Rise of the Drones
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Rise of the Drones
Investigating the future of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Curated by ddrrnt
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'Intelligent' drones being developed at UNM

'Intelligent' drones being developed at UNM | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

In a basement lab at the University of New Mexico, grad student Corbin Whilhelmi's research has a mind of its own.


He's developing a flying, thinking, robot.


Whilhelmi and his colleagues are developing intelligent drones so promising, the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. Army are paying for it.

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China 'flies first stealth drone'

China 'flies first stealth drone' | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

China successfully flew a stealth drone for the first time on Thursday, state media said, citing eyewitness reports.

 

The BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says China is joining a small elite club of nations that includes the US, Israel, France and the UK, who are pushing the boundaries of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology.

 

Our correspondent says that what is clear from recent air shows and the Chinese technical press is that Beijing has developed a variety of UAVs matching virtually every category deployed by the US.

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UAS Attracting Interest From New Users but Still Prompt Worries, Speakers Say

UAS Attracting Interest From New Users but Still Prompt Worries, Speakers Say | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano appeared alongside MIT's Missy Cummings to discuss the state of the technology. Integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System will create more than 100,000 jobs, particularly in agriculture, Toscano said, and Cummings said the issue with integration is now more about psychological than technological barriers.

A commercial revolution will take place in agriculture, Cummings said, and the United States is already behind.

"Japan basically does all its crop dusting with UAVs. An entire country," Cummings said.

She predicted that another revolution, that of unmanned cargo delivery, is already taking shape in Afghanistan in the form of the K-Max unmanned helicopter, which now supplies cargo to deployed soldiers and Marines. 

....

Another ongoing and growing use of unmanned aircraft is for monitoring wildlife, their habitats and the poachers who are killing some of them in record numbers, said Carter Roberts, the president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund.

Groups like the WWF simply don't always have good information about what's happening on the ground in remote locations and have started using UAS to track animals, discover poachers and then follow them back to their traders.

Privacy issues rarely come into play, because the areas are so remote and the systems help give a small technological edge against the poachers, who are better funded and better equipped, the said.

"We do not want to document the demise of nature," but instead use these systems to get real-time information into the hands of governments who can help the wildlife, Roberts said. 

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Game of Drones

The debate over the use of drones falls into three paradigms:  legal, practical and moral. The panel hosted on Wednesday by the Bi-Partisan Policy Center (BPC) followed this pattern.


A crucial problem is lack of transparency.  The Obama administration needs to prove that what they are doing is lawful. So far they have not succeeded.  Who is making the decisions?  What are the legal standards?  Who are the targets and why?  Restricted access to White House legal memos on the drone program inhibits Congress from constructing an adequate legal framework and from conducting oversight.


No other nation has publicly agreed with our drone program.  To others, the US appears indifferent to civilian casualties. The perception of America as ruthless undermines our legitimacy as a world power.


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Why Is the Navy Building a Shiny Drone Base in Sunny Malibu?

Why Is the Navy Building a Shiny Drone Base in Sunny Malibu? | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Sorry, Sushi/Massage Guru at Google: you no longer have the coolest tech job in America. That honor will belong to the future staff at the planned Point Mugu UAV installation in paradisiacal California.

 

With bases like Drone Zone Malibu, the Navy will be able to remotely "fly out over the open ocean, find and track ships, targets of interest. That could be potential adversaries, terrorists, whatever the [Navy] needs [to find]." So: an omnipresent maritime eye could spot potential threats—or anything, really—over the waters, and then beam back electronic signatures and video streams to the mainland, where the next step will be made.

 

Drones in vacation spots are an inevitability. The idea of a beachside xanadu conducting unceasing, expensive, militarized robot flights might sound strange, but it isn't. There will be more bases like that at Point Mugu, spreading around the world like sunburn. There will be drones in California, drones in Texas, drones in Paris, all part of the Pentagon's vision of reshaping its military omnipresence around "lily pads"—light, decentralized bases that house specialized forces and, of course, drones. Ready to buzz and strike whenever, capable of spying for trouble always.

