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Pilots Can Control Multiple Simulated Aircraft Telepathically

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Pilots Can Control Multiple Simulated Aircraft Telepathically

Pilots Can Control Multiple Simulated Aircraft Telepathically

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

For the first time ever, the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced that it has demonstrated the use of telepathic thought from a human brain embedded with a specific kind of computer chip that allows a person to command and control simultaneously three types of drone aircraft by mental thoughts while watching the drones on a screen, as demonstrated in a DARPA simulator.

DARPA’s  interface enables a person to control everything from a swarm of drones to an advanced fighter jet using nothing but their thoughts and the special brain chip.

“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” said Justin Sanchez, who directs DARPA’s biological technology office, at the Agency’s 60th-anniversary event in Maryland.

The military has been leading interesting research in the field since at least 2007. A 2012 grant provided DARPA with $4 million to build a non-invasive “synthetic telepathy” interface that uses a skin-tight cap loaded with electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors to pick up electrical signals in the user’s brain’s motor centers.

In 2015, the technology enabled a paralyzed woman to steer a virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with only a small, surgically-implantable microchip. In the last three years, the technology has further advanced.

“We’ve scaled it to three [aircraft], and have full sensory [signals] coming back. So you can have those other planes out in the environment and then be detecting something and send that signal back into the brain,” said Sanchez.  

This is another step forward in the rapidly advancing field of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for a variety of purposes, including brain-based communication, control of prosthetic limbs, and even memory repair.

The technology has led to the development of the Luke arm, a prosthetic arm that connects to the motor cortex and functions like an actual biological arm. It has received FDA approval, and is going to be available for anyone who has suffered an amputation.

An Overview of the Post 9/11 GI Bill…

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Limiting GI Bill Transfer Plan – Is It Fair

An Overview of the Post 9/11 GI Bill…

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped millions of Veterans pay for college, graduate school, and training programs. Under this bill, qualifying Veterans and their family members can get money to cover all or some of the costs for school or training.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for those who have served on active duty for 90 or more days after Sept. 10, 2001. The payment rate depends on how much active duty time a member has accrued.

Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition and housing allowance payments are based on the amount of creditable active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001. Veterans who have been discharged for disability after at least 30 days of active duty automatically receive the 100% benefit tier. Active duty time for the Post-9/11 GI Bill can also include Title 10 mobilizations and some title 32 duty for reservists & guard members.

The GI Bills pays tuition and fees and provides a monthly housing allowance. The monthly Housing Allowance is based on the ZIP code of the location of the school, not the home ZIP code. This stipend averages $1,681 a month, but can exceed $2,700 depending on the location of the school. Students taking 100% of their courses online are eligible for a monthly stipend equal to half of the national average stipend, which is currently $825.

The GI Bill also provides for a stipend for books and supplies of up to $1,000 and gives veterans the opportunity to transfer their education benefits to their spouses or their children.

The newest version of the GI Bill, called the The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (also known as the “Forever GI Bill”), was signed into law on August 17, 2017, and brings significant changes to Veterans’ education benefits over the next few years. The info sheet on the new version of the GI Bill can be found at the VA’s website.

 

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises

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AI May Enhance Tradecraft

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises Says Military’s Top Spy

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., the Pentagon’s “top spy,” hopes advances in artificial intelligence (AI) can get a jump on global conflicts when they ignite overnight.

“My core mission is to make sure that the secretary of defense is never surprised,” said Ashley.

Ashley became the 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency on October 3, 2017. He formerly served as the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, where he was the senior advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff for all aspects of intelligence, counterintelligence and security.

“AI and machine learning will be a huge enhancement” to tradecraft and other skills defense analysts use to avoid blind spots,” he said.

Using algorithms to sort through massive amounts of information can take some of the burden off defense analysts, but it doesn’t come without challenges, Ashley said.

“We look very closely at the technology development. Obviously, there’s some breakout things — we watch the AI side of the house, the hypersonics, counter-space, [and] what they’re doing with regard to subs, if you’re following the maritime piece of that as well,” he said. “They’re in the trials for their first carrier. They got an old one from the Russians; now they’re building their own.”

