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Comment The NSF National Robotics Initiative (Score 1) 342 342

The NSF has a solicitation for research proposals on human-robot cooperation. The Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society magazine The Bent has an article on this topic, showcasing a product offering by a Norwegian company called Universal Robotics offering a "depowered" robot said to be safe to operate close to humans.

Some of these solicitations come from "on high", and a contract monitor at NSF was doing some eye rolling about the notion that you could truly make an industrial robot safe to work with humans in its working element, or at least was giving speech inflections over the telephone suggestive of rolling one's eyes. A research group in Canada offered a critical take on the claims for the safety of the Universal Robotics offering from the standpoint of other university people taking these claims on face value and putting graduate students into the robot "cage."

A safer robot may need strategies such as "depowering" the robot or offering (as UR does) a depowered "teaching mode" along with control systems to obtain the required accuracy with less power. Beyond that, there is interest in vision and sensors to avoid hitting people with the robot.

But the question is, a chimp (Pan Troglodyte) can tear a person apart, but a chimp has sensors, and a chimp can be trained to be around people. Would you trust that training, would you rely on that training. A robot that has enough power to do the required factory tasks has the power to crush a person, but you can depower the robot depending on the operating mode and you can add sensors. Would you trust the algorithm design and software programming and mechanical safety systems behind such an arrangement to enter the robot cage?

Would you trust a self-driving car as a car has the power to crush someone? I guess with enough sensors and algorithms and testing, but even there, you are not guiding a self-driving car by standing right in front of it as suggested by NSF's co-robots . . . are you?

Comment It's "not just the about the money!" (Score 1) 297 297

C'mon people, unless you are recording movies, backing up your data (onto multiple thumb drives) is trivial.

The real hassle is backing up your operating systems along with all the software installations and installs.

Sure, we all have the activation keys for every piece of software we installed in a safe place somewhere?

That is also the royal hassle that Microsoft created when they started "authenticating Windows" against hardware configurations. You used to be able to just clone hard disks and take them to another computer when one failed. I know there are people who also build computers from parts, but Microsoft going to that model made building a machine from parts more trouble than its worth. And having a hard disk fail is probably the software industry's model for getting people to buy all the software -- OS, office suite, everything -- from scratch.

Comment They came for (Score 2) 510 510

the Republican House Leadership, but I was not a Republican serving in the House of Representatives.

They came for lobbyists making a gadzillion dollars representing Turkish interests, but I was not a lobbyist representing Turkish interests.

They came for persons making "structured" bank withdrawals totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I was not making bank widthdrawals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Comment Where has the absence of C13 gone? (Score 1) 372 372

Take a look at the comparison of C13/C12 ratio with total atmospheric CO2.

The carbon in plants and in fossil fuels is depleted in the C13 isotope by about 1.8 percent (18 mils). The annual wiggles in the C13 ratio are accounted for by the complementary wiggles in the total CO2 being the update and reemission of CO2 depleted in C13 at that level.

The multi-decade slope of the C13 curve is much more shallow in comparison to the annual wiggles in relation to the same comparison for total CO2. Any number of debunk-the-skeptics Web sites points out that as we emit CO2 depleted in C13, the C13 ratio declines. But not one of these sites offers even a rough quantitative analysis, which would show that CO2 depleted at the fossil level can account for no more than a third of the increase in atmospheric CO2 that is the source of much anxiety.

Is anyone else noticing this?

Comment Recovered IDE drive from a fire (Score 2) 446 446

My father lost his workshop to fire in 1999. I have in my hands a Western Digital "Caviar" 2540 IDE drive that still reeks of smoke 16 years later. The computer was wrecked, but I hooked that drive up to an IDE cable and copied all of his files from it.

People think a fire turns everything to molton slag. There was much that survived even when the 2 cars in the garage were reduced to burnt hulks.

Don't have any experience with such a thing with modern multi-100 Gig drives, but traditionally drives were built like tanks.

Comment Trusting the passengers (Score 1) 385 385

Actually, we are trusting the passengers, in the words of Jerry Pournelle, we are trusting the passengers to riot rather than submit to a hijacker.

The Shoe Bomber Richard Reid got stomped by the other passengers, and the Underwear Bomber Abdul-Mutalub was fought and stopped by a fellow passenger.

On the other hand, if someone really wants to crash the plane, can the other pilot or the pilot with volunteer passenger "muscle" stop this. The passenger on that one plane in 9-11 broke open the cockpit door -- they were able to thwart a fourth attack on a building, but they were unable to prevent a crash. It seems they knew there chances of living were slim and they gave their lives to prevent loss-of-life on the ground.

Earth is a beta site.