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SOCOM Will Use AI to Eliminate the Threat of WMDs

According to the famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “The only thing that is constant is change” – and that is accurate for military special operations. The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), based in Tampa, FL is embracing a possible change in their system as they plan to use artificial intelligence military technology to help bolster their war fighting capabilities and the fight against weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

In an event called the 2018 GEOINT Symposium, General Raymond ‘Tony’ Thomas, the Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command expressed his desire to use AI-based systems or machines in order to track WMDs.

He said that even though their unit has always been on the cutting edge of utilizing commercial services and products, they are still a little hesitant to entertain the technological prowess of artificial intelligence.

However, with the growing risk and danger showed by potential adversaries and terrorists who want to use WMDs, it would be safe to say that machine learnings could provide intelligence to SOCOM that counters weapons of mass destructions, which experts say are a frightening global problem.

Speaking to a huge crowd of geospatial intelligence professionals, General Raymond ‘Tony’ Thomas stated, “It did not take us long to realize how massive this problem is. We have a hard time even describing what countering WMDs is. It ranges from dirty little bombs on a street corner to nuclear weapons, missiles, chemical, and biological agents. It deals with state actors and non-state actors.”

Defying Weapons of Mass Destruction

Imagine going to a war armed with not just extreme firepower, but also with AI-based devices that are ready to go full throttle. That is what will happen if SOCOM’s plan to use machine learning becomes successful.

Thomas believes that artificial intelligence is going to be one of the solutions to defying the weapons of mass destruction. AI could even classify the different sources of production and transportation of WMDs before they could be used on illegal missions.

He added, “It’s seeing what you cannot see. Understanding what is out there. The connection between nefarious actors. How can we use machine learning more effectively to see the problem and enable action that might be required?”

The bold idea to incorporate the technology of AI into military activities is no doubt effective, but giving it a proper approach should still be a priority.

Yael Eisenstat is trying to raise awareness regarding the proper use of artificial intelligence and all things technology. She and her company, Kilele Global aim to stop bad actors from using technology like AI to hack, terrorize, and steal.

According to her, “We are all recognizing right now that we are going to have to stand up and start thinking more seriously about what are the ethics of how we use the online world.”

Additional Funding to Boost Artificial Intelligence Ventures

The good thing is that the government has recently vouched to inject billions of dollars into the funds of the military and defense sector.  The U.S. Special Operations Command is also expected to employ more personnel to its increasing force size.

A whopping $13.6 billion of funding is projected to be added to the unit’s budget this year. The boost is made up of $9.1 billion in base funding and another $4.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations.

Thomas mentioned that they will use the funding to change old equipment and devices. More importantly, to better finance their venture of having AI systems and software developments.

Companies to Help the Military Industry in Other Areas

Aside from stopping the usage of WMDs, SOCOM still has other things to worry about. The following companies are creating AI-based machines and systems for military purposes:

ShieldAI – ShieldAI is a startup company in San Diego, California and is known for developing intelligent robots. These are capable of understanding the world and perceiving events. Ryan Tseng is the CEO of the company. ShieldAI has an estimated total round funding of $13.1 million.

The startup is working with active duty warfighters to deliver real-time, actionable intelligence, and lessen casualties simultaneously.

DARPA – The Virginia-based company became a household name for many people because of its works. It is a research branch of the United States Department of Defense and they are responsible for creating new technologies used by the military industry. Arati Prabhakar is the Managing Director of DARPA and the company has a projected revenue of $2.8 billion.

Reports suggest that DARPA plans to bring the military industry into the future using AI projects like its Big Mechanism system.

MRX Technologies – MRX Technologies offers an exclusive innovation of different sophisticated technologies catering to Defense, Medical, Artificial Intelligence and many more. Neil Gerardo is the founder of the company. It has an estimated annual revenue of $17.3 billion.

The multinational company has already integrated AI systems into their very own defense sector offerings.

These are just some of the companies that are developing artificial intelligence for the military sector. Many people are now seeing the positive side of adapting artificial intelligence. AI-based detecting machines or systems is just the beginning for the defense industry. Soon, more technological advancements will be made because of the continuous efforts from innovators and even the government.

