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Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 44

That's what the GP proposed.

For a human, a skill test is OK, because we already know he's a human, and cities are built around humans. We can expect him to behave in a certain way, and we kind of know his possible range of abilities and limitations, even if not in a formal way.

There's a reason why we require other things, like a minimum age, because being a responsible adult is precondition to the test.

What they are doing right now is different. Still a black box test, but much more comprehensive. They are going to gather so much data that statistics are going to start kicking in, bc they should be able to somewhat "prove" that these cars are safer than regular cars.

Comment Re:In other words. (Score 3, Insightful) 241

The law should NEVER, EVER, EVER, provide protection over any data available behind public sector activity.

The public sector frequently claims the release of information will be burdensome; however, the public sector actors are not always forced, by statute (as they are in Minnesota) to ensure records should be held in a way which the sector cannot claim burden in failure to comply.

This needs to change.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 44

That's just not true.
Humans, specially urban dwellers, are known to have a certain set of capabilities, in general.
Also, they are known to behave in a certain fashion, and to abide by certain rules.
For example, a human with tendency to kill everyone in his path, would just not be able to apply for a drivers license, he would be in jail, dead, or something similar.
That black box testing is only verifying very specific knowledge and ability. It doesn't do a great job at that, but its task is a lot easier than testing an AI from scratch. You could do that, if there was some "human like" validation test, you could take prior to getting a license.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 2) 44

You make a very interesting point.
With automation, it's a lot easier for us to accept a given amount of understandable failure, than a much smaller amount of inexplicable failure. That might be a roadblock against some forms of automation.

In any case, there's also economics, which do like statistics, and will make you choose the strategy that fails less, overall. For example, insurance companies might favour driving algorithms that crash less often vs ones that crash a bit more often, but for better known causes.


More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste 162

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.

Comment Re:There needs to be a standard device (Score 1) 233

Right now policemen are able to stop cars, no device needed.
Autonomous cars should be able to match current driver behaviour. There's room for improvement, but they don't need a better solution in all regards, to replace drivers, only to be as good as them.

Comment Re:Here's the thing though... (Score 1) 233

It's not really that hard for a bad guy to buy a cop costume. Humans can't tell them difference between the police and some random jackass. Also, if a guy is standing in the middle of the road signaling you to stop, you're gonna stop just to not run him over.

I think self-driving cars should be treated as taxis. Just like you can't expect your taxi driver to disobey a cop, nor can you expect your SDC to.

Good point, but that's a driverless taxi, not an autonomous car. An autonomous car would be a car you own and you command, that does what you ask it to do. Like a car, but instead of driving it, you tell it to go places, and override command _whenever_ you want it, not when it's lawful to do so.

I think that autonomous driving will probably be best applied to public transportation, because an automated taxi is a better taxi, while an autonomous car is a lesser car, after you take this kind of things into account.

Comment And yet, even at 24, it's not the year of Linux (Score 0, Flamebait) 150

I've been using Linux, in varying capacities in both my personal and work life, since that fateful day in fall of 1996 when I popped a Slackware CD into my Dell Latitude P-133 laptop. Yet, I still don't love it as much as I should.

Why? Because, as I found out this week when I installed Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on a VM to power a SAS installation at work, it still sucks in so many ways. Is it better than it was 19 years ago? Not really. I still had to think; still had to work to get the damn thing to run; and grub still gave me a rash and a shit to get up and running.

Yeah, the Debian install I originally made back in November of 2002 is still running, after many a dist-upgrade, and it's going strong; however, I still have my love/hate w/Linux after nearly 20 years living with it daily.

I've always been excited for the next big thing. The next moment when it would be that system I could easily use on my desktop or laptop and interoperate w/the rest of the world; yet, here I am, typing this on a machine, provided to me by my company, I never thought I'd use (a MBPr), ever.

Yeah, Linux runs the Internet and many of our phones, yet, I still hate it as much as I did when I was 17 years old, for many of the same reasons.

I'll be happily waiting for another 24 while it continues to grow and do its thing but, unlike the visions many of us saw for Linux back in the day, it has not shaped up like we thought it would. Successful? ABSOLUTELY. But as successful and brilliant as it should be 24 years later, ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Comment Re:Story summary ... (Score 1) 1018

Well, some of us prefer hard science fiction to the squishy stuff.

I honestly rue the day the all-inclusive crowd decided to re-designate SF as "speculative fiction." All fiction is speculative as it is all an exercise in what-if. The difference between hard science fiction and the rest, as I see it, is that based upon the objective reality currently understood at the time of authorship, the hard stuff is actually within the realm of known possibilities, because, you know, science. I find that to be a significant enough distinction to distinguish these works from those containing gods, elves, magicians, macro teleportation, ESP and so on.

That is in no way to imply that the squishy stuff cannot be fine work -- it most certainly can, and often is. But the bottom line for me is that it is different on a fundamental level, providing a different kind of experience from, say, "The Martian" or the technically flawed, but scientifically sound, "Red Mars."

Doesn't matter to me personally who, or what, gets a Hugo, or why. I'm sitting about ten feet from three of them, and the shine has worn off after decades of observing the process. All I'm saying is that if hard science fiction is of such consequence to these people that they feel awards should be proffered in that specific category, there are doors that are open, or could be opened. Assuming the story is at all accurate, which, from the other comments here... it very well may not be.

