Friday, December 31, 2021

What's Gonna Be Hot in 2022? Web3, blockchain-based web sites that are decentralized... and more

In the coming new era, navigating the web may no longer require logging onto Facebook, Google, or Twitter. Instead, web sites are decentralized. Imagine it as a kind of bookkeeping where many computers at once host data that's searchable by anyone. It's operated by users collectively, rather than a corporation. People are given "tokens" for participating. The tokens can be used to vote on decisions, and even accrue real value.

Blockchain is a driving force of the next-generation Internet, what some refer to as the "Web3." The Internet we use today predominantly builds on the idea of the stand-alone computer. Data is centrally stored and managed on servers of trusted institutions. The data on these servers is protected by firewalls, and system administrators are needed to manage these servers and their firewalls. One might recall that blockchain is the tech that undergirds Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Experts say, in the best case scenario for Web3 enthusiasts, the technology will operate alongside Web 2.0, not fully supplant it. In other words, blockchain-based social networks, transactions and businesses can and will grow and thrive in the coming years. Yet knocking out Facebook, Twitter or Google completely is not likely on the horizon, according to technology scholars.

For those surfing, nothing much will change on the surface of the Internet. If "Web 2.0" was a frontend revolution, Web3 is a backend evolution.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Consulting is About Adding Value - So Do Yourself a Favor and Ease Your Own Pain Points with On-Demand Expertise

Since the late 1980s, “consultant” might be considered a dirty word in the business world. But in actuality, there are plenty of solid reasons to hire a consultant for your next project. With today’s uncertain market conditions, any organization should seek to improve efficiencies and explore new opportunities. For a commercial concern, that means looking for a competitive edge, increasing revenues — and positioning the company to stand out.

A primary benefit consultants can provide is temporary expertise, on demand, as it were. Retaining a consultant on a per project basis limits the financial and operational risks. Of course, if you as the client find value in a consultant’s outputs, you can continue to use their services on a repeat basis. If a project is not brining value to your organization, you need to reconsider. 

But how do you measure this value? Tangible value is usually easy to measure: it often is realized as cost reduction, or an increase in income. Intrinsic value, however, is more complicated. How do you appreciate the impact of a culture and diversity project, or process improvement, or system optimization? Using social sciences methods, many have succeeded in measuring intangibles such as client satisfaction or employee performance. When the benefits of a project correspond to the desired outcome, we can easily say the effort is successful. 

For strategic change, consider why a consultant should be considered a valued member of your team, long-term. Long term success requires careful strategizing: with a plan, you may succeed. Without a plan, you won’t succeed.

Finding and selecting the best consultant suited to specific needs is half the battle in the successful completion of a project. Consider when it make sense to hire outside consultant:

When executives or other decision makers do not have enough expertise or experience in solving certain complex issues.

When many stakeholders are involved and the risk of failure is high, having an outside perspective and coordination can alleviate concern and mitigate risk.

When staff are not trained on solving specific problems, or don’t have available bandwidth to work on special projects outside their routine work.

Often, organizational knowledge is limited to specific  products and service. Consultants bring value in that they often have solved large numbers of problems in different industries. An experienced consultant relieves an organization of many hassles. As a professional, consultants can get to root causes and find avenues of success in the most optimal time. Importantly, this can be at a much lower cost as compared to hiring a full time employee to do the same job. 

Every organization can benefit from improving their performance. And at some point, we all encounter problems outside of existing expertise. An external advisor with specialized expertise can get an organize past a sticking point, find efficiencies in work processes, and open doors to new opportunities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Automate More, To Increase Productivity. Makes Sense, But Why Don't Organizations Do That More Often?

 By now, most organizations should understand that automating processes does more than just make work go faster. Besides decreasing the overall cost to undertake tasks, workflow automation can help the staff avoid wasting their energy on repetitive tasks -- such as sending emails and following up on leads or generating documents. This frees them up to execute more productive and important tasks. 

Aiming to implement automation enables staff to avoid insignificant, repetitive tasks. They can shift their focus to value-oriented functions such as innovation in the development of new ideas and processes. Organizations that automate business processes change their workflows by reducing mundane activities and increasing team productivity. By automating business processes, companies can improve their processes, shorten business process cycle times, and maximize efficiency. The automation of processes completes tasks that were previously manual.

A good strategy for automating business processes can help maintain control over processes, reduce  errors, improve communication, and improve quality. Let's face it: repetitive and boring tasks can be frustrating, which leads to lower employee satisfaction. The use of automated processes in knowledge work processes can help a company produce higher quality deliverables and increase profits. For this reason, using technology to automate processes can help increase efficiency, productivity, and stabilize levels of quality control.

With tools that enable decision makers to monitor every step of the process without checking in with every employee, process automation enables staff to hone their precise role. The processes and tasks for which staff are responsible become streamlined, demonstrating one of the major benefits of workflow automation: it takes a lot of the pressure off staff. Think of when there are a lot of operational tasks that need to be done.

content creation workflow improves productivity

For example, when a team member needs to work through a list of ten items, chances are there are one or two tasks that one might dreading doing. When these tasks are automated, it provides relief for everyone and lightens the workload. Another great workflow automation benefit is that companies can hire more remote workers and keep their expenses down.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Choose a Job to Make Yourself Content

We work a lot. Too much, probably. One often muses, when will the post-scarcity world come into being? In the mean time, people should pursue a work life that is rewarding. But wow? 

One approach to to purse "earned success," which gives someone a sense of accomplishment (see Seligman, whose studies show this strongly predict happiness at work). Combined with professional efficacy -- when you are effective in your job, you are more committed to your occupation, a measure of job satisfaction -- we can aim to more likely enjoy the fruits of our labors, beyond a paycheck. Employers who give clear guidance and feedback, reward merit, and encourage staff to develop new skills are better choices if someone wants to boost those feelings. Look for a boss who acts that way -- and if the reader is in a position of authority, be that kind of boss.

