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Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49306697) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

Thanks for sharing.... your ride sounds amazing. Back when I was in high school around 1980 a buddy and I rebuilt and customized a VW Super Beetle. Nothing as far-out as your LPG setup, but still a lot of fun. We had the cylinders bored out for new pistons, put in high-ration rockers and a new crankshaft - we even put dual Webbers on the thing. 8 barrels of carb for a four cylinder, pretty funny.

What a great project. We ended up getting it to dyno out at 135hp, which ain't too shabby for a car designed for more like 45 hp.

I bet your project has given you no end of topics for conversation.

Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49300699) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

Wait, you run propane through a standard carburetor? How does that work? It isn't like LPG can settle in the float bowl. I thought you had to replace the carburetor with a regulator and mixer assembly.

I'd like to see how your setup works.

Oh, and to the point.... you don't really work on modern cars. They rarely need anything beyond fluids and wear items like tires and brakes, but when they do, you end up letting the professionals handle it. I used to do all the work on my cars back in the carburetor and timing light days. Not any more. They have everything packed in there so tight it takes hours just to change the spark plugs on some cars (BMW 328i, I'm looking at you). The computers and sensors are so good that you never really adjust anything anymore. While you give up some of the fun of detuning your Chevelle SS to get that 100rpm idle lub-dub-lub-dub sound, what you get in return is 100k miles with nothing more serious than an oil change out of a little turbo charged 4 cylinder that puts out more horsepower than the biggest muscle cars of the 70's. Not a bad exchange.

Comment: Re:Death traps. (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291263) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

You can get a fully automated drone for hundreds of dollars, not millions. Not big enough to put a person in, but still fully automated. Google and Amazon are looking to deploy huge fleets of fully automated drone delivery aircraft costing a few thousand each.

We already know that autonomous vehicle technology isn't prohibitively expensive. Nvidia already has their system on the market for carmakers to integrate. It adds thousands, not millions. And depending on how things pan out, you might recoup all of that initial outlay in insurance savings pretty quickly.

Comment: Re:It won't understand situations, it shouldn't ma (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291179) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

You say that as if this isn't already a solved problem. There are loads of autonomous vehicles already successfully navigating the public roads in general traffic. This technology is so far along that companies like Nvidia have off-the-shelf autonomous car kits on the market, ready for carmakers to integrate into their vehicles.

Your rant sounds like the guy in 1906 saying that travelling faster than 35 mph was impossible as the Stanley Steamer screams past at 120 mph in the background.

Comment: Re:There is actually such a thing as intelligence (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291117) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

and software doesn't have it.

Really. I can't believe that all these nerds like to pretend that their toys are actually thinking. They're not. And "self driving cars" won't know that they're driving, won't know what a human is, won't know what a horse is, won't know what ANY OF THE THINGS IN THE ENVIRONMENT ARE. They won't recognize when trillion of possible conditions are strange.

You want something totally insentient DRIVING A CAR?

Are you all insentient yourselves?

Yeah, they don't need to know any of that. A robot welding machine doesn't know that it is making a car either. Nor does a MakerBot know that it is making custom knobs for your car radio.

There are literally trillions of living things that are able to successfully navigate their environments without anything approaching sentience. That may be a requirement for discussing the merits of the Star Trek reboot, but for navigating the environment? Not so much. Not that this is an easy problem. It obviously isn't. That's why everyone was so impressed with the DARPA challenge and then the Google car. It is amazing. But it isn't sentience. And it doesn't need to be.

Comment: Re:But will anyone actually buy them? (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49291051) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

If a driverless car was in a similar price band to a normal car I would buy one (assuming safe ofcourse).

I once figured out that a self-driving feature would be worth about $5k/year for me.

If you are the parent of young children, how much is it worth? A car that can take the 4th graders to baseball practice while you work on your second grade girl's homework with her? Pretty valuable. How about a car that can pick up your 12 year old and her friends and take them to Lisa's house for a pool party? Sure, version one won't be allowed on the road without a licensed driver - but what about version 4.0?

