Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment "We don't consider customers cargo" - Jaguar (Score 1) 24

In June 2015, Wolfgang Epple, head of research and development at JLR, was widely quotes as saying that JLR will never make a self driving car:

Speaking through its head of research and development, Wolfgang Epple, JLR says customers should not expect an autonomous car from them as it has no plans to manufacture cars that drive themselves for one reason: They view owners of self-driving car or people who ride in them as cargo and don't consider their customers as such. ''We don't consider customers cargo. We don't want to build a robot that delivers the cargo from A to B"

I wonder what changed in the last 6 months.

Comment Who will watch the watchers? (Score 2) 179

Chaum is also building into PrivaTegrity another feature that’s sure to be far more controversial: a carefully controlled backdoor that allows anyone doing something “generally recognized as evil” to have their anonymity and privacy stripped altogether.

Whoever controls that backdoor within PrivaTegrity would have the power to decide who counts as “evil” - too much power, Chaum recognizes, for any single company or government. So he’s given the task to a sort of council system. When PrivaTegrity’s setup is complete, nine server administrators in nine different countries would all need to cooperate to trace criminals within the network and decrypt their communications.

So... my question would be... Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? who will appoint, monitor and document the decisions of these administrators and if necessary revoke their anointed status as the determiners of what is or isn't acceptable evil (e.g. is sharing a commercial movie evil enough to attract the attention of "the nine"... how about a casual statement calling for the non-constitutional overthrow of a government... clearly child porn would be considered evil, but what would the cut off age be, 16, 17 or 18... would planning to blow up a public facility in a western country be more evil than threatening to blow up a public facility in a country already mired in a civil war)? Will they be accuser, prosecutor, judge and jury? who will take cases to them and which legal system will apply... can they be sued in the event that they err? what will keep them beyond reproach and will their decisions be made public? will it be possible to appeal their decisions?

Lots of questions and no clear answers.

Comment The Problem is Special Relativistic Time Dilation (Score 1) 330

Any ship embarking on interstellar travel in the near future using any of the first two methods (a generation ship using conventional propulsion or a hyper speed ship using fuel, thrust or time improvements) is likely to be beaten to the destination by a explorers leaving earth hundreds of years later using superior interstellar travel technology.

Although a generation ship carrying massive amounts of fuel and a gigantic solar sail could boost up to speeds of hundreds of km/s, it could still be thousands of years before such a ship reached even the nearest star system... and then it would have to expend vast amounts of stored fuel to slow down, slip into a suitable orbit around the local sun and commence a search for potentially habitable planetary bodies, with no hope of ever being able to generate sufficient thrust to move on to a further star system, should the first prove to have no suitable planets to settle on.

Consider the rate of communications, propulsion, etc. advancement that would have taken place in the intervening 5000- odd years between the departure of interstellar explorers leaving earth over the next 100 years and those leaving earth, say, 2-3000 years from today. How would our present day explorers even communicate with earth using 5000 year old communication technology - heck, it would be tough to communicate with just 100 year old technology, let alone 5000 year old relics. And suppose the mission was successful... later and technologically more advanced departures travelling in the same direction would have to make first contact decisions not too dissimilar to the ones we make today about isolated peoples such as isolated tribes in the Amazon rain forest - only it would be more similar to travelling back 5000 years to the bronze age - round about the time when Stonehenge was built and Papyrus invented.

Future propulsion technologies, would not fare much better. The more efficient the propulsion technology, the faster the rate of travel. This might appear to be the answer, except that special relativity would mean that while time slowed down for the travelling explorers, hundreds or even thousands of years could pass here on Earth for a few years of time for our hyper-speed interstellar travellers. So, while interstellar travellers travelling at hyper-speed could reach their destination in a single life time, they too could be beaten to the punch by a later departure hundreds of years later (or just a months days later in time passed aboard the interstellar ship).

That special relativistic time dilation thingamajig can be a bitch!

