What better way to launch our namesake top post roundup than to lift off with a bit of out-of-this-world technology news? This week we’ve chosen to take a look at the launch of the Principia space mission, NASA’s unique invitation to startup entrepreneurs, Stephen Hawking’s concerns about artificial intelligence and an affordable new drone-inspired video camera!
As British astronaut Tim Peake rockets into space, a website created for this mission has launched. Amongst its postings will be scientific space experiments that Peake will perform, which include a range of curriculum-linked projects – with the intention of inspiring young people to ramp up their interest in STEM subjects.
Peake is the first British ESA astronaut to visit the Space Station, a 5-month tour with the International crew onboard. The website is unique in that it brings the day-to-day of outer space right into the public’s living room, and Peake has personally invited educators to involve their students.
Intended to encourage high-tech growth of businesses and advance American innovation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has waived its licencing fees and offered a 3-year ‘no minimum fees’ deal to companies created for the purpose of commercialising its technology.
In its press release, NASA claims their “initiative addresses two common problems startups face: raising capital and securing intellectual property rights.” With a diverse platform of everything from aeronautics and environment to propulsion and robotics, their patent portfolio exceeds 1200 technologies.
Did you know there was actually an Outer Space Treaty devised in 1967, and that 129 countries have committed to its doctrine? The treaty expressed how important it was to incorporate cooperation of the International community in its quest for peaceful exploration of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies. It goes on to define that all exploration, and benefits of same, shall be the province of all mankind, and that nobody is allowed to put WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) into orbit.
Obviously, the U.S. historic action of placing a flag on the moon during its landing in 1969 doesn’t give it any territorial rights. It’s more of a ‘We were here!’ kind of thing. Since then, outer space has sparked political angst of course, but it has also ignited technological interest – challenging our greatest tech minds of the century to literally reach for the stars.
Author Yasmin Ali discusses some important current topics, such as mining space to allow future operations to develop their assets ‘on site’ rather than having them transported from Earth. He also broaches the creation of a ‘physical demarcation’ at the Karman Line, and the ways in which space technology affects our daily lives – from the sovereignty of satellites to the sub-orbital tourist plan by Virgin Galactic.
Are we perhaps getting a little ahead of ourselves? Stephen Hawking thinks so. While discussing his new phone-inspired speech technology – which anticipates (predicts) what you’re going to say – he warns that computers could kill us by accident.
One of the most famous scientists of our time, this cosmologist and theoretical physicist doesn’t mince words when he says that machines which ‘think’ are a potential threat to the human race. Hawking thinks the “real risk with AI isn’t malice, but competence.” It all depends whose intentions and goals are programmed into these robots.
With hovering drones wreaking havoc – from military ineptitude to neighbourhood nuisance, their public approval has certainly fallen off of late. True, there are still many good uses for drones, but it’s quite obvious that legal restrictions are going to also have to evolve to ‘save us from ourselves.’
On the bright side, here’s a look at how ‘drone-tech’ has tremendously impacted the efficiency of something we use in our everyday life – the video camera. One drone manufacturer is ‘re-imagining movement’ with its just-unveiled DJI Osmo. This handheld camera utilises 3-axis gimbal stabilization to eliminate shakey video, at an affordable price, leaving nothing but stunning photography.
Here’s one video sample of the look and feel of this new technology: