Is XKCD overhyped and overrated? Sure it is... like pretty much everything else with a certain level of popularity in the geek crowd. Even so, I often find XKCD funny, sometimes thought-provoking or profound, and generally interesting. And it's often applicable to everyday situations (hence the many "oblig XKCD" references here on
Getting stuff across the border isn't all that hard for criminals anyway, unless you're talking really bulky stuff one has to truck in (booze etc). Even sending stuff by airliner isn't that hard; you're ok if you send 10 drug mules and 5 make it through. The quoted "street value" of seized coke is crap, its actual value at that stage is bugger all.
And why a general purpose robot? Because it will probably end up being much cheaper than making a whole range of specialized robots effective. A Roomba will vacuum nicely, but it won't do the stairs, or move the chairs out of the way, or open the door to go into the next room after emptying its own bag. Sure, it could be made to do all those things having to do with vacuuming, but it would make it that much more complex.
You don't see too many hybrid microwave oven/vacuum cleaner/cars do you? Why build a general purpose robot that needs a vacuum cleaner so it can clean the house? You're back to buying individual machines AND a machine to operate them.
You kind of answered your own question there. It makes sense to separate functions into separate appliances, and that includes separating the highly complex part to give these tools the mobility, vision and smarts that enable them to do their tasks by themselves.
Also, in technology, the phrase "too expensive" should always beconsidered with the word "today" added. Think computers: how long did powerful computing take to become cheap and ubiquitous? There's no components in humanoid robots that will not become cheaper with mass production, and as we often see with other technology, mass production will drive simplification of the design itself as well. If there's a good use for humanoid robots, I'm betting that eventually they will be cheap enough for individuals to own. The hardware isn't even that expensive today, the problem is that the software just isn't there yet.
With that said, no terrorist of any persuasion would be so dumb as to stick a (tiny) bomb in an R/C plane. There are much easier and effective ways to blow up people.
However the article implies that there is more to the case: "As a general matter, the decision finds that the FAA's 2007 policy statement banning the commercial use of model aircraft is not enforceable". In other words, the judge didn't say that the rule was not broken, but that the rule itself is poorly drafted.
I'm just glad he's not a criminal... or founder of a cryptocurrency.
The way to fix this is legislation, not a moral appeal. The problem I have with the current tax situation is that these loopholes only get profitable at a certain level because they are not cheap: your $500 and them some will be spent on lawyer and accountant fees if you go for the tax loophole. Large corporations end up paying next to no tax, while small companies pay the full bill. I looked into such a loophole a while ago for a company reporting a yearly profit of around $120k, and the tax benefit did outweigh the costs...but only because this company could make a convincing case for "paying" their holding company for a license on intellectual property. Companies who provide simple goods or services have far fewer options... if my corporate tax ended up at
BTW I don't own and never owned more than a couple of them either.