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Google's Self Driving Car Crashes

PieSquared Re:Built Upon Failures (244 comments)

Because we have a need to *blame* someone when something goes wrong. If a robotic car makes a mistake, crashes, and kills someone, who goes to jail? The owner, who submitted it for through testing before allowing it to drive on the road? The manufacturer, who did the same and also preformed thousands of hours of independent testing? One of the dozens of engineers or hundreds of programmers who worked on it? A person is hypothetically dead, and they wouldn't have hypothetically died if not for this robotic car! Who do we get to punish!?

The statistical fact that if every robotic car on the roads had been driven by a human, then there would have been ten fatal accidents in the time it took for this first robotic car fatality to happen isn't much comfort to the family of the hypothetical dead victim. Especially when the on-board cameras show that this particular accident would have been trivially prevented by a human driver. And you can bet that *some* politician is going to plaster that hypothetical victim's face all over the national news until everyone knows that robotic cars are a terrible idea and should be banned.

Now, we can hope that cooler heads would prevail, and the video of the avoidable crash would be shown along with dozens of videos of crashes that no human could have avoided. That people will point out that even if it does sometimes make mistakes, it's still better then a human driver, that injures and even deaths result from seatbelts and airbags, but that we keep them anyway because they save more lives then they take. That we can change the software so that this particular mistake never happens again, and do more testing to eliminate any other extant problems before anyone is hurt. Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can *hope* for that, but I personally don't have enough faith in US politics to really believe it.

more than 2 years ago

OK Go Goes HTML5

PieSquared Re:Not a good sign... (171 comments)

"And what happened with HTML5 being an open, cross-platform standard"

Nothing. It's just that so far nobody has a complete implementation, and different browsers have different parts working. At the moment it appears Chrome is the furthest along, and they're pushing people to use their working subset of HTML5 to the fullest with the whole "chrome experiments" thing. The others will catch up eventually.

more than 2 years ago

US Supreme Court: Video Games Qualify For First Amendment

PieSquared Re:How... Ironic. (458 comments)

Because Breyer dissented for a different and less interesting reason? "It's okay to abridge the freedom of children to protect them" vs "the founders' society didn't give kids freedom of speech, so we can't grant it to them on the basis of the constitution."

You might disagree with the first, but if the second was applied everywhere then the very justice that voiced this opinion wouldn't be allowed to hold office. (Or, well, if you ignore the 14th amendment.)

more than 2 years ago

Have We Reached Maximum Sustainable Population Size?

PieSquared Re:Simple solution: (1070 comments)

No, that's stupid. Do you know what will happen if enough people switch to vegetarianism? Land will become cheaper. And then when the housing slump ends, it will be turned into cheap housing. We won't, for example, use the extra land to grow more food and ship it overseas out of the goodness of our collective hearts.

When (if) overpopulation actually becomes a serious problem, food will become more expensive (beyond inflation), and farming more profitable. Then some of the land sold by farmers to developers over the last few decades (and where I live, that's a lot of land) will be bought back, and we'll grow more food. If things get really bad, meat will start to cost more in line with its increased land use and effort, and people will eat less meat.

Why hasn't this already happened, if there are places where people are starving? Blame the local governments, that are either ineffectual or corrupt in just about every case. That prevents people from earning money with the serious expectation of being allowed to spend it, and they therefore can't seriously affect the price of food.

more than 2 years ago

India's Schooling Experiment Tests Rich and Poor

PieSquared Re:What it comes down to (174 comments)

No, they won't. Or at least they won't become the equals of the students that attend the 35k schools at the moment. The reason is simple: to get into a 35k school you have to have 35k to spare and think a good education is worth 35k. Parents who value education are more likely to have kids who value education, and kids who value education learn better then those who think it's a waste of time... no matter how much you spend on them.

more than 2 years ago

Using Flywheels to Meet Peak Power Grid Demands

PieSquared Re:15 mega watts of energy storage (325 comments)

Because it's being used as a temporary generator, not a battery.

more than 2 years ago

Baby's First TSA Patdown

PieSquared Re:2 questions for the TSA (570 comments)

It's not "they haven't found any in the screening process so there aren't any", it's "they haven't found any in the screening process, but several got through, so why are we spending so much money on a process that violates our rights and doesn't even work?"

more than 2 years ago

University Proposes Tuition Based On Major

PieSquared Re:Why not free? (532 comments)

Nope, it's a pyramid scheme. Pay a little to another senior today, and when you're old and the working population is larger you'll get several people paying for your skyrocketing medical costs! Nothing could possibly go wrong!

more than 2 years ago

Asia Runs Out of IPv4 Addresses

PieSquared Re:geographic distribution (321 comments)

And why do they own ICANN, and most of the critical infrastructure? Because they got there first.

about 3 years ago

Are Graphical Calculators Pointless?