Happiness may not only be a consequence of success, but also a cause. Essentially, we argued that the presence of frequent positive emotions (such as joy, happiness, and contentment) may precede and even promote career success. This past year, we returned to the literature to determine whether more recent findings continued to support our hypothesis. What did we discover? It turns out that the wealth of evidence indicates that happiness is indeed a critical precursor to success.

Are happy workers more likely to perform well -- and succeed in the workplace? It appears so. When a person is prompted to experience positive emotions, they set higher goals for themselves, persevere at challenging tasks longer, view themselves and others more favorably, and are more optimistic they will succeed. People induced to feel happy also demonstrate greater creativity and productivity than those who are driven to feel less happy. 

Employers are better off creating environments that authentically increase workers’ happiness. One way to do this might involve giving employees the option to engage in positive activities designed to enhance well-being, such as performing acts of kindness for co-workers or expressing gratitude to customers.

Read more over at The Atlantic.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Autonomous Cars... Unfortunately Not Gonna Solve Real World Problems

Once, people thought fast highways would improve efficiency and erase traffic congestion and accidents. After these highways were actually built, however, induced demand quickly clogged them up, as people took advantage of the new roads to make new trips that they didn’t make before. Futurama -- not the show, the exhibition -- made this point.

If -- a big "if" -- autonomous vehicles do eventually arrive, they risk introducing a more dangerous version of the same phenomenon. Not only will efficient autonomous motorways tempt people to drive further, but the ability to work -- or even sleep -- while travelling will make people think much less of a long commute.

Cars might also become less energy-efficient as they’re modified to meet the demands of users. Electric vehicles carry heavy (and in the case of Lithium Ion batteries, more dangerous) their power supply with them. Passengers may run them at higher speeds because the cars themselves may be safer, but this consumes more energy due to aerodynamic resistance. Car manufacturers may also begin to design larger vehicles to accommodate mobile offices. 

In the autonomous vehicle utopia, we are told self-driving cars will be shared, rather than owned privately. Admittedly this would be a more sustainable option, but, unfortunately, people get attached to their cars. They like having a vehicle that is instantly available, that they can use as a mobile storage locker, and that signals their social status. While Uber, Lyft and other services show people appreciate the convenience of summoning a lift from an app, it is doubtful such services will replace private vehicle ownership.

One model being explored in Europe sees the autonomous vehicle collect you up on your way to an appointment, more in the style of a last-mile shuttle for public transit. It would move slowly but comfortably, picking up multiple passengers on its way to the local transit hub, where you would board a fast and efficient light rail line. You would still arrive at your destination with time to spare.

Of course, in all likelihood, autonomous vehicles will only become a niche product. Watch the video...

Friday, November 26, 2021

Crypto-Currencies are not “crypto”

The name “crypto-currency” has been attached to Bitcoin and a host of online, blockchain based exchange units … but where’s the “crypto” aspect? 

The realm of information security must "reclaim" the word crypto from people who trade in Bitcoins and other digital currencies, according to industry veteran Bruce Schneier.
"I have long been annoyed that the word 'crypto' has been co-opted by the blockchain people, and no longer refers to 'cryptography'," blogged Schneier in a brief post
Look up the word “crypto” in many dictionaries to learn it refers to cryptography, which in turn is defined as “the computerized encoding and decoding of information”. Search “crypto” on Google, however, and you’ll see a host of top results pointing to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

This lexical shift has weighed heavily on cryptographers, who, over the past few years, have repeated the rallying cry “Crypto means cryptography” on social media. 

Read more over at the Guardian

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Steve Jobs Credited VisiCalc with Triggering Apple's Success

VisiCalc made spreadsheets key to initial personal computer success (Apple IIe). Later, desktop publishing with the Mac. Then, hypertext and the www with the NeXT. Finally, mobile computing with the iPhone and iPad

Steve Jobs was very clear in how crucial it was to the early success of Apple. "If Visicalc had been written for some other computer," he told his interviewer in 1990, "you'd be interviewing somebody else right now."

Monday, November 1, 2021

Government overreacting -- and over-reaching -- subpoenaed data a comms app doesn’t have

According to a post on the Signal blog, a federal grand jury in the Central District of California has subpoena'd Signal for a whole pile of user data, like subscriber information, financial information, transaction histories, communications, and more. HotHardware reports: The thing is, the subpoena is moot: Signal simply doesn't have the data to provide

The company can't provide any of the data that the grand jury is asking for because, as the company itself notes, "Signal doesn't have access to your messages, your chat list, your groups, your contacts, your stickers, [or] your profile name or avatar." The only things that Signal can offer up to the court are Unix timestamps for when the accounts in question were created and last accessed the service. 

Read more here:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Why Being a Generalist Helps with Cloud Architecture

The focus of this article makes sense -- cloud architects benefit from being generalists. It pays to be aware of a plethora of technology solutions, not just cloud-based options. Understanding a mix of traditional enterprise systems, networking, security, governance, augments cloud-based solutioning. If one can understand how all the pieces fit together -- that’s best for a client organization.

Monday, October 11, 2021

WebObjects and NeXT on Dell? It almost happened...

 Read over at CNet how Steve Jobs tried to convince Michael Dell to use NeXT on PCs: 

Fast forward to 1993. Jobs, ousted from Apple after a fallout with the company's board in 1985, had started a new company, called Next, and created a beautiful (but expensive) workstation, with its own operating system, as well as software called WebObjects for building web-based applications. Dell says Jobs came to his house in Texas several times that year, trying to convince him to use the Next operating system on Dell PCs, by arguing that it was better than Microsoft's Windows software and could undermine the Unix workstation market being touted by Sun Microsystems. The problem, Dell says he told Jobs, was that there were no applications for it and zero customer interest. Still, Dell's company worked a little bit with Next and used WebObjects to build its first online store in the mid-'90s. 