 

lilly pad strategy: http://www.thenation.com/article/168898/militarys-new-lily-pad-strategy#

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Drones: Eyes in the sky

Drones: Eyes in the sky | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

As technology advances, unmanned aircraft used for surveillance are moving from the battlefield to your backyard, and not everyone is happy with it (with poll)

 

In Pakistan, since 2004, from under 2,000 at the low end to more than 3,400. The CIA isn't saying. So who's being killed -- terrorists or civilians?

 

"The data show that only a relatively small number of high-level targets have been killed, something on the order of 50, estimates vary. which is roughly 2 percent of those who have been killed," said James Cavallaro, a law professor at Stanford University. "Which means that 98 percent of those killed have not been high-level targets."

 

Cavallaro is co-author of a paper critical of U.S. drone use. He and his team went to Pakistan.

 

"We don't hear enough about the costs, civilians killed, civilians injured, destruction of communities, growth of anti-Americanism, and fomenting recruitment for terrorist groups," he told Teichner. "When all of that is considered, there are serious doubts about whether drones are the best option. (...)

 

Now, drones are headed off the battlefield. They're already coming your way.

 

AeroVironment, the California company that sells the military something like 85 percent of its fleet, is marketing them now to public safety agencies.

 

Steve Gitlin, a vice-president of AeroVironment, demonstrated for Teicher the company's Qube system: "It's a small unmanned aircraft that's designed to give first responders an immediate eye in the sky so they can find lost kids, they can investigate accidents, they can support disaster recovery for earthquakes in California, tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.

 

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Critics object to Obama nominating ‘Mr. Drone’ John Brennan to CIA head | The Raw Story

Critics object to Obama nominating ‘Mr. Drone’ John Brennan to CIA head | The Raw Story | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The nomination of President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan to head the CIA has sparked outrage and concern about America’s growing drones programme and its use for targeted killings of suspected Islamic militants.


Brennan has been a key architect of drones policy under Obama and many experts believe that the use of the unmanned robot planes in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is likely to increase if he becomes America’s top spy.


“If Brennan leads the CIA then you ain’t seen nothing yet. That troubles me greatly,” said Amos Guiora, a legal professor at the Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. (...)


Officially, the CIA still does not admit that its programme exists, but Brennan has been closely identified with promoting its use in the Obama administration. He has been dubbed “Mr Drone” in the media and has been the public face of the programme when it comes to arguing that its use is both legal and effective. In a speech last year at the Woodrow Wilson Center he said: “There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose or that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield, at least when the country involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat.” (...)


“John Brennan has deliberately deceived the American public about the effects of these drone strikes, claiming they haven’t killed any civilians and refuses to acknowledge empirical evidence to the contrary,” said Leah Bolger, president of anti-war group Veterans for Peace. “The combat drone program is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, none of whom received any sort of due process; were citizens of a country with which we are not at war; and were murdered not as a result of military action, but by a civilian agency – the CIA,” she added. (...)


In the US the increased use of drones has given birth to a protest movement that has encompassed numerous groups all over the country. Anti-drone activists are now planning a major protest for Obama’s inauguration in Washington, DC, this month and also a month of actions in April aimed at military bases where drones are controlled, factories where they are made and universities where drone research is carried out. “More people are waking up to this,” said Nick Mottern, director of a group called Know Drones.


Paul Harris, The Gaurdian

10 Jan 2013

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Laser used to shoot down drones

Laser used to shoot down drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

A laser weapons system that can shoot down two drones at a distance of over a mile has been demonstrated by Rheinmetall Defence.

The German defence firm used the high-energy laser equipment to shoot fast-moving drones at a distance.


The system, which uses two laser weapons, was also used to cut through a steel girder a kilometre away.


The company plans to make the laser weapons system mobile and to integrate automatic cannon.

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Construction is complete on behemoth airship; first flight planned

Construction is complete on behemoth airship; first flight planned | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

According to aircraft maker Worldwide Aeros Corp., construction is complete on a 36,000-pound blimp-like aircraft designed for the military to carry tons of cargo to remote areas around the world.


The Montebello company hopes to have a first flight in the coming months and to demonstrate cargo-carrying capability shortly thereafter.


