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A New Article Reveals What the U.S. Defense Dept. Knows About UFOs
A NYT article says the Defense Department been tracking mystery aircraft.
To civilians, they're “flying saucers," but to U.S. military personnel, they're “TicTacs," named for the way they often appear on pilots' displays. That U.S. military personnel even have a name for them is just one of the surprises in a stunning article in the New York Times reported by Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal, and Leslie Kean. Whether you're a Close Encounters of the Third Kind devotee eager to meet ET, or a Three Body Problem Dark Forester who prays we never do, the article is shocking, and arguably represents a historical inflection point in our attitudes regarding UFOs. It's based on the testimony from Luis Elizondo, the man who until recently ran the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
Elizondo's testimony is so startling that Cooper was skeptical at first, only finally becoming convinced after former senator Harry Reid confirmed that he had, in fact, requested and surreptitiously inserted funding for the super-secret program into the Defense Department's (DoD) budget in 2007. He was supported at the time by two-other then members of the defense spending subcommittee, the late Ted Stevens and Daniel K. Inouye. “This was so-called black money," says Reid. “Stevens knows about it, Inouye knows about it. But that was it, and that's how we wanted it." Reid stands by his actions, saying, “I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going. I think it's one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I've done something that no one has done before." And absent Reid's confirmation, we might still be in the dark, since the Pentagon says it closed down the program in 2012; Times sources say it's still in operation.
It turns out that military personnel have been seeing inexplicable things in the skies for some time. As Elizondo pointed out in The Daily podcast on December 18, 2017, the fact that phenomena can't be explained doesn't necessarily mean their source is extraterrestrial, but have a look at this recently released, previously classified DoD footage of one such encounter, and try to imagine that someone somewhere on earth has been secretly able to develop such capabilities.
(US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE)
When the TicTac shoots off to the left, Elizondo notes in The Daily that it's not the camera that shifts — the object is just really that fast. (US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE)
Cooper first met with Elizondo in the lobby of an undisclosed hotel near Union Station in Washington D.C. to hear his story. Elizondo had recently resigned his post in a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, feeling that 2012 budget cuts, the stigma attached to UFO research, and obstacles posed by excessive security were preventing the program from effectively serving the DoD, whose “job is to identify and, if necessary, neutralize any threats to U.S. national security." He felt the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was not receiving the support it merited, and so he's now gone public about it.
In his letter to Mattis, Elizondo wrote of “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities," adding, “there remains a vital need to ascertain capability and intent of these phenomena for the benefit of the armed forces and the nation." A previous director of the program had even written in a 2009 summary, according to the Times, that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact," concluding the U.S. armed forces were no match against the technology being witnessed by our trained personnel.
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program has apparently collected numerous audio and video recordings of craft whose source remains a mystery. Blumenthal tells MSNBC that there's more: “They have some material from these objects that is being studied, so that scientists can try to figure out what accounts for their amazing properties. It's some sort of compound they do not recognize." Below is the video from an event over Sand Diego in 2004 involving two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets and…something.
(US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE)
The suspicion that the U.S. government knows more about UFOs than it's willing to acknowledge goes way back to the middle of the 20th century at least, an unsettled corner of the American psyche. To see UFOs suddenly emerge from the X Files and into real life is disorienting, to say the least. Really, it's jaw-dropping.
We don't know where these things come from or why, and we have reason to be scared: Are they just observing or preparing for something? But if it's all really real, we need to start dealing with it. And it seems to be, with Elizondo telling the Times that his team concluded the craft don't originate from any country's military, and that “That fact is not something any government or institution should classify in order to keep secret from the people."
There are so many scientific questions these revelations raise. If the nearest life is hundreds or thousands of light years away, what's in these craft, exactly, that survives extended travel over hundreds of years? Is there some way of getting around the universe quickly that we don't yet know about? Is it possible there's life much nearer by than we've imagined? And on and on.
"Deepfakes" and "cheap fakes" are becoming strikingly convincing — even ones generated on freely available apps.
- A writer named Magdalene Visaggio recently used FaceApp and Airbrush to generate convincing portraits of early U.S. presidents.
- "Deepfake" technology has improved drastically in recent years, and some countries are already experiencing how it can weaponized for political purposes.
- It's currently unknown whether it'll be possible to develop technology that can quickly and accurately determine whether a given video is real or fake.
The future of deepfakes<p>In 2018, Gabon's president Ali Bongo had been out of the country for months receiving medical treatment. After Bongo hadn't been seen in public for months, rumors began swirling about his condition. Some suggested Bongo might even be dead. In response, Bongo's administration released a video that seemed to show the president addressing the nation.</p><p>But the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=324528215059254" target="_blank">video</a> is strange, appearing choppy and blurry in parts. After political opponents declared the video to be a deepfake, Gabon's military attempted an unsuccessful coup. What's striking about the story is that, to this day, experts in the field of deepfakes can't conclusively verify whether the video was real. </p><p>The uncertainty and confusion generated by deepfakes poses a "global problem," according to a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/is-seeing-still-believing-the-deepfake-challenge-to-truth-in-politics/#cancel" target="_blank">2020 report from The Brookings Institution</a>. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released some of the first tools able to successfully detect deepfake videos. The problem, however, is that deepfake technology keeps improving, meaning forensic approaches may forever be one step behind the most sophisticated forms of deepfakes. </p><p>As the 2020 report noted, even if the private sector or governments create technology to identify deepfakes, they will:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"...operate more slowly than the generation of these fakes, allowing false representations to dominate the media landscape for days or even weeks. "A lie can go halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on," warns David Doermann, the director of the Artificial Intelligence Institute at the University of Buffalo. And if defensive methods yield results short of certainty, as many will, technology companies will be hesitant to label the likely misrepresentations as fakes."</p>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.