44 episodes

Join fiction author and national security expert Natasha Bajema on the Bionic Bug podcast where she'll discuss the latest news about emerging technology, read chapters from Bionic Bug, and explore the real-life technologies featured in her novel. We’ll discuss where fiction meets reality… in the future.

Bionic Bug Podcast Natasha Bajema - Fiction Author

    • Books
    • 4.5 • 6 Ratings

Join fiction author and national security expert Natasha Bajema on the Bionic Bug podcast where she'll discuss the latest news about emerging technology, read chapters from Bionic Bug, and explore the real-life technologies featured in her novel. We’ll discuss where fiction meets reality… in the future.

    My Hero (Ch. 42) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 042

    My Hero (Ch. 42) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 042

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 42. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 26, 2019. 







    I’m sad to say that this is my final episode of the Bionic Bug podcast. This is somewhat bittersweet because I’ve grown fond of sharing my thoughts with you. If you’ve been listening from the beginning, thank you so much for joining me on this journey. If you want to keep listening to me, I’ll be launching a new podcast called the Authors of Mass Destruction Podcast. 















    I’ll talk tech and weapons of mass destruction, but will take a slightly different approach. I’m planning to focus on helping authors write great stories about national security issues while getting the technical details right. Tune in for interviews with leading experts on weapons of mass destruction and emerging technologies, author interviews, technical modules, and reviews of what TV shows and movies get right and wrong. The podcast will help authors who write about mass destruction develop impactful ideas for their page-turning plots and provide tips for conducting research.







    Let’s talk tech one more time. I have two headlines for this week:









    The first is “Beware the Jabberwocky: The AI Monsters Are Coming,” published on www.natashabajema.comon January 22.



    I wrote this essay as part of A Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) Periodic Publication entitled AI, China, Russia, and the Global Order: Technological, Political, Global, and Creative Perspectives edited by Nicholas D. Wright and Mariah C. Yager. I’ll link to the full paper in the show notes.





    Science fiction plays an important role in shaping our understanding of the implications of science and technology and helping us to cope with things to come. 





    I describe three AI monsters depicted in science fiction films as one day disrupting the global order and potentially destroying humanity: the automation monster, the supermachine monster, and the data monster. 





    Fears about the implications of the automatic and supermachine monsters distract us from the scariest of them all. 





    Below the surface of our daily lives, the data monster is stealthily assaulting our sense of truth, our right to privacy, and our freedoms. 





    My second headline is “AI can be sexist and racist — it’s time to make it fair,” published in on Nature.com on July 18, 2018.



    If you listen to this podcast, you’re aware of the growing influence of machine learning algorithms in our lives. One of the more troubling issues about the excitement around the power of algorithms for helping society, is the lack of attention to data.





    Machine learning algorithms rely upon huge datasets to train them on the relationships between data. But what if the data is biased?





    Humans are biased, therefore the data we generate is biased. If data scientists do not take special care to ensure the data does not under or over represent certain groups, things go wrong with the algorithms they develop.





    Data is not the only place where bias can occur; algorithms are created by humans. As such, they can inject bias into them as well.





    This is one of the most important issues of our time, and it’s not well understood or even regulated by policymakers.













    Okay, let’s turn to the final chapter of Bionic Bug. Last week, we left Lara in a bit of a sticky situation, with a deadly syringe pressed to her neck. Let’s find out what happens next.







    The views expressed in this blog are those of the...

    • 29 min
    Anagram (Ch. 41) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 041

    Anagram (Ch. 41) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 041

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 41. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 20, 2019. 







    Two episodes in one week? Yes, it’s true. This is my second to last episode of Bionic Bug. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, I hope you’ll tune into my new podcast called Authors of Mass Destruction, which will be launching in March.















    Let’s talk tech:







    I have one headline for this week:









    “Twins get some 'mystifying' results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test,” published on CBC online on January 18. 

    Throughout this podcast, I’ve talked about the power of data and warned you to think about how freely you give it out. I’ve talked about the potential risks in sending away your DNA to companies like 23&Me and Ancestry.com. Many of you do it anyway since you’re curious about your ancestry, and I can understand that.

    However, this article raises questions about the value of that data. The DNA of twins is identical. In other words, if a pair of twins each send off their DNA for ancestry result, then the results should be exact matches. 

    A pair of twins, Charlsie and Carly Agro decided to test this premise and sent their DNA to five companies:  AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA.

    They were surprised by the results, which were not exact matches.

