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Comment All interfaces should be FRAND or unpatentable (Score 1) 347

Since the US Constitution states that the purpose of patents is to advance the useful arts and sciences, and interoperability is key to that advance, all interfaces (whether human-machine or machine-machine) should only be patentable if they are FRAND. That should be a constitutional legal requirement for any US patent covering an interface or protocol.

Interfaces are important. Imagine if every car were forced to have a different interface by patents, with different pedals in different places and different steering wheels. That's no different from the slide-to-lock patent. We want to reward the creation of new and better interfaces, yet allow such interfaces to spread when they are proven to be better. FRAND is exactly the middle ground we want, as the success of GSM (a machine-machine interface) shows.

Comment First autonomous cars will be commercial (Score 1) 650

I think it is a big leap to assume that the first autonomous cars will be owned by the rich who have money to burn. The first autonomous vehicles will be used to MAKE money. Driverless taxis and buses will carry passengers, autonomous semis and trucks will haul freight, and small ATVs will courier documents and urgent deliveries in cities. The speed limit might matter to the last, but not the others.

Comment Re:Political correctness in action (Score 1) 409

Refusing to put blame on the correct party is a form of partisanship. Trying to pretend both sides are equally at fault when one side is clearly wrong is precisely a "stupid partisan game". Being willing to call a spade a spade and basing debate and policy on facts, regardless of how it makes each party looks, is how one gets past partisanship.


Russian Scholar Warns Of US Climate Change Weapon 415

According to Russian political scientist, and conspiracy aficionado Andrei Areshev the high heat, and poor crop yields of Russia, and other Central Asian countries may be the result of a climate weapon created by the US military. From the article: "... Areshev voiced suspicions about the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), funded by the US Defense Department and the University of Alaska. HAARP, which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection. Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction 'in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries.'"

Stats Show iPhone Owners Get More Sex 397

An anonymous reader writes "According to OK Cupid's survey of 552,000 user pictures iPhone users have more sexual partners than BlackBerry or Android owners. By age 30, the average male iPhone user has had about 10 partners while female iPhone users have had 12. By contrast, BlackBerry users hover around 8 partners and Android users have a mere 6. As the blog's author's wryly observe: 'Finally, statistical proof that iPhone users aren't just getting f*@ked by Apple.'"

EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) 308

captainktainer writes "In one of the largest tests of EVE Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, 'Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded,' meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance expressed disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, EVE Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised 'large fleet battles' that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions."

Comment Purpose of such contests (Score 5, Interesting) 180

I am an employee of DSTA, but I do not speak in my capacity as one.

The purpose of such contests is typically not to field an operational capability. It is very unlikely that the winning robot or a variant will actually be deployed. The main purpose is to encourage industry and academia to perform research in certain fields, such as machine vision, control systems, AI, etc. This is a long term investment. The secondary purpose is to gauge the state of the art in these fields while advancing it. This is the short term gain.

The contest is modelled after the DARPA Grand Challenge, which concentrates on outdoor navigation. Similarly, you will not see autonomous combat vehicles anytime soon. However, DARPA has certainly focussed interest and effort toward all the fundamental research questions needed to achieve such a feat. DARPA also now has a good idea of what is possible when planning acquisitions and upgrades, and is able to better assess the technical risk of new developments. If the US Army asked for an autonomous UGV tomorrow, DARPA would be able to give a good estimate of how much it would cost, how long it would take, and what is realistically achievable (then the politicians will come in and screw things up).

Such contests are an admission that the state of the art is no longer in the military or intelligence communities, but in the acadamic and industrial spheres. AES was developed outside the NSA, for example. More and more equipment is COTS or MOTS (commercial / militarized off-the-shelf). The days when you could get a national laboratory (Singapore has one too) to singlehandedly advance the state of the art are long over. Nowadays inhouse research tends to be focussed on either security-sensitive fields, or areas no one else simply wants to touch. This trend will only accelerate in the future.

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