This Week’s Awesome Stories from Around the Web (Through Jul 4)

ROBOTICS: Our Robot Overlords Aren’t Quite Ready For Us — Yet
Caroline O’Donovan | BuzzFeed
“The issue is that robots are really good at doing the same thing over and over again, but when a task calls for flexibility of any kind, it’s almost always easier to have a human do it.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Machine ethics: The robot’s dilemma
Boer Deng | Nature
“Advocates argue that the rule-based approach has one major virtue: it is always clear why the machine makes the choice that it does, because its designers set the rules. That is a crucial concern for the US military, for which autonomous systems are a key strategic goal. Whether machines assist soldiers or carry out potentially lethal missions, ‘the last thing you want is to send an autonomous robot on a military mission and have it work out what ethical rules it should follow in the middle of things’.”

COMPUTING: The Future of the Web Looks a Lot Like Bitcoin
Morgen E. Peck | IEEE Spectrum
“We lack ‘true agency’ on the Internet. That is to say, all of the data we create online and all of the operations we execute are handled for us by centralized servers, most of which sit in massive data centers operated by corporations and government institutions. We depend on these servers for everything.”

WEARABLES: From MIT’s Neri Oxman, The (Far-Flung) Future Of Wearables
Julie Taraska | Fast Company
“In a series of concept wearables that augment human biological systems, Oxman implants synthetically engineered microorganisms in custom-designed vessels. Worn externally, these devices…create the resources that an interplanetary traveler would need to survive in other climates. ‘Our goal was to design wearables that could have a symbiotic relationship with the human body.'”

SCIENCE: Some new ideas for fixing science
Cathleen O’Grady | Ars Technica
“It’s much easier to replicate experiments and catch fraud if you have access to the original data. Some journals currently reward researchers for sharing the data that they used in an experiment. In the highest level of this new framework, data sharing would not only become compulsory, but independent analysts would conduct the same tests on it as those reported by the researchers, to see whether they get the same results.”

EDUCATION: Theory, practice, and fighting for terminal time: How computer science education has changed
Josh Fruhlinger | IT World
“The practical needs of both students and employers have given rise to a whole category of computer science education under the aegis of schools that aren’t colleges at all. These ‘code schools’ are aimed at eschewing theory and giving students practical skills in a short amount of time.”

FUTURE OF FOOD: Inside London’s New Subterranean Urban Farm
Feargus O’Sullivan | CityLab
“The company uses hydroponic techniques to create pesticide-free crops—typically green herbs and salad leaves such as pea shoots, coriander, and red amaranth. The plants grow on mats made from recycled carpet, watered mechanically and lit by ultraviolet light itself powered by renewable electricity sources. This might sound expensive, but in the U.K. at least, the sort of crops Growing Underground specializes in are already mostly grown hydroponically.”

ENERGY is the Global Grand Challenge for July
Learn more at Singularity University

NUCLEAR ENERGY: An Alternative Approach to Nuclear Fusion: Think Smaller
Emiko Jozuka | Motherboard
“In Europe, the international scientific community has supported large fusion reactors like the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment in the UK and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently being built in France. But one group of UK researchers says that the key is to think smaller, and to mash together spherical reactors (a squashed-up version of regular-shaped reactors) and high temperature superconductors to accelerate the development of fusion energy.”

ELECTRIC BATTERIESWhy don’t we drive more electric vehicles?
Jonathan M. Gitlin | Ars Technica
“Of course, consumer awareness isn’t the sole reason we don’t have more PEVs on the road. The lack of widespread public charging makes those vehicles much less appealing to city-dwellers who park on the street at night, compared to suburbanites with car ports and garages. ”

SOLAR POWERJames Cameron’s Plan to Fix Solar Panels
Alissa Walker | Gizmodo
“So the design needed to be able to track with the sun’s movement throughout the day, increasing productivity, and not rely on a roof’s pitch for optimized installation. ‘The idea was to unify form and function with this life-affirming image that anyone looking at it would instantly get,’ Cameron says. He chose a sunflower, which, aside from possessing those life-affirming qualities, also lent appropriately biomimetic inspiration: Sunflowers will turn to face the sun throughout the day.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

David J. Hill
David J. Hill
David started writing for Singularity Hub in 2011 and served as editor-in-chief of the site from 2014 to 2017 and SU vice president of faculty, content, and curriculum from 2017 to 2019. His interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but he'll always be a chemist at heart.
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