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Comment: Re:That's nice, but... (Score 1) 157

by s.petry (#47793715) Attached to: Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Dunno, the Russian FSB has actually wrung Windows code reviews out of Microsoft so if they didn't find any back door in that code I'd say there are none to find..

A viable alternative is that they found and use the same back doors available to the NSA. It's speculation either way, because there are no independent reviews of Microsoft's source code and shipped binaries. The released binaries may not even match the source they provided for review.

Comment: Re:Congressional Pharmaceutical Complex (Score 1) 113

by s.petry (#47793711) Attached to: States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths
I didn't say it was bad to have some statistics, I said it was bad to have this study focus on one statistic. You know as well as I do that if the numbers are off, people against legalization will jump all over the study just to wreak havoc on the legalization. Illegal marijuana was (and in many places still is) a huge revenue source for both the criminal side and the law enforcement side (and yes, we would probably agree that the line between those two elements is crossed very often).

Comment: Re:It probably can. (Score 1) 219

by s.petry (#47792843) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

So they just drove over the same "few thousand miles of roadway" again and again and again and again? Until they got to 700,000 miles?

I think you meant this as sarcasm, but that one is mostly correct. These cars are not doing cross country trips, so claiming a few thousand miles of roadway is probably an overestimate. They drive the same roads and areas over and over and over again.

As it should. Because you don't know if that piece of paper is covering a rock or a pothole or whatever.

I have been tempted to carry a bucket of chaff and just see how well a Google car handles it, but then again rain and snow are problems so the experiment is really not needed.

The point here is that a human can notice things that a current auto driving car can not. Not all humans pay attention, but for the percentage that do you can tell when a paper bag is blowing around on the freeway. Human reaction to those things is generally measured and controlled much better than a google car. In time, I am sure it will get better but you need to discuss what is there today, not what we wish it had and are working for.

So they cannot deal with new stop LIGHTS but they can deal with new stop SIGNS. WTF?

I'm not sure how much you drive around California, but if you ever do you will see why this one is an issue. Many traffic lights in Mountain view for example are angled downward, so you have to be at a certain distance to see the color. There is one by Shoreline and Central that you can't see until you are about 40-50 feet away (for those interested, east bound traffic at the fire station).

Compare that issue with scanning for a red octagon pattern, and is should become obvious why stop signs are much easier to do. Traffic lights would be easy if they broadcast a signal, but they don't.

Overall, I'm not against self driving cars as long as we can choose between modes of operation. I think we are a long way off in terms of technology to make them safe in all environments, that does not imply even decades. I am mostly concerned with the health impact of all those radars and sensors broadcasting everywhere, but that's mostly due to my own ignorance (I have not taken any time to study since they are extremely rare).

Comment: Re:Congressional Pharmaceutical Complex (Score 1) 113

by s.petry (#47792695) Attached to: States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

I won't argue that the war on drugs is a huge failure, but that's a different argument in my opinion. The primary argument here is whether or not marijuana legalization has reduced deaths from prescriptions.

Given legalization is extremely new, the conclusion of the article and study is grossly premature. Making matters worse in my opinion, is that the study only looks at a single element of drugs, and not the complete impact.

As with my opening paragraph, I'm not pro drug war or anti marijuana. I simply think that these types of studies would be better to include other impacts, because in 3 years the stats may show something completely different. Studies should include things like crime reduction and savings to law enforcement due to crime reduction, local economy impact (Dorito sales!!), overall health of patients receiving and using medical marijuana, etc...

The war on drugs is a failure for many reasons, and single impact studies won't flesh all of those out.

Comment: Not detecting potholes? (Score 2) 219

by Animats (#47792119) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Google's Self-Driving Cars

Google isn't detecting potholes? Back in 1985, we had that on our DARPA Grand Challenge vehicle. The LIDAR on top of the vehicle was generating a ground profile. This was for off-road driving, where that's essential. I'd assumed Google was doing that; they have a Velodyne laser scanner that provides enough information.

In traffic, sometimes you can't see a pothole because it's obscured by a vehicle ahead, but if the vehicle ahead doesn't change speed, direction, or attitude, it's probably safe to proceed over the ground it just covered. On high speed roads, you can't see distant potholes clearly because the angle is unfavorable, but if the road ahead looks like the near road, and the near road profiles OK with the LIDAR, the far road is probably good. That's what the Stanford team used to out-drive their LIDAR range. (We didn't do that and were limited to 17MPH).

Fixed road components should be handleable. People, bicycles, and animals are tough.

Comment: Agreed (Score 1) 100

Maybe, but I don't think that any real discussion could be had about our megacity future based on this type of video game. Notice there is no food growing anywhere, very little greenery (think pollution), every inch of terrain was flattened, there was no water, etc..

Don't get me wrong, I think SimCity is a cool game. I don't think it's simulation software, and therein lies the big issue.

Comment: Talking to "different" people is bad for you (Score 3, Informative) 71

by Animats (#47787707) Attached to: Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare

This is fascinating. It's not the classic "people don't have social lives in the real world because they are on line too much" argument. The authors argue that following people who are "different" from you is bad for you. They write:

"Compared to face-to-face interactions, online networks allow users to silently observe the opinions and behaviors of an immensely wider share of their fellow citizens. The psychological literature has shown that most people tend to overestimate the extent to which their beliefs or opinions are typical of those of others. There is a tendency for people to assume that their own opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are âoenormalâ and that others also think the same way that they do. This cognitive bias leads to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, or a 'false consensus' (Gamba, 2013)."

"The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt afterwards; the more they used Facebook over two weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time. The effects found by the authors were not moderated by the size of people's Facebook networks, their perceived supportiveness, motivation for using Facebook, gender, loneliness, self-esteem, or depression, thus suggesting the existence of a direct link between SNSs' use and subjective well-being."

This is a new result, and needs confirmation. Are homogeneous societies happier ones? Should that be replicated on line? Should efforts be made in Facebook to keep people from having "different" friends?

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