Best available human, cracking military grade secrets, green oil, startup societies, and India's space program

While researching the upcoming NeuroTech article, I have come across a lot of news from other dual use/DeepTech sectors. Sharing a few samples here in another #discoveries dispatch.

Best available human

“There are more regulations on sandwich shops than there are on AI companies”. This sentiment applies both to the direction the technology is taking in the long term as well as how humans can reliably apply AI in the short term in their work.

To address this, innovation professor Ethan Mollick proposed the best available human (BAH) standard. It “asks the following question: would the best available AI in a particular moment, in a particular place, do a better job solving a problem than the best available human that is actually able to help in a particular situation?” Applications include cofounding, coaching and more to come.

Cracking military grade secrets

Regular technology readers might remember the story of a USB stick containing millions of locked bitcoin. It’s back again, this time with hundreds of millions on the line due to price movements as well as a solution to the cryptographic riddle.

Wired reported that a startup founded by a group of white hat hackers had found a solution to cracking the IronKey USB, which was funded in part by the US Department of Homeland Security with the aim of being tamper resistant to be secure enough to be used by military and intelligence agencies.

The mechanism of the USB stick works as follows. If the wrong password is entered 10 times then the contents will be erased forever. The startup hacked the system by extending this trial and error window thereby applying brute force and guessing passwords 200 trillion or so times (which lasted a few hours).

Green oil

Extracting hydrogen from underground can serve as a clean energy source alternative. Using the adjective green is both testament to the geological promise as well as the actual green colour involved. More from how the US is investing in this here and how Algeria is helping Germany here.

Startup societies

During the second wave of the pandemic I wrote that one of the geopolitical implications of the increased reliance on home office is that the concept of a nation state will (have to) be revisited to allow for greater material mobility.

Back then (May ‘21) I referred to two examples of cities that applied the above principle. The map below shows the evolution of an entire ecosystem of such startup and remote worker societies. The full list as well as further thoughts can be explored here.

India’s space program

India has one of the oldest space programs in the world. It started in 1962 which is a year after JFK set the goal for the US to put a human on the moon. Recently it also joined the EU and the US to study the sun after launching a probe into space. Here’s how it all started and where it might be heading.

I’m currently reading about Dostoyevski’s life. Besides the non linearity of his events, the author’s approach to tea also stood out. “The world can go to hell as long as I get my tea”.

This reminded me of Orwell’s thinking. “All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes—a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.”

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