The Remote (Ch. 29) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 029

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 29. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on November 4, 2018.

Last week, I was at the United Nations in New York City where I spoke about the digitization of biology at a side event of the UN Security Council Committee on Resolution 1540 hosted by the Bolivian and Swedish missions. I’m happy to say that my remarks were well received. It was thrilling to be a speaker in the same room where I was once a junior staffer taking notes. I’ve included some pictures in the show notes.

Project Gecko is now available both in paperback and ebook. You can purchase the paperback on Amazon.The ebook version is currently only available on Kobo.I’ll include the links in my notes if you’re interested.

This month, I’m participating in Nanowrimo which stands for National Novel Writing Month. This is a challenge in which hundreds of thousands of novel writers attempt to write 50K words in one month. I am writing Genomic Data, the third novel in the Lara Kingsley Series and hope to finish it by the end of the month.

Let’s talk tech:

  • My first headline for this week is “Slightly heavier than a toothpick, the first wireless insect-size robot takes flight” published on cnbc.com on November 2.
  • Engineers from the University of Washington have managed to fly the first wireless insect-size robot. This work has been going on for some time, the key challenge being the weight of the power source.
  • The engineers created the “RoboFly, a robo-insect powered by an invisible laser beam that is pointed at a photovoltaic cell, which is attached above the robot and converts the laser light into enough electricity to operate its wings.”
  • The engineers designed a circuit to boost the power in the solar cell to power the robot’s wings and a microcontroller that acts as its brain. The RoboFly can only take off and land at this time, but they are working on a way to steer the robot.
  • They expect such robots to be fully autonomous within five years.
  • Of course, if you’ve been listening to me read Bionic Bug, you know why I like this story. Robot insects have been constrained by the weight of power sources and electronics. Live insects are self-powered; work to control the flight of insects has advanced more quickly.
  • My second headline is “Can we predict when and where a crime will take place?”published on bbc.com on October 30. Cops in the UK are using algorithms and big data to predict where and when crimes will occur and adjusting their policing accordingly. The idea is that crime prediction leads to crime prevention.
  • Sound familiar? In Minority Report (1956), a short story by Philip K. Dick, a set of precogs are able to see and predict all crime before it occurs, eliminating crime in a future society. Instead, people are arrested and tried for precrimes based solely on the logical progression of their thoughts.
  • There is historical precedent for these practices. In the past, police would use hot spot analysis based on past crime patterns to determine where to post officers. Predictive tools offer a way to show where crime will take place based on a wide range of factors.
  • But what about bias? Some allege the system has learned racism and bias, leading to increased policing in areas with high crime rates and to self-fulfilling prophecies.

Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, we learned Lara’s fate from her beetle bites and put the pieces together on Fiddler’s plot. Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed on this podcast are my own 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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