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Brussels & What’s Really Important

For the last several years I have visited Brussels about once a year as a host of the Imec research institute in the university town of Leuven, just outside the city. I’ve met dozens of world-class researchers there pushing the boundaries of technology, trying to invent the next big thing in areas from lithography to medical technology.

So when I awoke in my hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan this morning and went online, I was moved to see images of an airport I knew well and a subway station I had used.

I’ve stayed at airport hotels there and in the morning jogged past NATO headquarters. I’ve had many great meals and fine local beers in the old city square downtown. I’ve visited the fabulous antique musical instrument museum in the heart of town.

After getting my fill of the news, I sent a few emails to a handful of contacts at Imec I have come to know well over the years, and went on with my day, thinking about what happened.

High tech can provide a partial solution to terrorism. We have seen advanced imaging systems deployed in airports. Behind the scenes, big data analytics and other technologies are trying to uncover and stop plots.

And of course there are the drones. The U.S. continues to use these unmanned bombers at record rates to “kill the killers.” That phrase always reminds me of the saying, “An eye for an eye leaves the world blind.”

I don’t know if there is a technical solution to detecting and preventing people wearing explosive vests from entering an airport or subway station or shopping mall or crowded restaurant. I wonder what the human solution is.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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