In 1997, Jobs rejoined a struggling Apple after it acquired Next for $429 million, and he pitched Dell on another business proposal (as Jobs was evaluating Apple's Mac clone licensing project, which he ultimately shut down). Jobs and his team had ported the Mac software, based on Next's Mach operating system, and had it running on the Intel x86 chips that powered Dell PCs. Jobs offered to license the Mac OS to Dell, telling him he could give PC buyers a choice of Apple's software or Microsoft's Windows OS installed on their machine. "He said, look at this -- we've got this Dell desktop and it's running Mac OS," Dell tells me. "Why don't you license the Mac OS?" Dell thought it was a great idea and told Jobs he'd pay a licensing fee for every PC sold with the Mac OS. But Jobs had a counteroffer: He was worried that licensing scheme might undermine Apple's own Mac computer sales because Dell computers were less costly. Instead, Dell says, Jobs suggested he just load the Mac OS alongside Windows on every Dell PC and let customers decide which software to use -- and then pay Apple for every Dell PC sold. 

Dell smiles when he tells the story. "The royalty he was talking about would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the math just didn't work, because most of our customers, especially larger business customers, didn't really want the Mac operating system," he writes. "Steve's proposal would have been interesting if it was just us saying, "OK, we'll pay you every time we use the Mac OS" -- but to pay him for every time we didn't use it ... well, nice try, Steve!" Another problem: Jobs wouldn't guarantee access to the Mac OS three, four or five years later "even on the same bad terms." That could leave customers who were using Mac OS out of luck as the software evolved, leaving Dell Inc. no way to ensure it could support those users. Still, Dell acknowledges the deal was a what-could-have-been moment in history. [...] That different direction led to Jobs continuing to evolve the Next-inspired Mac OS and retooling the Mac product line, including adding the candy-colored iMac in mid-1998. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Ireland Caves to Pressure and Signs on to Normalized Tax Rates for Multinationals

After intense debate, Ireland has signed on for the plan to make technology companies pay 15 per cent tax everywhere. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is ready to finalize an implementation plan hoped to secure a share of revenue from digital multinationals. Irish tax rules have allowed Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and others to use an arrangement to considerably reduce their tax bills. Ireland did so as part of an investment attraction strategy, and it worked well, with Ireland hosting lots of European offices and garnering many jobs.

Others around the world did not appreciate this, and, often, little tax was paid in jurisdictions where consumers actually consume technology companies' products. Governments naturally felt they were being deprived of tax revenue. The Republic of Ireland has an attractive rate for corporations at 12.5% and had, until now, refused to join the plan. Different Irish governments had fiercely defended the low rate, arguing such a rate attracted businesses to the country's small economy.

The core goal of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project is to create a global minimum effective corporation tax rate of 15 per cent for multinationals with revenues in excess of €750 million. As of August 2021, 140 nations had signed up to that plan. Finally, in October, Ireland has signed on, as well.

Read about the OECD project here...

Monday, October 4, 2021

When Billionaires Feud, We All Lose

When the richest men on the planet fight over bragging rights, and more, the gap between the top tier wealthy class and the rest of us is laid bare. 

Lately, law suits against the US government are a battleground in the modern space race. A race based on egoism as much as loftier goals. SpaceX ( Elon Musk) and Kuiper Systems (Jeff Bezos) are before the FCC over making room in low-earth orbit (LEO) for a class of mini satellites. These firms are deploying satellite constellations in to provide broadband internet access. Inc.'s satellite subsidiary, Kuiper Systems LLC, filed a blistering brief with the Federal Communications Commission, accusing Musk and his companies of flouting regulations with a general attitude that "rules are for other people."

The dispute is similar to a conflict between SpaceX and Bezos's Blue Origin LLC space company over a NASA contract to build and demonstrate a human lander system for a planned return to the moon.

In the competition to provide space services, both men have injected their own egocentric characters into the mix. Jokes about phallic space ships, derision over altitude records, and other petty insults litter what has become a playground for the rich and famous to advance their own personal brands. 

A printed letter to the FCC mocked the opposition’s efforts by claiming one privileged white guy is getting more… privileges… than the other:

"Whether it is launching satellites with unlicensed antennas, launching rockets without approval, building an unapproved launch tower, or reopening a factory in violation of a shelter-in-place order, the conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks," Kuiper attorney C. Andrew Keisner wrote in a brief filed September 29, 2021.

We see other elite rich bickering:

And of course Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs,


When Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz dismissed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for higher taxes on fortunes of $50 million or higher as “ridiculous,” we see how billionaires think about their place in society. Or when an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, laughed out loud at the suggestion that the super-rich should contribute more. As exemplified during a government shutdown, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was baffled when federal workers went to food banks to feed their families. “I know they are, and I don’t understand why,” he said in a CNBC interview. Ross, friend of disgraced former President tRump, suggested furloughed workers take out short-term loans instead.

It’s clear these rich white men benefit from income inequality, tax cuts and special interests. Perhaps these feuds and tone deaf mutterings of the new landed gentry are really a drag in the rest of us? Is it undemocratic for the richest 1 percent in this country to control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.m? In the 1950s, the average chief executive made 20 times more than their employees; now, chief executives earn 361 times more — about $13 million per year at the country’s top corporations. Those 2017 tax cuts? The primary benefits went to those who were already rich. And this is in one of the richest countries on the planet. Gross stratification will lead to further strife, as  resentment increases about the richest people and corporations getting fatter bank accounts while most working class people are just a  missed paycheck away from needing to rely on a food bank. This argument is not about marginal tax rates or an unregulated free market. It is the perspective that the game of life is rigged, and the middle  class is losing. 

Are billionaires contributing their fair share? That question is obscured by the playground antics of men with planetary sized egos. Nothing new … the Bezos - Musk conflict is storied; read more on this decade-long “pissing contest”:

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Laundry Basket is Replacing the Filing Cabinet

Students these days apparently can’t understand the concept of the hierarchical file structure, thanks to search engines and the cloud:

"I tend to think an item lives in a particular folder. It lives in one place, and I have to go to that folder to find it," astrophysicist Catherine Garland said. "They see it like one bucket, and everything's in the bucket." Strange as it may seem to older generations of computer users who grew up maintaining an elaborate collection of nested subfolders, thanks to powerful search functions now being the default in operating systems, as well as the way phones and tablets obfuscate their file structure, and cloud storage, high school graduates don't see their hard drives the same way. 