"This is truly the beginning of a vertical global transportation solution for perhaps the next 100 years,” Chief Executive Igor Pasternak said in a statement.


Worldwide Aeros, a company of about 100 employees, built the prototype under a contract of about $35 million from the Pentagon and NASA.

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RAF drone pilots to get their own wings

RAF drone pilots to get their own wings | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Air force chief Stephen Dalton says new badges for remotely controlled UAVs recognises service's increasing reliance on them.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Dalton said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be essential for the RAF and argued the service also had to look to space as another "new fertile ground for intellectual and technical development".

"With our partners we are seeking to exploit the military opportunities which technology can provide and to fully embrace the remotely piloted air systems potential," he told the thinktank.

"Their persistence, their sensors, the lethal precision of their weapons all contribute to a complementary and cost‑effective way to conduct warfare where operational threats and environments permit."

In recognition of the growing importance of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS), and the skill, complexity and professionalism needed to operate them, those who flew the aircraft would have their own badge, Dalton said.
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US Air Force may be secretly developing next generation of stealth drones

US Air Force may be secretly developing next generation of stealth drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Bill Sweetman (of Aviation Week) reports that Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman are behind the new drones, which include a "Next Generation" stealth bomber and UAV reconnaissance plane. None of these plans have been officially disclosed, however, highlighting a significant contrast to the Air Force's public-facing side, which has repeatedly expressed reluctance about incorporating drones as its mainstay. In 2008, then-US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that trying to get the Air Force to expand its drone armies was "like pulling teeth."

Joshua Kopstein
10 Dec 2012
ddrrnt's insight:

Here's the full story in Aviation Week.

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Britain’s ‘under-trained’ drone pilots create ‘significant risks’

Britain’s ‘under-trained’ drone pilots create ‘significant risks’ | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Badly trained pilots are creating “significant risks” to Britain’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) programme, a military investigation has found.

A probe by the Military Aviation Authority found that “increasing demands” on drones used for surveillance and intelligence-gathering were “constraining the length of time available to train and qualify” new pilots, according to extracts printed in Tuesday’s Times.

MPs are due to debate the country’s involvement in drone warfare later Tuesday and Labour plans to push the government over whether unmanned aircraft will be deployed to kill terrorist suspects.

“We must clarify the rules, given the significance and spread of the technology,” shadow armed forces minister Kevan Jones will say, according to the Times.

“Whether valid or not, there is a public perception that unmanned technology is shrouded in secrecy, which increases the potential for its demonisation.

“Being open about usage and codifying our policy would help confront this, and would increase accountability and transparency in the system,” he will add.

The Raw Story
By Agence France-Presse
11 Dec 2012
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iRobot Founder Now Building Tiny Hovering Drone Spies

iRobot Founder Now Building Tiny Hovering Drone Spies | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

 Four years ago, iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner stepped down from the company she helped turn into an all-important supplier of the military’s growing arsenal of ground robots. Now today, she’s unveiled the first ‘bots to roll off her new company’s assembly line. What are they? Teeny tiny hovering drones, designed to fly through your window and spy on you.


The first is Ease, or “Extreme Access System for Entry.” Really, it’s a tiny hover-bot designed for “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.” And it’s small enough — it only has a 1-foot diameter and a height of 16 inches from top to bottom – to fly through windows and maneuver through buildings with its ducted fan engine.


The other new drone is the Parc, or “Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications.” Like Ease, it also hovers. But the Parc is designed to fly high and for long periods of time, and resembles a flying bug with four skinny legs and a quadrotor. The robot can hover at 1,000 feet while being powered — like the Ease — by a microfilament line


Danger Room | Wired.com

Robert Beckhusen 

03 Dec 2012

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A Guide To Spotting And Hiding From Drones

A Guide To Spotting And Hiding From Drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Like birdwatching, but for military robots.
ddrrnt's insight:

Know your drones.

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SUSBEXPO: The first unmanned systems business conference

SUSBEXPO: The first unmanned systems business conference | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

SUSBEXPO is the first conference about unmanned systems to really focus on the growing commercial opportunities. AUVSI put on a spectacular annual show but it is predominantly military systems. 

