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H+ Weekly - Issue #402
This week - AI flew a fighter jet for 17 hours; inside the ChatGPT race in China; use of small drones in Ukraine; prosthetics does not need to be boring; and more!
🦾 More than a human
▶️ Super Soldiers (32:28)
Science fiction is full of enhanced super soldiers but how likely are they to become a reality? Isaac Arthur explains how super soldiers could be created (from genetic engineering to cybernetic enhancements to cloning), which human traits to augment, and the possible problems with creating a caste of enhanced soldiers. I like the closing thought of this video - maybe instead of focusing on creating super soldiers, with all problems they come with, it would be a better idea to focus on creating super citizens.
These prosthetics break the mold with third thumbs, spikes, and superhero skins
There is a substantial effort put into engineering prosthetic limbs that perfectly match the natural limbs. But there are some researchers and artists asking why should we match nature? Why not go the other direction and make prosthetic limbs that are expressive or add new capabilities to the human body? This article quotes Victoria Modesta, a bionic pop artist - “You should be able to experiment with not just your wardrobe but your limbs, your power, your everything.”
One Third of Americans Would Use Genetics Tech to Make Their Offspring Smarter, Study Finds
National Institutes of Health researchers have found that if you offer people who may conceive using in vitro fertilization a polygenic screening or CRISPR-style gene editing to increase their kids’ chances of getting into a top-100 ranked college, 28% will accept gene editing to make their kids smarter and 38% will choose the test. But there is one important assumption: researchers told the respondents both options are free and safe.
🧠 Artificial Intelligence
Lockheed Martin announced in this press release that their AI flew an f-16 fighter jet for over 17 hours as a part of their VISTA (short for Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft) project. "VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs," said Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School director of research. "This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter."
Inside the ChatGPT race in China
ChatGPT made a smashing entrance not only in the West but also in China. According to this article, the Chinese were impressed by how well ChatGPT understands the nuances of traditional and pop culture in China. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giants such as Baidu and Alibaba announced they are already working on their own versions of advanced AI chatbots, while smaller companies are exploring how to incorporate chatbots into their business. However, as this article points out, it will take time. It took Baidu 18 months to release a homegrown answer to GPT-3. The US ban on selling state-of-the-art chips to China does not help here either.
Netflix Brags That It Used AI to Replace Human Animators In New Anime
Netflix Japan tweeted they have been using image-generating AI in a new anime. This did not go well with the fans, seeing how Netflix is resorting to AI in an industry notorious to overworking and underpaying animators. And since the show must go on and there is not that many people willing to go through anime hell, the AI-powered image generators might be more and more popular in the industry.
The original startup behind Stable Diffusion has launched a generative AI for video
Runway, the company behind text-to-image generator Stable Diffusion, released an AI that generates videos. Named Gen-1, this new AI can transform existing videos into new ones by applying any style specified by a text prompt or reference image. “We’ve seen a big explosion in image-generation models,” says Runway CEO and cofounder Cristóbal Valenzuela. “I truly believe that 2023 is going to be the year of video.”
▶️ Small Drones & Loitering Munitions in Ukraine - The terrifying rise of cheap precision (1:08:39)
Perun gives another excellent analysis of how drones - from off-the-shelf Mavics to larger kamikaze drones like the Iranian Shahed and Russian Lancet - have been used in the Ukraine war. The analysis touches on the cost-effectiveness of drones, how they are being deployed (from scouting missions to direct strikes), countermeasures, how they changed the behaviour of soldiers in combat zones ask what lessons we can take from the terrifying rise of cheap sensors and cheaper precision on the battlefield.
Amazon’s Delivery Drones Served Less than 10 Houses in their First Month
According to recent reports, Amazon's drones have delivered packages to less than 10 houses in their first month. Compared to other drone delivery services, which made thousands of successful deliveries, this number is laughably small. However, as this article points out, context matters. Amazon's MK27-2 drone is way heavier than its competitors, making it fall under stricter FAA regulations and restricting where can it fly. Amazon has announced in November 2022 a new, lighter MK-30 drone, which is scheduled to enter service in 2024.
▶️ DroneCase: The DIY Phone Case That FLIES (Not a Scam) (8:49)
Nicholas Rehm shows how he built a case for his phone which is also a drone. With it, he can leave the phone in the air and it will not fall, allowing him to make some cool photos or videos. The project is open source, so if you are interested in building your own drone case, you can do that.
From Lab to Market: Bio-Based Products Are Gaining Momentum
Propelled by government investment and shareholder demand, manufacturers are pushing to get bio-based products into the marketplace. In the US, President Biden launched a $2 billion biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative. Similar initiatives are happening in Europe, with the EU proposing new rules to require all product packaging to be recyclable and possibly reusable by 2030. Such initiatives could propel the bioeconomy and bio-based products to grow to more than $7 trillion by 2030. This article gives some examples of how such products might look like, like a leather-like material made from fungi or homes 3d printed using sawdust.
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