With the never-ending onslaught of news pertaining to Russia’s intervention in America’s last election and their dissemination of fake news, I must say I was bit alarmed when I learned about their involvement with a new tech advancement with the code name: the ‘Internet of Animals.’ This was particularly unnerving since it was the first time I heard that such a thing could even exist. After all, while dogs, cats, rabbits and a slew of other cute creatures are constantly featured on the web, who knew animals had their very own Internet — and it was being controlled by the Russians?
Internet of Animals
While a lot of humans have created profiles for pets on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social networks, nobody's fooled into thinking there’s not a human behind the curtain calling the shots as to what's being posted.
Similarly, but on a much larger scale, an ambitious new innovative project called the Internet of Animals will launch soon. Sort of like the Internet of Things, it’s goal is to connect with tens of thousand of Earth’s animals and birds from a watchful eye in space.
This past February, 2018, researchers catapulted three 100-kilogram antennas up to the International Space Station [ISS], which is affixed to the a Soyuz rocket. Essentially, they will become the eyes, ears and brains of ICARUS [International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space]. This initiative is funded by Russian space agencies to track the movement of the smallest animals on the planet — turtles, birds, fish and even insects— with the intent of tapping into ’swarm intelligence.’
- Swarm Intelligence (SI) is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989. The inspiration often comes from nature, especially biological systems.Examples in natural systems of SI include ant colonies, bird flocking, animal herding, bacterial growth, fish schooling and microbial intelligence.
Beam it down, Scotty
Icarus researchers will tag animals with tiny sensors [see red circle below], which will send their data to the computer aboard the ISS. From there it will clean it up and beam it down to a smart, central database.
“Technically, it’s an Internet of Things via satellite,” says project leader Martin Wikelski at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology.
In essence, Icarius is animal-tracking on steroids, allowing scientists to comb the globe to collect data-robust sensor info on tagged animals and their environments.
Disease detection & climactic changes
Animals could in turn aid in scientific research. Researchers could eventually tap into this extensive library of data to detect fisheries and other human food sources. The program will be able to unravel the origin and spread of certain diseases, such as Ebola and the Avian flu. In addition, it will be able to detect climate change and natural disasters.
Wikelski says: “There’s good scientific data showing that animals can anticipate earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.”
Does this project give the Russians a leg up? In today's world, we don’t talk as much about the ’Space Race’ as we did back in the mid-1900s, when America was competing heavily against the Soviet Union. But with this initiative, while the Germans are jumping on board, there is no talk about Americans aiding the Russians in this scientific endeavor. Or even doing something similar on their own. What are your thoughts on why you think America might be taking a back seat?
Primary Source: IEEE Spectrum