3 things direct from the future

6th Edition

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One thing that can help

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A number of researchers are working on electronic skin projects and we are now seeing amazing results with this skin able to feel pain, classify texture, read braille and respond to stimuli just like human skin.

Why do we need electronic skin?

  1. To enable amputees to feel touch – and pain!
  2. To enable robots and AI to feel texture, identify objects and respond to touch like humans do.

PhD researcher Md Ataur Rahman from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology sums up the key advantage brilliantly.

“… It means our artificial skin knows the difference between gently touching a pin with your finger or accidentally stabbing yourself with it – a critical distinction that has never been achieved before electronically”

Skin grafts, new limbs, more intelligent-and-useful robots. The potential uses for this technology are endless.




2. One thing to be wary of

Roblox. The 3D-world game where a kid can be anything they want, and create whatever they can imagine. I am a big fan. As with anything online though, parents need to be aware of the risks. The players are not all kids.

As discussed in a CBS report, kids have been exposed to sex-acts in Roblox. “Condo videos” are being created by creepy Roblox users – building worlds where characters “interact” in ways that you may not want your young kids to see.

They are easy to find and hard to police. Some Youtube channels contain these “condo videos” and a quick search in Google will point you to “how to find condo videos on Roblox”.

Roblox is doing what they can to combat these bad actors. If your kid is an avid Roblox-er just do your parenting thing to make sure they are safe – and that they can come to you when they see weird stuff on the internet!


3. One thing to amaze

Ai defeated f16 pilot 5-0

The fact that an AI has defeated an experienced F16 pilot 5-0 in a series of simulated dogfights should probably place this into the “one thing to be wary of” section. It has however, also completely amazed me.

The Heron Systems AI defeated the F-16 pilot code-named “Banger”. Before taking on Banger, Heron’s AI had to outmaneuver and defeat seven other AI from different participants.

While human pilots make careful maneuvers considering the limitations of the human body, and also follow the training protocols instilled in them though years of training – the AI didn’t have to play by the same rules. It can maneuver based on the plane’s limits and not the limits of a human body.

As a result, the Heron AI was very aggressive in positioning itself for a kill. While Banger was able to stay in the game longer with each successive round, the AI was so ferocious that Banger didn’t even get the chance to score.

However before we remove pilots from the sky entirely we need to consider the reality. While the AI managed to get into position aggressively, the shots it made were not 100% accurate or guaranteed to hit, but were still counted as kills. In fact, it only had around a 30% accuracy rate. So while the AI performed impressively most experts conclude that Banger would have won the round if this were a real dogfight.

Nevertheless, this victory for AI may usher in another era of aerial warfare.


Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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