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Ex-Google Engineer Fears AI ‘Killer Robots’ Could Perpetrate Unintended Mass Atrocities



Ex-Google Engineer Fears AI ‘Killer Robots’ Could Perpetrate Unintended Mass Atrocities
Photo Credit: Collective Evolution

We have entered a time in our history in which advanced technologies based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) may become increasingly prone to unintended actions that threaten the safety and autonomy of human beings. And those of us who believe in the safety and autonomy of human beings–trust me, most at the top of the current power pyramid don’t need to become increasingly aware and vigilant of this growing threat.

The arguments for and against the unfettered development of AI and its integration into military capabilities are as follows: those in favour of the development of AI simply point to the increased efficiency and accuracy bestowed by AI applications. However, their unrestrained zeal tends to be based on a rather naive (or feigned) trust in government, corporations and military intelligence to police themselves to ensure that AI is not unleashed into the world in any way that is harmful to human individuals. The other side of the argument grounds its fundamental mistrust in current AI development on the well-documented notion that in fact our current corporate, governmental and military leaders each operate based on their own narrow agenda that give little regard for the safety and autonomy of human beings.

Nobody is arguing against the development of Artificial Intelligence as such, for application in ways that will clearly and incontestably benefit humanity. However, as always, the big money seems to be made available in support of WAR, of one group of humans having dominance and supremacy over another, rather than for applications that will benefit all of humanity and actually help to foster peace on the planet.

Ex-Google Engineer Speaks Out

Perhaps there is no way to fully prevent militaries from doing research into AI enhancements to their applications. However there seems to be one clear line of demarcation that many feel should not be crossed: giving AI programs sole authority to determine if a given individual or group of human beings should be killed.

Software engineer Laura Nolan resigned from Google last year in protest after being sent to work in 2017 on Project Maven, a project used to dramatically enhance US military drone technology, and put much more of the onus on AI to determine who and what should be bombed or shot at. She felt that her work would push forward a dangerous capability. She could see that the ability to convert military drones, for instance into autonomous non-human guided weapons, “is just a software problem these days and one that can be relatively easily solved.”

Through the protestations and resignations of brave people like Laura Nolan, Google allowed the Project Maven contract to lapse in March this year after more than 3,000 of its employees signed a petition in protest against the company’s involvement. It should be indicative to all of us that these big corporate giants do not make ethical decisions on their own, since they are fundamentally amoral, and continue to require concerned human beings to speak up and take actions in order for humanity’s interests to be considered.

Killer Robots

Since resigning, Nolan has continued her activism amidst news about the development of “killer robots,” AI machines designed to operate autonomously on the battlefield with the capacity to kill large swaths of enemy combatants. She has called for all AI killing machines not operated by humans to be banned. She joined the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and has briefed UN diplomats in New York and Geneva over the dangers posed by autonomous weapons.

Unlike drones, which are controlled by military teams often thousands of miles away from where the flying weapon is being deployed, Nolan said killer robots have the potential to do “calamitous things that they were not originally programmed for”:

“The likelihood of a disaster is in proportion to how many of these machines will be in a particular area at once. What you are looking at are possible atrocities and unlawful killings even under laws of warfare, especially if hundreds or thousands of these machines are deployed.

There could be large-scale accidents because these things will start to behave in unexpected ways. Which is why any advanced weapons systems should be subject to meaningful human control, otherwise they have to be banned because they are far too unpredictable and dangerous. (source)”

Pledge From AI Researchers?

Certainly we see mainstream headlines like ‘Top AI researchers say they won’t make killer robots‘ where pledges have reportedly been made:

More than 2,600 AI researchers and engineers have signed a pledge to never create autonomous killer robots, published today by the Future of Life Institute. Signees include Elon Musk, Alphabet’s DeepMind co-founders Mustafa Suleyman, Demis Hassabis, and Shane Legg, as well as Google’s Jeff Dean, and the University of Montreal’s Yoshua Bengio.

However this does not mean that we can desert our posts and trust that corporations that could make billions of dollars from contracts to advance such automated applications will decline to pursue them if they thought they could get away with it. Indeed, it is the watchful eyes and powerful words of conscious people that has so far prevented this from occurring.

The Takeaway

Events in our world such as the emergence of autonomous ‘killer robots’ are ominous and foreboding, but we need not shrink away from this kind of news in a state of fear and resignation. If we can see, in the bigger picture, that it is ultimately a projection of our collective consciousness that brings these events into being, then we can take these events to be a trigger for each of us to determine exactly what kind of world we want to live in going forward, and have that determination clearly reflected in our thoughts, words, and actions. In this way, we participate in the larger awakening process and help to move humanity forward in the transition to a world of greater peace and harmony.

