The Wonder, July 6 - Internet Balloons, Airport Face Scans, and Copycat Robots

INblog, technology, the wonder|BYsf appworks

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

Happy Friday!

And happy independence week! Traditional fireworks are fun, but some towns are turning to drone alternatives amid fear of wildfires. That’s great news for some fearful dogs.

Speaking of great news, check out this week’s The Wonder! 

Internet Balloons

Kenya and Google parent Alphabet Inc will deploy a system of internet balloons to beam high-speed internet to rural areas.

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Andrew’s Take: Half of the world is connected to the internet, which means HALF OF THE WORLD is not! In the race to increase digital consumers of the internet, this represents a huge market opportunity.

Darius’s Take: These balloons provided temporary internet connectivity to 250,000 Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria knocked out power last year. Now Kenya will deploy them as a potential long-term solution. If this proves to be reliable, it opens up technological opportunities to many remote industries that are currently left out.

Airport Face Scans

Sydney Airport launches face scan check-in trial in step towards replacing passports.

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Andrew’s Take: Face scan technology presents powerful opportunities to improve our lives (protecting our privacy, deterring crime, organizing our photos and experiences), but it also presents powerful opportunities to control large groups (identifying dissidents at a rally, tracking movements of individuals, further eroding personal privacy). The question is – who will be allowed to use it and for which purposes?

Darius’s Take: Private companies have loudly implemented this tech to unlock our phones or help us check out at stores, but governments have been quieter about how they use it.By using it as a replacement for traditional IDs, they are making it easier for you, but they are also making it easier for them. They’re also admitting how good this stuff actually works.

Copycat Robots

New AI-powered robots can mimic any action after watching it just once.

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Andrew’s Take: It is much easier to program robots when they can mimic tasks. Instead of having to code, you can just show them how to do something. By lowering the ‘teaching’ barrier, we can start to think about deploying robots to do complex tasks that may vary from household to household – chopping vegetables and folding laundry are low-hanging fruits, but imagine teaching a robot how to help a disabled person get out of bed?

Darius’s Take: This could really open the door for small business to utilize robots in their operations, giving them a fighters chance against big companies.

One Crazy Thing About Spiders...

…they can fly miles into the sky and travel great distances, and they do it not by riding the wind, but by riding electric fields.

 Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week.

-Andrew and Darius