DARPA: This Smart Contact Lens Could Give Soldiers Superpowers

Contact High

French engineering school IMT Atlantique revealed what it calls “the first stand-alone contact lens with a flexible micro battery” earlier this month.

And, notably, it caught the attention of the U.S. military’s attention: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly interested in the contact lens to augment troops’ visual capabilities in the field, according to Task and Purpose — meaning the gadget could represent the augmented contact lens that DARPA has spent a decade searching for.

Weird Flex

The biggest challenge that IMT Atlantique engineers encountered was to scale down the battery. But thanks to a newly developed flexible micro battery, they found a way to continuously light an LED light source for “several hours,” according to a press release.

The release also suggests that “graphene-based flexible electronics” could further enhance the smart contact lens’ capabilities. Applications could range from assisting surgeons in the operating room to helping out drivers on the road.

Enhanced Recon

And now the military wants in on the project as well. French business magazine l’Usine Nouvelle writes that DARPA is interested in the technology. Even tech giant Microsoft is ready to invest two million euros, according to the magazine — which is notable, considering the tech company’s recent HoloLens contract with the U.S. Army.

“All the elements are ready,” Jean-Louis Bougrenet de la Tocnaye, project lead at IMT Atlantique, told l’Usine Nouvelle, as translated from the original French. “We should integrate it in October 2019 and hope to start testing in 2020. Then we will be able to go to the qualifying clinical tests.”

READ MORE: DARPA is Eyeing a High-Tech Contact Lens Straight Out of ‘Mission: Impossible’ [The National Interest]

More on smart contact lenses: DARPA: We’re Moving to Merge Humans and Machines

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DARPA: This Smart Contact Lens Could Give Soldiers Superpowers

Whale Suspected of Being a Russian Weapon Found in Norway

The group of fishermen in Norway found a whale wearing a strange harness with the words

Military Mammal

In 2017, Zvezda, a TV station owned by Russia’s Defence Ministry, reported that the nation’s military was training white whales, seals, and dolphins for Arctic missions — and now it seems one of those recruits may be guilty of desertion.

A group of fishers recently told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that they found a white beluga whale wearing a strange harness with the words “Equipment of St. Petersburg” written on its strap — a clue that the animal may have had a role to play in Russia’s futuristic military plans.

Saying “Hi”

According to the fishers, the whale had been harassing their boats, rubbing against the vessels and pulling on accessible straps and ropes. When they removed its strange harness, which appeared designed to hold a camera or weapon, they saw the message written on it.

“We know that in Russia they have had domestic whales in captivity and also that some of these have apparently been released,” Audun Rikardsen, a marine biology professor at the Arctic University of Norway, told NRK, according to The Guardian. “Then they often seek out boats.”

But when Rikardsen reached out to Russian researchers to try to find who owned the whale, they denied having anything to do with it.

“They tell me that most likely is the Russian navy in Murmansk,” Rikardsen told NRK.

READ MORE: Whale with harness could be Russian weapon, say Norwegian experts [The Guardian]

More on Russia’s military: Russia Says “Super Soldiers” Can Crash Computers With Telepathy

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Whale Suspected of Being a Russian Weapon Found in Norway

No One Knows Who Owns This Massive Database of Americans’ Info

Hactivists have found a database containing details on more than 80 million U.S. households, but they have no idea who owns it.

Millions Exposed

A pair of hacktivists have discovered an unsecured database containing details about more than 80 million households in the United States.

Typically, they’d alert a database’s owner to such a discovery so that they could shore up their security, but in this case no one can figure out who the massive database belongs to — meaning the data of nearly 65 percent of America households is still exposed.

Detailed Description

Hacktivists Noam Rotem and Ran Locar found the 24 GB database hosted on a Microsoft cloud server while conducting research as part of a partnership with VPNmentor.

According to their report, the database includes addresses, full names, ages, and birth dates — as well as coded information they believe correlates to gender, marital status, income, homeowner status, and the type of home they live in.

Thankfully, it doesn’t contain passwords or social security numbers.

