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Monday, April 8, 2019



Meet the People Fighting Back Against Militarized Killer Robots

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 09:43 AM PDT

In a new profile, leaders in the movement to ban autonomous weapons such as killer robots describe how they're making progress.

Kill The Bots

After winning the Nobel Prize for getting anti-personnel landmines banned, activists Jody Williams and Mary Wareham are leading the charge against killer robots.

The two women are pushing back against the common narrative that autonomous soldiers and killer drones are an inevitable product of technological progress, according to a new profile in The Guardian.

“It’s men getting hard-ons over new weapons,” Williams told The Guardian. “They’re doing it simply because they can. They’re doing it because they want to see where it can go.”

“Can” Versus “Should”

The two activists are trying to get Western nations to sign onto international treaties against fully-autonomous weapons. Most countries in the world support such a treaty, but the U.K., U.S., Russia, and China are pushing toward killer drones and robots.

“Anything is inevitable if you do nothing to stop it,” Williams told The Guardian, drawing a comparison to her anti-landmine activism.

Targeted Campaign

The Guardian reports that the activists are targeting German leaders in hopes that Germany will become the first European nation to ban killer robots outright — leading other nations to follow suit.

They might have a shot, as The Guardian reports that Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, recently said that autonomous weapons are “nothing less than an attack on humanity itself.”

READ MORE: The rise of the killer robots – and the two women fighting back [The Guardian]

More on autonomous weapons: Leaders Who Pledged Not To Build Autonomous Killing Machines Are Ignoring The Real Problem

The post Meet the People Fighting Back Against Militarized Killer Robots appeared first on Futurism.

Deadly “Super Fungus” Could Be the Beginning of a Global Epidemic

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 09:00 AM PDT

A "super fungus" called Candida auris is cropping up in hospitals all across the globe, killing half the people who contract it within 90 days.

Antifungal Resistance

Bacteria’s ability to develop antibiotic resistance is well known — but it turns out fungi are also evolving to withstand modern medicine.

Now one such fungus is cropping up in hospitals all across the globe and killing half the people who contract it within 90 days, according to an alarming story by The New York Times — raising concerns about a new global epidemic.

Global Threat

Candida auris (C. auris) can infect anyone, but people with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, are most likely to succumb to the fungus.

Doctors only just discovered C. auris a decade ago in Japan. But since then, it has shown up on every continent except Antarctica, with 587 cases reported in the United States alone.

“It is a creature from the black lagoon,” Tom Chiller, head of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) fungal branch, told the Times. “It bubbled up and now it is everywhere.”

Persistent Pathogen

Once C. auris turns up, getting rid of it is incredibly difficult.

According to the Times, the CDC claims that more than 90 percent of C. auris infections are resistant to at least one major antifungal drug, with 30 percent resistant to two or more, and some medical facilities have had to go to such extreme lengths as tearing out their floor and ceiling tiles to completely remove traces of the fungus from a room.

READ MORE: A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy [The New York Times]

More on antibiotic resistance: Antibiotic Considered Obsolete May Find New Use Against Superbugs

The post Deadly “Super Fungus” Could Be the Beginning of a Global Epidemic appeared first on Futurism.

In Chinese Schools, Brain-Reading Headbands Measure Student Focus

Posted: 08 Apr 2019 08:04 AM PDT

Several Chinese schools have started making students wear brain-scanning headbands that can detect when they start to lose focus or slack off.

No Rest

Chinese schools are taking extreme measures to make sure that students are paying attention.

Over the past few months, several schools have made students wear a headband that measures the brain’s electrical activity to track whether students are focused at any given moment, The Next Web reports. It’s a jarring level of high tech discipline in the classroom — and one that seems like it’s more exhausting than beneficial for young students.

High Score!

The headband, manufactured by Boston-based tech company BrainCo Inc, uses built-in EEG scanners to track whether a student is focused or daydreaming.

All that information gets sent to a teacher’s computer, giving them a real-time feed of which students are focused. But BrainCo didn’t stop there: it also built a leaderboard of students who focus for the greatest amount of time.

Good Intentions

The idea behind the headband is that it could give teachers insight into how to better educate their students, according to The Next Web. For instance, if teachers notice that certain students keep losing focus during certain activities, they could change the curriculum or work one-on-one with particular students.

But odds are that there are better ways to give personalized attention to students — such as cutting down on class sizes — than strapping brain-scanning headbands onto all of them.

READ MORE: China is reportedly trialing attention-detecting bands in schools [The Next Web]

More on education: This Ebook Company Is Trying to Make Reading More Like Videogames

The post In Chinese Schools, Brain-Reading Headbands Measure Student Focus appeared first on Futurism.