Re: Should we be developing nonlethal means of self-defense?

Jeff Davis (
Wed, 29 Sep 1999 23:24:27 -0700


Glen Finney,, Tue, 28 Sep 1999 21:14:21 EDT wrote about a non-lethal means of self-defense.

Great post Glen. Truly extropian. What really impresses me about it is the dynamic optimism (to use an extropian mantra of sorts). With the lethality issue disposed of, people can readily agree to work together to potentiate the value in the idea. This, in contrast to the paralytic divisiveness and acrimony that characterizes the g*n modality.

I had a similar thought about non-lethal warfare--enemy soldiers incapacitated and captured rather than, well, you know,...mutilated and killed. That thought originated from the idea that, after all, soldiers are really just pawns, essentially innocent victims, so that a military technology which was effective without being lethal would be very appealing from a moral standpoint. However, that's an idea for another thread.

Thumbs up on the non-lethal self-defense concept. Permit my humble unworthiness to expand on it.

The object is security. Security for individuals individually, certainly. But, no need to stop there. Security for many individuals, when added up, becomes security for the larger community. This makes a good thing better. So the "security device" in the possession of any one individual would in fact be only one of many such devices--in effect a security system composed of large number of devices--spread widely across the population. Perhaps you can guess where I'm going with this. The effectiveness of the device can be multiplied many times over if, instead of being a single isolated item, it is in fact a single "node" of a substantially larger system. And I do mean "node"--as in networked.

We have cell phones, pagers, GPS position locators, digital cameras, voice activated systems, and voice recognition systems, and probably some other technological capabilities that would be useful in the crime PREVENTION and interdiction system I'm thinking of. You see, it's one approach to seek a means--in the form of a device--to disable an attacker at the moment of attack--I have no argument with the utility of such a capabilty--but I'm thinking what if we could combine a limited version of this capability within a system whose larger strategy would be to create an environment where an attack would be so difficult that it would be prevented before it happened.

The device shoots a mixed bag of many little pellets, each of which has a hollow core with either anesthetic, a bit of dye, or some sticky smoke generating capability. The device is also a camera, so when it is triggered, it takes a video picture of the target/assailant,which it broadcasts along with a GPS location of the device, to all of the nearby nodes/devices which immediately beep like a pager alerting their owners of problem "nearby". Once triggered the device activates an audio channel which allows the owner to talk to any and all who might be available to help. Also, when the device is triggered, it creates a huge cloud of smoke--probably projected from "the barrel" which swirls between the owner and assailant and around the owner, like the ink cloud of an octopus while at the same time giving out with a howling banshee of a screaming sound. Now imagine that everyone has one of these, and that they are all networked into a larger system which include community security cameras, home televisions, all local computer networks, automobiles, and, of course, the police. I'm talking the high tech version of the old "hue and cry".

Granted, such a device is likely to be severly limited in "stopping power" once an attack has been initiated, but I wonder if it wouldn't created an environment where such attacks would be substantially pre-empted.

It goes without saying that anyone who wants to should take this idea and run with it. For example, the cloud of smoke could be tear gas, nausea gas, or some super stink bomb--powerful enough to disrupt the attack--yet, happily, harmless. Improvements anyone?

Best, Jeff Davis

"Everything's hard till you know how to do it."

Ray Charles