"Students have had these computers in my lab; they'll have a thousand files on their desktop completely unorganized," Peter Plavchan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, told The Verge. "I'm kind of an obsessive organizer ... but they have no problem having 1,000 files in the same directory. And I think that is fundamentally because of a shift in how we access files." As The Verge points out, "The first internet search engines were used around 1990, but features like Windows Search and Spotlight on macOS are both products of the early 2000s [...] While many of today's professors grew up without search functions on their phones and computers, today's students increasingly don't remember a world without them." 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, or a reason to recoil in horror because how dare the youth of today do things differently, why the very idea. "When I was a student, I'm sure there was a professor that said, 'Oh my god, I don't understand how this person doesn't know how to solder a chip on a motherboard,'" Plavachan said. "This kind of generational issue has always been around." And Garland, the astrophysicist teaching an engineering course, has started using her PC's search function to find files in the same way her students do. "I'm like, huh ... I don't even need these subfolders," she said.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lithuanians Advised to Ditch Chinese Mobiles over Embedded Censorship

Chinese mobile phones are compromised, and should be disposed of promptly, according to this report from SlashDot... Lithuanian cyber experts...

Flagship phones sold in Europe by China's smartphone giant Xiaomi have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as "Free Tibet", "Long live Taiwan independence" or "democracy movement", Lithuania's state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi's Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the "European Union region", but can be turned on remotely at any time, the Defence Ministry's National Cyber Security Centre said in the report. "Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible," Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius told reporters in introducing the report...

Read more here... 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Future of 1976 is ... Now!


Without a crystal ball, Sir Arthur C. Clarke came up with predictions of the future. The British science fiction writer (he wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey after the film, actually), was able with astonishing accuracy, to envision a future of remote work in 1964. In a segment from the BBC Horizon program, Sir Arthur Clarke leads the video with the sentence, “Trying to predict the future is a discouraging, hazardous occupation … ” But the science fiction writer, inventor, and undersea explorer did just that. Here are some of his predictions regarding the world—and in particular, the future of the workplace. Here's the program...

In 1976, he reiterated his views. Watch it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Why We Should All Advocate for Wokeness

Awareness of unfairness in the treatment of others -- the definition of the slang term "woke" -- not only makes the world a better place, it makes all of us better people. By being aware of systemic racism and bigotry, we could build a culture in which the marginalized receive empathy instead of disdain.

Being “woke” is, according to Merriam-Webster, “aware and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Originally slang used by Black Americans, the word became part of the national lexicon in the past few years. But its meaning has already changed, and there is a divide in how the word is perceived, a divide that is both political and generational.

We should reflect on Nietzsche's admonishment: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Power theory teaches us that every system develops a subsystem that initially makes rules that are good for the system, but, eventually, that governing subsystem makes rules that are good for itself. George Orwell ended Animal Farm with the disgusting image of pigs imitating their human oppressors.

We can become more "woke" without becoming authoritative. The impulse for humans to mistreat each other is deeply rooted in our history.

The analogy between mistreatment of others and mistreatment of ourselves also applies to Christians and Jews. Many Christians, historically, knew it was wrong to persecute Christians because of their religion, but they missed the analogy to mistreating Jews because of their religion, not because they believed the Old Testament had been replaced or because they blamed Jews for the Crucifixion, but because the “righteous indignation” that Christianity offers in the story of the Crucifixion depends on missing the analogy.

Hate cannot stand up to analogized, contextualized empathy, which is why Critical Race Theorists organized their scholarship around storytelling. Hate requires the obliteration of context. This is well-known to trial lawyers. When juries decide whether to impose the death penalty, defense attorneys present evidence concerning their clients’ difficult childhoods. 

What we see happening with the term “woke” is similar to what happened to the term “political correctness,” from the 1980s and in the 90s by the left. The term was always a bit tongue in cheek, but it was serious in that people wanted to respect diversity, to respect the political differences that exist. However, as soon as people who did not share that ideology started using it, it became pejorative.

Critical Race Theory and antiracism focus on changing formal and informal policy rather than on aiming to identify who not to hate. 

Read more here...

Friday, August 6, 2021

VTOL Electric Personal Aircraft

Tetra Aviation is preparing its Mk-5 eVTOL Aircraft for flight in 2022. The lightweight electric aircraft is designed for single-person use and is crafted from a combination of aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers, with the prototype measuring in at prototype measures at 28 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 1,000 pounds, A total of 32 vertical lift rotors across four wings lift the plane, while horizontal thrust propels it forward.

See more over at... their site

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Space Flight using Burt Rutan's Technology!

This is awesome! I remember going to Mojave with Delia, Damon and ex-M to watch the X-Prize (

The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable crewed spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. It was modeled after early 20th-century aviation prizes, and aimed to spur development of low-cost spaceflight.

Created in May 1996 and initially called just the "X Prize", it was renamed the "Ansari X Prize" on May 6, 2004 following a multimillion-dollar donation from entrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari. The prize was won on October 4, 2004, the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, by the Tier One project designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne. $10 million was awarded to the winner, and more than $100 million was invested in new technologies in pursuit of the prize.
Watch the live flight! And Steven Colbert is hosting!

UPDATE - Watch the Virgin Galactic Unity 22 Spaceflight!

 UPDATE - Watch the Flight!

Watch the Richard Branson launching to space aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane...

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Get Ready for Space Tourism! And maybe ballistic flight?

Virgin Galactic received regulatory approval to fly customers into space, moving the fledgling space tourism industry founded by billionaires one step closer to reality.

The Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the company’s existing license to cover customer flights, Virgin Galactic said Friday in a statement, saying the approval was the first of its kind. The company also confirmed that a May 22 test flight performed well against objectives. The approval marks another milestone for an industry that not long ago was the stuff of science fiction. Virgin Galactic, founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson, has been working toward its goal since 2004. Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos plans his first trip in July, after auctioning a passenger seat for $28 million. The boss tweeted

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cat Eyes for Humans

The advent of night vision radically changed warfare. Now materials science has delivered another breakthrough -- a transparent metallic film allowing a viewer to see in the dark could one day turn regular spectacles into night vision googles.

