Pentagon Tries to Replicate Human Voices Using Lasers

Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 7:42PM
Technology
Military Tech
Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 7:42PM
Pentagon Tries to Replicate Human Voices Using Lasers
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YouTube/Patrick Tucker
Considering how often lasers show up in science fiction, it's interesting that the concept of "talking lasers" might show up in reality before eventually finding their way into sci-fi.

But the United States' military Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWP) is getting close to creating one, according to a new report in Defense One. The device in question will soon be capable of reproducing human speech as a means of scaring off trespassers or enemies, making announcements, or just sending discrete messages to somebody who dropped their phone or walkie talkie.

It's not quite there yet, because while it does sound like a garbled human speaking, it still speaks only gibberish for now. See it below, but don't turn up your headphones too loud, for reasons that will immediately become clear - like many people who speak gibberish, the laser speaks loudly:



As for how it's possible, it relies on a technique called Laser-Induced Plasma Effect, which is generated by a femtosecond laser firing for one quadrillionth of a second (which is what "femtosecond" means) and creating plasma. From there, a second nanolaser hits this ball of plasma at a narrow enough range of wavelengths that the plasma can produce light and noise.

So long as this process is very precise, the user can fine tune exactly what noises get made. The JNLWP is convinced they're very close to producing actual words now that they've got the voice figured out, and will soon be able to transmit sentences and even light to very specific locations, so nobody but the intended recipient gets the message.



Now, the moral implications of replicating human speech with lasers are difficult to parse, and despite being among the more non-lethal lasers, there's still some ways that targeted artificial voices could be weaponized.

So be careful about listening to the next laser that transmits a request to you, once they actually learn to speak in coherent sentences.
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