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Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,094 words, a 4-minute read.
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The wildly unpredictable potential actions of drones are driving a new industry that promises to detect, jam, take over, or just plain shoot them out of the sky, Kaveh writes.
Big picture: In recent years, drones have become cheaper and easier to fly, crowding Christmas trees and birthday wishlists to the point that there are now well over a million of them in the U.S.
But, but, but: As of now, anti-drone technology is still hugely limited, experts say. None of the hundreds of devices on the market will work against every drone, and many don't work at all. "A lot of this is snake oil," says Francis Brown, CTO of Bishop Fox, a security firm.
What's happening: Police departments are acquiring these devices anyway — even though just 4 federal agencies are currently authorized to bring down drones.
For now, confusion and legal hurdles are preventing use of the devices.
What's next: Congress has mulled extending the authority to use counter-drone technology to state and local police, but hasn't proposed anything yet. Police departments are clamoring for the permission.
Curiosity, on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Andalou/Getty
From Earth, you want to pick something up from the surface of the Moon. Using a joystick, you control a grabber — but you keep missing. It's the delay: It takes light nearly 3 seconds to get to the Moon and back, and the control signal even longer, Kaveh writes.
The big picture: This is a fundamental, insurmountable hurdle to moving stuff around in space if you're not there. The farther you are from Earth, the longer the communications delay — nothing, after all, moves faster than light.
What's happening: Several startups, as well as NASA, are trying to find the right combination of human control and autonomy that would allow robots to do complex tasks in space. Full autonomy isn't an option for now — today's artificial intelligence isn't up to the job.
Photo: Barbara Alper/Getty
The summer is almost two-thirds over. What has been your favorite reading thus far — and what are you currently digging into? Here is ours.
The experimental setup. Photo: Sebastian Leuzinger/Auckland University of Technology
Google's AI work-around with the Pentagon (Lee Fang - The Intercept)
New Zealand's wondrous stump (Alison Snyder - Axios)
The hellish reality of hot-desking (Pilitia Clark - FT)
Crypto can't hide from the IRS (Laura Saunders, Britton O'Daly - WSJ)
The floating dairy farms of the Netherlands (Chase Purdy - Quartz)
On the way to work. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty
About 23% of Saudi women have joined the workforce — a national record, Erica writes.
The big picture: While that's well below the international average of 48%, it's a sizable jump from the 18% of Saudi women who were working or looking for work in 2010, reports Quartz' Adam Rasmi.