The ultra-thin film, made of a semiconductor called gallium arsenide, could also be used to develop compact and flexible infrared sensors, scientists say. The film was developed by a team of Australian and European researchers, with details published in the magazine. Advanced photonics. It works by converting infrared light, which is normally invisible to humans, into light visible to the human eye.

The study’s first author, Dr. Rocío Camacho Morales of the Australian National University, said the material was hundreds of times thinner than a strand of human hair. Gallium arsenide is arranged in a crystalline structure only several hundred nanometers thick, allowing visible light to pass through.

“The way these night vision goggles work [is] they also capture infrared light, ”said Camacho Morales. “This infrared light turns into electrons and shows [digitally]. In our case, we are not doing this. “

Read more over at The Guardian

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Federal Reserve - Competitor to BitCoin?

As America's Central Bank asks for public comments on issuing its own digital currency, will we see the US become a player in the crypto-currency world? "Technological advances are driving rapid change in the global payments landscape," says a spokesperson for the U.S. federal reserve, the country's central banking system. They announced this week that they're "studying these developments" and exploring ways that the central bank "might refine its role as a core payment services provider and as the issuing authority for U.S. currency."

We read over at Engadget:

"...took a step toward developing a digital currency as it announced plans to publish a research paper on the subject," seeking public comment on its pros and cons for payments, financial inclusion, data privacy, and information security. But the Federal Reserve emphasizes that "before making any decision on whether and how to move forward with a U.S. central bank digital currency," their paper "represents the beginning of what will be a thoughtful and deliberative process" that has more than one possible outcome. "Irrespective of the conclusion we ultimately reach, we expect to play a leading role in developing international standards for central bank digital currencies, engaging actively with central banks in other jurisdictions as well as regulators and supervisors here in the United States throughout that process."

Their announcement notes America's central bank has already been exploring the benefits and risks of issuing a digital currency "for the past several years," but emphasizes they're exploring it "as a complement to, and not a replacement of" current systems. And the Reserve also state pointedly that "To date, cryptocurrencies have not served as a convenient way to make payments, given, among other factors, their swings in value," before the announcement switches its attention to stablecoins pegged to the value of a non-virtual currency. But even there, the interest seems to be as much regulatory as it is monetary. "As stablecoins' use increases, so must our attention to the appropriate regulatory and oversight framework. 

"This includes paying attention to private-sector payments innovators who are currently not within the traditional regulatory arrangements applied to banks, investment firms, and other financial intermediaries."

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Self-Drive Delivery Van from VW in Germany, Coming Soon!

 We read at the Verge,

Volkswagen will start testing its new autonomous vehicles in Germany this summer, the company announced Wednesday. The German automaker’s electric ID Buzz vans will use hardware and software developed by Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based startup that is backed by Ford and VW. The aim is to launch a commercial delivery and micro-transit service in Germany by 2025.

Argo, which has been testing its vehicles in the US with Ford for the last few years, said it would be launching the fifth generation of its automated driving technology with the VW ID Buzz, which is the electric version of the automaker’s iconic microbus. Bryan Salesky, the startup’s founder and CEO, praised the collaborative nature of Argo and Volkswagen’s partnership.



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

UBI? How about “GBI”?

Guaranteed Basic Income might be a better alternative to Universal Basic income. It is the guaranteeing of an income sufficient enough to cover basic needs. It can be in various forms, such as a negative income tax (NIT), an unconditional basic income (UBI), or even a guaranteed minimum income (GMI).

First proposed by philosophers in the 16th century, the idea of an income delivered directly by the state has been seen in many quarters as a balm for all kinds of social ills. Progressives argue that a guaranteed minimum income has the potential to lift communities out of poverty. Some conservatives and libertarians, meanwhile, see universal basic income as a cost-effective alternative to existing social welfare systems. 

In the United States, proponents of guaranteed income as a matter of economic justice have included the Black Panthers and Martin Luther King Jr., while the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated it as a form of negative income tax. Even President Richard Nixon proposed providing cash directly to families, without conditions. His plan—produced after 1,000 economists urged it in an open letter—twice passed the House, but got rejected by the Senate.

Read more... As it turned out, what made the difference wasn't more research but a global pandemic. In the face of the recession caused by the pandemic, relief packages were suddenly seen as necessary to jump-start the American economy. The success of the $1,400 stimulus checks make it more likely now than ever before that that guaranteed income could soon become a permanent fixture of federal policy.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Friendly Helper or BattleBot?

That lovable scamp from Boston Dynamics, the robotic dog Spo, was one of several robots tested by the French army during training sessions at a military school in the northwest of France. This is according to a French source.

It’s not clear what role Spot was playing (neither Shark Robotics nor the École de Saint-Cyr had replied to requests for comment at the time of writing), but Ouest-France suggests it was being used for reconnaissance. The 70lb Spot (31kg) is equipped with cameras and can be remote controlled, with its four legs allowing it to navigate terrain that would challenge wheeled or treaded robots. To date, it’s been used to remotely survey a number of environments, from construction sites to factories and underground mines.

Read more over at Engadget...

Thursday, April 8, 2021

From the Archives... a Sixty Minutes report on Steve Jobs and his biography

Apple Computers, Inc. was founded on April 1, 1976, by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who brought to the new company a vision of changing the way people viewed computers. Jobs and Wozniak wanted to make computers small enough for people to have them in their homes or offices. Simply put, they wanted a computer that was user-friendly.

  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1977, introducing first the Apple I and then the Apple II.
  • Apple went public in 1980 with Jobs the blazing visionary and Wozniak the shy genius executing his vision.
  • Executive John Scully was added in 1983; in 1985, Apple's board of directors ousted the combative Jobs in favor of Scully.
  • Away from Apple, Jobs invested in and developed animation producer Pixar and then founded NeXT to create high-end computers; NeXT eventually led him back to Apple.
  • Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990s and spent the years until his death in 2011 revamping the company, introducing the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, transforming technology and communication in the process.

