Crowd solvent

Wired News is reporting on a new "non-lethal" Air Force weapon system that is designed to fire "millimeters waves" (longer than x-rays, shorter than microwaves) into crowds to disperse them.

It makes those targeted feel as if they have "been dipped in molten lava."


After "extensive testing," the USAF has certified the system as "safe when used properly" (i.e., causing no long-lasting physical damage). Which is not the same thing as saying that being dipped in molten lava won't lead crowds to respond in ways that cause long-lasting physical damage.

The system has been cleared for use in Iraq.

It may (or may not) be that such technologies are not qualitatively distinct from other "non-lethal" tools (e.g., tear gas, rubber bullets), and it may (or may not) be true that such technologies will only be used "properly." Still, I wonder whether such tools might change local demographic and protest dynamics for those who wield them - and that's gotta be as tempting as all get-out.

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