.

Readers of SAFE will come away understanding the unique challenges posed by technological progress in a networked, and newly dangerous, world. Witnessing the work of this gathering force of innovators up close, they'll be inspired by the power of the human intellect and spirit—and realize how important the contributions of individual citizens and communities can be.

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
ONE Lifelines
11
TWO Behavior and Betrayal
43
THREE Inside the Internet
79
FOUR Mortal Buildings
105
SEVEN Living Clues
183
EIGHT Common Sensors
207
NINE A Storm in Any Port
235
ELEVEN Cracking Codes
285
TWELVE The Dangers of Data
321
THIRTEEN The Power of the People
359
Index
389
Copyright

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Page 140 - In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.
Page 330 - September llth plot by denying entry to or detaining would-be hijackers; to at least try to unravel the plot through surveillance and other investigative work within the United States; and, finally, to generate a heightened state of alert and thus harden the homeland against attack.
Page 18 - The private sector to ensure the orderly functioning of the economy and the delivery of essential telecommunications, energy, financial and transportation services. Any interruptions or manipulations of these critical functions must be brief, infrequent, manageable, geographically isolated and minimally detrimental to the welfare of the United States.
Page 63 - Men are flexible but cannot be depended upon to perform in a consistent manner, whereas machines can be depended upon to perform consistently but they have no flexibility whatsoever.
Page 62 - ... Such systems ("humanly extended machines," North might call them) are not symbiotic systems. They are "semi-automatic" systems, systems that started out to be fully automatic but fell short of the goal. Man-computer symbiosis is probably not the ultimate paradigm for complex technological systems. It seems entirely possible that, in due course, electronic or chemical "machines" will outdo the human brain in most of the functions we now consider exclusively within its province.

References to this book

About the author (2009)

Martha Baer is a former senior producer at Wired Digital and the author of As Francesca, a novel about online anonymity and intrigue.

Katrina Heron is the former editor-in-chief of Wired and a contributing editor at GQ.

Award-winning science journalist Oliver Morton is the author of Mapping Mars, a contributing editor at Wired, and a contributor for The New Yorker, Science, and The American Scholar. He lives with his wife in Greenwich, England.

Evan Ratliff is a regular contributor to Wired and Ready Made magazines whose work has also appeared in Outside, the New Yorker, and the New York Times.

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