On the 45th anniversary of the founding of Apple, a look back at the 2011 profile of Steve Jobs, which aired just weeks after his death. On Oct. 5, 2011, Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56.2 He had just left the CEO post at Apple, the company he co-founded, for the second time. Jobs was an entrepreneur through and through, and the story of his rise is the story of Apple as a company, along with some very interesting twists.

See it here...

Monday, April 5, 2021

Perseverance Finds Interesting Rock on Martian Surface, Zaps It

The Nasa rover on Mars, Perseverance, found a weird rock that is confounding scientists. The rover’s Twitter account published an image of a weird, pockmarked rock. It has a smooth, greenish appearance and the caption underneath confirms that scientists are stumped. Perseverance zapped the rock with its on-board laser and is trying to learn more about it.

‘While the helicopter is getting ready, I can’t help checking out nearby rocks,’ the rover tweeted in the first person. ‘This odd one has my science team trading lots of hypotheses. ‘It’s about 6 inches (15 cm) long. If you look closely, you might spot the row of laser marks where I zapped it to learn more.’

It can identify the chemical and mineral makeup of targets as small as a pencil point from a distance of more than 20 feet (7 meters). In the picture, one can see the tiny indentations on the right side of the rock where the rover’s laser hit it.

Over the course of several years, Perseverance will collect and store up to 30 rock and soil samples that will eventually be returned to Earth where labs will analyze them.

Read the tweet from the robot here...

Saturday, April 3, 2021

lilium VTOL flying taxi


German company lilium has unveiled the design of its 7-seater jet which aims to revolutionize regional travel, saving people hours. The aircraft is capable of vertical take-off, quietly, allowing the company to access plenty landing sites and the opportunity to build higher network density, avoiding expensive ground infrastructure.

The aircraft has cruise speed of 175 mph at 10,000 feet and has a range of 155 miles, including reserves. planned to launch operations in 2024, the aircraft features ducted electric vectored thrust (DEVT). This flight system is integrated into the wing flaps -- electric jet engines provide advantages in payload, aerodynamic efficiency and a lower noise profile, while also providing thrust vector control to maneuver the lilium jet through every phase of flight.

Lilium flies with "electric jets", throwing out a non-combustion compression stream of air. The Lilium's ducted fan is an example of a wider class of ducted propulsor. They all work the same way, to accelerate air in one direction so that the reaction force pushes the fan or propeller in the other. If the blade disc were used to provide compression, the device would not be a propulsor but a compressor and would not exit to the free air stream.

Read more here...

Friday, March 26, 2021

Public Service Announcement - Tips for Staying Sane During Trubled Times

 “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

Stay happy during these difficult times. I’ve practiced “remote relationships” since returning to Ireland in 2017. Here’s a few ways I stay connected, while social distancing:

Meet  up via Google Meet, Zoom or Teams. Besides talking and catching up, there are many virtual board games available on Steam for group interaction. I’ve been lucky to have Settlers of Catan and Talisman games with friends recently... and we really enjoy the camaraderie. 

Pick up the phone and call those you are close with. FaceTime is awesome - see your loved ones, chat for hours, for free!

Write letters — who doesn’t enjoy receiving a letter in the mail?

Text those who you love that you are thinking of them.

I’m lucky — I have a quaran“team” – people in my “bubble” limiting social interaction so we can spend time together.

Play D&D! The ultimate escape!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Drones As Research Tools

 We know unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) -- or "drones" -- are great for agricultural surveys or other business applications. But their use in science cannot be undervalued. Work between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Qualcomm Technologies Inc., resulted in the Ingenuity, a helicopter drone that landed on Mars on February 18th, 2021 and is the first autonomous aerial platform operated outside Earth's atmosphere. 

This site describes the UAV:

Ingenuity relies on counter-rotating coaxial rotors about 4 feet in diameter that spin very fast to work in the thin atmosphere. The main computer behind it all is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor that includes a quad-core CPU, a GPU and a 55 megapixel downward facing image signal processor. The computer controls a visual navigation algorithm using Mars surface geographical features tracked with the camera. Surprisingly, the Snapdragon processor aboard Ingenuity is not ruggedized by itself, although JPL has encased the processor to protect against Mar’s low pressure and cold, said Dev Singh, general manager of robotics and drones for Qualcomm in an interview with Fierce Electronics.

In fact, the chip is not much different from other Snapdragon chips used in billions of smartphones, Singh said. Qualcomm first began working with NASA JPL in 2016 on the Ingenuity project.  Qualcomm's flight platform is a multifunctional chip used for drones and robots. 

Back on Earth, drones can be useful in high threat environments. "Due to the difficult accessibility and the high risk of collapse or explosion, the imaging of active volcanoes has so far been a great challenge in volcanology. Researchers around Edgar Zorn from the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ in Potsdam are now presenting the results of a series of repeated survey flights with optical and thermal imaging cameras at the Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala. Drones were used to observe the lava dome, a viscous plug of lava. The researchers were able to show that the lava dome shows movements on two different time scales: slow expansion and growth of the dome and fast extrusion of viscous lava," as published in the journal Scientific Reports.

And specialized underwater drones can be used for ocean research -- the same artificial intelligence that enables aerial drones, such as greater levels of autonomy, can be re-purposed for underwater missions. Autonomy — the ability to take action without direct control -- means drones are more robot and less remote-controlled device. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

When You Read the Word, "Hacker..."

Watch many 1980s films, and you may come across the "hacker" character -- a post-punk, mohawk-sporting teen looking to upgrade test scores or avert world wide nuclear confrontation with the Ruskies. In the decades since, it seems that “hacker” describes cyber criminals more than heroes, an unfortunate trope promulgated by modern media. Often accompanied by stock photos of hoodie-clad thugs hunched over glowing keyboards in darkened rooms, the predominance of associating this label with internet criminals has skyrocketed. As data breaches and cyber attacks litter the front pages of mainstream media, the "white hat" computer expert is lost in the shuffle. Calling scammers, cheats, fraudsters and others "hackers" is counter-productive -- lack of precision means the term becomes diluted.