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China emerging as new force in drone warfare

China emerging as new force in drone warfare | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Chinese aerospace firms have developed dozens of drones. Analysts say that although China still trails the U.S.

 

"China is following the precedent set by the U.S. The thinking is that, `If the U.S. can do it, so can we. They're a big country with security interests and so are we'," said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the arms transfers program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, or SIPRI. "The justification for an attack would be that Beijing too has a responsibility for the safety of its citizens. There needs to be agreement on what the limits are," he said.

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Drones for dummies

Drones for dummies | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

If you've checked out the news these past few (or many) months, you've probably noticed some news about drones: Drones used by the CIA to vaporize suspected terrorists. Drones used by the United States military. Drones that deliver food. Drones used by cops. Drones possibly violating the US Constitution. Drones protecting wildlife. Drones in pop culture. Maybe this has left you with some burning questions about these increasingly prominent flying robots. Here's an easy-to-read, non-wonky guide to them—we'll call it Drones For Dummies.

 

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Would Lincoln use drones? - WWLD?

Would Lincoln use drones? - WWLD? | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Lincoln probably would have loved drones, but may have held off using them to kill for strategic reasons

...

 

First off, Lincoln was obsessed with military technology and innovation, so there’s little question that he would have been intrigued by drones, had they been invented in the 1860s. He often personally witnessed demonstrations of new inventions and pushed for their advancement and field testing through the War Department bureaucracy, in part by promoting officers who held a similar love of innovation. Under his tenure, the Union became one of the world’s first militaries to use repeating rifles (a vast improvement over the single-shot muzzle-loaders it replaced), rifled artillery, machine guns, rockets, armored “ironclad” warships, and torpedoes, and he made advanced strategic use of railroads and especially the telegraph.

 

He would have loved to have had drones’ surveillance power, as he championed the unprecedented use of balloons to spy on the enemy. When the aging head of the Army initially rejected the balloon idea, Lincoln personally marched inventor Thaddeus Lowe to the War Department and declared that he would be head of the new Aeronautics Corps for the Army.  “I have pleasure in sending you this first dispatch ever telegraphed from an aerial station and in acknowledging indebtedness to your encouragement for the opportunity of demonstrating the availability of the science of aeronautics in the military service of the country,” Lowe telegraphed to the president from a balloon over the National Mall.

 

But obviously drones did not exist in Lincoln’s day. So what about some kind of analogous technology that could safely kill enemies without a battle. Would Lincoln have been morally and legally comfortable with that?

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Anticipating domestic boom, colleges rev up drone piloting programs

Anticipating domestic boom, colleges rev up drone piloting programs | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Randal Franzen was 53, unemployed and nearly broke when his brother, a tool designer at Boeing, mentioned that pilots for remotely piloted aircraft – more commonly known as drones – were in high demand. (...)


While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, universities and colleges expect that to change by 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration is due to release regulations for unmanned aircraft in domestic airspace. Once those regulations are in place, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years.


Although just three schools currently offer degrees in piloting unmanned aircraft, many others – including community colleges – offer training for remote pilots. And those numbers figure are set to increase, with some aviation industry analysts predicting drones will eventually come to dominate the U.S. skies in terms of jobs.  

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Kev Bauer's curator insight, March 21, 2013 10:12 PM

new fields being created, not just military. what could be future industries/jobs related to drones?

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Rise of the Drones | sUAS News

Rise of the Drones | sUAS News | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
ddrrnt's insight:
10 January 2013
By Press


Drones. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – some as large as jumbo jets, others as small as birds – do things straight out of science fiction. Much of what it takes to get these robotic airplanes to fly, sense, and kill has remained secret. But now, with rare access to drone engineers and those who fly them for the US military, NOVA reveals the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful, showing viewers how a remotely-piloted drone strike looks and feels from inside the command center. From cameras that can capture every detail of an entire city at a glance, to swarming robots that can make decisions on their own, to giant air frames that can stay aloft for days on end, drones are changing our relationship to war, surveillance, and each other. And it’s just the beginning. Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history, as NOVAgets ready for “RISE OF THE DRONES” (premiering Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 9pm/8c on PBS).


