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Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 276 276

The problem is not want to buy but can afford to buy. Tesla is at the high end of what I would consider the car pricing range if you leave out the super premium and exotics. As a result, many people who might preferentially buy one simply can't afford one.

Sure, but that's only an issue if the regulations specify Tesla levels of performance and efficiency. I'm suggesting the regs could be written with the most efficient ICE automobiles on the market *today* as the benchmark for what is feasible. These are by not necessarily fantastically expensive, nor are they hair-shirt city cars. The Mazda 3 is a four door sedan that seats five and has an engine that delivers 184 hp at 26 mpg city/35 highway; MSRP is 18.8K$. If you need a people mover you can get a seven passenger Mitsubishi minivan rated 25 city/31 highway for 23.2k$.

It's clear that the current state of the art in ICE makes affordable, practical cars that exceed the current average mileage technologically feasible. They're being sold now. If on the other hand you want high performance, e.g., to go 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds, then you're talking big bucks and exotic technology.

What manufacturers won't be able to do is slap a tarted-up body on a primitive $26,000 truck chassis, call it an SUV, and charge $50,000 for it. I'm talking about the Silverado based Suburban. I think there's a place in the world for such vehicles, but it's insane to charge an additional 24k to slap two rows of seating in place of a pickup bed; there's plenty of headroom to charge a gas guzzler tax on that one.

Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 276 276

Indeed. But it's also true that change per se puts more stress on less innovative or agile companies, especially companies that have massive investments sunk into older technologies. No matter what rules you set it'll benefit some companies over others; rules that are very favorable to GMC would be unfavorable to Tesla and vice versa. They'll both argue that rules that benefit them the most are best for the country.

I'll say this for Tesla's position, though: the notion that it's physically impossible to build fuel efficient cars that people will want to buy is balderdash.

Comment We have no idea what "superintelligent" means. (Score 4, Insightful) 233 233

When faced with a tricky question, one think you have to ask yourself is 'Does this question actually make any sense?' For example you could ask "Can anything get colder than absolute zero?" and the simplistic answer is "no"; but it might be better to say the question itself makes no sense, like asking "What is north of the North Pole"?

I think when we're talking about "superintelligence" it's a linguistic construct that sounds to us like it makes sense, but I don't think we have any precise idea of what we're talking about. What *exactly* do we mean when we say "superintelligent computer" -- if computers today are not already there? After all, they already work on bigger problems than we can. But as Geist notes there are diminishing returns on many problems which are inherently intractable; so there is no physical possibility of "God-like intelligence" as a result of simply making computers merely bigger and faster. In any case it's hard to conjure an existential threat out of computers that can, say, determine that two very large regular expressions match exactly the same input.

Someone who has an IQ of 150 is not 1.5x times as smart as an average person with an IQ of 100. General intelligence doesn't work that way. In fact I think IQ is a pretty unreliable way to rank people by "smartness" when you're well away from the mean -- say over 160 (i.e. four standard deviations) or so. Yes you can rank people in that range by *score*, but that ranking is meaningless. And without a meaningful way to rank two set members by some property, it makes no sense to talk about "increasing" that property.

We can imagine building an AI which is intelligent in the same way people are. Let's say it has an IQ of 100. We fiddle with it and the IQ goes up to 160. That's a clear success, so we fiddle with it some more and the IQ score goes up to 200. That's a more dubious result. Beyond that we make changes, but since we're talking about a machine built to handle questions that are beyond our grasp, we don't know whether we're making actually the machine smarter or just messing it up. This is still true if we leave the changes up to the computer itself.

So the whole issue is just "begging the question"; it's badly framed because we don't know what "God-like" or "super-" intelligence *is*. Here's I think a better framing: will we become dependent upon systems whose complexity has grown to the point where we can neither understand nor control them in any meaningful way? I think this describes the concerns about "superintelligent" computers without recourse to words we don't know the meaning of. And I think it's a real concern. In a sense we've been here before as a species. Empires need information processing to function, so before computers humanity developed bureaucracies, which are a kind of human operated information processing machine. And eventually the administration of a large empire have always lost coherence, leading to the empire falling apart. The only difference is that a complex AI system could continue to run well after human society collapsed.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 1) 161 161

The overriding principle in any encounter between vehicles should be safety; after that efficiency. A cyclist should make way for a motorist to pass , but *only when doing so poses no hazard*. The biggest hazard presented by operation of any kind of vehicle is unpredictability. For a bike this is swerving in and out of a lane a car presents the greatest danger to himself and others on the road.

The correct, safe, and courteous thing to do is look for the earliest opportunity where it is safe to make enough room for the car to pass, move to the side, then signal the driver it is OK to pass. Note this doesn't mean *instantaneously* moving to the side, which might lead to an equally precipitous move *back* into the lane.