And if that's not your cup of tea, what about your 16 year old kid? How much would it be worth to have them being driven by Robo-Morgan Freeman instead of their 16 year old friend who decided to try shotgunning beer for the first time?

Or what about the grandfather who shouldn't be driving any more? We had to go to the state to get my grandfather's license pulled as he progressed into his 80's because he was a menace and a danger to everyone on the road. We paid a cousin to be his driver so he could have some mobility, but he absolutely hated being dependent on someone else and he hated us for taking his autonomy. Self-driving cars take that entire problem off the table.

Yeah, people will definitely buy these things.

Comment: Re:Buggy whip makers said automobiles aren't... (Score 1) 451

by Cytotoxic (#49290963) Attached to: Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future

The "dog and kid at the same time" scenario argues even more for the automated vehicle. Because the sensors on the car can see more and track more than a human can, the car can predict possible collision paths long before a person could and slow the vehicle accordingly. Or sound the horn.

Also, an integrated traffic control system would mean that the car had access to more than just its own sensors. With the potential to feed data between nearby vehicles and enhance the capabilities of the system by aggregating and processing information behind the scenes, your car might know about the playing kids before you even turn on to that street.

There is a long path between here and there - one that we potentially might never walk down - but understanding the true capabilities of automated vehicles requires re-imagining everything about how traffic works.

Comment: Re:I'm a Member of That 1% (Score 1) 192

by Cytotoxic (#49234007) Attached to: Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available

Let's just stipulate that the answer to every summary-ending question is "No."

Is this the year of the Linux Desktop?

Is this the year of Wearables?

Will Mars One ever land people on Mars?

Is this the year of the Linux Game Console?

Is this the moment when Ruby on Rails takes over the programming market?

Comment: Not up to their usual standards (Score 4, Interesting) 609

by Cytotoxic (#49232541) Attached to: Clinton Regrets, But Defends, Use of Family Email Server

If the Clintons are known for anything, it is their ability to craft a message and stay on message. Remember, "It's the economy, stupid!"? The entire group is known for being able to quickly respond with a wall of on-message response to any crisis.

Yet in this case we had radio silence for a week, followed by this evasive and strange defense.

"I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, "said Clinton, "because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.

She repeated this a couple of times. It surprises me that none of the nerds here have picked up on this. She didn't want to have to carry two phones, so she used her personal email account. Nobody at her press conference thought to raise their hand and say "Uhm, excuse me..... but, you can have more than one email account on your phone."

We have Bill Clinton's people claiming that he's only sent two emails in his life just a couple of days ago, then she goes out and claims that the email server was set up for him, and she had to delete more than half of the email on the server because it was personal, stuff between her and her husband. Yikes. This is not the Clinton machine we are used to.

In the 90's the message was tight, and if facts were uncovered that contradicted the message then the whole team changed messages at the same time. They need to step up their game....

Comment: Re:You don't say... (Score 2) 606

by Cytotoxic (#49224135) Attached to: YouTube Video of Racist Chant Results In Fraternity Closure

I think the point is that Fraternities are often exclusionary by nature. A description that is not singular to white organizations.

Example: take a look at the Alpha Phi Alpha web site. This is one of the preeminent black fraternities in the US. An elite group of young men. The recently deceased ESPN sports caster and all-around great guy Stuart Scott was an Alpha when I was in school. At that time they were exclusively black and often quite ardent about that fact. I'm a long way from campus now, but from their national website it doesn't look like their focus has shifted much.

Another esteemed black fraternity is the Omega Psi Phi Q Dogs. A quick perusal of their website shows long list of esteemed members of society. There only appears to be one race represented.

By contrast the SAE website seems to be an exercise in diversity. According to the first list I could find, TKE is the largest frat in the US. They were a big jock frat when I was in school and pretty much had the aura of the stereotypical frat boys. I think they had one or two minority members at that time. A quick look at their website indicates that they have a majority white, but diverse set of faces represented at their events.

