Techno-Hell: Government Research Agency Invents Pants That Record Audio, Video

News & Politics

Leaving your various technological implements in the other room may no longer be sufficient to keep prying eyes from recording your private data.

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a subordinate organization under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), has fashioned something it’s calling “Smart Clothing.”

Via DNI (emphasis added):

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) — the advanced research and development arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — recently launched a cutting-edge program that aims to make performance-grade, computerized clothing a reality.

What the hell is “performance-grade” clothing and how much did some government bureaucrat get paid to engineer that term? Presumably, there would be clothing with the inverse designation — “non-performance grade” — which would mean — what? It isn’t wearable? In which case, it wouldn’t be clothing?

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Whatever.

Continuing:

The Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (SMART ePANTS) program represents the largest single investment to develop Active Smart Textiles (AST) that feel, move, and function like any garment. Resulting innovations stand to provide the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies with durable, ready-to-wear clothing that can record audio, video, and geolocation data. This eTextile technology could also assist personnel and first responders in dangerous, high-stress environments, such as crime scenes and arms control inspections without impeding their ability to swiftly and safely operate.

IARPA is proud to lead this first-of-its-kind effort for both the IC and broader scientific community which will bring much-needed innovation to the field of ASTs,” said SMART ePANTS Program Manager, Dr. Dawson Cagle. “To date no group has committed the time and resources necessary to fashion the first integrated electronics that are stretchable, bendable, comfortable, and washable like regular clothing.”

No one, now or ever, requires government “innovation” in the “field of Active Smart Textiles.” No one needs “Active Smart Textiles,” the “field” is a massive waste of public money, and the products will surely be used ironically and sadistically to abuse said public in the future by eliminating whatever scraps of privacy they are left with.

Related: Did the Unabomber Get Technology’s Destructive Influence Right?

George Orwell, prophet though he was, thought he was imagining the most intrusive, dystopian nightmare physically possible when he described the telescreen in every Party member’s quarters that recorded his activity at all times.

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.

He could never have envisioned literal pants that did the same. It would have been a bridge too far for science fiction.

What else is there to say about “Active Smart Textiles”? I am now at a loss for words, and so I leave you once again with the prescient warning of psychonaut Terrence McKenna:

It’s only going to get weirder. The level of contradiction is going to rise excruciatingly, even beyond the excruciating present levels of contradiction. So, I think it’s just going to get weirder and weirder, and weirder, and finally it’s going to be so weird that people are going to have to talk about how weird it is. And at that point novelty theory can come out of the woods, ah, because eventually people are going to say, “What the hell is going on?”… The systems which are in place to keep the world sane are utterly inadequate to the forces that have been unleashed.

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