Owner TBD

The researchers believe the database belongs to a service of some sort because each entry ends with “member_code” and “score,” but they aren’t sure what that service might be. They did note that no one listed is under the age of 40, so they suspect it might be the work of an insurance or healthcare company.

The researchers are now asking anyone who might have information on the owner to contact them, so that they can ensure the information is secured.

“I wouldn’t like my data to be exposed like this,” Rotem told CNET. “It should not be there.”

READ MORE: Exposed Database Reveals Details on Over 80 Million US Households [CNET]

More on the cloud: Google Will Soon Bring a Blockchain-Like System to the Cloud

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Scientists Plan to 3D Print Muscular Tissue on the Space Station

Space Medicine

The International Space Station is rapidly becoming a hotbed of biomedical research. One example: a 3D printer that scientists have been using to manufacture biological tissue while in orbit.

Now the printer is scheduled for upgrades that will allow it to manufacture more complex types of tissue, including muscles and blood vessels, according to 3D Printing Industry — pushing the cutting edge of medical research that could make deep space exploration possible.

Stocking Up

In September 2019, the Russian biotech lab 3D Bioprinting Solutions will ship the raw biomaterials necessary to print out muscle tissues up to the ISS.

It’s easier to print out organs in space than on Earth, where they’re more likely to collapse under their own weight. In this case, 3D Printing Industry reports that the muscles, blood vessels, and other complex tissues that the Russian scientists plan to print will stay in space, where they will be examined over time to help reveal the long-term effects of space travel on the human body.

READ MORE: RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS PLAN 3D BIOPRINTING EXPERIMENTS ABOARD THE ISS IN COLLABORATION WITH THE U.S. AND ISRAEL [3D Printing Industry]

More on space 3D bioprinting: Here’s Why NASA Wants to 3D Print Human Hearts in Space

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Oxford Academic: Invisible Aliens Are Breeding With Humans

In his new book, Oxford professor Young-hae Chi theorizes that invisible aliens are creating alien-human hybrids, perhaps as a response to climate change.

Invisible Aliens

An Oxford lecturer thinks we share the Earth with invisible aliens — and, the outlandish idea holds, they’re trying to save our species and theirs from total destruction by breeding with us.

This strange theory is the subject of Korean instructor Young-hae Chi’s new book, which is written in Korean but roughly translates to “Alien Visitations and the End of Humanity” — and while its contents are objectively bizarre, its proximity to the highest tiers of academia could demonstrate just how desperate some are for a solution to Earth’s climate woes.

Human Hybrids

In an interview with The Oxford Student, Chi shared some of the highlights from the book — including his belief that, because these invisible extraterrestrials live among us, they have a stake in avoiding planetary destruction due to climate change.

He theorizes that the hypothetical aliens’ interbreeding with humans could be intended to create a hybrid species capable of surviving future climate conditions on Earth, or that the aliens are “producing these hybrids as a problem-solver, a future leader.”

Desperate Times

Chi doesn’t provide any examples of the “evidence” he claims supports his theory in the interview, and it’s hard to imagine the book itself contains anything terribly concrete.

Still, the fact that someone as highly educated as Chi wrote an entire book based on salvation by extraterrestrials could be a sign of how daunting our future is starting to look.

READ MORE: Oxford Professor Argues Invisible Aliens Are Interbreeding With Humans [The Oxford Student]

More on aliens: Scientist: “Alien Life Now Seems Inevitable and Possibly Imminent”

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Oxford Academic: Invisible Aliens Are Breeding With Humans

These Professors Are Arguing That AI Should Get Animal Rights

Right now, AI can't be considered conscious. But should it someday get to that point, some experts argue we should lay out algorithms' civil rights now.

Weak AI

Today’s artificial intelligence algorithms are unfeeling tools that can automate various jobs. It’s possible, though, that someday we’ll figure out how to build AI with something resembling a conscious experience.

In preparation for that day, a pair of philosophy professors from Northeastern University and UC Riverside are arguing that we need to lay out ground rules now — suggesting in an article for Aeon that AI algorithms may someday deserve the same ethical treatment as animals.

