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Comment Who to protect. (Score 1) 364

"Most people want to live in in a world where cars will minimize casualties," says Iyad Rahwan. "But everybody wants their own car to protect them at all costs."

I don't. Not at all costs. I don't drive that way and I wouldn't want others to, either, whether in a self-driven car or a self-driving car.

Take a hypothetical example. I'm driving down the street, observing all relevant traffic rules when an oncoming vehicle, for no apparent reason, swerves into my lane and is headed for a head-on collision with me. For the sake of this hypothetical, I have only two options, as in the above example-- to either allow the collision or swerve myself. The only available location to avoid a collision is occupied by multiple pedestrians who are also obeying the traffic rules.

Plenty of people would swerve reflexively and hit the pedestrians. If law enforcement and the legal system work properly, I would most likely be exonerated in this accident, and blame for any damage or injury suffered both by myself and the pedestrians would be borne by the driver of the other vehicle.

Which does nobody a damn bit of good if the pedestrians are dead, and possibly no one left to blame (except an insurance company) if the driver of the other vehicle also died in the collision. (Let's presume that if I avoid him, he hits the car behind me, killing that driver and himself. Just for the sake of argument.)

A human driver can defend themselves by saying they didn't mean to hit the pedestrians, perhaps that they didn't see the pedestrians prior to the accident; if they are not in a crosswalk and not competing with the car for right-of-way then there's no particular reason to have observed them.

The autonomous car has no such excuse. It might fail to avoid the oncoming car, it might fail to avoid hitting the pedestrians, but it will not be because it had no time to consider the possibilities or because it was frozen by indecision. I really don't think there's any way to approach this other than a utilitarian one. The car can't be expected to accurately compare the relative risks of damage, injury or death to the various parties. It can probably, however, be supplied with information about the number of occupants in the car and the number of pedestrians on the street.

I would hope I would not swerve into a dozen schoolchildren to save myself from an oncoming vehicle that is violating the regulations (for whatever reason) just to save myself and transfer the damage for which that vehicle's driver is responsible onto somebody else. If I can safely avoid him without significant involvement to bystanders, I should. If I can't, I should not. I should let them hit me, restricting the involvement in the accident, if possible, to the perpetrator and the one vehicle our example assumes will contain victims: mine.

Now, should my car hit other cars to save me? Presumably unoccupied, parked cars, for instance? Sure! Property alongside the road? Probably! Utility poles? Well, now we're getting into an area where the car won't and can't know what would happen, so probably the car should prioritize avoiding pedestrians and then structures like utility poles, but pay less regard to other cars, either stationary or moving.

Comment Re:Summon into back of trailer mode? (Score 1) 408

Look at the picture with the article. The truck had a load that extended far back behind the truck, and far above the ground-- above the height of the car's hood. The Tesla can't detect that, which is why Summon is only supposed to be used on private property where you control the obstacles, and not the side of a public road, where another vehicle can come along and park in front of you with an irregularly sized load.

Comment Snowden files? (Score 4, Insightful) 157

"I believe that both China and Russia had access to all the files that Snowden took well before Snowden took them because they've penetrated the NSA networks where those files reside."

If Russia and China had the files before Snowden took them then they are in no meaningful way "Snowden files". They are merely a set of documents that may, or may not, overlap a portion of Snowden's files. By repeating your opinion that Russia and China have them (apparently without having to decrypt them, if they received them separately from Snowden) you are bolstering the narrative that Snowden has done damage to the government and the people of the US rather than exposing the damage done by the government of the US to the people of the US and the world.

Well done, sir.

Comment English to English translation (Score 1) 441

Living overseas for the past decade and a half, a lot of times I've described my job as "English to English translation". It's amazing how many times meetings are conducted in English because it's the only language both sides have in common-- but it is native to neither of them, and they both leave the room thinking they understood what was said, when in fact, neither did.

Comment Premise (Score 1) 249

I'm not sure the premise has been established.

"Given the hundreds of thousands of apps currently on offer, it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long."

