BBC News


Killer robots: Experts warn of 'third revolution in warfare'

BBC News

In a letter to the organisation, artificial intelligence (AI) leaders, including billionaire Elon Musk, warn of "a third revolution in warfare". The letter says "lethal autonomous" technology is a "Pandora's box", adding that time is of the essence. Along with Tesla co-founder and chief executive Mr Musk, the technology leaders include Mustafa Suleyman, Google's DeepMind co-founder. A potential ban on the development of "killer robot" technology has previously been discussed by UN committees.


Engine issue grounds Battle of Britain Memorial Flight planes

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Most of the historic aircraft that make up the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) have been grounded due to an engine issue. A Lancaster bomber, two Hurricanes and three Spitfire planes are all affected by the problem. The RAF spokesman was unable to say when the planes would be back in the skies. The problem is "related to the Merlin engine" - which powers aircraft including the Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane - but "affects all current and serviceable display aircraft", the BBMF said.


AI seeks fantasy football challengers

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Computer scientists at University of Southampton are testing an artificially intelligent tool for predicting Premier League football results. The machine learning algorithm has managed to beat BBC football commentator Mark Lawrenson's predictions for two seasons in a row. Fantasy football is a game in which users assemble an imaginary team of real-life footballers and score points based on the players' actual statistical performance during the season. Fantasy managers can compete with Squadguru's AI in the Challenge the Squadguru league in the free Fantasy Premier League salary cap game by entering league code 2917382-677658.


England v West Indies: How to handle the threat of being dropped

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I watched England's final Test against South Africa and really felt for Keaton Jennings. The lack of backing I received was because of my poor performances against New Zealand, but I reckon if I could have been allowed to move through that challenging learning experience of my first real dip in form as an England player, I would have been better for it. Moving through the difficult learning process of being a newcomer to Test cricket is not straightforward and, should a player receive the full support of selection when experiencing a dip in form, it offers a healthy return on the investment of your initial selection. In reality, as much as performance matters so much to you as an individual, there is so much more that matters than scoring runs and the England cricket team winning matches and series.


US firm reveals gun-toting drone that can fire in mid-air

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The Tikad drone, developed by Duke Robotics, is armed with a machine-gun and a grenade launcher. However, robotics expert Professor Noel Sharkey expressed concern that gun-toting drones could make it easier to kill innocent people. For the past decade, Prof Sharkey has been campaigning against killer robots, which are fully autonomous, computer-powered weapons that would be able to track and select targets without human supervision. According to Prof Sharkey, some US military officials are concerned that although the US might follow the laws of war, terrorists could easily look at drone innovations and copy the idea to kill innocent people.


From bone marrow transplant to winning medals

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Innovation in this area is being helped by the UK National Health Service's (NHS) Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), which has been rolled out over the last few years. It enables doctors to send prescriptions direct to pharmacies electronically without any need for paper. Such efficiencies have saved the NHS £137m; doctors' practices £328m; pharmacies £59m; and patients £75m, between 2013 and 2016, NHS Digital says. So his company spent three-and-a-half years building a platform, PharmacyOS, to handle every aspect of the repeat prescription process: prescribing, dispensing, delivering, billing, handling insurance claims, as well as pill-taking monitoring.


Would you get on a pilotless plane?

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A survey by financial services firm UBS suggests that pilotless aircraft not be too popular, however, with 54% of the 8,000 people questioned saying they would be unlikely to take a pilotless flight. However, Steve Landells, the British Airline Pilots Association's (Balpa) flight safety specialist, said: "We have concerns that in the excitement of this futuristic idea, some may be forgetting the reality of pilotless air travel. Jarrod Castle, UBS's head of business services, leisure and travel research, told the BBC: "It is a question of public perception and people being comfortable with the idea. UBS says airlines could save more than $26bn (£20bn) in pilot costs by introducing pilotless aircraft and added that such a move would save the business jet industry up to $3bn and civil helicopters about $2.1bn.


Paper review: 'May's top aide breaks silence'

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Theresa May's former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, has been speaking to the Daily Telegraph to explain where he thinks the general election campaign went wrong for the Conservatives. The Telegraph says Mr Timothy insisted he would not point the finger of blame but it says his answers leave no doubt of the tensions that existed between Downing Street staff and the election strategists who were brought in, including Sir Lynton Crosby. The Times says comments about Brexit by the Republic of Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar showed a "marked shift of tone" for Dublin. The Telegraph reports that tiny human brains are being grown in the laboratory and could, one day, be used to repair damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.


Cashing in on the drone revolution

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"But if you want to do it in any commercial capacity, or in a congested area, you'll have to get a Permission for Commercial Operations licence from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)." "There's very much more to commercial drone operations than flying the aircraft," says Mr Johnson. Having passed his flight test, film maker Mr Stephens is determined not to fall into that trap. "We were one of the first companies to offer commercial drone pilot training, but a lot of others have sprung up since so there's a lot of competition," says Mr Johnson.


The 'creepy Facebook AI' story that captivated the media

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While some great minds - including Stephen Hawking - are concerned that one day AI could threaten humanity, the Facebook story is nothing to be worried about. Way back in June, Facebook published a blog post about interesting research on chatbot programs - which have short, text-based conversations with humans or other bots. It was an effort to understand how linguistics played a role in the way such discussions played out for negotiating parties, and crucially the bots were programmed to experiment with language in order to see how that affected their dominance in the discussion. In fact, Facebook recently decided to limit the rollout of its Messenger chatbot platform after it found many of the bots on it were unable to address 70% of users' queries.