Planning Ahead

As it stands, AI is nowhere near advanced enough to experience anything, including suffering. Kicking your Roomba won’t do anything other than maybe put you in the market for a new vacuum; insulting Alexa won’t make the smart assistant resent you.

But given humanity’s poor track record of animal and human welfare in scientific research, it may make sense to be prepared in case AI ever reaches that level. That’s why the two professors call for new oversight committees to evaluate the ethical risks of research as the field develops.

“In the case of research on animals and even on human subjects, appropriate protections were established only after serious ethical transgressions came to light (for example, in needless vivisections, the Nazi medical war crimes, and the Tuskegee syphilis study),” the professors write. “With AI, we have a chance to do better.”

READ MORE: AIs should have the same ethical protections as animals [Aeon]

More on consciousness: Artificial Consciousness: How To Give A Robot A Soul

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These Professors Are Arguing That AI Should Get Animal Rights

In 50 Years, Dead People Will Make up Most of Facebook’s Users

A new study says that based on Facebook's current numbers, dead people's accounts will outnumber the living in about 50 years.

Friends Forever

While Facebook recently announced new features to better memorialize the accounts of deceased users, they’re still taking up server space — and by 2070, they may outnumber the number of living people on the platform.

Imagining Facebook 50 years from now is admittedly speculative, but the site’s growing digital graveyard raises questions about how we ought to treat digital history and respect the deceased’s personal information.

Balancing Act

The 50-year prediction comes from a new study published last week in the journal Big Data & Society, which plotted Facebook’s growth trends against the U.N.’s projected global mortality rates.

Eventually, time comes for us all. The team of Oxford researchers found that even if nobody new joined Facebook after 2018, the site would still house 1.4 billion dead users by 2100.

Now What?

That’s a lot of memorialized pages, and the researchers argue that they could hold historical significance.

“Facebook should invite historians, archivists, archaeologists and ethicists to participate in the process of curating the vast volume of accumulated data that we leave behind as we pass away,” said Oxford researcher David Watson in a university-published press release. “This is not just about finding solutions that will be sustainable for the next couple of years, but possibly for many decades ahead.”

READ MORE: The dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within 50 years [University of Oxford newsroom via Phys.org]

More on the digital afterlife: The Digital Afterlife is Open for Business. But It Needs Rules.

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When This Asteroid Zips by Earth, Scientists May Hitch a Ride

In 2029, the asteroid 99942 Apophis will fly past Earth close enough to look like a shooting star. NASA is planning ahead to learn as much as possible.

Flyby

In about ten years, a 1,100 foot asteroid named 99942 Apophis will pass within 19,000 miles of the Earth — closer than some of our more distantly-orbiting satellites.

Scientists have already ruled out any chance of a collision; the asteroid will look like a bright shooting star to people on Earth. But the rare near-Earth trajectory already has scientists planning how best to study the impending visitor.

Celestial Threats

On Tuesday, astronomers will meet to discuss the possibility of sending a spacecraft out to meet Apophis as it sails by, according to a NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) press release.

The meeting will be part of the ongoing 2019 Planetary Defense Conference, where scientists are discussing possible ways to detect and prevent celestial threats to Earth.

Jam-Packed

Apophis gives researchers a goldmine of possible discoveries, so they want to take full advantage by planning missions that will reveal how Earth’s gravity affects Apophis’ trajectory, spin, and surface features. These findings will be valuable on their own, but could also protect us from future collisions.

“Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids,” Paul Chodas, director of the JPL division that studies near-Earth objects, said in the press release. “By observing Apophis during its 2029 flyby, we will gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense.”

READ MORE: Scientists planning now for asteroid flyby a decade away [Jet Propulsion Laboratory newsroom via Phys.org]

More on asteroids: The European Space Agency Will LiveTweet a Mock Asteroid Impact

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When This Asteroid Zips by Earth, Scientists May Hitch a Ride

“BioSolar Leaf” Tech Will Pull Pollution from London Air

British startup Arborea will test the ability of its

Dual Purpose

British startup Arborea is launching a pilot project on an Imperial College London campus to test out its “BioSolar Leaf” technology.

The first-of-its-kind system uses microscopic plants to remove pollution from the air while simultaneously producing food ingredients — meaning it could not only help fight carbon emissions, but address hunger in the process.