This article was written by Richard Enos for Collective Evolution where it was originally published and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees



CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees
Photo Credit: CityTree

Germany is installing “mossy walls” called CityTree – the world’s first bio-tech filter to quantifiably improve air quality – around their cities, mainly Berlin. A variety of mosses are capable of binding environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides while producing oxygen at the same time. These CityTree’s contain nearly 2,000 pots of moss so imagine how much environmental toxins it binds!

The organic particles polluting the air get eaten (digested) by bacteria on the moss, according to the German makers of the wall. The purifying work of the 2,000 pots of moss along with their particle eating bacteria is equal to about 250 trees! A trial wall went up off Piccadilly Circus in London and it indicated that a single CityTree could remove the particulate pollution of 42 diesel cars every month.

Integrated into a wall is:

  • Solar panels to power fans for a controllable ventilation technology that allows airflow to be intensified (meaning that the filter effect can be increased as required.)
  • A rainwater catchment system to supply a fully automated irrigation system for watering the moss.
  • IoT technology which delivers comprehensive information on performance and status as well as environmental data on the CityTree’s surroundings.
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen

These 4-meter tall slabs can improve human health by consuming ultra-fine airborne particles that can travel deep into the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, posing a serious risk to health. Research suggests that particulate pollution is linked to higher death rates from respiratory illnesses and there are numerous studies that link dirty air to higher risk of mental disorders such as dementia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and schizophrenia. One study even found that breathing polluted city air is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!

A dozen CityTrees are going up in Berlin for this reason. However, Ian Colbeck, of the University of Essex argues that “the ability of moss to collect air pollutants, especially heavy metals, had been known for some time but that given the scale of the problem it would be better not to emit pollutants.”

It’s clear that it would be better if no pollution was emitted in the first place. But because the complete elimination of everything in the world that emits pollution is not going to happen any time in the near future, it’s good to see solutions popping up that can help clean the air for people in the meantime.

An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen

Regardless, the mossy walls create a very pleasant ambiance and they also provide a pleasant cooling effect. Mosses store large quantities of moisture. That, combined with the considerably increased evaporation surface of the wall creates an immense cooling effect for the people around it.

The European Commission are funding Green City Solutions to install 12 CityTrees in Berlin with €1.5 million from the EU’s Horizon 2020 science fund. The initial 12 CityWalls in Berlin will serve as a pilot project to prove their effectiveness and could later be expanded throughout Germany and other EU nations.

Note: The featured image at the top is of a CityTree installed by Glasgow City Council, Scotland, mainly to help lower Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate pollution levels. It uses Siberian Stonecrop and moss.

This article (CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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NASA Just Confirmed There Are Water Plumes Above The Surface Of Jupiter’s Moon Europa



NASA Just Confirmed There Are Water Plumes Above The Surface of Jupiter's Moon Europa
West Wind NASA

A team led by researchers out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has confirmed traces of water vapour above the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

And that’s a big deal as the tiny space rock is one of the highest priority targets in NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life, according to the agency.

While scientists have not yet detected liquid water directly, we’ve found the next best thing: water in vapour form,” lead researcher and NASA planetary scientist Lucas Paganini said in a NASA statement.

According to a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday, the NASA team discovered enough water vapour being released from Europa to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool within minutes.

But while that sounds like a lot, it was only just enough to be detected from Earth.

Out of 17 observations by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which uses a spectrograph to detect the chemical compositions of other planets’ atmospheres by scanning the infrared light they release or absorb, the scientists only spotted water vapour in one.

We suggest that the outgassing of water vapour on Europa occurs at lower levels than previously estimated, with only rare localized events of stronger activity,” Paganini and his team wrote in the paper.

For many years, scientists have suspected that there’s water on Europa’s surface, and several observations appear to back up that suspicion.

More than two decades ago, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft found evidence of an electrically conductive fluid on the moon’s surface. Then, a 2018 analysis of the data found evidence of massive plumes of liquid. Data previously collected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope supported the existence of the plumes.

We performed diligent safety checks to remove possible contaminants in ground-based observations,” Goddard planetary scientist Avi Mandell said of the water vapour discovery in the statement. “But, eventually, we’ll have to get closer to Europa to see what’s really going on.”

A mission to do just that is already lined up.

NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission will get a much closer look at the icy moon’s surface as soon as 2023.

The spacecraft will feature a suite of cameras, spectrometers, and a radar to investigate the thickness of Europa’s icy shell during 45 flybys — and perhaps yield further insights into the water vapour above the moon’s surface while it’s there.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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Tiny ‘Artificial Sunflowers’ Bend Towards Light To Harvest Solar Energy



Tiny ‘Artificial Sunflowers’ Bend Towards Light To Harvest Solar Energy

Depending on where you are in the world, the sun rises on one side, moves up, over your head, then sunsets down on the opposite side. Therefore, the light is always moving, and if you depend on it to generate power, then you might experience oblique-incidence energy-density loss.

To remedy this issue, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles and Arizona State University, have designed solar panels made from rows of tiny artificial sunflowers. The sunflowers automatically bend towards the light, allowing it to harvest a significant amount of solar power. This behavior is much like in nature, real sunflowers tilt their flowers to face the sun, heating their reproductive bits to attract pollinators.

