Commerce chief aims to trim space regulations

Wilbur Ross
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at the 34th Space Symposium. (Space Foundation Photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross today pledged to make outer space more business-friendly as part of his drive to turn his department into the “one-stop shop for space commerce.”

During his speech to the 34th Space Symposium here, he pointed to last month’s early cutoff of video from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch as an issue he’s addressing.

“This is a perfect example of how commercial activity in space is outpacing government regulation,” he said. “No more.”

Ross said giving the space industry freer rein will become more important as commercial space ventures proliferate. Commercial space is on track to become a trillion-dollar industry “sooner than most people realize,” he said.

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Policy experts seek intelligent ways to regulate AI

AI panel
The World Economic Forum’s Kay Firth-Butterfield, Carnegie Mellon University’s Lorrie Faith Cranor and Wired’s Tom Simonite discuss AI governance during a conference at Carnegie Mellon. (CMU via YouTube)

Regulations for the proper use of artificial intelligence are almost as inevitable as the rise of AI itself — but the way it’ll be done is far from clear.

“This isn’t as simple as just ‘trust,’ ” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, project head for AI and machine learning at the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “This is more complex, because the technology itself is very fast, changing all the time, and is complex as well.”

Firth-Butterfield and other policy experts weighed in on the challenges of regulating AI, and dropped some hints about the road ahead, today at the Carnegie Mellon University – K&L Gates Conference on Ethics and AI in Pittsburgh.

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Sign up your drone, or else: FAA issues rules

Image: Parrot Bebop drone
The Parrot Bebop drone, weighing in at 14.6 ounces, would have to be registered under the FAA’s newly issued rules. (Credit: Parrot)

The Federal Aviation Administration has laid out the rules for registering recreational drones, starting Dec. 21, plus the penalties for those who don’t.

It’s not likely that drone police will be watching the skies, but if your unregistered drone gets into trouble, you could get into trouble as well: You’ll be required to have a registration certificate when you fly your drone outdoors, and the drone will have to be marked with a registration number.

Failure to do so could leave you open to civil penalties of up to $27,500, or criminal penalties including fines of up to $250,000 and three years in prison.

“Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

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Drone for the holidays? You’ll have to register it

Image: Phantom drone
The Phantom 2 Vision Plus is likely to be among drones that will require registration. (Credit: DJI)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s fast-track plan to register recreational drones may not directly affect Amazon’s ambitions of using robo-fliers to deliver purchases, but it could have a big impact on how you buy a drone from Amazon for the holidays.

Flanked by a phalanx of officials and industry leaders, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the creation of a task force that’s due to make recommendations for a registration system by Nov. 20 – with the aim of having the rules in place by mid-December.

Those who already own recreational drones would be required to register retroactively, Foxx said. It’s not yet clear exactly how the system would work – for example, whether operators would have to register in order to purchase the drone or sign up afterward – but Foxx promised the system would be “as user-friendly a portal as possible.”

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