The Rise of A.I. Fighter Pilots — What!?

On a cloudless morning last May, a pilot took off from the Niagara Falls International Airport, heading for restricted military airspace over Lake Ontario. The plane, which bore the insignia of the United States Air Force, was a repurposed Czechoslovak jet, an L-39 Albatros, purchased by a private defense contractor. The bay in front of the cockpit was filled with sensors and computer processors that recorded the aircraft’s performance. For two hours, the pilot flew counterclockwise around the lake. Engineers on the ground, under contract with darpa, the Defense Department’s research agency, had choreographed every turn, every pitch and roll, in an attempt to do something unprecedented: design a plane that can fly and engage in aerial combat—dogfighting—without a human pilot operating it.

The exercise was an early step in the agency’s Air Combat Evolution program, known as ace, one of more than six hundred Department of Defense projects that are incorporating artificial intelligence into war-fighting. This year, the Pentagon plans to spend close to a billion dollars on A.I.-related technology. The Navy is building unmanned vessels that can stay at sea for months; the Army is developing a fleet of robotic combat vehicles. Artificial intelligence is being designed to improve supply logistics, intelligence gathering, and a category of wearable technology, sensors, and auxiliary robots that the military calls the Internet of Battlefield Things.

Erm, OK. We’ll stay in touch.

CBD prevented COVID-19 infections

Cannabidiol—the non-psychoactive cannabis compound better known as CBD—is a potent blocker of SARS-CoV-2 replication in human cells, new research shows. Not only that, but a survey of real-world patients taking prescribed CBD found a “significant” negative relationship between CBD consumption and COVID-19 infection.

As detailed in a paper published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances by a team of 33 researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Louisville, a survey of 1,212 U.S. patients taking prescribed CBD found that people taking 100 milligrams-per-milliliter oral doses of CBD returned positive COVID-19 tests at much lower rates than control groups with similar medical backgrounds who did not take CBD.

According to the study, all of the patients were people who had seizure-related conditions, which CBD is often prescribed to treat. Of this group, 6.2 percent returned positive COVID-19 tests or a diagnosis, compared to 8.9 percent in the control group. Among a smaller subset of patients who were likely taking CBD on the dates of their first COVID-19 test, the effect was even more pronounced: Only 4.9 percent of people taking CBD became infected with COVID-19, compared to 9 percent in the control group.

“Our results suggest that CBD and its metabolite 7-OH-CBD can block SARS-CoV-2 infection at early and even later stages of infection,” the study states.

Always good news when science-based testing, well-measured data, indicates additional benefits beyond the original study’s direction. A positive, albeit accidental, find.