L.A. Fire Department used drones for the first time during Skirball fire

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Fire Department dispatched drones for the first time while battling a wildfire this month as firefighters took on the Skirball fire in Bel-Air. Fire officials demonstrated the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles for reporters on Thursday, sending two drones buzzing near blackened hills around Linda Flora Drive. "They provide real-time situational awareness from a bird's-eye perspective to the incident commander so they can see what's going on at their emergency and then change their tactics accordingly to mitigate the hazards," said Capt. Firefighters used two DJI Matrice 100 drones during the Skirball fire, Scott said. One had a high-definition camera used to survey the burn area, and the other had an infrared camera to assess hot spots.

Banksy donates funds from anti-arms artwork sale

BBC News

The artwork, Civilian Drone Strike, was on display at the Stop the Arms Fair art exhibition in east London. The exhibition was held alongside the world's largest arms fair, the Defence and Security Equipment International - both exhibitions closed on Friday. The money raised from the Banksy sale will be split between one of the exhibition's organisers, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and the human rights group Reprieve. During last week's Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair, Mr Smith said it was "shameful that the government is welcoming despots and dictatorships to the UK to buy weapons".

Racist artificial intelligence? Maybe not, if computers explain their 'thinking'


Growing concerns about how artificial intelligence (AI) makes decisions has inspired U.S. researchers to make computers explain their "thinking." "In fact, it can get much worse where if the AI agents are part of a loop where they're making decisions, even the future data, the biases get reinforced," he added. Researchers hope that, by seeing the thought process of the computers, they can make sure AI doesn't pick up any gender or racial biases that humans have. But Singh says understanding the decision process is critical for future use, particularly in cases where AI is making decisions, like approving loan applications, for example.

Stephen Hawking warns that AI could be humanity's greatest disaster

Daily Mail

Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with that of humanity. It could herald dangers like powerful autonomous weapons and ways for the few to oppress the many, he said, as he called for more research in the area. But if sufficient research is done to avoid the risks, it could help in humanity's aims to'finally eradicate disease and poverty', he added. He was speaking in Cambridge at the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, which will explore the implications of the rapid development of artificial intelligence. All great achievements of civilisation, from learning to master fire to learning to grow food to understanding the cosmos, were down to human intelligence, he said.

Ford charts cautious path toward self-driving, shared vehicles


WASHINGTON U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning, serving a 35-year prison term for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, ended her hunger strike on Tuesday after the Army said she would be allowed to receive gender transition surgery, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said.

Love Classic Star Trek? You Owe a Huge Debt to Gene L. Coon


Producers had told him that if he could design them a creature they wanted to feature in a script, they'd let him play the part--and now Prohaska asked series creator Gene Roddenberry, story editor Dorothy Fontana, and the writer Gene L. Coon to come outside. A few days later, Fontana says, they had the script to "The Devil in the Dark," which introduced the beloved fan-favorite alien Horta, played by Prohaska in his rubbery suit. Gene L. Coon was telling the kind of stories that Gene Roddenberry wanted to see, but he was telling them with more heart. One early Star Trek script showed Kirk killing an evolving life form--something Coon strongly objected to, according to Andreea Kindryd, then his production secretary.

Weaponized robot used by Dallas police opens ethical debate

The Japan Times

While there doesn't appear to be any hard data on the subject, security experts and law enforcement officials said they couldn't recall another time when police deployed a robot with lethal intent. Meanwhile, militaries around the world have come to rely on their robotic friends to disable improvised explosive devices -- a need that only increased with the U.S. occupation of Iraq following its 2003 invasion. One robot developed by China's National Defense University called AnBot has been designed for "an important role in enhancing the country's anti-terrorism and anti-riot measures," according to its website. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic raised concerns about the use of fully autonomous weapons in law enforcement operations.