My bad, I thought you wrote "inverse-square" the second time. The irradiance depends on the latitude and declination as well as the distance from the sun - I found this site with detailed formulae. Basically in addition to the inverse-square factor is a sinusodial factor for the angle and a logarithmic factor for the atmospheric absorption, but it turns out the inverse-square part really is dominant for the average values at the top of the atmosphere, just like your intution. These data also support that.
They might not be referring to top-of-atmosphere values, though, so there's no way to tell if they're actually mistaken without knowing what atmospheric heights they're comparing. The atmospheric effect is surprisingly large even on Mars, where the attenuation is at least 1.2-fold and as high as 150-fold during a storm (from the Viking data from the first link).
It's reassuring that the decision-makers in that process consider alternative ideas; basing the goal on 'human-like' sight would leave a lot of room for error
It's true, but using 3D laser mapping feels a little bit like cheating - after all, human drivers don't need nearly that much information. A successful computer vision approach would be a lot more impressive, even if it was too dangerous for the highway.
You better hope your car is not just taking one single still image and performing actions based on that.
In fact, most of them don't use computer vision much at all. Google's self-driving car for example uses a rotating IR laser to directly measure its surrounds.
As for the "magic" straw man, not worthy of a response.
It's not a straw man at all. You explicitly claimed that the US government's collection of smart people have almost obtained a polynomial prime factoring algorithm while the vastly larger collection of non-US-government smart people has not. You have no argument other than bald assertion why that should be the case.
And the numbers given in the article correspond suspiciously well to an inverse-distance relationship.
Why did you make the parent comment specifically stating the opposite?
The parent's question was, would the same people who support ending the embargo now, have supported engagement with South Africa over sanctions? My answer is that those "left of center folks" who supported the punitive sanctions against SA might have moderated their stance if 50 years into the sanctions, the apartheid regime still existed.
I get what you're saying - the embargo has had some demonstrable effects. But achieving the policy goal (end of Castro regime / communism in Cuba) is not one of them.
I wonder where these numbers come from.
Different magnetic fields strengths and atmospheres (or lack thereof). The values themselves are probably empirical data from the previous unmanned probes (as opposed to theoretical calculations assuming a location just outside the magnetic field).
People had known the earth was round for hundreds if not thousands of years before Columbus.
Definitely thousands. (Like 1.8 thousands).
So would the same people that support this move also say we should have continued with "constructive engagement" vis a vis South Africa during apartheid rather than imposing the punitive sanctions that were demanded by many left-of-center folks?
Maybe, if after 50 years no demonstrable progress had been made.