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Comment: Re:Being comfortable around crazy (Score 3, Insightful) 866 866

The "moderate" religious folks all carefully choose which parts of their holy writings to emphasize. But don't ignore the fact the Abraham, a guy Judaism, Christianity and Islam all revere, had to pass the test of being willing to kill his child if God wanted him to. Not a club I want to join.

Comment: Re:Systemic and widespread? (Score 1) 489 489

We can keep the argument going indefinitely using anecdotes and preconceptions. Or we can gather and increase the reliability of the data.

In this case, I heard some official state that there was no reason to question the cops version until the video came forward. It would be interesting to gather the other cases of officer involved shootings where the justification on the report was similar and dig a little deeper.

More cameras on the streets might also be useful (ducking and running...)

Comment: Driver vs. Robot Ethics (Score 1) 177 177

"For example when faced with the decision to crash into a pedestrian or another vehicle carrying a family."

Ethical human traveling 60kph when pedestrian and family in car simultaneously appear as obstacles 30 meters ahead..."OMG, OMG, I'm gonna hit one or the other! The car is better protected, but there are more people in the car. What did Spock say about the needs of the one? OMG " BANG!

Robot driver in same situation... "Obstacles detected, apply maximum ABS braking". Car stops 8 meters short of collision.

For every "ethical" dilemma a human decides correctly, I would guess there are 1000 fatalities caused by humans just being lousy at driving.

Oh, and what is the right ethical decision to make when deciding whether to hit a single pedestrian or a family in a car?

Comment: Re:Big deal ... not! (Score 1) 113 113

This is why we need to get some version of a judicial warrant justification as a prerequisite for the use of these datasets. If the police can convince a judge that a person is probably involved in a serious plot or conspiracy, it would be very useful to find out where he/she has been hanging out and with whom. If the cop wants to check up on his ex-wife ... then maybe not. The existence of the datasets and how their use is justified needs to be a matter of public record.

Comment: Run over dog or child ? Really (Score 1) 451 451

This argument reminds me of the arguments I heard about seat belts (e.g. I want to be thrown clear in a crash, Don't want to drown trying to unbuckle, etc.) Children are run down pretty regularly, so are dogs. In many, if not most, of those cases the car could have been stopped safely if 1) the human driver reacted faster / wasn't distracted and 2) the driver was traveling at a speed safe for context and conditions.

I assume the statistic that 90% of automobile accidents are caused by human error is correct. The automated cars of the near future won't be perfect -- but they will outperform humans as drivers by a large margin.

The sensors and programming used in the self driving cars will continue to improve (at a much faster rate than human drivers improve -- if they do at all). Black ice is "invisible" to most drivers. Is it invisible in the infrared? Could wheel sensors detect minute slippage and compensate faster than a human? Could networked self driving cars warn each other of such conditions as they are encountered?

It is true that specially designed roads would also improve self driving cars, but even on today's roads they will be superior to human drivers.

Comment: Asimov agrees.... (Score 1) 681 681

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

-- Isaac Asimov

Comment: Re:Measuring Competence (Score 1) 255 255

Agree. The bar a autonomous car should have to meet is to drive at least 1 order of magnitude better than the average human driver (based on metrics like safety and efficiency). Looking at the human drivers currently on the roads, a robot driver doesn't need to approach perfection to achieve this. Simply adding logic that makes a car stop when it doesn't have sufficient information to proceed safely would make it a superior driver to most of us.

Comment: Impossible, Impractical or Unpopular? (Score 2) 59 59

I've been a fan of your eclectic perspective and rational style since I bought the "Last Whole Earth Catalog". I know you were a early proponent and popularizer of space-based solar power and space colonies (at least in late 70's as I recall). Have you changed your views on those? Can I hope that my children will see an O'Neill Cylinder in space (or at least a Bernal Sphere)?

I know faster than light travel is impossible. I know personal jet packs are impractical. Do building those space colonies we dreamed about in the 70's fall in the impractical category -- or just unpopular?

Comment: Pay highly effective teachers more (Score 1) 122 122

My wife has been teaching for 32 years in downstate Illinois. One of two National Board Certified teachers in the district (meaning she meets the "Highly Qualified" standards for NCLB). She just past the $60K threshold last year (although with the supplies she buys it is still below that). We recently increased her monthly Salliemae payments so they will be paid off by retirement.

Research shows that highly effective teachers (teachers whose students regularly make more than 1 year of academic progress per school year) make a large and lasting difference in outcomes. More so than technology.

So identifying, rewarding and developing highly effective teachers should be a national priority. The economics of moving the median up for students would mean a huge gain for the economy.

As for Gates influencing our national education policy with his wealth, it shouldn't be possible. He can contribute to the discussion and do Foundation research, but that effort should be swamped by the dollars and attention the subject of education reform is getting. If he has too much influence, it just shows he is focusing on education while most of the rest of us aren't.

A memorandum is written not to inform the reader, but to protect the writer. -- Dean Acheson