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Welcome to the first episode of the Bionic Bug podcast! My name is Natasha Bajema. I’m a fiction author, national security expert and your host for this podcast. I’m so thrilled that you’re tuning in.
I started this podcast in part to get my first novel into audio format, but I also wanted to share some of my insights behind the book as well as my perspective on where we’re headed in the future. Each week, I’ll kick the episode off with a technology news headline or two that has caught my attention that week. Then I’ll read a chapter from my book. Each episode will conclude with behind-the-scenes technical information.
So, if you’re interested in technology, in reading fiction or want to write fiction based on future technology, you’re in the right place.
Before we get started, I need to offer two caveats:
- 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.
- I am not a professional narrator. Please note that I will not attempt to read in an Australian or Indian accent because I’ll be terrible and you’ll hate it.
In this episode, I kick things off with a technology news headline: AI Cardiologist Aces its First Medical Exam. During the last week of March, I attended Synapse: Innovation Summit 2018 in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Bernard Meyerson, IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer took the stage to talk about IBM Watson machine learning tools being used across the country in the field of medicine to assist doctors with complex diagnoses.
A machine learning tool is a series of algorithms programmed to analyze input data and predict specific outcomes. Today’s machine learning tools are designed to mimic the way the brain works called deep neural network. As a result, computers can often do specific tasks better than humans.
Computers are better at digesting vast amounts of data and discovering complex correlations among them. In a matter of minutes, a machine learning tool can analyze hundreds of thousands of medical research articles to provide doctors with a possible diagnosis and treatment plans. Machine learning tools are especially effective for complex or rare cases. Whereas a machine learning tool can instantly peruse everything that exists on a topic, doctors may only be able to read several new journal articles per month.
In this episode, I read “Wicked Bloom” chapter 1 of Bionic Bug which takes place in Washington D.C. in 2027. To conclude the episode, I discuss behind-the-scenes information about the book.
In Chapter 1, Sully mentions that the kidnapper in his case threatened to kill his hostage with ricin, a toxin produced from the pulp of castor beans. Ricin is a biological agent and a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). In the U.S., the FBI is the lead agency for dealing with WMD.
- If you’re writing a novel with a domestic WMD incident, you should definitely bring in the FBI.
- In 2006, the FBI stood up the WMD Directorate, which works to prevent and prepare for WMD attacks. Prevention is carried out at each of the FBI’s 56 field offices through special agents who serve as WMD Coordinators.
- These WMD Coordinators conduct outreach with the local community and law enforcement and are on the frontlines of any case related to WMD.
- In Bionic Bug, Special Agent Robert Martin, Lara’s ex-boyfriend, is a WMD Coordinator at the Washington Field Office.
In Chapter 1, I introduce the concept of driverless cabs and self-driving cars.
- In Bionic Bug, the D.C. Council has passed an autonomy mandate requiring all drivers to operate their vehicles in autonomous mode. Motorcycles are exempt because of severe objections by the motorcyclist lobby, which claimed it would be the end of the biking industry.
- Recently, I’ve had several discussions about the dawn of self-driving vehicles and have several thoughts. First, the technology is not there yet as evidenced by recent Uber and Tesla accidents. Second, even if the technology is possible in a couple of years, there’s the issue of technology adoption and societal acceptance. Communities like the National Capitol Region will have greater incentives to give up the freedom of the road.
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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