Artificial intelligence system ‘too good’ to be released but drone development continues

Artificial intelligence will continue to be improved and will continue to be implemented in different ways, but a company backed by some of the world’s largest companies say they won’t release an artificial intelligence system they have developed because it is too good.

But this must just be a temporary pause. If they can do it others are likely to develop AI systems with similar power and implications.

CNN:  This AI is so good at writing that its creators won’t let you use it

A new artificial intelligence system is so good at composing text that the researchers behind it said they won’t release it for fear of how it could be misused.

Created by nonprofit AI research company OpenAI (whose backers include Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Microsoft), the text-generating system can write page-long responses to prompts, mimicking everything from fantasy prose to fake celebrity news stories and homework assignments. It builds on an earlier text-generating system the company released last year.

Researchers have used AI to generate text for decades with varying levels of success. In recent years, the technology has gotten particularly good. OpenAI’s initial goal was for the system to come up with the next word in a sentence by considering the words that came before it. To make this possible, it was trained on 8 million web pages.

A handful of resulting demos that OpenAI posted online last week show just how convincing (and, at times, creepy) computer-written text can be. In many ways, they sound like the written version of deepfakes, which are persuasive — but fake — video and audio files created with AI.

What’s worse, fake text and audio and images and video created by an AI system, or created deliberately by people?

Are we heading for a virtual world where it’s impossible to differentiate between fake and reality?

There are greater risks, especially where AI is used in military applications.

Stuff:  UK close to adding swarming attack drones to its military arsenal

Swarms of small attack drones that confuse and overwhelm anti-aircraft defences could soon become an important part of the modern military arsenal, Britain’s defence secretary said, something that would mark a major evolution in robot-enabled warfare.

Speaking at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank, British defence secretary Gavin Williamson said Britain will fund the development of “swarm squadrons of network enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defences,” noting that such vehicles would complement the British fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

He seemed to confirm what some military experts have said for years: The technology to enable synchronised drone swarms is here, and military leaders are starting to embrace the idea of building it into their operations.

Tech companies have demonstrated that they can organise drone swarms for complex light shows and other flashy endeavours. And some widely publicised systems tests in the United States have shown how the military can adapt that concept for its own use.

Express (UK):  Putin unveils KAMIKAZE Kalashnikov military drone able to ‘bypass ANY air defence system’

Moscow is continuing its unchecked military aggression against its neighbours and the West as Vladimir Putin’s military adds cutting-edge technology to its war machine, such as last week’s testing of “undetectable” nuclear weapons. Now Russia’s latest military machine has just been unveiled, a deadly kamikaze drone.

Russia’s Kalashnikov drone is about to be rolled-out across the military after “successfully completing” trials.

And military officials have boasted of how the latest precision weapon from arms giant Kalashnikov can “deliver explosives to any terrain, bypassing systems of air defence.”

AI, drones and nuclear weapons – what could go wrong with that? And people like Putin and Trump to that and it’s downright scary.

It doesn’t sound like an intelligent use of technology to me.

Will delivery drones ever be viable? Or safe?

Drones have been promoted as a means of making deliveries. I remain very sceptical about whether this is a good thing or not. Even if it can be developed into a reliable means of transport how much drone traffic do we want zinging all over town?

Amazon have been a prominent proponent. CNN (2017): Amazon patent reveals drone delivery ‘beehives’

In 2013, Amazon unveiled plans for a new delivery service called Prime Air, which would use drones to deliver packages.

Amazon made its first drone delivery in the U.K. in December 2016. The company plans to expand the service to dozens of customers near its British facility in the near future.

Amazon has filed for a patent for beehive-like towers that would serve as multi-level fulfillment centers for its delivery drones to take off and land. The facilities would be built vertically to blend in with high rises in urban areas. Amazon envisions each city would have one.

amazon drone beehives 2

Each city would have an Amazon drone tower? And how many others. A Dominos drone tower?

Stuff (2016): Dominos delivers pizza by drone

History has been made today in Whangaparaoa just north of Auckland. As of this morning, drone deliveries of pizza are now reality as the first commercial deliveryof food by drone to a customer was successful. The first ever flying order delivered at 11:19am today was put together by Domino’s Pizza and Flirtey.

I don’t know how this project is progressing. Or the Amazon drone delivery project.

What about delivering the mail? Remember mail that came to our letterboxes?

This was just one embarrassing failure.

What about the potential dangers? Will we have to start wearing helmets in public in case an errant drone drops on us? Or a book or a pizza?

I live on a flight path for seagulls – they are frequently passing overhead heading up or down Otago Harbour. Seagulls can be a pest in some parts of town, but they are a majestic part of bird life here, I love watching them soar past. It would be funny if they learnt to attack pizza drones to score a free feed.

But the silent soaring of birds is different to the buzz of drones doing suburban deliveries.

We may have something that will make drones unviable here – the Resource Management Act.  If anyone tries to get them off the ground in any serious way.

Gatwick drone disruption – couple arrested

A couple have been arrested over the Gatwick airport drone problems that caused huge travel disruption for many people in England (and people travelling elsewhere via Gatwick).