    “The results from California-based 23andMe seemed to suggest each twin had unique twists in their ancestry composition. According to 23andMe's findings, Charlsie has nearly 10 per cent less "broadly European" ancestry than Carly. She also has French and German ancestry (2.6 per cent) that her sister doesn't share. The identical twins also apparently have different degrees of Eastern European heritage — 28 per cent for Charlsie compared to 24.7 per cent for Carly. And while Carly's Eastern European ancestry was linked to Poland, the country was listed as "not detected" in Charlsie's results.”

    “None of the five companies provided the same ancestry breakdown for the twins.”

    Dr. Mark Gerstein, a computational biologist at Yale University thinks that this must have “to do with the algorithms each company uses to crunch the DNA data.”

    What does this mean? Detecting ancestry from DNA is more an art than a science. But this isn’t what the companies are selling in exchange for your precious data.

    “Despite the popularity of ancestry testing, there is absolutely no government or professional oversight of the industry to ensure the validity of the results.”









    Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara interviewed Fiddler and tried to get information about CyberShop. Will she bring Sully’s killer to justice? Let’s find out what happens next.







    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

    • 23 min
    CyberShop (Ch. 40) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 040

    CyberShop (Ch. 40) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 040

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 40. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 20, 2019. 







    Let’s talk tech:









    Outerspace is heating up. My headline for this week is “Pentagon to Study Putting Anti-Missile Laser Weapons in Space,” published on Defense One by Patrick Tucker on January 16. The Pentagon released its long-awaited Missile Defense Review, the first one since 2010.

    It includes a controversial proposal by the Pentagon “to study the possibility of space weapons — perhaps particle beams, ray guns, space lasers, or orbiting missiles — that could intercept enemy missiles coming off the launch pad.”

    This is a response to a dramatically altered security environment since 2010 in which we face “not just ballistic missile threats but also cruise missile threats and novel types of weapons like hypersonics.”

    The proposal is reminiscent of President Reagan’s Star Wars effort in the 1980s; it’s controversial because it involves the weaponization of space, will cost billions of dollars and may not be any more effective than the ballistic missile defense system we currently have. If it is effective, it could lead to a decline in strategic stability and increase incentives for first-strike nuclear attacks.

    For decades, since the dawn of the exploration of space, countries have agreed not to weaponize space. Today, we rely upon space for satellite communications and GPS tracking. If shots are fired in space at missile launches, they will also be shot across space at the missile defense laser systems. What could possibly go wrong? We might get into satellite wars, and our country could go dark.

    To offset this troubling news, I have another headline that’s going around. Netflix announced that Steve Carell will star in a comedy based on Trump's space force. According to Twitter’s website, this show will be a story about how the U.S. government stands up the new branch of the military.











    .@SteveCarell will star in a new workplace comedy series he co-created with #TheOffice’s Greg Daniels about the people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services: the Space Force! pic.twitter.com/6GEFNgP18w

    — See What's Next (@seewhatsnext) January 16, 2019









    Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara and her team worked to stop Fiddler from carrying out his plot to kill thousands of innocent people with his beetles. Let’s find out what happens next.







    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

    • 19 min
    Poison Darts (Ch. 39) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 039

    Poison Darts (Ch. 39) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 039

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 39. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 13, 2019. 







    Thanks to the winter storm, you’re getting a bonus episode this weekend. 







    Let’s talk tech! I have one more tech headline for you this weekend.









    “DARPA Thinks Insect Brains Might Hold the Secret to Next-Gen AI” published on Defense One on January 10.

    If you’ve read Bionic Bug, then you know why I love this headline.

    DARPA is soliciting “ideas on how to build computing systems as small and efficient as the brains of ‘very small flying insects.’”

    The new program is called the Microscale Biomimetic Robust Artificial Intelligence Networks program, or MicroBRAIN. Gotta love the acronym!

    “Understanding highly-integrated sensory and nervous systems in miniature insects and developing prototype computational models … could be mapped onto suitable hardware in order to emulate their impressive function.”

    Think about it. Much of AI has focused on developing systems that mimic the human brain. A human brain contains “between 60 to 70 billion interconnected neurons... By contrast, some insect brains contain less than 1,000 neurons, making them much easier map.

    Despite the smaller number of neurons, insects are capable of sophisticated activities, especially coordinated activities over thousands of individual insects. Think about how ants work together to build their mounds and tunnels or how certain insects swarm to devour a target.

    “DARPA will provide up to $1 million in funding to groups to create a physical model of insects’ neural systems, analyze how insects’ brains develop over time and design hardware platforms that mimic the neural structure of those brains.”

    “Responses to the solicitation are due Feb. 4, and the program is expected to launch April 3.”

