Anti-COVID-19 copper 3D printed by SPEE3D
Staying true to its company philosophy of making manufacturing easier, SPEE3D has developed a fast, affordable method of layering copper onto metal surfaces - the press release claims that these can kill 96% of COVID-19 on contact in two hours.
Solving an industry problem which previously meant copper parts were difficult to produce quickly, the company’s in-house developed ACTIVAT3D copper is made via intricate control algorithms on the printers.
Despite stainless steel’s widespread usage as the choice metal for hygienic surfaces, it has no adverse effect on COVID-19. The utility of copper is profound when considered with the recent lab tests conducted by accredited facility 360Biolabs: 99.2% of the virus died within five hours when in contact with copper.
Ushering in a new industry standard
Byron Kennedy, CEO of SPEE3D, was confident that what his company had achieved represented an important breakthrough in the journey towards eliminating coronavirus.
"The lab results show ACTIVAT3D copper surfaces behave much better than traditional stainless, which may offer a promising solution to a global problem.
“The technology can be used globally addressing local requirements, be they in hospitals, schools, on ships or shopping centres,” he said.
This is an opinion apparently validated by the scientific community: Larry Holmes, Assistant Director of Digital Design and Additive Manufacturing at the University of Delaware, confirmed that his team were excited to be a part of the ACTIVAT3D copper collaboration.
“We recognized the importance of developing simple, yet highly impactful, solutions that have been proven effective on COVID-19. Recognizing supply chain shortfalls over the last couple of months, it was clear to this team that fabrication speed was a priority.
“Using this technology, we are able to rapidly transition safe options for high-touch surfaces."
The added benefit of SPEE3D’s product is the effect it may have on ushering in a new industry standard. Whilst decontaminating cleaners might once have sufficed for sanitary purposes, the company asks whether such precautions should be ingrained in objects themselves.
Indeed, it could be said that copper’s natural ability to eradicate bacteria, viruses and other undesirable microbes makes it a logical successor to steel and plastic in the food and healthcare industries.
Further studies on SPEE3D’s product is already set to be funded by NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), whose CEO, Miranda Taylor, is already a staunch advocate of ACTIVAT3D:
“We're committed to assisting [SPEE3D] leverage its skills and expertise in this important new paradigm to help our country and many others curtail the devastating impact of this global pandemic.
Chinese Firm Taigusys Launches Emotion-Recognition System
In a detailed investigative report, the Guardian reported that Chinese tech company Taigusys can now monitor facial expressions. The company claims that it can track fake smiles, chart genuine emotions, and help police curtail security threats. ‘Ordinary people here in China aren’t happy about this technology, but they have no choice. If the police say there have to be cameras in a community, people will just have to live with it’, said Chen Wei, company founder and chairman. ‘There’s always that demand, and we’re here to fulfil it’.
Who Will Use the Data?
As of right now, the emotion-recognition market is supposed to be worth US$36bn by 2023—which hints at rapid global adoption. Taigusys counts Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, and PetroChina among its 36 clients, but none of them has yet revealed if they’ve purchased the new AI. In addition, Taigusys will likely implement the technology in Chinese prisons, schools, and nursing homes.
It’s not likely that emotion-recognition AI will stay within the realm of private enterprise. President Xi Jinping has promoted ‘positive energy’ among citizens and intimated that negative expressions are no good for a healthy society. If the Chinese central government continues to gain control over private companies’ tech data, national officials could use emotional data for ideological purposes—and target ‘unhappy’ or ‘suspicious’ citizens.
How Does It Work?
Taigusys’s AI will track facial muscle movements, body motions, and other biometric data to infer how a person is feeling, collecting massive amounts of personal data for machine learning purposes. If an individual displays too much negative emotion, the platform can recommend him or her for what’s termed ‘emotional support’—and what may end up being much worse.
Can We Really Detect Human Emotions?
This is still up for debate, but many critics say no. Psychologists still debate whether human emotions can be separated into basic emotions such as fear, joy, and surprise across cultures or whether something more complex is at stake. Many claim that AI emotion-reading technology is not only unethical but inaccurate since facial expressions don’t necessarily indicate someone’s true emotional state.
In addition, Taigusys’s facial tracking system could promote racial bias. One of the company’s systems classes faces as ‘yellow, white, or black’; another distinguishes between Uyghur and Han Chinese; and sometimes, the technology picks up certain ethnic features better than others.
Is China the Only One?
Not a chance. Other countries have also tried to decode and use emotions. In 2007, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched a heavily contested training programme (SPOT) that taught airport personnel to monitor passengers for signs of stress, deception, and fear. But China as a nation rarely discusses bias, and as a result, its AI-based discrimination could be more dangerous.
‘That Chinese conceptions of race are going to be built into technology and exported to other parts of the world is troubling, particularly since there isn’t the kind of critical discourse [about racism and ethnicity in China] that we’re having in the United States’, said Shazeda Ahmed, an AI researcher at New York University (NYU).
Taigusys’s founder points out, on the other hand, that its system can help prevent tragic violence, citing a 2020 stabbing of 41 people in Guangxi Province. Yet top academics remain unconvinced. As Sandra Wachter, associate professor and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, said: ‘[If this continues], we will see a clash with fundamental human rights, such as free expression and the right to privacy’.