PieSquared Re:Another viewpoint on calculators and exams... (636 comments)

"You separate man from his tools - take his clothes, his history and his language away... he becomes an animal. The machines... they are the hands and we are the head. Only together do we make humanity."

Now, teaching people how to do basic math by hand... sure, there are good reasons for that. But once you get to a certain point it is more useful to be able to describe a problem to a computer (and to understand the results) then it is to work it out by hand, and kids should be taught that as well.

about 3 years ago

Firefox 5 Details: Sharing, Home Tab, PDF Viewer

PieSquared Re:Firefox5 would be fine if it's a major advance (453 comments)

The only thing I can think of is that they haven't used it much. I mean, if all you want to type is URL's it will add a few keystrokes until it 'learns' the ones you frequently use, I guess. But if you ever can't remember exactly the name of a website it's a good way to search only your browser history rather then everything on the internet. It's honestly one of the few things I actually miss going from firefox to chrome.

about 3 years ago

US Navy Breaks Laser Record

PieSquared Re:Serious range disadvantage for naval warfare. (294 comments)

And what percent of incoming light do you think chrome paint reflects? 99%? Why, that only leaves 2.5 inches of steel per second of cutting power, and what it actually needs is enough heat to burn paint, which is considerably less.

more than 3 years ago

US Navy Breaks Laser Record

PieSquared Re:20 feet of steel, not 200. (294 comments)

The problem with weaponized lasers has always been that it's hard to keep them exactly on one spot long enough to really do damage. I mean, against a static target you're probably not going to need 20 feet of steel in a second, but if you're aiming at a ballistic missile then maybe you need to get through a quarter inch of steel in a millisecond. Then of course there's the typical "paint a mirror on your missiles" defense - but mirrors aren't perfect, and some fraction of the damage gets through (and once it starts melting, the mirror gets less and less perfect).

more than 3 years ago

NASA Finds Family of Habitable Planets

PieSquared Re:Selection effects (184 comments)

They're requiring three transits to flag a potential planet for verification with other telescopes. And my understanding is that the resolution is sufficient to detect earth-sized habitable zone planets without considerable trouble, once it's been up there for the three years required to find 3 earth-like transits, so size isn't nearly the selection effect that distance (from their star) is.

more than 3 years ago

Third of Content On Popular BT Portals Are Fake

PieSquared I'm almost surprised (255 comments)

If anything, I'd expect more then a third of the torrents to be fake. I'd also bet that if you weighted the torrents by completed downloads, you'd get more like 1% 'fake', maybe more like 2-3% if you include things that are real but include a virus.

more than 3 years ago

The Prospects For Lunar Mining

PieSquared Re:Energy requirements? (348 comments)

The "literal" dark side (that is, the side which isn't currently lit) changes, with a sunrise every ~28 days.

The "figurative" dark side (that is, the side which isn't facing the earth) is fixed.

Since it's the literal one that would be involved in any sort of heat engine, it's possible that you have them confused.

more than 3 years ago

If I'm the driver, I like to go ...

PieSquared Re:Strange... (717 comments)

If a person's going the same speed as you a mile in front of you or a mile behind you, you'll never know. On the other hand, if someone is going 10 MPH faster then you, a mile behind you, then they're going to pass you in 6 minutes and then be gone. But if someone's going 10 miles an hour slower then you a mile in front of you, you might be stuck behind them in 6 minutes, and you're going to stay there until one of you makes a turn (depending on passing conditions).

This sort of thing influences peoples' opinions of how fast other people drive.

more than 3 years ago

US Government Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

PieSquared Re:That's not irony! (336 comments)

If it actually *caused* a leak, then yes. If it just didn't work, then no.

Someone being convinced to wear a bullet proof vest by a loved one who feared for their safety, and then getting shot in an area it didn't protect isn't irony. Someone being convinced to wear a bullet proof vest by a loved one who feared for their safety, and then drowning because their vest weighed them down is irony.

And in any case, the "leaked" document is very clearly marked "not classified".

more than 3 years ago

Congresswoman and Staff Gunned Down

PieSquared Re:Knock it off, people! (2166 comments)

Wait, what are we knocking off? Shooting people? Telling people to pursue a "second amendment remedy" if their candidate doesn't win? Or noticing that when you preach hate and guns, eventually someone's going to get shot?

I bet it's the third one that's the real problem here. Yea. That's the ticket.

more than 3 years ago


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