Burritos Dropping From The Sky?

Drones bearing hot burritos are about to start swooping down on the Australian countryside.

Google affiliate, Project Wing, has announced new tests of its drone delivery service with 2 Australian businesses, a Mexican taqueria chain and a drugstore company.

It’s not the first time the Project Wing team has used drones to send people burritos. It did that last year with Chipotle at Virginia Tech University, but that was in an open field, not to a specific address.

The Australian tests are taking place in a rural community near Canberra, the national capital, where residents face a 40-minute round trip for almost anything, whether it’s a carton of milk, veggies for dinner, or a cup of coffee.

Flying goods right into their yards is a great deal more complicated than navigating a field at Virginia Tech. “With each delivery, we encounter a new yard space with its own layout of trees, sheds, fences, and power lines,” wrote James Ryan Burgess, a Project Wing Manager.

By bringing in Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez and drugstore company Chemist Warehouse, Project Wing is adding to the challenges.

Its ordering and delivery system will need to handle hot food from Guzman y Gomez and retail goods of all different shapes and sizes from Chemist Warehouse’s extensive catalog of products.

“The information we gather from both of these test partners will help us build a system so that merchants of all kinds can focus on what they’re good at — like making food or helping people feel healthier — rather than being distracted by complex delivery logistics,” Burgess said.

Endeavors in Australia are the latest move in the drone delivery race heating up among big brands.

Last year, Domino’s announced it would start using the devices to drop pizza off to customers in New Zealand. Amazon pulled off its first drone delivery in the U.K. last December with an Amazon Fire device and a bag of popcorn. And innovative drone initiatives are also in the works in Rwanda, Tanzania and Reykjavik in Iceland.

Future Police Cameras Will Identify Suspects

Coban Technologies, a Houston-based company that sells cameras to police departments, announced this week a new dashcam designed to use artificial intelligence to identify everything from people and vehicles to guns.

The dashcam’s features are currently limited, but the underlying technology sets the table for law enforcement to use advanced technology to make better sense of video data.

Departments envision using the smart dashcam to perform tasks such as analyzing traffic stops so that officers can be better trained.

The department might also incorporate facial recognition technology in the future, following a dialogue with the local community, over civil liberties concerns.

Coban’s technology is designed to work with up to six cameras, so police departments could choose to turn their vehicles into 360-degree cameras. Police vehicles today generally only have a single camera on the dashboard.

The tech also allows for immediate, automated analysis of videos raising questions about privacy and the “big brother” nature of facial recognition technology. With a network of smart cameras, governments could potentially track the location of every citizen, even if they’re not suspected of wrongdoing. Earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report critical of the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology.

But police departments, including Los Angeles, are interested in how artificial intelligence can help cut down on crime. The LAPD has over 3.3 million videos filmed from in-car cameras, and 2.5 million videos from body cameras. Once the department finishes rolling out body cameras, it will collect about 8,500 videos from them per day.

However, analyzing footage has historically been a lengthy process. Coban’s technology would be instantaneous.

Coban Technologies CEO Doug Dickerson said there’s a waiting list of departments around the country who want to test the new dashcam. Los Angeles is an early adopter of new technologies such as drones and big data.

The technology creates another way for police to automatically identify vehicles. Many use license-plate reading cameras today, but Coban’s dashcam identifies vehicles even if a license plate can’t be seen, allowing officers to focus on other tasks.

Will The Rise Of AI Cause WWIII

Peter W. Singer, a strategist and senior fellow at New America, and also the author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, is a leading expert on 21st-century security issues.

In the face of recent comments by Vladimir Putin, and responding comments by Elon Musk, Singer was interviewed to get his opinion on AI and the future. Below are excerpts of his interview:

Musk vs Putin is not the greatest of ways to frame the debate. Musk has been very outspoken about his fears over robotics and AI. He’s always seen this as an existential threat.

The fact that it’s made such news points to a bigger issue. Many perceptions are shaped by extreme visions in the realm of science fiction. The problem with that is that we’re focusing on the long-term possibilities instead of the very real and very tough challenges that are in front us.

We don’t yet know whether AI may become an existential threat. But as we speak AI is creating massive dilemmas for law, for policy, for business, and it hits everything from questions of your personal privacy to investments of government money to how we think about liability.Ultimately, a lot hinges on how such a machine could be used.

I think of AI technology as comparable to the printing press. It’s going to change the world, but we can’t possibly understand how and when.

The nations of the world are operating on the assumption that this is not just a game-changing technology, but whoever gets it will have an advantage, and that’s why they have to be there first. And so you are seeing massive investment on a national level, particularly by the US and China.

I’m less interested in sci-fi scenarios or doomsday proclamations. We have an emerging problem and we’ve got to be honest and practical in our response to it.

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be managed if states and private companies work together. Everyone has a stake in this, and everyone has to be involved.

Dying Legal In California

It’s not just about using the medication. It’s about having the option available.

Most people who request aid-in-dying medication do not use it. While the request must go in at least 16 days before a prescription can be written, it is not filled until within 48 hours of planned ingestion of the lethal medication. Much like the late referrals to hospice, many people do not know they are terminal until it is too late to have alternatives.

When a patient decides to use medical aid in dying, they will fill out a final attestation within 48 hours of ingesting the lethal medication that affirms their desires and are capable of self-administration. Then, and only then, will doctors prescribe the compounded medication that cause the patient to fall into a coma and die comfortably in their sleep. The cause of death on the death certificate will be the underlying disease, not suicide, by law.

The aid-in-dying law facilitates a better dying experience regardless of whether they qualify for and choose aid in dying, simply by enabling physicians and patients to have that conversation. Most patients are profoundly relieved by the simple fact that aid in dying is available, and that empowers them to prepare themselves and their families.

The law requires that patients are terminal with less than six months to live, can take the medication on their own, and have the capacity to make their own medical decision.

Therefore, people with diagnoses like Alzheimer’s disease do not qualify. This assures no one is coerced or chooses aid in dying when they don’t have the capacity to make the decision for themselves.

Medical aid in dying is now legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Montana, Colorado, and Washington, DC. For the majority who request aid in dying, the simple knowledge of autonomy at the end of life has proved to relieve suffering.

In addition, evidence shows that it reduces the number of people who die in hospitals, a death most people likely would not choose — and increases use of palliative care and hospice.


Unorthodox Solution To Back Pain

Back pain is a chronic and uncomfortable affliction of the modern era, when we sit too much us use our muscles too infrequently. There are many solutions to back pain, including stretching, core strengthening, modification of things like beds and chairs, or simply painkillers. However, one doctor, John Sarno, claimed that back pain was all in the mind, and that he could reduce it through mental exercises.

Most doctors and fellow professors consider Dr. Sarno a quack and don’t speak about him or his methods, but a great deal of his patients swear by his teachings. The doctor himself was fond of telling people that 80% of his patients were totally cured after following his methods, a claim that has been disputed by many colleagues, who rightly point out that he never did any research or studies to get those percentages.

However, before you dismiss him as well, we should note that some of Dr. Sarno’s theories are now being proved by science. There is sometimes an emotional connection to back pain, and some theorize that this could be the brain trying to distract us from negative emotions. This theory, coupled with the fact that often lower back pain treatments are ineffective or even further harmful, is shocking in how much it illuminates our ignorance about the human brain.

It’s unclear whether Dr. Sarno’s theories will ever be completely validated, or, more likely, whether he hit upon a grain of truth within a bunch of other contributing factors. However, for those suffering from chronic back pain, this may be another avenue to explore.