Police confirmed this morning they had arrested a 54-year-old woman and 47-year-old man

The Telegraph – Gatwick drone: Identities of arrested couple revealed

Paul Gait and his wife Elaine Kirk were arrested by police in connection with the drone disruption at Gatwick.

he couple arrested on suspicion of the Gatwick drone attack are a husband and wife from Crawley, the Telegraph can reveal.

Paul Gait, 47, and his wife Elaine Kirk, 54, were detained by police at their detached home in West Sussex at around 10pm on Friday night.

Father of two, Mr Gait, who works as a window fitter, is understood to be a drone enthusiast who also flew remote control helicopters.

But his boss insisted he had been working when the drone attacks were taking place and said he would be shocked if he had anything to do with the incident.

Express: First pictures of couple arrested over Gatwick drone chaos

Elaine Kirk, 54 and her partner Paul Gait, 47, are the two people being quizzed by officers. Local people named the pair as those arrested for causing 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted this week. Ms Kirk and Mr Gait were arrested at their home in Crawley at 10pm last night according to reports.

Crawley lies under Gatwick Airport’s flightpath and police had been investigating theories the chaos was caused by protestors unhappy with increased noise levels however a motive is still unclear.

Paul Gait’s employer and neighbours are being quoted as surprised that it could be him involved, but no details have been released yet.

Drones have caused minor disruptions to airports around the world, but this was the worst disruption of a major airport.

Drones have obviously had the potential to cause major problems, if not damage attacks. Unfortunately this could encourage more drone disruption.


Drone delivered junk food

Minister of something Simon Bridges has been involved in a promotional stunt for a quantity rather than quality fast food outlet – apparently they are going to trial drone home deliveries.

This seems stupid to me – apart from getting some free media publicity.

There’s so many potential safety and logistical issues.

The drone isn’t going to be able to deliver to your table, especially if you live in an apartment.

Most deliveries will be at night so darkness will be an issue with poles and wires and buildings and trees to avoid, as well as traffic, people and pets.

And what if there are drones buzzing all over town from different outlets? Who is going to do traffic control?

For what? Something you can make at home, or get delivered the way it happens now.

Sure they will be able to succeed in some situations but I think there’s going to be many deliveries that will be too difficult.

Drone deliveries are someth8ing we don’t need and I’m very doubtful they will be very successful part from a few stunts.

Peeping drones

Using drones to peep and spy is disturbing by not really surprising.

Stuff: Peeping incidents among drone-related complaints made to Civil Aviation Authority

Peeping and peering incidents involving drones figure numerous times in information on drone-related incidents released by the Civil Aviation Authority under the Official Information Act 

The incidents feature the machines, which can carry cameras, hovering outside homes at night, and sometimes targeting several neighbouring properties in succession. 

In a typical incident from the CAA report, a Christchurch resident reported a drone flying close to their window one night last May.

“Complainant closed curtains and soon afterwards the [drone] moved to the neighbouring property,” the file notes.

A Petone, Lower Hutt resident complained in April this year about a drone appearing at night over homes and “hovering around windows of houses at close proximity”.

Another, in Auckland in December, also had a drone over their property.

“I noticed it then go and hover over at least three of our neighbours’ properties.”

There could be a variety of reasons for using drones like this. Peeping is an obvious one, but they could also be used to ‘case joints’ to aid burglars. And malicious intent like harassment is another possibility.

CAA has released rules for drones, acknowledging: “Aviation regulators around the world are grappling with how to integrate [drones] into existing aviation safety systems”.

Those rules include provisions not to fly at night, to get consent from anyone you want to fly above, and to get permission before flying over properties.

But Wellington barrister Stephen Iorns said there were currently very few criminal charges that could be laid if someone broke the authority’s rules. 

“It’s only a criminal offence under the Crimes Act if someone is naked or engaged in intimate behaviour,” he said.

So if you want to be protected from drones by current laws turn up the heat and go naked indoors.

“The Privacy Commissioner can’t investigate without [someone] identifying who the party who did the filming is.” 

And the Privacy Commission did not have the power to issue fines.

Instead, victims would have to go through the Human Rights Tribunal for that, but only once they had a favourable ruling from the Privacy Commission.

Identification will be a real problem.

Is it legal to use drone Stingers?


Homs in ruin

Drone footage of the devastation of Homs as a result of the Syrian civil war has been getting some attention.

Homs was the third largest city in Syria with a population of about 700,000.






Man wreaking terrible destruction on man, women and child.

This is far from the first time this sort of ruin has been self inflicted.

New Zealand drone views

Some cool views of New Zealand (South Island) taken by drone care of Emirates and Qantas:

Welcome to the View from Above! A series where we take you on a Journey to some of the most beautiful places on earth!


Explore New Zealand from a bird eye view. This video shows some beautiful spots around Rotorua, New Zealand. Filmed with a drone on different locations we want to show you how beautiful the area is. 

Hamurana Springs, Redwoods & Maori Center

There’s quite a bit of drone footage on Facebook.