A spy machine of Darpa's dreams

Tuesday, 20 May 2003, 6:05 PM EST

It's a memory aid! A robotic assistant! An epidemic detector! An all-seeing, ultra-intrusive spying program!

The Pentagon is about to embark on a stunningly ambitious research project designed to gather every conceivable bit of information about a person's life, index it and make it searchable.

What national security experts and civil libertarians want to know is, why would the Defense Department want to do such a thing?

The embryonic LifeLog program would dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read.

All of this -- and more -- would combine with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went; audio-visual sensors to capture what he or she sees or says; and biomedical monitors to keep track of the individual's health.

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