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
Autonomous tech is taking over last-mile delivery
Autonomous robots, drones, and even underground tunnels could be the standard for last-mile delivery in the future.
Amazon’s Prime Air is coming to a new US city
Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is expanding to three new cities and adding a drug-delivery option in an existing one.
Watch a startup drop science experiments from 2,000 feet up
To help scientists conduct microgravity experiments, UK startup Gravitilab has developed a drone that drops them from high above the Earth.
Xwing puts autonomous flight on the runway to approval
Autonomous flight startup Xwing has filed for approval to do crewless cargo flights, a first step towards pilotless commercial aviation.
Drone discovers weird underwater volcano off California
An un-crewed sailing drone has discovered an unusually shaped underwater volcano, called a seamount, off California.
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