This week in ideas: Using drones for medicine, fighting Zika, re-imagining passwords

Welcome back to This Week in Ideas, our roundup of the thoughtful and inspiring stories that had the Freethink team talking.

A new way to deliver lab results: Drones! NPR reports how the hot new tech item could transform medicine “not only in rural areas by bringing critical supplies into hard-to-reach places, but also in crowded cities where hospitals pay hefty fees to get medical samples across town during rush hour.”

**Fighting Zika with GMOs:** Genetically modified mosquitos could help public health researchers eradicate the threat of Zika and countless other mosquito-born diseases. Many people are irrationally scared of genetic modification. 538 explains how those two facts are colliding in a tiny Florida community (pictured below), which could, in turn, influence the way we fight Zika around the world.

Map via 538

Selfies as passwords: Instead of letters and numbers, what if you could use a picture of your own face to gain access to online services? It’s not that crazy, considering we’ve used pictures of ourselves to gain access to all kinds of things in the physical world for decades. But it would definitely signal the start of a new era of verifying our identities online.

Was Theranos actually on to something? Theranos’s spectacular fall aside, Florence Comite argues in VentureBeat that the blood testing industry could use some disruption: “The opportunity for a more convenient, accurate, and less painful draw, especially for chronic conditions such as diabetes, is tremendous.”

Hold on there, Elon Musk: The SpaceX founder believes we need 1 million people to create a civilization on Mars. Satellite consultant David VomLehn says that number is way too low.

Elon Musk explaining his plan to colonize Mars
US Army’s solar-powered drone is setting new records every day
A solar-powered drone being tested by the US Army has set a record for long-endurance flight, remaining aloft for more than 40 days straight.
3 ways autonomous farming is driving a new era of agriculture 
Could autonomous tractors, drones, and seed-planters fill the growing labor shortage in the agricultural industry?
UK tries cancer meds by drone
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is using drone deliveries to make it easier for cancer patients to obtain chemotherapy.
Digital technology can cut global emissions by 15%. Here’s how.
The grand challenge for humanity is to ensure that groundbreaking technologies have a clear purpose for our planet.
Walmart drone delivery now covers 4 million households
The Walmart drone delivery program is expanding from one state to six, bringing the service to as many as 4 million households.
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