This system could potentially be a solution for almost any system that experiences efficiency loss due to a moving energy source. For example, with rays from an overhead illumination source, the light coming in at an angle of around 75 degrees carries up to 75% less energy.

The researchers, Ximin He, and her colleagues say their system is a sunflower-like biomimetic omnidirectional tracker, dubbed ‘SunBOT.’ Each artificial sunflower has a stem made up of a material that reacts to light. An energy harvesting flower, made from a light-absorbing material used in solar cells, sits at the top of the stem. Each SunBOT is measured less than 1 millimetre wide.

When a part of the SunBOT’s stem gets exposed to light, it heats up and shrinks, causing it to bend and lean towards the light. Once the SunBOT is aligned with the light, the bending stops because the flower creates a shadow that gives the material time to cool down and stop shrinking.

The team tested the artificial sunflower to detect its harvesting capabilities by building a panel of SunBOTs, some of which possessed the bendy material and some that didn’t. The researchers found that the SunBOTs with the bendy-stems harvested up to 400% more solar energy than the non-bendy stemmed ones.

SunBOTs’ creators explain:

“This work may be useful for enhanced solar harvesters, adaptive signal receivers, smart windows, self-contained robotics, solar sails for spaceships, guided surgery, self-regulating optical devices, and intelligent energy generation, as well as energetic emission detection and tracking with telescopes, radars, and hydrophones.”

It seems the possibilities are endless with this new kind of technology! The researchers describe their study in Nature Nanotechnology.

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Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer



Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer
Photo Credit: Hyundai
Heavy-Duty Hydrogen Trucks

Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) recently debuted the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept – a hydrogen-powered Class 8 heavy-duty truck – at the North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show. It’s the company’s way of launching into potential opportunities in the American commercial vehicle market, and it went well! The event fully supported Hyundai’s FCEV 2030 Vision. Furthermore, its NACV Show display reinforced its aim of expanding and accelerating the deployment of fuel cell technology.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

Edward Lee, Head of Hyundai Commercial Vehicle Business Division, said:

“Today at this show, by showing HDC-6 Neptune, the first hydrogen-only concept for Hyundai Motor Company’s commercial vehicles, we will start exploring opportunities in the United States commercial vehicle market. Furthermore, we are willing to work with other partners to pave the way to establish a hydrogen ecosystem for commercial vehicles.”

Hyundai disclosed two fresh concepts relating to its Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle 2030: the HDC-6 NEPTUNE Concept Class 8 heavy-duty truck by HMC and the HT Nitro ThermoTech – a clean energy refrigerated concept trailer by leading trailer manufacturer Hyundai Translead (HT). The tractor-trailer combination is their vision of the future of transportation in America, and worldwide.

Bongjae Lee, Chief Executive Officer of HT, said:

“This refrigerated trailer concept represents a significant advancement in our continued commitment to corporate social responsibility. By developing innovative technology, Hyundai Translead is helping address climate change. The HT Nitro ThermoTech reduces pollutants and emissions while providing reliable and effective cold chain food transportation.”

Fuel cells are ideal for commercial vehicles, especially heavy-duty trucks, because of the long driving distances, which require a high drive range. The fuel cells provide a higher payload, less refuelling, and as a result, lower costs.

Fuel Cell Leader

Hyundai has been working with fuel cell technology for a long time now. It launched the first commercially available, mass-produced fuel cell electric vehicle back in 2013. Then, it released NEXO in 2018 and invested $6.4 billion to spur the development of a hydrogen society that same year.

Even the fuel cell powertrain in the HDC-6 Neptune Concept comes from the company’s fuel cell crossovers already in use on the roads today. Hyundai fuel cell trucks are already in use in Switzerland.

Streamliner Design

Art Deco streamliner railway trains from the 1940s and 50s inspired the aesthetic of the HDC-6 Neptune truck. As far as locomotives go, the design of today’s bullet trains originated from these streamliners. Hyundai is sure that the story will be the same for the tractor-trailer trucks of tomorrow – they will originate from its Neptune trucks of today.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Design Officer of HMG, said:

“The fuel cell powertrain gave us the opportunity to redefine the classical typology and architecture of the truck. The Hyundai Commercial Vehicles Design Team started with a white sheet of paper focusing on the new defined functionality resetting all standards in order to project commercial vehicles in the future.”

Not only is the body beautiful and the concept meaningful, but the form follows function as well. The shape of the round-nosed front enabled for a large grille that allows generous airflow into the fuel cell stacks and batteries. Seamlessly integrated into the grille are retractable steps for the driver to get in and out of the vehicle.

So, when will we see these trucks on the road? For now, it remains just a concept, so nobody knows.

This article (Hyundai Reveals Hydrogen-Powered Heavy-Duty Commercial Truck And Trailer) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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