Bikes are just one of the many things you need to deal with in the city, and if the ten or fifteen seconds you're waiting to put the accelerator down is making you late for where you're going then you probably should leave a few minutes earlier, because in city driving if it's not one thing it'll be another. In any case if you look at the video the driver was not being significantly delayed by the cyclist, and even if that is so that is no excuse for driving in an unsafe manner, although in his defense he probably doesn't know how to handle the encounter with the cyclist correctly.

The cyclist of course ought to know how to handle an encounter with a car though, and for that reason it's up to the cyclist to manage an encounter with a car to the greatest degree possible. He should have more experience and a lot more situational awareness. I this case the cyclist's mistake was that he was sorta-kinda to one side in the lane, leaving enough room so the driver thought he was supposed to squeeze past him. The cyclist ought to have clearly claimed the entire lane, acknowledging the presence of the car; that way when he moves to the side it's a clear to the driver it's time to pass.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 2) 161 161

The motorist in the video committed a crime -- several actually. But the cyclist committed an indiscretion by chasing down the motorist to give him a piece of his mind. That's not illegal, it's just a very bad idea.

Many years ago I heard an interviewer ask the great race driver Jackie Stewart what it takes to be a great driver. He said that a driver ought to be emotionless. I think this is very true for any kind of driving -- or cycling. Never prolong your reaction to anything that anyone does on the road beyond the split second it takes to deal with it. Let your attention move on to the next thing. Never direct it to a driver because of something he *did*. Keep focused on what's happening now.

Comment Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense. (Score 0) 171 171

If I see a coin come up heads nine out of ten times, I'm expecting it to come up heads on the eleventh toss.

You exactly demonstrated the problem with common sense reasoning. People assume that because they have what feels like to them (and may actually be) extensive experience with something they automatically understand it. But most people who haven't been trained in mathematics have plenty of misconceptions about what mathematicians call the "Bernoulli Process" (coin flipping).

Comment Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense. (Score 2) 171 171

Not really. The judge simply ruled she was bound by precedent that her court did not have sufficient authority to overturn. That's actually a good call, but it has nothing to do with the issue or arguments.

In any case appeals to "common sense" aren't worth squat when that common sense is based on ignorance or inexperience. It's common sense to talk about "the dark side of the Moon" or to think that the next flip of a coin is affected by prior flips.

For 80% of the existence of our species we coexisted with at least one other species that would pass any reasonable philosophical criteria for "person": the Neanderthals. If we were able to use biotechnology to recreate Neanderthals, Jurassic park style, there's no question that if successful the experiment would create people. But would they be legal persons?

It's an important philosophical question because it potentially colors a lot of mundane ethical questions. Do we recognize the rights of others as a kind of tribal convention? Or are we compelled to do so because of something in human nature? If the latter presumably non-human entities would have an equal ethical claim to personhood.

Comment Re:Editors : WTF (Score 0) 303 303

Technically it's giving smaller amounts of something, not taking anything away. Nonetheless marginally it makes perfect sense to talk about "doling out cuts". It means starting with a total net cut and dividing the marginal impact among several parties.

Yes, it will raise a few eyebrows among editorial prigs, but it's perfectly clear what "doling out cuts" means.

Comment Re:Batteries in Cold Weather? (Score 1) 879 879

If you add up all the auxiliary stuff you need to power with electricity and round up generously, it's maybe 2000 watts load. The very best commercially available technology of today can run that load for 45 hours. So the impact of the auxiliary system load is marginal. That means it's only a concern if you're contemplating using close to the maximum range of your car. If you're traveling 15 miles each way in an 84 mile range Leaf, or 80 miles each way in a 250 mile range Tesla S, you don't really need to worry about running the heater and lights, even counting diminished battery capacity.

The average American spends 25 minutes each way commuting; even in NYC the average figure is 34.6. Even double or tripling that commute time due to bad weather and halfing the range due to cold, that's still easy for the Tesla. It's a bit of challenge for the Leaf with its 24 kwh battery and 84 mile range.

If the typical electric cars of ten years from now perform close to the high end of today, then the vast majority of people won't have to worry about cold weather's effect on range. But a sizable minority of Americans are what the US Census characterizes as "extreme commuters": people whose commute takes more than 90 minutes or fifty miles each way. Even at the low end of that spectrum cold weather range won't be an issue, but if you commute from Fargo to Bismarck ND every day it's safe to say you aren't going to be going electric any time soon.

Comment Re:Sounds like he was arrested for shooting. (Score 1) 1176 1176

In general anything that creates a hazard for bystanders would be a bad idea. So even if there isn't a specific ordinance against shooting bows-and-arrows in the city limits, I'm sure the authorities would take a dim view of your clout shooting into your neighbors' yards.

What there should be is a legally mandated remote radio kill switch anyone can trigger that will cause the drone to land, or in the case of the more sophisticated models to return to base. If the switch worked within say a 50' radius it'd pretty much only work on drones buzzing your residence.

"History is a tool used by politicians to justify their intentions." -- Ted Koppel

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