Page 27 - The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper - August 2019
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Why Is The Pentagon Interested in UFOs?                                                                                        27

               Why Is the Pentagon

               Interested in UFOs?

                         by Ian Boyd

          U.S. Navy pilots and sailors won't be considered
          crazy for reporting unidentified flying objects,
          under new rules meant to encourage them to
          keep track of what they see. Yet just a few years
          ago, the Pentagon reportedly shut down another
          official program that investigated UFO
          sightings.  What has changed? Is the U.S.
          military finally coming around to the idea that
          alien spacecraft are visiting our planet?
                 The answer to that question is almost
          certainly no. Humans' misinterpretation of     Drawing a complete picture                        The Media Loves This UFO Expert Who
          observations of natural phenomena are as old as                                                  Says He Worked for an Obscure Pentagon
          time and include examples such as manatees     Sensors can provide a wealth of information on                Program. Did He?
          being seen as mermaids and driftwood in a      UFOs including range, speed, heading, shape,
          Scottish loch being interpreted as a monster. A size and temperature. With so many sensors and            Continued from Page 22
          more recent and relevant example is the strange so much data, though, it is a challenge to merge
          luminescent structure in the sky caused by a   the information into something useful. However,  IN “UNIDENTIFIED”, POLITICO’S Bender
          SpaceX rocket launch. In these types of cases,  the military is stepping up its work on autonomy  describes Elizondo as “in many ways, an
          incorrect interpretations occur because people and artificial intelligence. One possible use of  enigma. Here is a guy who spent decades in the
          have incomplete information or misunderstand   these new technologies could be to combine      intelligence community.”
          what they're seeing.                           them to analyze all the many signals as they           That much appears to be true. Elizondo
                 Based on my prior experience as a       come in from sensors, separating any            retired as an official at the Office of the Under
          science advisor to the Air Force, I believe that  observations that it can't identify. In those cases,  Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. A public
          the Pentagon wants to avoid this type of       the system could even assign sensors on nearby  records search also reveals a series of home
          confusion, so it needs to better understand flying  vehicles or orbiting satellites to collect  addresses for Elizondo over the last two decades
          objects that it can't now identify. During a   additional information in real time. Then it could  that are close to intelligence facilities in  Toa
          military mission, whether in peace or in war, if a assemble an even more complete picture.     Baja, Puerto Rico (the site of an
          pilot or soldier can't identify an object, they have   For the moment, though, people will     unacknowledged government surveillance
          a serious problem: How should they react,      need to weigh in on what all the data reveal.   program called “Echelon”) and in Grovetown,
          without knowing if it is neutral, friendly or  That's because a key challenge for any          Georgia.
          threatening? Fortunately, the military can use successful use of artificial intelligence is           “Being from Georgia, I can assure you,
          advanced technologies to try to identify strange  building trust or confidence in the system. For  there is no reason anyone in their right mind
          things in the sky.                             example, in a famous experiment by Google       would live in Grovetown unless they were
                                                         scientists, an advanced image recognition       working at Fort Gordon, home of the Army’s
          Taking the 'U' out of 'UFO'                    algorithm based on artificial intelligence was  principle signals intelligence units and school,”
                                                         fooled into wrongly identifying a photo of a    Tim McMillan, who, like Greenewald, has a
          "Situational awareness" is the military term for  panda as a gibbon simply by distorting a small  longtime interest in UFOs but has  come to
          having complete understanding of the           number of the original pixels.                  doubt Elizondo’s involvement with any
          environment in which you are operating. A UFO          So, until humans understand UFOs        government UFO program.
          represents a gap in situational awareness. At the  better, we won't be able to teach computers        In 2017, when Elizondo outed himself to
          moment, when a Navy pilot sees something       about them. In my view, the Navy's new          the  Times, he was portrayed as a reluctant
          strange during flight, just about the only thing he  approach to reporting UFO encounters is a good  whistleblower and a little paranoid.  The three
          or she can do is ask other pilots and air traffic  first step.  This may eventually lead to a  reporters who shared bylines on the story,
          control what they saw in that place at that time.  comprehensive, fully integrated approach for  including freelancer Leslie Kean (who wrote in
          Globally, the number of UFO reportings in a    object identification involving the fusion of data  2016 that she was “privileged to welcome”
          year has peaked at more than 8,000. It's not   from many sensors through the application of    Chris Mellon into the UFO organization to
          known how many the military experiences.       artificial intelligence and autonomy. Only then  which she belonged) met Elizondo in a
                 Even the most heavily documented        will there be fewer and fewer UFOs in the sky   “nondescript  Washington hotel where he sat
          incidents   end   up    unresolved,   despite  — because they won't be unidentified anymore.   with his back to the wall, keeping an eye on the
          interviewing dozens of witnesses and reviewing
          many written documents, as well as lots of audio  About the Author:                                   On the  Times’s podcast, “The Daily,”
          and video recordings.                          Iain Boyd, Professor of Aerospace Engineering,  Helene Cooper, the newspaper’s Pentagon
                 UFOs represent an opportunity for the   University of Michigan                          correspondent, described Elizondo as a “spooky,
                                                                                                         secretive guy” but added that he was
          military to improve its identification processes.
                                                                                                         “completely credible.” He showed her
          At least some of that work could be done in the
                                                                                                         documents, pictures, and military videos of
          future by automated systems, and potentially in
                                                                                                         potential UFOs, which appeared fantastic to her,
          real time as an incident unfolds. Military
                                                                                                         but also persuasive. “I did believe him,” Cooper
          vehicles — Humvees, battleships, airplanes and
                                                                                                         said on the podcast. “It seemed completely
          satellites alike — are covered in sensors. It's not
                                                                                                         credible to me in the moment.”
          just passive devices like radio receivers, video
                                                                                                                Later on, after she left the hotel room,
          cameras and infrared imagers, but active
                                                                                                         Cooper acknowledged that doubts crept in. In
          systems like radar, sonar and lidar. In addition, a
                                                                                                         the end, though, she decided that what mattered
          military vehicle is rarely alone — vehicles travel
                                                                                                         most was whether the Pentagon’s UFO program
          in convoys, sail in fleets and fly in formations.
                                                                                                         was real.  That, she said, was the focus of the
          Above them all are satellites watching from
                                                                                                         story. []
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