DARPA Preps for War in Space… And Other News You May Have Missed

Rounding up IT and advanced tech-related news impacting government and industry.

Seriously — last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded BAE Systems with a $12.8 million contract to build a virtual space-battle zone that can help military leaders understand the space environment. DARPA is calling the project “Hallmark testbed.”

The digital lab intends to provide commanders with “space domain awareness in order to quickly assess, plan and execute operations in this increasingly complex environment,” according to Mike Penzo, director of ground resiliency and analytics at BAE Systems.

The lab will also allow leaders to evaluate and integrate the kinds of tech it will need for space command, and gain a situational awareness for all the moving parts and objects in space. In the testbed, the military can practice multidomain operations, like collecting data in space, on land, in the air, at sea and in cyberspace, then combine and analyze the data for space missions. The first phase of the project centers around space situational awareness and command-and-control tech, but DARPA wants to incorporate scenario-based exercises for actually testing the tech against emerging threats. SpaceNews

Artificial Intelligence

CXO Tech Forum

The Church of the AI God  

If you thought Saudi Arabia granting citizenship to humanoid robot Sophia was bizarre, there’s now a religion with artificial intelligence as its god. It’s founded by Anthony Levandowski, a former Google, Waymo and Uber engineer accused of stealing self-driving car secrets for Uber (which he denies). He says the concept of an AI god isn’t that it makes “lightning or causes hurricanes,” but that it’s “a billion times smarter than the smartest human.”

This religion has a church, too. It’s called Way of the Church, and its dedicated to smoothing the transition of who is in charge of the Earth from people, to people and machines; as technology will soon surpass human abilities, according to the church’s website. It’s about integrating machines into society as leaders as they become smarter, giving them the same rights as humans and ultimately succumbing to the fact AI will most likely, probably, take over the world. Cnet.com

A Data-Driven Beer Business

Heineken is using data analytics, the internet of things and AI to improve and accelerate its business. It’s the No. 1  brewer in Europe and second in the world, and it’s looking to increase sales and barrel numbers by applying these method to operations, marketing, advertising and customer experience.

For example, data is helping Heineken forecast and optimize delivery routes, eliminating inefficiencies through its supply chain. Data analytics allows brewers to adjust production when there’s high inventory, long production times or seasonal demand variances.

The company is also exploring IoT in its interactive Ignite bottles. They have 50 components and sensors, like LED lights, that turn beer bottles into connected devices to respond to the beat of music in clubs by reflecting the rhythm, or flickering when it’s tipped back for a drink. Heineken is also dabbling with AI through its IntelligentX program to improve and customize beer recipes by augmenting the brew process with feedback from consumers and data points. Forbes

NASA Builds Most Powerful Space Capsule

And Wired got a behind-the-scenes look. NASA plans to launch Orion, the most powerful rocket ever built, in 2019. It’ll be sent on a 25-day journey, 245,131 miles away from Earth, around the moon and back to Earth’s atmosphere. In the 2020s, NASA wants to repeat this launch with a crew, which would send humans the farthest into space we’ve ever been.

NASA is still developing and testing the rocket, even building little models of it and putting them in wind tunnels, and testing the fuel tanks by mimicking launch and flight with hydraulic cylinders that apply millions of pounds of force. The graphics in the Wired piece show actual images of the rocket being made, the components still in the works and the teams designing them in five different NASA facilities.

Essentially, they’re covering all the necessary processes and procedures on the ground before the rocket goes up. NASA hopes this rocket leads the way in its decades-long effort to send astronauts to Mars and beyond. Wired

Fighting Opioid Epidemic with Digital Pills

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the digital version of the antipsychotic pill Abilify. It has a sensor that communicates with a patch worn on the skin to send medication data to a smartphone app. There’s a similar product not yet on the market with digital prescription opioids that have sensors to alert physicians when their patients take a pill. This can help doctors monitor prescription painkiller use, or overuse.

These are a little different than Abilify. The gel capsules are made by Florida-based company eTextRx, and the pill contains the drug and a radio transmitter the size of a sesame seed. The gel cap dissolves in the stomach, exposing the oxycodone tablet and the transmitter. The transmitter is triggered by stomach acid and sends a signal to an iPod-sized device via a patch on the patient's belly (the device needs to be worn when the pill is swallowed). A message is sent to the cloud, letting the doctor know the pill was taken, and the transmitters eventually come out naturally.

The pill is still being studied, with the next round to include a more sophisticated version of the digital pill detectors. The Verge

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