    Since I read this article, I’ve been tinkering with the notion of a return of the beetles in the Lara Kingsley Series. I can’t make promises, but this idea of converging insects with AI has definitely lit a fire.









    Speaking of beetles, let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara got closer to uncovering Fiddler’s true intentions and tries to stop him. Let’s find out what happens next.







    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

    • 20 min
    The Building (Ch. 38) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 038

    The Building (Ch. 38) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 038

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 38. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 13, 2019. 







    No personal update today except that we’re stuck inside in the middle of a beautiful winter snow storm. 







    Let’s talk tech. I have one headline for this week:









    “I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone,” published on motherboard on January 8. I talked about the power of location data a few weeks ago.

    As a nation, we are behind the curve in understanding the power of data. Many Americans still believe that data without direct connection to identity is somehow anonymous. Policymakers have failed to address privacy issues for data and issue proper protections. Private sector companies who gather your data are selling it off.

    If this article is true, it’s possible for anyone to pay a couple hundred bucks to geolocate your smartphone. In other words, anyone can find you wherever you are because of your handheld tracking device. How is this possible? I thought even the police need a warrant to track cell phones.

    It’s possible because the cell phone companies are selling access to their customer’s location data.

    Scary stuff, eh?









    Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara realized that Fiddler had fooled her about his true intentions. Let’s find out what happens next.







    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.







     

    • 16 min
    The Plague (Ch. 37) – Bionic Bug Podcast 037

    The Plague (Ch. 37) – Bionic Bug Podcast 037

    Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 37. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 6, 2019. 







    Happy New Year everyone! I hope this year is full of promise. For the past three years, I’ve spent the end of the year reflecting on what I’ve achieved as an Indie author. I also set my publishing goals for the coming year. My first of two posts is entitled “Sowing the Seeds for your Writer’s Journey” and takes a look at how I met my writing goals in 2018. I’ll include the link in the show notes.







    We are nearing the end of this podcast with five more episodes left to go. If you enjoy following my writer’s journey and listen to me discuss technology, you’ll be relieved to know that I’m launching a new podcast in March 2019 called “Authors of Mass Destruction”. For this podcast, I’ll be helping authors get the technical details write on WMD and emerging technology. I’ll feature interviews from subject matter experts and authors who write on these issues. We can use fiction to generate awareness among the public about technology issues.















    Let’s talk tech. Only one headline for this week:









    “Sequencing the DNA of Newborns Uncovered Hidden Disease Risks and a Whole Lot of Tricky Issues,” published on gizmodo.com on January 3.

    “In the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to get a complete readout of a person’s genetics with ease, even right after they’re born.”

    “many children are born with genetic conditions that can’t be found with current screening”

    What will this mean for the practice of medicine? How will this information change society and change how we think about genetic tinkering?

    “Doctors and researchers at the Brigham Women’s Hospital and the Boston Children’s Hospital, both in Massachusetts, began a trial in 2015 that would test just how practical and useful sequencing could be if it were regularly done on newborns. They called it the BabySeq Project.”

    If you want to read more, the study was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

    More than 300 families volunteered for the BabySeq Project; they were randomly assigned to two groups.

    “Those in the control group would get the same sort of usual care, including standard genetic screening for the newborns and genetic counseling for caretakers with a family history of genetic disease. Newborns in the second group would get all that and also have their DNA sequenced in whole.”

    159 babies received genetic sequencing. “15 (9.4 percent) were found to have mutations that raised their risk of health conditions likely to show up before they turned 18.”

    “None of them were anticipated [to have a risk] based on their family or clinical histories.”

    “the team was initially allowed to tell the families only about mutations known to raise the risk of childhood genetic conditions. But they could also spot mutations that raised the risk of conditions that would pop up in adulthood.”

    “Of 85 families who consented to having this information disclosed, three newborns had such mutations. And when the parents of these children were tested, they too were found to have the mutations.”

    Let’s consider the implications:



    First, the study shows that DNA mapping at birth is superior to other screening in detecting potential health problems. Having this knowledge from the outset will change behaviors. Many genetic conditions are recessive, meaning that people carry one copy of the gene (not two) and do not develop the condition. Instead, they carry it to future generations.





    Second, genetic conditions are often inherited. Medical treatment could involve from treating an individual to an entire ...

    • 19 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

LClayW ,

Love it.

Great novel and podcast series.

mossdabossmossy ,

fascinating!

I wasn't sure what to expect, but this info was super cool! Not only did I not know about some of the tech, but the author has some really cool reads for her book. Very neat! Also, kinda crazy how tech is evolving, love the updates!

Top Podcasts In Books

Listeners Also Subscribed To