Humans have been trying to improve their ability to maim and kill for as long as history can tell us, whether it is for self-defence or for ensuring their survival, we humans have always put a lot of effort into making efficient and ruthless weapons. Modern warfare is incredibly devastating thanks to explosives, killing machines powered by oil and gunpowder and nuclear weaponry that has the potential to permanently scar our planet. Unfortunately, the creation of nuclear weapons was not enough to signal countries to slow down the development of their weaponry.
The world is soon about to see the next big step in modern warfare; unmanned autonomous weapon systems, computerized machines that shall have the ability to select, identify and kill targets without humans having to tell them anything at all. Robots with the ability to kill is a pretty old concept, one that is quite common in the Science Fiction genre, but now this futuristic idea is finally becoming reality. While unmanned weapon systems have been under development for many years, this technology was not thought of as much of a threat, however it has finally reached a phase where it has become a big enough concern to have military artificial intelligence persons from across the world gather for a meeting in the U.N offices.
This meeting gave us plenty of insights on how far the world’s armies had come with artificial intelligence; the Russian Government’s personnel announced their development of a weapon that would make use of neural networks to decide whether to shoot or not, the US department of defence also showcased their development of fully autonomous drones flying in a swarm. According to what the US DOD shared at the meeting, this drone swarm acted as a single organism and has a huge number of options for weaponizing them.
There has been a lot of debating against automated weapon development for quite a while now, mostly because of the fact that having a killer robot that has no emotions and no conscience deciding who should it kill and not kill is quite frightening. The scariest fact is that despite all the protests against the development of such weapons, the world’s leading militaries have already made a lot of progress in this field. Leading countries are several steps ahead of regulating authorities, meaning that there is very little control over what kind of weapons are currently being worked on.
While fully automated and unmanned weapons sound really cool and technologically impressive, they can also become really big threats on the battlefield; a machine that decides who lives and who dies will have a hard time identifying civilians from combatants and knowing when to stop killing the opposing force. The list of potential problems robots can introduce to the battlefield is quite long, the biggest being a complete lack of human judgement on the battlefield. Killer robots sound fascinating, but they are equally dangerous.
The advances that we have made in technology are downright extraordinary, as we continue to push forward we are managing to find ways of improving on existing technology and make it even better. The photography and videography industry has made leaps of advances in the past few decades; cameras have become more powerful, more versatile and now, smaller as well. We have had button sized cameras around for a while now, but we have not had a camera that is only a millimetre wide and has is powered by light.
This fascinating “camera” is basically a photovoltaic cell that creates a picture by recording the amount of light that hits each if its cells, this results in the generation of a picture. The sensor also stores energy that it receives from the light hitting it and provide itself with enough power to make the picture generation process possible. The reason behind why photovoltaic cells have not been used like this until now is the fact that photovoltaic cells can either store energy or measure light; they are not able to carry out both of these processes simultaneously.
Researchers found a solution to this problem by simply stacking these cells, Euisik Yoon and Sung-Yun Park made the discovery that photovoltaic cells are not entirely opaque and do allow light to pass through them. This led to them realizing that by stacking one cell on top of the other, both functions can be performed simultaneously. So far the images that this camera is capable of producing are quite mundane, but researchers are confident that they could significantly improve image quality by making a few tweaks here and there.
A millimetre sized camera sounds quite interesting, but it also leads to many people thinking of it as a potential tool used by spies and voyeurs, luckily this “camera” is only a camera in essence, it lacks many of the components needed to make it a proper image capturing device. Meaning that we can rest assured that no miniscule cameras will be spying on us any time soon.
There is no shortage of fitness tracking devices out there, all of which pretty much offer the same set of features that let you record details about your body through Bio-impedance analysis. The fitness tracking market is pretty saturated and lacks innovation at the moment, this is where the AURA band comes in; a kickstarter project that is currently under development. The AURA band basically takes bio-impedance analysis to a whole new level by providing people with the ability to gather real-time data about their bodies.
The AURA band works by passing a low-voltage current through the body and then analyses how our body reacts to that current, based on data gathered by this active and reactive measurement technique, this band allows wearers to take a far more detailed look at their bodies. The band also makes use of other sensors which track key aspects of one’s body (like fat, muscle mass, hydration and minerals) and then provides all of this data in an easy to understand way through a dedicated app that shall be available for Android and Apple phones.
The AURA band is quite close to reaching its funding goal on kickstarter at the moment, the amount of backing that it has is encouraging but one should still take any crowdfunding campaign with a bit of salt.
The most innovative feature about the AURA band is that it will reward users with AURA coins for engaging in healthy activities, these coins will then be spendable with partners that the project plans on having. You can learn more about the AURA band on its kickstarter page and also get a prototype version of the device by supporting it.