“Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam…’They are living, programmable organisms.’…Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls, the scientists say.”—Ian Sample, “Researchers foresee myriad benefits for humanity, but also acknowledge ethical issues.” The Guardian. January 13, 2020.
What could possibly go wrong? Also: xenobots.
Hard to tell the difference.
Work Hard Play Hard
Bob Barr has recently added his voice to the ongoing call of law enforcement to provide exceptional access to encrypted communications. Here’s why that’s not going to work.
“Exceptional access — as governments propose — is the problem of making a system selectively secure. I can tell you, it’s hard enough to make a secure system. It’s vastly harder to make a system secure except for governments, and only available to governments that consist of ‘democratically elected representatives and [a] judiciary’ as the GCHQ authors imagine.”—Jon Callas, “The ‘Ghost User’ Ploy to Break Encryption Won’t Work.” DavisVanguard.org. July 24,2019.
Is being able to access the encrypted communications of everyone enough? Between the drone’s Gorgon Stare above, the Ring camera on every other front door for police to access, televisions tracking every show being watched, phones and digital assistants listening in on conversations, fitness trackers as evidence in court cases, Stringray and other technology for phone tracking, license plate readers to track vehicle movement over time, surveillance balloons and so on, it feels to me like the police and military are a little under-powered these days.
I was promised a camera in my television watching my every move, a Room 101 for not sufficiently toeing the line and a boot stomping on a face of humanity forever. Was Uncle Orwell lying to me?
“Vertical Walking is a new system to move yourself between floors in a building. By exploiting the potential of the human body and materials, only a fraction of effort is required, compared to taking stairs. No external energy is needed.”–http://www.vertiwalk.com
The intersection of how making things working for folks that are differently abled due to disease, age or some other issue and how that opens up new ways of looking at things for everyone else is really interesting. In the United States, your lifetime chance of dying from a fall is 1 in 114. The CDC states: “Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans, [for a total of 27,000 each year].
Changing the stair paradigm could make our residences much safer. It would also open up new architectural options.
Applied Science is a weekly YouTube channel for interesting applied science and technology.
“Each of us has our precious things, and as we care for them we locate the essence of our humanity.”
—Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us.” Wired. April 2000.
Figured it was time to revisit this old classic and get a feel for how prescient it was almost 20 years on. Still feels right on, particularly around CRISPR. The problems of runaway nanotechnology still seems far off, but it’s visible on the horizon.
Open question: Can technology’s risk of causing human extinction be mitigated?