The technology of the spheres, a sphere of high-altitude satellites, could revolutionise our relationship with the planet and the way we interact with it.
The technology could be used to deliver healthcare and food in remote villages, or to deliver the internet of things to millions of people.
But its use is also used to build and monitor surveillance cameras in the US, and the technology is being used for surveillance by Australia’s spy agencies.
But as the technology matures, the risks are greater, says David Crampton from the University of Queensland, who is working on the sphere of the future.
“We can’t say with absolute certainty that the sphere is here to stay,” he says.
“There’s no certainty that we will ever have it, so the technology we have is only a very partial solution to that.”
A sphere of surveillance “A sphere of spy technology is an idea that you can have in the future, but there are limitations on what you can do with it,” says Cramton.
The US military and intelligence agencies use the technologies, and they have been used to monitor activists and dissidents.
But they can also be used for covert surveillance, where the intelligence agencies and the military have a vested interest in the outcome.
There’s been a lot of debate about how much intelligence agencies can and should use spy technology.
While some argue that spying is legal, many argue it should only be used with appropriate oversight, and that the law should apply to all.
“The issue of when and where spy technology should be used is not really well understood in Australia, especially when it comes to the US,” says Paul Cramleton.
“A lot of the debate around spy technology in the United States has focused on whether the NSA is a legitimate intelligence agency or whether it is an unauthorised covert organisation.”
The US Congress passed a law in December 2013 that gave the FBI and NSA broad authority to collect information on Americans’ communications.
Under that law, it is up to the NSA to decide whether or not to turn over the data.
While there is still debate around how much of this data is actually collected by the agencies, Cramston says it’s clear that many of the data has been made available to the intelligence community.
“It’s pretty clear from looking at the information that they’ve been collecting, it’s very much in the interest of the US government to continue to do that,” he explains.
“That’s a very important distinction to make when you’re looking at a sphere.
It’s not really about how you use it, it just about what it can do.”
The Australian spy agency has also been working on surveillance systems that can monitor the movements of people around the globe.
But this is an area that is far from clear-cut.
“I think it’s likely that there will be a very limited number of technologies that can be deployed in this sphere,” says Professor Michael Crouch, an expert in cyber security at the University