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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is known for sometimes outlandish project ideas, is reportedly very interested in developing an alternative to GPS. The US government wants a more dependable real-time position tracking technology, seeking something that is unable to be jammed and won't have blind spots.
The new system will be able to track position more effectively, along with increased time and direction of motion. To contribute, DARPA is working on new self-calibrating gyroscopes, accelerometers, and high-precision clocks - and wants to create real-time tracking technologies.
"The need to be able to operate effectively in areas where GPS is inaccessible, unreliable or potentially denied by adversaries has created a demand for alternative precision timing and navigation capabilities," DARPA has noted.
We've heard Elon Musk talk about artificial intelligence before, with not-so-great things to say, and he is back saying that when AI gets to the point of being smarter than people, they will treat us like 'pet Labradors'.
The quote is coming out of a recent interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, where Musk was warning the world on superintelligence. According to author Nick Bostrom, superintelligence is "any intellect that greatly exceed the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest". Musk said to Tyson: "I mean, we won't be like a pet Labrador if we're lucky".
Tyson and Musk had a great back-and-forth talk about superintelligence, where Tyson continued saying "we'll be their pets", with Musk replying that "it's like the friendliest creature". Tyson replied with "no, they'll domesticate us", with Musk agreeing, but adding "Yes. Or something strange is going to happen" to which Tyson replied "they'll keep the docile humans and get rid of the violent ones". Musk agreed, saying "yeah" while Tyson added "and then breed the docile humans".
Drones are being embraced by Hollywood directors, as the small unmanned aircraft are able to capture photographs and video footage from unique angles. Drones also are being tasked with live news footage, as they can be rapidly deployed and are relatively inexpensive.
However, there is some concern related to drone safety due to the ease in which drones can be utilized - experience isn't really a necessity before flying a drone. It can become even more dangerous on a film set, which tend to be high-pressure and fast-moving.
"Whenever you have a tool at your disposal that allows you to tell the story more efficiently and more poignantly, you use it," said Pieter Jan Brugge, executive producer of "Bosch," in a statement published by the Wall Street Journal. "The shot tells the story."
The US government and military are spending large amounts of money for drones, maintenance, and drone flights - and not all of it is being done with proper oversight.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) racked up almost $600,000 to purchase six drones, but none of them actually saw any real flight time. There were too many technical issues regarding flight time and maneuverability, according to a federal report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
The ATF decided to just scrap its drone program altogether because of the logistical headaches, and a short time later, the National Response Team - an ATF unit - invested $15,000 in five small drones - with no proper oversight. Not only did the National Response Team neglect to get ATF approval, the small unit never bothered to gain approval for a drone flight by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Facebook is working on a new solar drone designed to provide Internet access to billions of people across the world. The codenamed Aquila project is still in the early stages of testing, but Facebook said one test flight was already conducted in the UK.
The Aquila drone weighs less than a car and has a wingspan similar to a Boeing 767, and should be able to fly for months at a time. The drone must be extremely light so it can stay at altitudes higher than 60,000 feet for up to three months at a time.
"Aircraft like these will help connect the whole world because they can affordably serve the 10 percent of the world's population that live in remote communities without existing Internet infrastructure," Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.
Amazon has called out the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for dragging its feet in regards to commercial drone testing. The United States runs the risk of falling behind other countries interested in embracing commercial use of drones.
Even though the FAA approved Amazon's drone delivery tests, the popular e-tailer said its prototype became obsolete while waiting for movement in Washington. Commercial drone technology is advancing at a fast pace, and it has become clear that the bureaucratic regulatory process in the US is making a mess of things.
"We don't test it anymore," said Paul Misener, VP for global public policy at Amazon, in a statement in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. "We've moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad. Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing."
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has expressed concern that artificial intelligence will advance and eventually spiral out of human control. It's not an uncommon topic among some scientists and technology leaders, as AI development advances at a rapid pace.
"Like people including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have predicted, I agree that the future is scary and very bad for people," Wozniak recently said while speaking to the Australian Financial Review. "If we build these devices to take care of everything for us, eventually they'll think faster than us and they'll get rid of the slow humans to run companies more efficiently."
Wozniak believes it's only a matter of time before computers take over from humans, and that could pose major issues for mankind. If nothing else, people are becoming more aware of AI research, with so many vocal critics worried about long-term safety.
The NASA Opportunity Mars Rover has completed a marathon on the Red Planet of Mars, taking 11 years and two months to complete the distance. The rover landed on Mars on January 25, 2004, and continues to surpass all expectations, as project managers only expected a three-month mission.
"This is the first time any human enterprise has exceeded the distance of a marathon on the surface of another world," said John Callas, Opportunity rover project manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "A first time happens only once."
Opportunity continues to collect information related to an ancient wet climate on Mars - and while the marathon milestone is impressive, program managers want to continue making scientific discoveries. NASA is using Opportunity for additional bonus extended missions, with a focus on tracking signs of water.
Boeing is working on a force field defense system that seems like something straight out of Star Trek or Star Wars, as the company can now work on its "method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc."
Many US military personnel returning home from the battlefield had no visible injuries, but suffered varying levels of brain damage - enduring shock waves from IEDs, bomb blasts, and other similar attacks.
The system works, according to Boeing, when a selected "by heating a selected region of the first fluid medium rapidly to create a second, transient medium that intercepts the shockwave and attenuates its energy density before it reaches a protected asset."
Swedish police are testing the use of drones, with a special emphasis on SWAT and possible search and rescue operations. It's unknown how many drones the police in Sweden plan to order, but they would be used in select cases, with testing beginning sometime this summer.
Drones could also be used to capture aerial photographs of crime scenes, fire damage, and other carefully chosen scenarios deemed too dangerous for humans.
"Drones are equipped with sensors and technology for video transfer, which would act as an addition to the police helicopters, and there are plans to use them all over the country," a Swedish police spokesperson told Newsweek. "This will be mostly in special units like SWAT teams, bomb squads, and rescue operations if someone gets lost in the mountains or at sea. They could be used for traffic monitoring as well."