Why should either of those things be easy-- especially the latter?

Comment Anti Competitive Regulation (Score 2) 223

US telco regulation does the opposite of what such regulation is supposed to do: promote competition, preserve consumer choice, reduce prices, and increase the quality of service. Monopolies granted by municipalities to cable operators, and the deregulation of the Baby Bells, do exactly the opposite-- they protect incumbents with entrenched positions and raise barriers to entry. It's a classic case of regulatory capture on multiple levels.

The idea of municipalities now wanting to run their own ISPs, because it's so clearly a job they should be and can be doing better than the private sector-- is now resulting in lobbying groups sponsoring legislation to make it illegal to do so in order to preserve the monopolies-- is surreal to the point of absurdity.

Comment Re:Broken camera (Score 1) 264

The valid statistic is not the percentage of felonious deaths that occur as a result of shootings arising from traffic stops, but rather the percentage of traffic stops that result in shootings.

The question is-- when performing a traffic stop, how quickly should you unholster your gun? That should be based on how likely it is that a gun will become necessary during a traffic stop, not how often shootings that arose from traffic stops turned lethal-- for the COP.

You're also missing a number-- how many wrongful deaths of people other than a law enforcement officer resulted from shootings that arose from traffic stops where the driver was not actually armed or not actually a threat? I'm going to guess it was higher than 8. If so, by your logic that would seem to indicate that drivers really need to have their guns ready when police pull them over for traffic violations, because 16% of the time, when they shoot at you, you'll end up dead.

Comment Not in this case. (Score 2) 420


Nokia's market cap four years ago was $40B. Twelve years ago, it was $60B.

$7B is chump change in comparison. MS has written down entire acquisitions as worthless after spending almost as much.

Nokia was not some edgy web design garage startup trying to get acquired by one of the big boys. They WERE one of the big boys. There is no other way to describe this situation as a complete and utter failure of Nokia's management to cope with changing market conditions since 2007 and how they impacted the way Nokia did business: the migration of large portions of the revenue in the sector to smartphones, the death of Symbian, the rise of iOS and Android and their respective ecosystems.

This failure is not relative. It is absolute. What's hard to see is what MS actually gets out of this. The public rationale is nonsense. I thought it was for the patent portfolio, but that's excluded. The theory that it's to stave off impending bankruptcy, a switch to Android, or both makes a bit of sense. It might also be just so MS can exercise more control over how the market perceives WIndows Phone. They can conglomerate the financials for Nokia and Windows Phone into a larger group and cherry pick the numbers they like for release (the way they do with Skype, Xbox, and the Entertainment division.) This might stop reporting on poor Nokia device sales from reflecting badly on Windows Phone. Nokia's bankruptcy wouldn't have looked good for Windows Phone, either.

Comment Analogy (Score 1) 397

That analogy is anything but apt, and it's really difficult to address your question in absentia of any specifics.

The flying car analogy is not an example of the deleterious effects of making a process too efficient, but of unintended consequences of the circumstances that achieving that creates.

What the flying car achieves is allowing people to travel faster than ground transportation by reducing friction and utilizing three dimensional space more efficiently.

Its deleterious effects derive from the greater complexity of navigating three dimensional space, insufficient familiarity with that task among the general public, and the greater risk to drivers, passengers, and bystanders resulting from air collisions as opposed to traffic accidents.

However, you don't address this problem by not making flying cars. You address it by providing proper training, by making flying cars smarter and more autonomous than regular cars with regard to following proper procedures and avoiding accidents, and by setting and enforcing standards for manufacture, operation, and maintenance of flying cars. Those things make the flying car better by making it safer and more, rather than less, efficient (although there may certainly be some tradeoffs).

It sounds like what you are talking about is enabling the most efficient execution of a task that by itself is deleterious, and wishing to curb this tendency by making the task itself harder to achieve. I don't think your analogy fits, and at the moment I can't think of one that does. Is this so super duper top secret that you just can't actually say, without reference to specific entities, what the task is?

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