Comment Re:Story summary ... (Score 2) 1018

Summary aside, if there really is an objection to the range of science fiction stories that the Hugos are currently addressing these days, then I can see two reasonable solutions, either or both of which may already exist:

1) hugos specific to the category being awarded: e.g. "hard science fiction"

2) another award entirely -- which means publicity, fan gathering, etc. Lots of work.

It seems like a tempest in a teakettle to me.

Comment Refining and transport costs? (Score 1) 61

From TFI:

The transportation and extraction costs are sufficiently high

This may be half-true if the vision is mankind going out there and mining and refining, but if it's done the sane way, the way it of course will ultimately be done -- which is by solar-powered robotics with self-repair capabilities along or incorporated -- the initial (and total) cost will be irrelevant due to the profits maintenance-free, zero ongoing-costs, self-repairing operations will continuously produce.

As for "transport costs", really, WTF? What about gravity? Inertia? Orbital mechanics? Ion drives? Sunlight? Did he forget his fundamental physics?

Mine it, refine it, and kick it - not very hard, either - (using an Ion tug/pusher that just starts it on its journey-to-wherever and then returns to the operation) towards where you want it to go, past whatever you want to use to give it more or less oomph, and it'll (eventually) get there. And once the first such package arrives after the initial latency caused by transport time, the others will follow at reasonably similar intervals to the kick-out intervals, assuming only that where they are being sent to isn't moving under its own power, in which case, every "kick" would have to be towards somewhere else (and you'd have to know where the target was going to be on receipt, too, or there wouldn't be any receipt.) Still, that's not going to be the critical use-case -- this is going to be almost entirely about sending materials mined from nearly zero-g environments to planetary and moon orbit, to the surface of the moon, to earth, to mars, etc.

If we're talking about delivery through an atmosphere, then a re-entry container, perhaps even a lifting body, will be required from some things. So an operation has to be set up to build those as required and send them to the mining sites in that case. Unless we just want meteoric delivery, which might actually be practical for some things, particularly high-temperature-tolerant things. Aim them towards a sufficiently deep part of the ocean or man-made body of water built for the purpose, rake them up at set intervals (during which none would be incoming, obviously) and there you have it. Any such containers or lifting bodies should (again, obviously) be built out of something we can re-purpose, as they are also nothing but materials mined for free in space, albeit not exactly raw materials. Heck, you could probably just make hydrogen balloons that come in slowly and let them float down to a reasonable altitude and then puncture themselves when they drift over a designated receiving area -- no massive influx of reentry heat there. Have to be some damn strong balloons to tolerate being inflated in a vacuum, but our materials science is working on that already. Not to mention other mechanisms that may be possible. :) We'd probably end up with too much hydrogen, lol. Still.

Sure, the initial startup will be much harder if they push into it as a manned operation that needs constant support and staffing. But the endgame here, indubitably based entirely on zero-ongoing cost-robotics, is almost unimaginably profitable in terms of both money and materials gleaned from these operations.

Comment Re:Compatibility is not an unrealistic expectation (Score 1) 314

You say:

Sometimes code's behavior is the documentation.

Yes, that is the definition of undocumented software, when the only documentation is its observed behaviour.

But then you say...

Successfully reading and interpreting a file is one thing. Rendering its contents is another. The Office Open XML format, .docx, is open: ISO/IEC 29500.

No, it's not open. First, OOXML is a sanctioned standard, but it's not open. For example, there is no open reference implementation, only proprietary binaries.
Also, and most importantly, msoffice does not implement OOXML completely. Its small differences are what make compatibility a moving target.

About this...

So, the second to best solution is to just acknowledge msoffice is not compatible with other software, so either ditch it completely, or keep it completely. Half assed efforts are doomed to fail from the start.

That is a fine strategy if you are not trying to get people to convert to your app. Blowing off a valid user expectation hurts adoption.

But these guys were not trying to get people to convert to anything. Their job was to provide office productivity software for the city personnel. The hybrid solution was a bad idea, they failed because they tried something that is known not to work.

OpenOffice/LibreOffice guys can work on interoperability as much as they want. That doesn't automatically make it viable as a solution for a big organization.

Comment Re:Compatibility is not an unrealistic expectation (Score 1) 314

That, or you can RTFA.

The problem was unrealistic expectations. They went from an all msoffice operation, to a hybrid one.
msoffice is not compatible with anything else. You can migrate away from their formats, but you can't really interoperate with them without a lot of fiddling around.
That's costly, and wasn't accounted for in the original planning. Shockingly, it costed time and money.

I did read the article and you are completely mistaken. The problem is OpenOffice's failure at being compatible. If it paginates wrong an OpenOffice developer should fix that. If macros are missing an OpenOffice developer should add those.

OK, but a developer can't "fix" what is not specified. msoffice formats are not specified so that they can be implemented. So that's not something a oo developer would be able to fix by himself.

So, the second to best solution is to just acknowledge msoffice is not compatible with other software, so either ditch it completely, or keep it completely. Half assed efforts are doomed to fail from the start.

Being a government, they can ditch it completely if it makes sense for them. Where I live, there is a law that requires all gov data to be available in open formats, so it's even easier to comply that way.

All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.