Poison Darts (Ch. 39) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 039

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 39. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 13, 2019. 

Thanks to the winter storm, you’re getting a bonus episode this weekend. 

Let’s talk tech! I have one more tech headline for you this weekend.

  • DARPA Thinks Insect Brains Might Hold the Secret to Next-Gen AI” published on Defense One on January 10.
  • If you’ve read Bionic Bug, then you know why I love this headline.
  • DARPA is soliciting “ideas on how to build computing systems as small and efficient as the brains of ‘very small flying insects.’”
  • The new program is called the Microscale Biomimetic Robust Artificial Intelligence Networks program, or MicroBRAIN. Gotta love the acronym!
  • “Understanding highly-integrated sensory and nervous systems in miniature insects and developing prototype computational models … could be mapped onto suitable hardware in order to emulate their impressive function.”
  • Think about it. Much of AI has focused on developing systems that mimic the human brain. A human brain contains “between 60 to 70 billion interconnected neurons… By contrast, some insect brains contain less than 1,000 neurons, making them much easier map.
  • Despite the smaller number of neurons, insects are capable of sophisticated activities, especially coordinated activities over thousands of individual insects. Think about how ants work together to build their mounds and tunnels or how certain insects swarm to devour a target.
  • “DARPA will provide up to $1 million in funding to groups to create a physical model of insects’ neural systems, analyze how insects’ brains develop over time and design hardware platforms that mimic the neural structure of those brains.”
  • “Responses to the solicitation are due Feb. 4, and the program is expected to launch April 3.”
  • Since I read this article, I’ve been tinkering with the notion of a return of the beetles in the Lara Kingsley Series. I can’t make promises, but this idea of converging insects with AI has definitely lit a fire.

Speaking of beetles, let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara got closer to uncovering Fiddler’s true intentions and tries to stop him. Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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