I'm no fan of frats or the fraternity system. When I was in school those of us who were not into the frat scene ridiculed those who were as weak-willed followers who needed to seek out artificial friendships and exclusive clubs to make themselves feel better about themselves. A few more miles on the chassis and I've revised that sentiment, but the claim that fraternities are exclusive by their very nature is certainly supported, as is the claim that white fraternities are more inclusive than minority fraternities.

Comment: Re:Not Dumb.... (Score 1) 199

When did pornography become illegal in the US? I was under the impression that pornography came under the umbrella of 1st amendment protected free speech. I think there have been a number of cases won by pornography publishers on these very grounds. It has been a while since prosecuting pornographers was a big thing, but I think there was some guy named "buttman" who made milk enima porn who was targeted a couple of years back and won. Obscenity has been illegal for almost as long as the US has been a country - ill defined as it may be, but that has been a pretty high bar for some time.

Comment: Re:Tilting at Windmills (Score 1) 347

by Cytotoxic (#49146923) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

Wow, project much?

You managed to cram reading comprehension fail, reiterating my main point while telling me I don't know what I'm talking about and preening all into one post. Great job!

As to the substance of why estimates are a good thing, we are in perfect alignment. But how do you provide an estimate for the issues I was talking about? Let's say the one of the financial reports on Hyperion is not working right. Upon immediate inspection your guy doesn't see what the problem is. How do you provide an estimate? This is something you intend to have fixed in the next hour or two. You have your best people on it.

But it could be a problem with the report. Or a bug in the report server. Or a problem with the SQL server. Or a problem with the optimizations on the view it is calling. Or maybe it is a problem with the account mapping application - or maybe someone in accounting changed the map and didn't realize what the consequences would be elsewhere. At this moment in time you literally have no idea at all what the timeline is. It could be an hour. You hope it is an hour. But it could just as easily be a bug in Hyperion that will require a fix from the vendor. That would take weeks. Now, in an hour or two you'll have enough information to provide a decent answer. You'll know if the problem is bigger than you can handle with your staff. But they want an answer right now. This is where the real clash comes in .

They are demanding an answer for the reasons you have outlined. But you can't give one. Not the honest answer anyway. Because the honest answer at that moment is "I don't know", and nobody wants to hear that. The solution to this problem for us was to let them know we were looking into it and we would set a time to give them an estimate in a couple of hours. Now, in this situation the problem will be solved before the estimate is due most of the time, which just feels weird. But it addresses all of the issues that people have with the process. By saying less than we know, we communicate better. Saying "I'll look into it and get back with you by 3 o'clock" works perfectly. But coming from our culture of "everything ASAP" this felt wrong. My real intention was to have the whole thing done by 11am. But that wasn't a number you could promise to anyone, because you have no clue if you are dealing with horses or zebras. Once we figured out that the new people would rather wait a little longer and hear a firm answer, everything was fine. But in our startup years that would never have worked.

Comment: Re:meh (Score 2) 148

by Cytotoxic (#49142051) Attached to: Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games

That echos my point, somewhat. It is pretty easy to design an AI for a lot of video games that can beat a human (without cheating). The AI code from Quake was only a couple of pages. Whether you use the moniker "constraints" or call it "dumbing down", it would take a lot more code to give the AI more human-like abilities. Probably several times as much code.

The same goes for the enemies. The code that gave them a degree of autonomy and communication was pretty small, but it made them unstoppable because they would just run away and warn all the other enemies and come attack en mass and from cover. It wasn't sophisticated AI at all. Making an AI that was competitive with humans required a lot more coding, restricting the capabilities of the enemies. It is odd that the hard part about making a game AI would be making an AI that isn't too competetive, but that's where we are.

