Authoritarian tech, and tower-building drones

Despite President Biden’s assurances at Wednesday’s United Nations meeting that the United States is not seeking a new Cold War, one is brewing between the world’s authoritarian regimes and democracies — and technology is fueling it.

Late last week, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar and a few other countries took steps toward becoming full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an economic and political alliance led by the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia.

The majority of SCO member states, as well as other authoritarian states, are following in China’s footsteps and heading toward more digital rights abuses by increasing mass digital surveillance of citizens and censorship and controls over individual expression.

While democracies also use vast amounts of surveillance technology, it is the technological trade relations between authoritarian states that enable the rise of digitally enabled social control. Read the full story.

– Tate Ryan Mosley

Watch this team of drones 3D print a tower

news: A small swarm of drones has been trained to work together to 3D print some simple turrets. Inspired by the way bees or wasps build large nests, this process has multiple drones working together to build from a single scheme, with one essentially checking the work of the others.

How it works: One drone deposits a layer of building material, and the other checks for the accuracy of everything printed so far. The drones are completely autonomous in flight, but are monitored by a human who can intervene if things go wrong.

why does it matter: One day, the method could help with challenging projects like post-disaster construction or even repairs to buildings that are too tall to be safely reached, the team behind it hopes — and it could construct buildings in the Arctic or even on Mars. Read the full story.

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