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Comment: Not that impressive really... (Score 1) 258

by Gordo_1 (#49408089) Attached to: A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country

Newer Tesla Model S cars will be able to basically do the same thing this summer with its auto-pilot 'lane holding' firmware update.

It may not be obvious to those who aren't paying close attention to the advancement of self-driving technology, but driving hundreds of miles on a highway is actually fairly easy for today's AI and requires only a basic sensor stack (GPS, HD camera with IR for nighttime, 600 ft radar sensor up front, and a slew of sonar sensors for close up decisions). Lane holding and traffic-aware cruise control together basically can take you 99% of the way to any city from any other on the interstate -- and this is likely coming to a car near you (not just $100k luxury cars) in the next 5 years.

Beyond the highway though, is where the current technology falls apart... The difference between maintaining a lane on the highway and driving in a suburban neighborhood is orders of magnitude in complexity. Google's super-fancy Lidar-based "driverless" cars still have tons of trouble navigating in cities and suburban settings. I'm not even going to approach the topic of weather, but to illustrate some of the challenges, in a city you might run into:

* Roads with inadequate, faded or absent lanes markings.
* Intersections with no stop/yield signs or broken/flashing traffic lights
* Vast distances with no speed limit signs
* Random and unpredictable people, animals and inanimate objects crossing or blowing across the road (e.g. a raccoon, kid on bike, plastic bag, paint bucket, police officer with hand up each may require a completely different reaction from the driver and the inappropriate reaction could put occupants or pedestrians in serious danger.)

All of these are relatively easy for people to navigate, but pose significant challenges for AI. I predict that all-weather, door-to-door, autonomous driving is closer to 10-20 years away -- perhaps 10 years for high-end vehicles and 20 years for your run-of-the-mill Toyota Corolla, etc... (Think of the rollout of GPS navigation or airbags.)

Comment: Re:I tried to raise this issue before... (Score 1) 292

by Gordo_1 (#49406543) Attached to: EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car

I was being facetious with that comment, but do you have any other viable choices in mind? Don't all cars come with non-free software in them? The only thing Tesla's done is enabled an OTA update mechanism for the firmware. Virtually all new cars sold today have update-able firmware and even if they didn't, there's still no way you can prove that the NSA hasn't got a back door in there from the factory. So, unless you want to go around driving a classic from the 70s or 80s, you're pretty much at the mercy of your car's manufacturer anyway.

Comment: Re:I tried to raise this issue before... (Score 5, Interesting) 292

by Gordo_1 (#49400653) Attached to: EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car

Hi, Tesla Model S owner here... Technically you do get asked before firmware installs proceed (download happens automatically in the background). You're free to simply not apply the update. However, and more to your point, as with any binary update mechanism, there's really no viable way to determine what's actually getting installed in the process and you would lose out on potentially important bug fixes. Not all that different from Windows Update...

My personal assumption is that the firmware is a complete privacy-invading cesspool. I love the car overall, so I'll keep it until such time as I get the first mailed speeding ticket based upon my car's GPS location and internal speed telemetry.

Comment: Re:Sweet, sweet karma (Score 1) 257

by Gordo_1 (#49062833) Attached to: Tesla Factory Racing To Retool For New Models

Is $7500 the difference between affordable and unaffordable to you? In your universe, are government incentives that might help us soon get off of polluting, non-renewable resources akin to acts of the devil or are you just one of those who has inexplicable contempt for anyone or anything successful?

Comment: Re:Why Evolve? (Score 1) 138

by Gordo_1 (#48982859) Attached to: Deep-Sea Microorganism Hasn't Evolved For Over 2 Billion Years

You appear to have a very pedantic understanding of the English language. I don't fault you for it, as it can probably be attributed to a genetic anomaly. In any case, let me spell it out for you:

Using the terms 'selection' or 'useful' as it relates to evolution does not imply that one believes there is any conscious, intelligent/scheming/maniacal actor involved. It simply means that randomly generated traits are more likely to be passed down to future populations if they happen to interact with the environment in such a way that the organism containing those traits has a greater likelihood of surviving to reproduce or can otherwise reproduce faster or with more partners.

Comment: Re:Why Evolve? (Score 1) 138

by Gordo_1 (#48975093) Attached to: Deep-Sea Microorganism Hasn't Evolved For Over 2 Billion Years

> Yes, except that is exactly how evolution doesn't work.

Not sure I understand why all the snark and ad hominems other than you feel emboldened by hiding behind AC (as if Slashdot karma is some kind of valuable resource?) Anyway, I don't think the parent's comments are all that out of line. A gene pool is going to change from generation to generation due to random chance occurrences like DNA transcription errors and such, and the changes that sustain are more often than not going to be ones that enable that organism to survive and reproduce better in that environment, yes? If selection pressures in the environment they live in stabilize over time, one would expect that the magnitude of evolutionary changes for that organism will gradually diminish because as time progresses, there are fewer useful adaptations that haven't been incorporated, so-to-speak. All bets are off if the environment destabilizes, but eventually, if stable over a long period of time you might get to a stable organism as described in TFA.

So... Does that make me religious?

Comment: Re:More productive on the bus to/from work (Score 2) 420

by Gordo_1 (#48702353) Attached to: The Open Office Is Destroying the Workplace

Oh come on. What's the harm in putting say inside sales reps next to Engineers? The proximity of sales reps will motivate the developers to code harder because they can hear all the lies they tell first-hand! It's practically a direct feed to customer feedback, and cuts out the need for a Product Manager!

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 2) 71

by Gordo_1 (#48579437) Attached to: Lenovo Recalls LS-15 Power Cords

I know it's a feel good story and all to bash Capitalist car manufacturers and all, and there are probably some examples where what you're saying is true, but GM seatbelts are pretty standard across all models and get small updates about once a decade. Defects are very rare in this area. Notice that when stuff gets recalled, it's usually recalled against many models over a number of years... That's not the hallmark of things getting updated just for the sake of it. It's also inevitably expensive for the manufacturer to create new parts where none is needed and existing parts are already in the parts bin.

Important stuff generally gets updated when new functionality is needed (like ignition disabling circuitry to make cars harder to steal). It's not like there's a group of Engineers sitting around thinking of ways to redesign basic things that work. They won't win new customers by redesigning seat-belts and ignition switches.

"It's ten o'clock... Do you know where your AI programs are?" -- Peter Oakley