Plant Power

Arborea’s system involves growing microscopic plants, such as microalgae or phytoplankton, on solar panel-like structures that can be installed practically anywhere solar panels would go.

With photosynthesis, these plants remove carbon dioxide from the air while generating oxygen. According to the startup’s website, just one acre of their system does as much to clean the air as 100 acres of trees.

Two Birds

Cleaning the air is just one benefit of the BioSolar Leaf technology, though — the microscopic plants also produce an organic protein that Arborea extracts and uses to create plant-based food products.

“This pilot plant will produce sustainable healthy food additives while purifying the air, producing oxygen, and removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding environment,” Arborea CEO Julian Melchiorri said in a news release. “It will provide the opportunity to fully harness Arborea’s BioSolar Leaf dual action in real operating conditions and help to unlock the technology’s full potential.”

READ MORE: World’s first ‘BioSolar Leaf’ to tackle air pollution in White City [Imperial College London]

More on air pollution: A Houseplant With Rabbit DNA Could Purify the Air in Your Home

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Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More

Cryptocurrency News
On the whole, cryptocurrency prices are down from our previous report on cryptos, with the market slipping on news of an exchange being hacked and a report about Bitcoin manipulation.

However, there have been two bright spots: 1) an official from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that Ethereum is not a security, and 2) Coinbase is expanding its selection of tokens.

Let’s start with the good news.
SEC Says ETH Is Not a Security
Investors have some reason to cheer this week. A high-ranking SEC official told attendees of the Yahoo! All Markets Summit: Crypto that Ethereum and Bitcoin are not.

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Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More

Ripple vs SWIFT: The War Begins
While most criticisms of XRP do nothing to curb my bullish Ripple price forecast, there is one obstacle that nags at my conscience. Its name is SWIFT.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the king of international payments.

It coordinates wire transfers across 11,000 banks in more than 200 countries and territories, meaning that in order for XRP prices to ascend to $10.00, Ripple needs to launch a successful coup. That is, and always has been, an unwritten part of Ripple’s story.

We’ve seen a lot of progress on that score. In the last three years, Ripple wooed more than 100 financial firms onto its.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto

Cryptocurrency News
This was a bloody week for cryptocurrencies. Everything was covered in red, from Ethereum (ETH) on down to the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

Some investors claim it was inevitable. Others say that price manipulation is to blame.

We think the answers are more complicated than either side has to offer, because our research reveals deep contradictions between the price of cryptos and the underlying development of blockchain projects.

For instance, a leading venture capital (VC) firm launched a $300.0-million crypto investment fund, yet liquidity continues to dry up in crypto markets.

Another example is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s.

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Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack

Another Crypto Hack Derails Recovery
Since our last report, hackers broke into yet another cryptocurrency exchange. This time the target was Bithumb, a Korean exchange known for high-flying prices and ultra-active traders.

While the hackers made off with approximately $31.5 million in funds, the exchange is working with relevant authorities to return the stolen tokens to their respective owners. In the event that some is still missing, the exchange will cover the losses. (Source: “Bithumb Working With Other Crypto Exchanges to Recover Hacked Funds,”.

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Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Cryptocurrency News
Cryptocurrencies traded sideways since our last report on cryptos. However, I noticed something interesting when playing around with Yahoo! Finance’s cryptocurrency screener: There are profitable pockets in this market.

Incidentally, Yahoo’s screener is far superior to the one on CoinMarketCap, so if you’re looking to compare digital assets, I highly recommend it.

But let’s get back to my epiphany.

In the last month, at one point or another, most crypto assets on our favorites list saw double-digit increases. It’s true that each upswing was followed by a hard crash, but investors who rode the trend would have made a.

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Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens

Cryptocurrency News & Market Summary
Investors finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel last week, with cryptos soaring across the board. No one quite knows what kicked off the rally—as it could have been any of the stories we discuss below—but the net result was positive.

Of course, prices won’t stay on this rocket ride forever. I expect to see a resurgence of volatility in short order, because the market is moving as a single unit. Everything is rising in tandem.

This tells me that investors are simply “buying the dip” rather than identifying which cryptos have enough real-world value to outlive the crash.

So if you want to know when.

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Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity

Cryptocurrency News
Even though the cryptocurrency news was upbeat in recent days, the market tumbled after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected calls for a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).

That news came as a blow to investors, many of whom believe the ETF would open the cryptocurrency industry up to pension funds and other institutional investors. This would create a massive tailwind for cryptos, they say.

So it only follows that a rejection of the Bitcoin ETF should send cryptos tumbling, correct? Well, maybe you can follow that logic. To me, it seems like a dramatic overreaction.

I understand that legitimizing cryptos is important. But.

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Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds

Cryptocurrency News
Although cryptocurrency prices were heating up last week (Bitcoin, especially), regulators poured cold water on the rally by rejecting calls for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This is the second time that the proposal fell on deaf ears. (More on that below.)

Crypto mining ran into similar trouble, as you can see from Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.‘s (NASDAQ:AMD) most recent quarterly earnings. However, it wasn’t all bad news. Investors should, for instance, be cheering the fact that hedge funds are ramping up their involvement in cryptocurrency markets.

Without further ado, here are those stories in greater detail.
ETF Rejection.

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Bitcoin Rise: Is the Recent Bitcoin Price Surge a Sign of Things to Come or Another Misdirection?

What You Need to Know About the Bitcoin Price Rise
It wasn’t that long ago that Bitcoin (BTC) dominated headlines for its massive growth, with many cryptocurrency millionaires being made. The Bitcoin price surged ever upward and many people thought the gravy train would never stop running—until it did.

Prices crashed, investors abandoned the space, and lots of people lost money. Cut to today and we’re seeing another big Bitcoin price surge; is this time any different?

I’m of a mind that investors ought to think twice before jumping back in on Bitcoin.

Bitcoin made waves when it once again crested above $5,000. Considering that it started 2019 around $3,700,.

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Cryptocurrency News: Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Care About Bitcoin ETFs

Cryptocurrency News
While headline numbers look devastating this week, investors might take some solace in knowing that cryptocurrencies found their bottom at roughly $189.8 billion in market cap—that was the low point. Since then, investors put more than $20.0 billion back into the market.

During the rout, Ethereum broke below $300.00 and XRP fell below $0.30, marking yearly lows for both tokens. The same was true down the list of the top 100 biggest cryptos.

Altcoins took the brunt of the hit. BTC Dominance, which reveals how tightly investment is concentrated in Bitcoin, rose from 42.62% to 53.27% in just one month, showing that investors either fled altcoins at higher.

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Some People Are Exceptionally Good at Predicting the Future

Some people are adept at forecasting, predicting the likelihood of future events, and a new contest aims to suss them out.

Super-Forecasters

Some people have a knack for accurately predicting the likelihood of future events. You might even be one of these “super-forecasters” and not know it — but now there’s an easy way to find out.

BBC Future has teamed up with UK-based charity Nesta and forecasting services organization Good Judgement on the “You Predict the Future” challenge. The purpose is to study how individuals and teams predict the likelihood of certain events, ranging from the technological to the geopolitical.

All Winners

Anyone interested in testing their own forecasting skills can sign up for the challenge to answer a series of multiple-choice questions and assign a percentage to how likely each answer is to come true.

“When you’re part of the challenge, you’ll get feedback on how accurate your forecasts are,” Kathy Peach, who leads Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, told BBC Future. “You’ll be able to see how well you do compared to other forecasters. And there’s a leader board, which shows who the best performing forecasters are.”

Collective Intelligence

You’ll also be helping advance research on collective intelligence, which focuses on the intellectual abilities of groups of people acting as one.

Additionally, as Peach told BBC Future, “New research shows that forecasting increases open-mindedness, the ability to consider alternative scenarios, and reduces political polarisation,”  — meaning even if you don’t find out you’re a “super-forecaster,” you might just end up a better person after making your predictions.

READ MORE: Could you be a super-forecaster? [BBC Future]

More on forecasting: Forecasting the Future: Can the Hive Mind Let Us Predict the Future?

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