And it’s not just an American revolution. More than 55 other countries are currently building, buying or using aerial military robotics.


“NOVA gives viewers a dramatic glimpse into the cutting-edge technologies that are enabling engineers to remove the pilot from the cockpit and changing the way we engage in warfare,” said Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA. “This eye-opening documentary also sheds light on the controversies surrounding the use of UAVs, both internationally and domestically, and explores the challenges and latest advances on the horizon.”


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U.N. wants to use drones for peacekeeping missions

U.N. wants to use drones for peacekeeping missions | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping has notified Congo, Rwanda and Uganda that it intends to deploy a unit of at least three unarmed surveillance drones in the eastern region of Congo.


... the effort is encountering resistance from governments, particularly those from the developing world, that fear the drones will open up a new intelligence-gathering front dominated by Western powers and potentially supplant the legions of African and Asian peacekeepers who now act as the United Nations’ eyes and ears on the ground. (...)


U.N. officials have sought to allay the suspicions, saying there is no intention to arm the drones or to spy on countries that have not consented to their use.

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The Woes of an American Drone Operator

The Woes of an American Drone Operator | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. (...)


Modern warfare is as invisible as a thought, deprived of its meaning by distance. It is no unfettered war, but one that is controlled from small high-tech centers in various places in the world. The new (way of conducting) war is supposed to be more precise than the old one, which is why some call it "more humane." It's the war of an intellectual, a war United States President Barack Obama has promoted more than any of his predecessors. (...)




SPIEGEL ONLINE

Nicola Abé

14 Dec 2012


ddrrnt's insight:

Great article about  Brandon Bryant and Vanessa Meyer, drone pilots.

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A Twitter Feed That Follows Every U.S. Drone Attack

A Twitter Feed That Follows Every U.S. Drone Attack | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
NYU grad student Josh Begley is behind two of the more successful attempts to insert the drone debate into media coverage: an app called Drone+, banned by Apple, which would alert users each time the U.S. carries out a drone strike, and include the death toll. This week, Begley fired up @dronestream, a Twitter timeline of every documented U.S. drone strike from 2002-2012.

Abby Ohlheiser
14 Dec 2012
ddrrnt's insight:

The feed is said to use data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism,


This article also references the Living Under Drones report, "which compiled over 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts on drone strikes in Pakistan."

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Next-gen US drone: Now equipped with ‘death ray’ laser

Next-gen US drone: Now equipped with ‘death ray’ laser | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
The next generation of military drones, unveiled by a leading US manufacturer, will not just carry a limited supply of rockets – but will likely be fitted with an ultra-light laser, capable of repeatedly destroying objects at the speed of light.

“It would give us an unlimited magazine,” a person close to the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program told Time magazine.

Over the past four years, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has given contractor General Atomics over $60 million to develop and then scale HELLADS – a powerful 150 kW ray with a difference.

RT.com
11 Dec 2012
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The dronefather

The dronefather | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Abe Karem created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged—and continues to pioneer other airborne innovations


“I WAS not the guy who put missiles on the Predator,” says Abe Karem, the aerospace engineer behind America’s most successful and most feared military drone. “I just wanted UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to perform to the same standards of safety, reliability and performance as manned aircraft.”


When Mr Karem arrived in America from Israel in 1977, the Pentagon had almost given up on robotic planes. At the time its most promising UAV, the Aquila, needed 30 people to launch it, flew for just minutes at a time and crashed on average every 20 flight hours. “It was insanity itself,” says Mr Karem. “It was obvious to me they were going to crash because they had 30 people doing something that could be done better by three.”


Mr Karem founded a company, Leading Systems, in the garage of his Los Angeles home and began work on a drone that would ultimately transform the way America wages war. It was built in an intentionally low-tech manner, using plywood, home-made fibreglass and a two-stroke engine of the kind normally found in go-karts. “I wanted to prove that performance is largely a result of inspired design and highly optimised and integrated subsystems, not the application of the most advanced technology,” he says.


More at the Economist 

01 Dec 2012


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dhorn's curator insight, December 14, 2012 9:58 PM

The mind is a terrible thing to waste on new ways of killing other minds.