Just my thoughts and observation

Comment Re:who gives a shit? (Score 5, Insightful) 291

It matters because 100 years from now, people will want to know in much the same way we want to know the people who gave birth to much of our present day civilisation... the Newtons, Marconis, Teslas, Edissons, Berners-Lees, Da Vincis, Graham Bells, Franklins, Einsteins, Pasteur, Curies, Wright Brothers and lots more.

Bitcoin may not still be around in 100 years, but the distributed ledger and crypto currency genies are never going back into their bottles and they will transform the world as we know it in more ways than the internet and world wide web has. The concept of centralised control over the generation, storage and transmission of tokens of value is unravelling faster than the centralised control and distribution of information and knowledge has.

It matters because 100 years from now people will want to know more than a pseudo name... they will want to know to who Nakamoto really was, where he lived, what inspired him, what he ate for breakfast, and all the other stuff that make our modern day legends more than myths.

It matters because if we do not solve this mystery in our lifetime, the genius of Nakamoto will remain a myth forever.

Comment Re: simpler? exclusive ad channel? (Score 1) 161

You can see why Google had to shaft Apple and push Android though. Imagine the situation they would be in now if Apple dominated all mobile and they were dependent on their 'generosity' to allow advertising and services through...

To a large extent Google's mobile advertising business is already dependent on Apple's "generosity". Up to 75% of Google's mobile ad revenue is dependent on Apple's continued placement of Google as the default search engine on its iOS devices - a treasured position which Google pays Apple an estimated $2 billion a year to hold onto The loss of of mobile advertising revenue from iOS platforms would knock over 13% off Googles total revenue (nearly $9 billion in 2014 numbers)

Yes, things could be a lot worse if Google had not entered the market with its own mobile operating system... But with support for ad blocking, Apple is going after Google, not Android (after having earned 90% of the smartphone profits in 2014, Apple needs Android as much as Microsoft needed the Mac in the late 1990's to stave off the scrutiny of regulators around the world).

According to Jason Calacanis, Tim Cook is slowly getting revenge on Google on behalf of Steve Jobs - without doing it directly... "We did not enter the search business," Jobs said. "They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them..." So, Tim Cook is playing the slow revenge game....

Given the revenue challenges that all Android OEMs are facing (with the obvious exception of Samsung), by going after Google's ability to remain Android's the benevolent benefactor - i.e. ad revenue - Apple may yet give Steve Jobs the revenge he sought... only it will not be the thermonuclear victory he envisaged... its a slow war of attrition.

Comment Re:Google+ (Score 4, Insightful) 100

Even Google has to obey the law in India.

If Google, Facebook or any other company doing business in India, Germany, Sudan, Britain or any other country for that matter, does not like the laws in that country, then they can take the moral high-ground, as Google did in China, and leave... even if it costs them dearly in future revenue growth.

A victory in a US court for Sikhs For Justice will remain a hollow victory because it would be unenforceable outside the jurisdiction of that US court (unless Facebook is willing to be in contempt of an Indian court order - which will be fully enforceable in India). What Sikhs For Justice should be doing is applying pressure on Facebook to pull out of India in protest over Indian censorship... then a local social network site will take its place just as happened to Google in China.

Comment Safari and Chrome already run HTML5 apps very well (Score 1) 90

Mozilla launched Firefox OS in 2013 with the goal of breaking open the "walled gardens" that confine iOS and Android...


Mozilla's alternative is to embrace the Web. No matter what operating system a device uses... Firefox OS thus runs apps written for the Web, which in principle means those apps run on any other device, too.