Biodegradable Beer Can Holder: Saving Lovelace With Eco Six Pack Ring

If you are a fan of animated films, you will most likely remember Lovelace in Happy Feet. He is the clairvoyant Rockhopper penguin with a six-pack ring caught around his neck. This character is both obnoxious and funny. While he dispenses answers to the other penguins, Lovelace brings forth an important topic. For quite some time now, we have been dealing with ocean plastic pollution. A startup has offered a solution in the form of biodegradable beer can holder.

We produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year. Eight million tons end up in our ocean which in turn the marine life ingests. It is predicted that by 2050, nearly every species of seabird will accidentally ingest plastic debris. We are not yet mentioning the damage plastic pollution brings to other marine life such as sea turtles, sea lions and whales. So, if you have never heard of a biodegradable beer can holder, now is the time.

Enter E6PR and Its Biodegradable Beer Can Holder

biodegradable beer can holder, fish approaching a sick-pack ring
These rings will save marine life

Seeing this massive problem, the startup Eco Six Pack Ring introduced the concept of a biodegradable beer can holder. It’s also compostable and environment-friendly. The company developed the packaging from wheat and barley. If one of these beer can holder find its way to the sea, the packaging will serve as animal feeds. This is far from being a hazardous material harming marine life.

Since its introduction in 2016, E6PR has gone through multiple testing and changes. They need to make sure the prototype is sturdy and be able to withstand each step of the packaging and transporting process. Francisco Garcia, COO at E6PR shares “Bringing the product to the level of performance that we have right now was really challenging. Engineers went through multiple iterations of prototypes to create something sturdy enough to work in each step of the process, from packaging machines and warehouses to shipping and retail shelves”.

Early Adoption from SaltWater Brewery

One of the early believers of this concept when it was first introduced in 2016 was SaltWater Brewery. The company is a craft microbrewery in Delray Beach, Florida. In fact, they were the first brewery to use and implement this edible six-pack rings. The brewery is now using E6PR in their Screamin’ Reels IPA which is available to purchase in the Tasting Room and in select South Florida stores such as Publix, Total Wine & More, Whole Foods Market, Lucky’s Market, and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits.

Saltwater Brewery is hoping to drive home the message of protecting marine life by connecting to their primary targets – surfers, fishermen, and people who love the sea. They would also like to further the cause by influencing and bringing in more breweries and beer companies to adopt the biodegradable beer can holder.  By the looks of it, SaltWater Brewery’s environmental and social business responsibility efforts are paying off. More breweries and major players in the beer industry are getting onboard. E6PR is working with a major beer company and factories, both in the US and abroad to conduct real life tests in order to scale production and answer to the demands of the industry.

Saving Lovelace

Americans consumed 6.3 billion gallons of beer in 2016, 50% of this consumption is from cans. A total of eight million tons of plastic being dumped in the oceans every year. 100,000 marine creatures die each year from plastic entanglement. Imagine how the bold change to edible, biodegradable beer can holder can make.

Would you pay a little extra for your six pack of beer if it would feed wildlife rather than put them in danger?

Counter Drone Technologies on the Rise. Read and Watch Why!

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)—more commonly known as drones, have occupied not just the clear skies, but also the global market scene. Its impressive demand has since started disrupting different industries including photography, agriculture, navigation, and defense. But there are also threats caused by drones which has created the emergence of counter drone technology.

The innovative device is making a name for itself especially with commercial usage. According to the Global Industry Analysts, Inc.—a trustworthy publisher of market research—the global market for commercial drones is estimated to jump to $1.8 billion by 2020.

Researchers and engineers could come up with a thousand ways to evolve a drone. It is, after all, the device of the future. However, it is safe to say that despite the great promise drones are showing, UAVs are still in the nascent stage as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently completing the rules and regulations of flying drones.

The utilization of drones creates concern for many different organizations and businesses. And because the establishment of laws is ongoing, the danger of drones being used for illegal purposes is reason for alarm.

The following are some of the more common illegal drone activities that affect the continuous growth of the flying device:

  1. Flying drones near airports
  2. Flying drones beyond the normal line of sight, which is 500 meters
  3. Drones used to invade privacy and commit crimes

According to Dr. Robert Griffin, the Deputy Undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, threats from the unmanned aerial vehicles come from people who use them not from the drone itself. He added, “UAVs are not a threat any more than a car, plane, or cell phone camera.”

Illegal use of drones has opened the window for counter drone technology. It allows the use of radio signal jammers, lasers, drone guns, attack birds, missiles, radio spoofers, net cannons, and anti-UAS shotgun shells to prevent malicious activities. Reports have suggested that the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, has authorized a policy that lets military bases attack commercial or private drones if they think that the UAVs could become major threats.

The following industries are most likely to use counter drone technology:

  • Airports
  • Private Security
  • Defense Sector
  • The United States Government
  • Universities
  • Amusement Parks
  • Sports Teams and Stadiums
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Utilities

These are just some of the sectors concerned about their safety from electronic welfare, conventional attacks, and unwanted UAV surveillance.

Laws Affecting the Continuous Rise of Counter Drone Technology

Just like the usual commercial drones, the industry of counter drone technology is facing predicaments when it comes to rules and regulations.

The following legal issues forbid counter drone technology, making people or industries accountable:

Communications Act of 1934 – This law has three sections that hurt the chances of counter drone technology to perform what it does best.

  • 47 U.S.C. Section 301
  • 47 U.S.C. Section 302(b)
  • 47 U.S.C. Section 333

The sections that are mentioned above have one thing in common—operating, developing, and selling jammers must be authorized or licensed under an Act or it should be fully controlled by the U.S. Government.

FCC Regulations – Two sections of this rule affect counter drone technology. 47 C.F.R. Section 2.803 states that manufacturing, importing, and selling counter drone technology devices should be forbidden, especially in the United States. And in 47 C.F.R. Section 2.807, counter drone technology could only be sold to the U.S. Government.

The United States Criminal Code – This code has five sections:

  • 18 U.S.C. Section 1362
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 1367(a)
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 32
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 2511
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 1030

The laws mentioned above ban the capabilities of any counter drone technology to interfere in the communication process of the U.S. Government. The United States Criminal Code prohibits counter drone technology to gain access to protected devices and it also forbids counter drone technology to damage aircraft facilities.

Drone Jamming Regulation in Air Navigation Facilities – 49 U.S.C. Section 46308 is a law that prevents people or organizations from interfering with the air navigation system of aircraft facilities in the United States. It means that jamming drones near airports could be dangerous to any aircraft.

State Laws – There are states in the U.S. that made the counter drone technology illegal. If someone violated one of the laws above, they could encounter a civil lawsuit.

The laws are indeed hurting the chances of counter drone technology to flourish but according to some experts, these rules will soon change. Oleg Vornik, the Chief Financial Officer of DroneShield, said, “This (regulation) is expected to change shortly as governments start to recognize that critical infrastructure facilities such as airports need to be able to defend themselves against drones.”

Startup Companies Venturing into the Counter Drone Industry

The rules on the usage of drones and neutralizing them are still in their early stages and can be modified. Changes in policies for counter drone technology gives hope for startup companies looking to push their luck in entering the rising industry.

  • DroneShield – Located in Sydney, New South Wales, this company creates a pre-eminent drone detection solution that could guard individuals, infrastructures, and different organizations. DroneShield uses a radio frequency jammer called “DroneGun” that incapacitates the system of a drone. The company has now raised $29.7 million in just 5 rounds.
  • SkySafe – SkySafe is a startup company that creates and deploys drone warnings and detection systems for profitable airports and infrastructures. Grant Jordan is the Co-Founder and CEO of the company located in San Diego, California. They use radio frequency signals in order to recognize and stop drones from flying inside military bases and airports. Headed by Andreessen Horowitz, SkySafe has already raised $11.5 million in funding.
  • Search Systems – Search Systems is a technology-driven company that delivers innovative UAV-based safety and security solutions for the defense industry. The company comes up and provides cost-effective and practical solutions to protect and save lives. They were able to develop SparrowHawk. It is a drone equipped with a net in order to capture unwanted or illegal drones.
  • SkyNet Drone Defense – The startup company is one of a kind as it develops shotgun shells. The shells could work with any 12-guage and it contains a net has the capability to capture and bring the any drone down.
  • Guard From Above – Instead of using drones like any other counter drone company, Guard From Above utilizes animals. They train birds of prey in order to take down illegal drones in an area.

Commercial drones have been very beneficial for different industries. Counter drone technology was not introduced to end the reign of flying drones, but to bridge a gap that could potentially make a bold impact on people and organizations involved in the industry.

Ex CIA Officer Yael Eisenstat and Drone Racing League Founder discuss rising Anti-Drone Technology