Promoting the image of hackers as inherently malicious ignores the truth -- corporate America and the U.S. government employ thousands (and there's even more, world-wide) as so-called ethical hackers. These brainiacs help organizations find and remediate security vulnerabilities in their systems. Some businesses offer bug-bounty programs, paying hackers that find and report security flaws. To quote Keren Elazari, security analyst, hackers are “the immune system of the internet.”

We have read the work “hacker” used within the security community to refer to someone skilled in computers and network security. Its use as term for “cyber criminal” alter the perception of the general public. There is a nomenclature to differentiate malicious, illegal penetration and other cyber intrusions (perpetrated by “black hat hackers”). Black hat hackers hate society use technology to exploit people, ruin lives, steal, or incite hatred - they use technology skills to exploit vulnerabilities in software and humans. The ethical hacker is a computer and networking expert who systematically attempts to analyze and penetrate a system on behalf of its owners for the purpose of finding vulnerabilities that a malicious party could potentially exploit. Hackers are the good guys.

Read more over at this place...

Friday, March 5, 2021

Addressing Anonymity with Electronic Currencies

With the surge in online shopping and the need for less contact, electronic payments have increased significantly during this pandemic. We do know that both the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains are open and -- while they are theoretically anonymous -- as soon as any crypto account touches a bank account tied to your identity, you are in direct contact with the pool, which could be recording your IP address and associating it to your cryptocurrency account. 

Many might recall that the cryptocurrency industry was initially portrayed as "anonymous digital cash." While experts were quick to point out that this was not exactly the case, Bitcoin (BTC) found initial popularity in darknet markets such as Silk Road, where merchants sold illegal goods ranging from light drugs to, allegedly, hitman services. Founded in 2011, Silk Road thrived for the next two years until the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut it down in 2013. Authorities later revealed that completely free blockchain explorers aided their investigative efforts.

Some cryptocurrencies (such as Zcash and Monero) are explicitly designed to address traceability concerns, incorporating several security mechanisms, including:

Ring Signatures, which allow signed messages to be attributable to “a set of possible signers without revealing which member actually produced the signature” ...

Stealth Addresses, which refer to methods for key management in which public keys are derived separately from private keys for the purpose of obscuring the public keys, and

Confidential Transactions, which use Pedersen commitment schemes to restrict disclosing the amounts transacted to anyone other than the transacting parties.

Some are thinking up ways to successfully implemented privacy-enabling cryptocurrency, so that metadata associated with transactions would be hidden. Online, data flows or the ledger would not reveal relationships among transactions or any information about the transacting parties.

As more central banks consider how to embrace the digital economy, new ideas will flourish. Unlike traditional money, cryptocurrencies aren’t issued by countries or central banks. On the contrary, one of the hallmarks of these products is the lack of regulation and oversight by a central authority. Most US banks have been slow to introduce software that allow peer-to-peer payments for things like splitting the bill on a meal. In some scenarios, central banks could directly issue digital currencies into users’ online wallets without involving banks and other middlemen. Americans could also potentially hold accounts at the Federal Reserve for making transactions using a digital dollar, simplifying the process and lowering the cost of exchanging payments.

See this for more information...

Monday, March 1, 2021

Hydrogen is the Way of the Future - so sayeth James May

James May is high on... hydrogen. He talks about why electric vs hydrogen is an important debate, in this article. May’s piece in The Sunday Times is a review of the Toyota Mirai. But he takes the opportunity to argue for continued investment in hydrogen fuel cell technology — not just for cars but for factories, homes and all power needs.

Many would argue there are a few key things about hydrogen that make it better than batteries: range, refuel time, longer life, recyclability, endurance, energy density. There are cars that have created the range of a typical battery electric car and can charge/re-fuel in three-to-five minutes.

Volkswagen, on the other hand, argues that electric with batteries is better. Here they lay out their position,  and some agree that the direction that most automakers seem to be taking for hydrogen —in the direction of commercial vehicles, if at all — has a future. Many are focused on other applications, such as "heavy-duty transport, aviation, and shipping.

Read more here...

Friday, February 26, 2021

Tracking COVID19 reinfection - with help from Elon Musk

On 15 February, 2021, the paper Discrete SARS-CoV-2 antibody titers track with functional humoral stability was accepted for publication by the prestigious journal Nature — interesting not only for being a large-cohort study on COVID-19 reinfection, but for the presence of one of its coauthors: Elon Reeve Musk.  Elon is listed as one of the co-authors on a paper concerning the tracking of antibodies in people. Antibodies serve as biomarkers of infection. If sustained they can confer long-term immunity. 

For most clinically approved vaccines, binding antibody titers only serve as a surrogate of protection. Instead, the ability of vaccine induced antibodies to neutralize or mediate impact is the main way they confer protection. While evidence points to persistent antibody responses among SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals, cases of re-infection have begun to emerge, calling the protective nature of humoral immunity against this highly infectious pathogen into question. Using community-based surveillance, the study aimed to define the relationship between titers and functional antibody activity to SARS-CoV-2 over time.

Apparently, Musk — concerned in April 2020 with maintaining the schedule for the SpaceX crewed launch in May and wanting to make sure that an outbreak wouldn't set back plans — contacted academic researchers and worked with them to set up an antibody testing research programme. Over 4,000 SpaceX employees volunteered and were provided with periodic free testing at work to look for infection and monitor previously-infected people for reinfection. The programme gave SpaceX an advance heads up about upcoming threats, such as the growing wave in Texas in June, and continues to this day, with a new focus on mutant COVID strains.

The primary results of the study were that past infection provides a strong, although not perfect, barrier to reinfection. The level of antibodies strongly indicate the level of risk of reinfection, which promotes a positive outlook for vaccines, as they tend to result in much higher antibody levels than infection.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Climate Change has Knock-On Impacts that are far-ranging

Scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as blizzards, heat waves, and powerful storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change, as we observe changes in temperature, precipitation, storms, floods, and droughts.