As to your other point, making a machine think like a human strategically is probably much more difficult. But here's the philosophical question: does the motivation behind someone's actions really matter, or is what they actually do the only thing that actually counts? If the computer is unbeatable because it is just that much faster than you does it really make for a difference in gameplay as compared to a computer that is unbeatable because it truly understands better than you and always initiates a better strategy? Sure, one might be a lot more exciting from a programming point of view, but either way you still got beat by the computer.

Comment: Tilting at Windmills (Score 5, Interesting) 347

by Cytotoxic (#49141875) Attached to: The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates

I used to tilt at this very windmill myself. It took me a long time to realize that people really, really need to hear an answer to "how long?". When we were in startup mode a long project was a matter of a few weeks. Everything had to go into production immediately. So we got used to banging stuff out in small chunks and doing it as quickly as possible. Entire project timelines were completed in less time than it takes to draft a proper requirements document.

But as we grew in size, the new people were not happy with our development team. Even though they would ask for a new report at 10am and have it in production before they returned from lunch, they still felt like we were not responsive. It was one of those reports that began to help me understand the psychology.

There was a problem with a very complex Crystal Reports document one morning. The Director of the department called to let us know about it. I told him we were already working on it and would have it fixed as soon as possible. "When will it be fixed?" he asked. Well, I had no clue. We had only learned about the problem 10 minutes before and hadn't figured out what was broken. So I explained this to him and told him that we had this as our top priority and it would be fixed as quickly as possible. I certainly thought that should make him happy. Well, it didn't.

He was rather pissed that I wouldn't give him a timeline. The day before we had made some changes for him that took about 2 hours, but he was upset that we didn't let him know how long it would take. Being an engineering type, when I hear "how long will this take?", I hear a request for a certain degree of precision. The problem with short projects like this is that by the time you have enough information to give an honest estimate, you are pretty much done. Maybe you have 15 minutes or an hour to go, but nothing worth reporting to anyone. Well, after explaining my position a few times and just making him more angry I finally gave up and just gave him a made-up deadline of Thursday afternoon. He was perfectly happy. I had just spent 15 minutes trying to explain to him that we were working feverishly and would be done as soon as we could (which would likely be a couple of hours, but who knows) and he hated that answer. "We'll have it for you in 3 days!" made him very happy. Even though his production was impeded by the lack of this particular report. From a human psychology standpoint he would rather know that it will be done in 3 days, barring delays, than not know when it will be done and have it in two hours. I personally think that is a dumb way of doing things, but I am the outlier, not the director.

After that learning experience we began implementing a more comprehensive SDLC process and providing timelines for projects. Everyone was much happier with the development team after this. Even though their projects went into production much more slowly. They loved the perceived control that having a timeline gave them. We developers know that these things are basically fictional documents - just educated guesses really - but it provides real customer satisfaction, so we keep with it. In fact, we kept evolving this idea into more and more involvement from the business unit as we moved into Agile and SCRUM methodologies.

I would say that unless you are working in an organization of less than 25 people, providing timelines is an absolute requirement from a purely human standpoint. This comes from hard experience - even though I think that everything about a timeline is probably B.S. and all of the effort that goes into preparing one would have been better spent solving problems and building something useful. In the real world you can't ignore the psychological needs of the group.

Comment: Re:Because capitalism, idiots. (Score 1) 245

by Cytotoxic (#49136451) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics

I am no expert on Swedish healthcare, but this didn't sound right to me. So I asked google. On the first page of results I learned that transgendered people seeking sex change operations have very onerous conditions imposed by law. Namely, if you want to get gender reassignment surgury, you have to be sterilized. Needless to say, they are not very happy about this.

Because healthcare is run by the government, getting these requirements changed involves changes to Swedish law, rather than a choice of healthcare provider.

Since this is a comment post rather than an academic study on the topic, I'll stop with this first article I found and say "I'll see your Swede who needed healthcare and didn't get it and raise you a 'wanted a specific treatment and got a forced sterilization on the side'".

If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.

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