A while ago I mentioned that it would be a good idea to "...build a comprehensive network of subterranean detectors that can warn people in advance of earthquakes and other traumas..." partly because until we build a reasonable space habitat most of us will have to live on the surface of the Earth.
Fortunately it seems someone in on-task to build a solution, at least on the North American continent. The EarthScope project intends to "... track faint tremors, measure crustal deformation and make three-dimensional maps of the earth's interior from crust to core..."
This came to my attention today through an article on BoingBoing concerning a robotic jumping flea. The robotic flea is the next step on the road to Smartdust that will be capable of moving independently, like this.
The concept of "smart dust" is astonishing enough, and is itself likely to develop into "utility fog" style systems.
The fact that this technology will ("will" with the usual requirement that civilization remain intact) become ubiquitous, cheap, and easy to use makes me a little bored with the current surveillance hysteria.
The sad fact is that we're all going to have to give our privacy an uncomfortable and self-aware handshake goodbye when Smartdust becomes an everyday part of life. There will be an enormous market for countermeasures and demands for extensive regulation for this potentially disruptive technology.
Ho-hum. But at least we'll have a geophysical warning system.