Climate change may not cause a particular storm, but resulting rising sea levels can worsen storm surge impact. In 2012, a three meter storm surge from Hurricane Sandy hit New York City at high tide, making the water almost 5 meters higher than average at the tip of Manhattan. Flooding destroyed neighborhoods and beaches in outer boroughs. The sea level in this area is rising by more than an inch each decade -- twice as fast as the global average -- and is predicted to rise 11 to 21 inches by 2050. To prepare, the city is implementing coastal resiliency measures: An innovative project will create more green spaces for city residents as well as a system of flood walls, berms, and retractable barriers for boost storm protection.

Over at the NYT, we read:

One-third of oil production in the nation was halted. Drinking-water systems in Ohio were knocked offline. Road networks nationwide were paralyzed and vaccination efforts in 20 states were disrupted.

The crisis carries a profound warning. As climate change brings more frequent and intense storms, floods, heat waves, wildfires and other extreme events, it is placing growing stress on the foundations of the country's economy: Its network of roads and railways, drinking-water systems, power plants, electrical grids, industrial waste sites and even homes. Failures in just one sector can set off a domino effect of breakdowns in hard-to-predict ways....

Sewer systems are overflowing more often as powerful rainstorms exceed their design capacity. Coastal homes and highways are collapsing as intensified runoff erodes cliffs. Coal ash, the toxic residue produced by coal-burning plants, is spilling into rivers as floods overwhelm barriers meant to hold it back. Homes once beyond the reach of wildfires are burning in blazes they were never designed to withstand... The vulnerabilities show up in power lines, natural-gas plants, nuclear reactors and myriad other systems. Higher storm surges can knock out coastal power infrastructure. Deeper droughts can reduce water supplies for hydroelectric dams. Severe heat waves can reduce the efficiency of fossil-fuel generators, transmission lines and even solar panels at precisely the moment that demand soars because everyone cranks up their air-conditioners...

Power outages in extreme weather could render hospitals and transportation systems inert when needed most. Crop declines could lead to hunger and higher food prices. More CO2 in the air could make staple crops like barley and soy less nutritious. Occupational hazards such as risk of heatstroke will rise, especially among those who work outside: farmers and construction workers who keep us fed and our infrastructure up to par will be hardest hit. Labor could shift to dawn and dusk, times when more disease-­carrying insects are out. and sleep deprivation from shift work is a known health hazard. Hotter days, more rain, and higher humidity will produce more ticks, which spread infectious diseases like Lyme disease.

We continue to see extreme weather and climate events increasing, and new and stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are related to human activities that impact the global climate. There has been a sizable upward trend in the number of storms causing large financial and other losses -- and the knock-on effects are wide and varied.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Tesla vs German Car Manufacturers

With Tesla opening a manufacturing facility in Deutschland, and Ford aiming to only sell electrified vehicles in the coming decade, it seems German auto makers are under pressure. 

Seven years ago, Mathias Döpfner was at a ceremony celebrating Tesla founder Elon Musk. Döpfner, the head of German media company Axel Springer, was seated next to a CEO of one of Germany's biggest carmakers, and he turned to him and asked, "Isn't this guy dangerous for you?"

As he later recounted, the CEO shook his head. "These guys in Silicon Valley, they have no clue about engineering, about building really beautiful and great cars," the CEO told him. "So we don't have to worry."

At the time, the value of Tesla's shares was $23 billion, a quarter of that of Germany's largest carmaker, Volkswagen. But times have changed. Tesla's market capitalization has skyrocketed to more than $700 billion, more than three times that of Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW — Germany's three largest automakers — put together.

There have been hiccups: Tesla was ordered to suspend preparations for a car factory in Germany after a successful court injunction by environmentalists in December of 2020. Mercedes-Benz and Audi are introducing electric cars so as to defend dominance of the luxury market.

Over at the NYT, a reporter wrote about another competitor to Tesla -- the p-wagen:

The Taycan, a four-door sedan that Porsche recently let me try out at the Hockenheimring racing complex south of Heidelberg, provides an early example of what the German automakers are capable of. The car, with a starting price a little over $100,000, can blast from zero to 60 miles per hour in well under three seconds.

So, it happens, can the Tesla S. But tests by Car and Driver confirmed Porsche’s assertion that the Taycan can replicate those blastoffs 10 times in a row, unlike the Tesla, which becomes sluggish with repeat use as the battery wears down. Porsche has found a way to maintain explosive acceleration even when the battery is not fully charged.

During an hour of all-out driving on Porsche’s serpentine test track, egged on by a Porsche instructor who encouraged me to probe the car’s limits, the Taycan stayed glued to the asphalt like a roadster and never showed signs of fatigue. I ran out of juice before the car did.

One side-effect, and a positive one, is that Germany is becoming a hub of battery technology.

Read more at NPR...

Monday, January 18, 2021

In the Time of Pandemic, Drone Delivery Lands

 In this time of global pandemic, greater drone adoption is driven not by technological advancement, but by the utility of drones. When major players such as Walmart and Amazon throw their hats in the ring, one can count on fast adoption of new ideas. For example, the retailing giant Walmart has undertaken  drone trials, one to deliver select grocery and household essentials, and another to test delivery of certain health and wellness products. They have expended into drone delivery of at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits, to provide  contactless, testing options. And Amazon inches closer to FAA approval.

We read,

Dire times drive innovation. In this instance, the innovation is not in technology, but in policy. While some argue that drone technology wasn’t mature enough to be trusted at large scale – and cultural questions around privacy, noise and annoyance have hampered the expansion of flights – a societal and governmental shift in evaluating acceptable risk is driving greater implementation. With air travel down nearly 90% and dramatically fewer cars on the road due to shelter-in-place orders, the risks drones might present in the air and on the ground are significantly reduced. Meanwhile, pressure has been mounting to streamline drone use to deliver vital goods, support social distancing and enable essential workers to operate with greater efficiency and efficacy.

Read more here...

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved American Robotics to become the first company to operate smart drones without needing on-site pilots or spotters. American Robotics, an industrial drone developer based out of Massachusetts, will still need a human pilot overseeing each flight’s takeoff remotely, so the process isn’t technically 100% autonomous, as the Verge notes. Still, the decision brings the U.S. one step closer to seeing fully automated commercial drone flights.