Futuristic technologies are being adopted at an unprecedented rate -- millions of smart speakers are being sold across the U.S., smart homes are in the making which deploy several internet-of-things devices, and self-driving vehicles are being tested across many states. But even as these technologies are coming ever closer to realization, we haven't yet assessed their usage, impact and security protocols fully. While these technologies become commonplace, the security aspect, especially, has been largely ignored both by the government and the companies backing them. That said, the government has recently begun to act on the issue, making a start with the security guidelines for smart homes. Still, the little bit they have done, like the proposed The Internet Of Things Cybersecurity law, is inadequate as these guidelines cannot be a one-time exercise; they need to be updated periodically -- at least every quarter -- after assessing the risk environment.
As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming into its own, it is creating a significant impact in our everyday lives. The use of AI in self-driving cars, industrial mechanics, space exploration and robotics are some of the examples that show how it is paving its path into the future. But the technology has also found its way into the defense industry leading to a worrisome increase in the manufacture of autonomous weapons. The so-called "thinking weapons" were described by the Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a 2016 presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S. State Department of Defense. But robotic systems to do lethal harm… a Terminator without a conscience," he said while referring to the 1984 cult science fiction film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Terminator."
The world's leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics experts, including Tesla's Elon Musk and Google's Mustafa Suleyman, have urged the United Nations to take action to prevent the development of killer robots before it is too late. The letter signed by 116 experts from 26 countries opens with the words, "As companies building the technologies in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm." Though none has been build yet, conceptually a killer robot is fully autonomous and can engage, target and kill humans without any human intervention. Unlike a cruise missile or a remotely piloted drone, where humans make all the target decisions, a quadcopter with AI, for example, can search and destroy people that meet pre-defined criteria on its own. "Retaining human control over use of force is a moral imperative and essential to promote compliance with international law, and ensure accountability," Mary Wareham, advocacy director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch, wrote in January.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is among several major tech industry figures and researchers who've signed an open letter urging the United Nations to regulate the use of military weapons powered by artificial intelligence. In the letter from the Future of Life Institute -- which Musk is a backer of -- the 116 signees express their concern over weapons that integrate autonomous technology and call for the U.N. to establish protections that would prevent an escalation in the development and use of these weapons. Autonomous weapons refer to military devices that utilize artificial intelligence in applications like determining targets to attack or avoid. Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend.
The U.S. Army ordered units to halt the use of DJI drones, it was revealed last week, but officials still won't say why it banned the company's products. DJI told International Business Times it reached out to officials about the direction to discontinue the use of its drones, but the U.S. army did not respond to them. "The US Army has not explained why it suddenly banned the use of DJI drones and components, what'cyber vulnerabilities' it is concerned about, or whether it has also excluded drones made by other manufacturers," DJI said. In a letter obtained by sUAS News, the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks associated with DJI products. The memo cited a classified report, "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," and a U.S. Navy memo, "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products."
The U.S. Army has ordered units to cease the use of DJI drones, according to a memo obtained by sUAS News. The letter, dated this week, said the U.S. Army Research Lab and U.S. Navy found there were operational risks linked to DJI equipments. Officials cited a classified report called "DJI UAS Technology Threat and User Vulnerabilities," as well as a U.S. Navy memorandum called "Operational Risks with Regards to DJI Family of Products." The report and the memo were both dated May 2017, which suggests officials have been looking into this for a while. In the letter, the U.S. Army's Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson said: "DJI Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] products are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf UAS employed by the Army.
A U.S. Military DARPA program is putting $65 million into the creation of an implantable device that will provide data-transfer between human brains and the digital world. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the emerging technology organization under the U.S. Department of Defense, announced Monday that five research institutions and one private corporation will be recipients of the brain-to-computer research grants. The program seeks to heighten hearing, sight and other sensory perception as well as creating a digital brain implant to relay neuron transmissions directly to digital devices. The recipients of the $65 million Materials for Transduction (MATRIX) program grants are: Brown University; Columbia University; University of California, Berkeley; Fondation Voir et Entendre (The Seeing and Hearing Foundation); John B. Pierce Laboratory and San Jose, California-based Paradromics, Inc. CEO Matt Angle's Paradromics Inc. is the mind-to-machine "Broadband for the brain" research company set to rake in as much as $18 million from the contract. He tells MIT Technology Review that the funding comes with a "moonshot" list of requirements, including the implant's size being smaller than a nickel and the mandatory ability to send signal back into the brain.
The move was the second time in a week that it shot down a pro-Syrian government aircraft in the sky. "The armed pro-regime Shaheed-129 UAV was shot down by a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle at approximately 12:30 a.m. Carla Babb, the Pentagon correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) tweeted Tuesday saying the sources have confirmed that the Iranian-made drone shot down by the U.S. fighter jet was being operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the U.S. military shot down the Shahed 129 as it approached an established coalition combat outpost near al-Tanf in southeast Syria, where the U.S. is holding training sessions for local fighters against the Islamic State group, VOA reported. Officials also said that the shot Iranian aircraft was the same type of drone that a U.S. warplane had shot down June 8 after it attacked U.S.-backed fighters in southern Syria.
U.S. officials reportedly are rethinking the advisability of allowing the Chinese to invest in sensitive technologies seen as vital to national security. Reuters reported Wednesday U.S. officials are concerned such cutting-edge technologies as artificial intelligence and machine learning could be used by the Chinese to augment their military capabilities and achieve greater advancements in strategic industries. Technology is the fastest growing industry in the United States, and China has funneled $45.6 billion into U.S. acquisitions and Greenfield investments in the last year, Rhodium Group found. That investment is expected to double this year. Read: What Is Artificial Intelligence?
North Korea has been accused of spying on South Korea after a suspected Pyongyang drone was spotted on the site of a U.S. missile interceptor system, Seoul's military officials said Tuesday. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which is designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles, is being deployed in Seongju in order to protect South Korea from Pyongyang's growing threats. According to Yonhap News, the small unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a Sony-made camera was found last week on a mountain near the inter-Korean border. The drone had apparently crashed close to the THAAD site. The South's military took the drone in custody and analysed the content of the 64-gigabyte memory chip.