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Comment: Cadillac self-driving car (Score 1) 7

by Animats (#47814647) Attached to: Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society

They mention Cadillac's self-driving car, recently demonstrated to lawmakers in Washington. Cadillac is confident enough now to let members of Congress ride in the thing as it drives from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon in traffic. That's impressive. There's video, but it's all chopped into short pieces for short attention span TV viewers. I'd like to see an uncut half hour of automatic driving in traffic.

Comment: First press reports not very good. (Score 2) 407

by Animats (#47809751) Attached to: In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

The problem here is that the press reports are just rehashes of what the cops are putting out. Somebody should find this guy and interview him. He may be in hiding for reasons of his own.

His book is self-published on Amazon. It's been out since 2011, and you can read a sample there. This guy is not the next Steven King. A typical sentence: "As Zea approaches her partner she cannot restrain herself from hyperventilating as she peers at the black embossed letters on the translucent glass sign above the entrance to the central atrium".

Today, the Los Angeles Times quotes cops as saying "Everybody knew about the book in 2012", and that this is more about a four-page letter he recently sent to officials in Dorchester County, containing "complaints of alleged harassment and an alleged possible crime". There may be more clarity over the next few days, now that the story is getting attention.

Comment: Re:It's a proxy for needing to revamp the post sys (Score 1) 209

by ColdWetDog (#47808779) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Does that system go to every hamlet and village in China? Actually curious. That's just one of the lead weights that the USPS is saddled with. They have to send stuff to Five Fingers, Alaska, pop 300, as well as to Los Angeles.

I'd also venture to bet that the system in China hasn't funded pension liabilities out for 100 years.

Apples to Apples and all that.

Comment: Re:What problem does this solve, again? (Score 1) 209

by ColdWetDog (#47808311) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Other than a driver, what's the difference between your high tech drone (with support costs) and some twenty something in a UPS truck? Sure, you can zip a roll of toilet paper or a dozen cans of shaving cream on the drone, but Mr. and Ms. Rural also want their dog food delivered so you need the truck anyway.

I can sort of see this in NYC where you can create a spurious business plan consisting of getting workers their Post-It notes quickly, out in the boonies, not so much.

Come to think of it, a driverless UPS truck makes more sense. As long as it dispenses dog treats (which is yet another weak link for a rural drone - this would just be too much fun for the neighborhood dogs - mine would have retrieved the package in seconds and attempted to shred it for the lulz).

Comment: Re:Same thing from ultra-orthodox Jews. (Score 1) 517

by Animats (#47804259) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

Leaving any orthodox religion is hard, after so many years of hard-line indoctrination.

In Israel, it's very hard to leave. There are extensive Government benefits for ultra-orthodox, including subsidized housing, pay for religious study, and unlimited draft deferments. This is on top of the heavy social pressure, the lack of marketable skills, and the language barrier (the ultra-orthodox in Israel speak Yiddish, not Hebrew.)

Comment: Re:Weight (Score 1) 209

by Animats (#47804185) Attached to: Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

"Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes."

Small drones don't have much inertia. They can be easily flipped by a small local wind gust. This is a big problem for drones that operate close to buildings, where there are eddies and turbulence as air hits the building. Pass the corner of a building and the wind situation may be completely different.

Very smart and aggressive stability control systems are able to overcome this. See this drone from PSI Tactical, which weighs about 0.5Kg and is supposed to be able to operate in winds up to 30MPH.

Comment: Re:Where are these photos? (Score 1) 307

by MobileTatsu-NJG (#47802947) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

"You're advocating privacy through self-control."

No, I'm not, I'm suggesting that the behaviour in question is damaging the value of privacy. By behaving as though celebrities have no expectation of privacy one thing you're not doing is strengthening the privacy of everybody else.

Comment: Re:Where are these photos? (Score 1) 307

by MobileTatsu-NJG (#47802915) Attached to: Reported iCloud Hack Leaks Hundreds of Private Celebrity Photos

One of the reasons privacy is important is that you don't want somebody, be it the government or some random stranger, having something they can use against you. I don't have any problem with conceding that the NSA's behaviour is a much bigger deal, but when you break things down to their basic components the philosophy is still very much the same whether it's about extorting money or punishment for having that political bumper sticker on your car.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."