“When an analyst sits in front of a senior leader, they always say, ‘Based on reporting, based on sources, based on what I have seen I have a moderate [degree of confidence]’ or if you see a national assessment that says ‘I have a high-degree of confidence,’ it goes back to sourcing and analytic tradecraft,” he said.

“You never want to be in a position where you say, ‘Well, the computer told me so,'” he continued. “Part of the challenge we have now, and I think really the opportunity is, as we look at algorithms, as we look at machine learning and AI, is developing a degree of confidence within the AI, a degree of confidence within the algorithm.”

DIA will have to test these algorithms “to be able to prove that it can in fact come back with a high-degree of confidence that the analysis that it’s doing is correct,” Ashley added.

Ashley wants to ensure that the Machine-assisted Analytic Rapid-repository System, or MARS, is at initial operating capability before he leaves office in two years. MARS will take advantage of modern technologies in storage, cloud computing and machine learning to allow analysts to interact with data and information in a more dynamic fashion, rather than static.

 

Petition Calls Out Moving Industry on PCS Issues

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Petition Calls Out Moving Industry on PCS Issues

Petition Calls Out Moving Industry on PCS Issues

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Every year thousands of military service members and their families pack up and move on military orders. All of their valuables and household goods are packed up by contracted strangers, loaded onto a truck and driven across country. In a perfect world, everything would arrive at its destination, in the same condition it was in when it left. But a Change.org petition to “Hold Military Moving Companies Accountable,” started by a frustrated military family member, has over 100,000 signatures, a good indication that this is far from reality.

The story behind the petition is easy enough to figure out. With $2.3 billion spent on moving services, the Department of Defense might just be the single largest moving services customer in the world.

Many military families on the move have experienced hardships because of unexpected delays in pickup or delivery of their household goods. In late July, U.S. Transportation Command officials said about 10 percent of military members who had moved at that point had experienced delivery delays. There have been complaints about the quality of work, too, which has resulted in loss and damage for some families.

“Military families are tired of how things with the current moving system are being handled,” wrote the military spouse who runs the Military Spouse Chronicles Facebook page, in initiating the petition

Moving is a stressful activity under the best of circumstances. Officials at U.S. Transportation Command have urged families to reach out to their household goods/transportation offices to learn about their options for assistance, including reimbursement for expenses caused by delays in delivery or pickup.

Among the suggested solutions from Military Spouse Chronicles is to have move coordinators and quality assurance inspectors properly trained in being a mediator between the military family and the moving company and its crews. Another solution, long proposed by a number of advocates in the military community, is to have less frequent moves.

Navy Researchers Making Progress on a Vaccine for Malaria

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Navy Researchers Making Progress on a Vaccine for Malaria

Navy Researchers Making Progress on a Vaccine for Malaria

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Navy medical researchers are making progress on a vaccine for malaria, the number one disease that affects deployed troops.

In August, Capt. Judith Epstein, clinical director of the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) Malaria Department, presented findings on the malaria candidate vaccine, PfSPZ Vaccine, at the 2018 Military Health System Research Symposium.

During the breakout session called “What’s New in Infectious Disease Research in the Tropics,” Epstein gave an update on NMRC’s work with PfSPZ Vaccine, a whole organism vaccine comprised of aseptic, purified, radiation-attenuated, non-replicating, cryopreserved sporozoites. Sporozoites (SPZ) are one of the stages of the malaria parasite, which find their way to the liver after inoculation.

According to Epstein, the parasites induce a protective immune response without making copies of themselves. In other words, the weakened parasites do not replicate or get into the bloodstream, and thus do not lead to infection or disease.

Recent tests “bring us closer to having a malaria vaccine to prevent infection and disease in military personnel deployed to malaria-endemic regions, as well as vulnerable populations residing in malaria-endemic regions,” Epstein said.

Malaria can cause vomiting, fatigue, fever and headaches. In the most severe cases, Malaria can be fatal. Left untreated, there can also be recurrences months and years later.

No effective vaccine has ever been developed, but Epstein said that research on a vaccine using a purified form of one of the early stages of the malaria parasite has been encouraging.

“In all trials, the vaccine has been demonstrated to have a very good safety and tolerability profile and has also been easy to administer,” Epstein said. “Our focus now is to enhance the efficacy and practical use of the vaccine.”

In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide, resulting in an estimated 445,000 to 731,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

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