[auntie Elizabeth returns Firefox phone because she can’t Skype/FaceTime/WhatsApp/...]
[reality sets in at Mozilla]
[consumers in emerging markets don’t care about operating systems, walled gardens, lock-in, etc. as long as the phone runs their favourite apps] :

"To bridge this app gap between user expectations and the readiness of the ecosystem, we will explore implementing Android app compatibility," Beard said

[Mozilla declares Android’s picket fence more acceptable than iOS’s palisade fence]
[Mozilla digs foxhole in Android’s not-so-walled garden and declares it open]
[Mozilla tunnels under iOS palisade fence and declares it web enabled]

Comment Re:"Full responsibilty?" (Score 2) 334

The White House said the operation that killed the two hostages "was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies"

I do not know of any legal jurisdiction that tries government officials or politicians for the accidental and unforeseeable death of a civilian killed during a legally sanctioned security operation

nonetheless the government is conducting a "thorough independent review" to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future

However, most societies expect that everything will be done to ensure that the probability of such a tragedy occurring again in future can be minimised

Comment How many passengers can it carry? (Score 4, Insightful) 140

I am really excited about the possibility of a week long cruise over Europe or a 5 day low altitude cruise across an African savanna or game park aboard a cruise liner such as the Airlander. However, when reading articles about the Airliner, it is always about the technical gobbledegook that engineers and airship geeks get off on... never does it cover the things that matter to the potential investor or future passenger.

At some point there was a view that future airships would be able to gently cruise the skies for days on end much like ocean liners of yesteryear. Future airships were said to be able to carry and support 200-300 passengers and crew over a few days or up to 1000 passengers and crew on a single transatlantic voyage. These were the promises (or dreams) being made a few years ago.

Now, with the Airlander, we have an opportunity to evaluate those promises and see how close to the dream of luxury airship liners, reminiscent of old school luxury ocean liners, we can get. And suddenly everyone appears to be silent about those prospects... nothing to fire up the imagination of a dreamy eyed 12 year old except for the fact that the Airlander's "unusual shape emulates a wing, giving it lift as it is propelled forward by its four engines, as well as from the 38,000m3 of helium that fills its hull."


Comment Re:this is getting old (Score 5, Insightful) 206

Some economists worry that China might eventually be mired in enormous debt

While any country can over stretch itself and find itself mired in unsustainable debt, it is hard not to roll one's eyes when one reads the report's really, really, really, remote scenarios for how China could get itself into such a situation. Given the current global geo-economic reality, spending as much time as the report does on the likelihood of this scenario coming to pass almost discredits the rest of what is actually a great report.

Chinese foreign reserves are almost US$4 trillion (as at September 2014) - more than the combined total foreign reserves held by the next 7 largest holders of foreign reserves (i.e.Japan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Russia, Brazil and Republic of Korea). The United States foreign reserves, by comparison, are a paltry US$134 billion

At the other end of the scale, United States foreign debt stands at a staggering US$18 trillion - about US1 trillion of that borrowed from the Chinese - more than that of the United Kingdom and Germany combined.

The report then nonchalantly skims over the distinction between the mega-, giga-, tera- projects around the world and lumps them together as if they all pose the same systemic risks to each respective economy. This may serve the purpose of highlighting the manic pace of development taking place in China, but the author's US corollary to China's mega airports, rail infrastructure, city expansion, ports, malls, urban housing (albeit many of which still lie empty), are what I would call vanity mega-projects, such as the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program, the International Space Station, etc.

If I were worried about a major global economy (and the US and China now the two largest economies in the world, by a long shot) "eventually being mired in enormous debt", it would be the one that is spending trillions of dollars on projects that cannot be used to further grow the country's economy in future. Spending billions on improving the county's economic efficiency (such as rail infrastructure, ports, airports, housing for migrant workers, renewable energy, manufacturing, education, etc.) cannot be equated to spending billions on improving the efficiency with which one can obliterate one's adversaries from the sky.

Comment Re:For the rest of us (Score 3, Insightful) 299

Why couldn't a new incarnation of something like Hypercard be cross platform.

I am not familiar with Hypercard (my entry into programming was via Basic first on the ZX Spectrum and later on the Apple IIe), but I would argue that if is was as great at easing lay peoples entry into programming as some claim, then we should rather exert more effort in making a new incarnation of Hypercard that is cross platform, rather than in trying to convince people that second best is better because it is cross platform.

Slashdot Top Deals

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux