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Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum

awtbfb Jabba's palace (65 comments)

From TFA:

"It looks like a palace for Jabba the Hutt."

Does that mean Chicago is a wretched hive of scum and villainy?

about 3 months ago

What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US?

awtbfb Re:Everyone is waiting for California (320 comments)

They described the five categories of vehicle automation, and explained that the first autonomous (not Musk’s so called “autopilot” which isn’t) vehicles will hit the road in the summer of 2015.

Here's the levels. Most high-functioning systems on the market, like the Tesla version, are in the Level 1-2 range.

No-Automation (Level 0): The driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle controls – brake, steering, throttle, and motive power – at all times.

Function-specific Automation (Level 1): Automation at this level involves one or more specific control functions. Examples include electronic stability control or pre-charged brakes, where the vehicle automatically assists with braking to enable the driver to regain control of the vehicle or stop faster than possible by acting alone.

Combined Function Automation (Level 2): This level involves automation of at least two primary control functions designed to work in unison to relieve the driver of control of those functions. An example of combined functions enabling a Level 2 system is adaptive cruise control in combination with lane centering.

Limited Self-Driving Automation (Level 3): Vehicles at this level of automation enable the driver to cede full control of all safety-critical functions under certain traffic or environmental conditions and in those conditions to rely heavily on the vehicle to monitor for changes in those conditions requiring transition back to driver control. The driver is expected to be available for occasional control, but with sufficiently comfortable transition time. The Google car is an example of limited self-driving automation.

Full Self-Driving Automation (Level 4): The vehicle is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip. Such a design anticipates that the driver will provide destination or navigation input, but is not expected to be available for control at any time during the trip. This includes both occupied and unoccupied vehicles.

U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Policy on Automated Vehicle Development

about 3 months ago

San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

awtbfb Re:iOS? Android? (61 comments)

It is also quite straightforward to make your app VoiceOver friendly. The tricky part is managing some of the VoiceOver gestures. Aside from the equivalent of alt tags on images, the most important part is getting the step forward/backward and continuous scroll gestures working right in your app. Turn on VoiceOver, swipe down with two fingers and see what happens. Then swipe one finger left or right. If you've done your job right, the cursor will move in the order you expect. Scrolling on lists that go below the fold are also subtle, yet important.

about 6 months ago

If Ridesharing Is Banned, What About Ride-Trading?

awtbfb Already solved and operating in the senior market (353 comments)

ITNAmerica has already sorted this out. It is possible to load your parent's ride account with credits from cash or your own driving contributions. For example, you can drive people around your area and the credits are used by your parents who live halfway across the country. If you fall short one month, just fill up the credits with cash.

about 10 months ago

Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication

awtbfb Re:Look Who's Talking Now (390 comments)

In many US States, the local Departments of Transportation want nothing to do with enforcement actions. They will let the police/town/etc install red light cameras, but they don't want to be involved beyond that. In fact many red light cameras are operated by private companies under contract with local municipalities.

Here's an example of why DOTs don't want to be involved in enforcement. A while back some politician in New Jersey, not part of the local DOT, floated the idea of using EZPass toll data to automatically issue speeding tickets. This was almost certainly a money grab. Massive amounts of drivers started asking how to get rid of their EZPass accounts and turn in their transponders. DOT knew lower market penetration would negatively impact congestion at toll booths. They, thankfully, squashed the idea quickly.

about a year ago

Why Competing For Tenure Is Like Trying To Become a Drug Lord

awtbfb Point of clarification (168 comments)

The main "duty" of most non-tenured professors is to produce research. If you do that best by working regular 9am-5pm hours or by only coming in in the middle of the night, nobody's going to care much. Aside from that, you need to attend occasional meetings and turn your grades in at the end of the semester. Once you have tenure, the obligation to produce continuous research is lessened a bit, and most of the schedule on which you "fulfill your duties" is really up to you.

From my perspective in the trenches, the reduction is not as big as most people might think for CS and the sciences. If you worked like crazy while building your credentials, either for tenure or to a senior position in a non-tenure research track, you can't really slack off too much. You still need to bring in the cash to cover your team, grad student tuitions, and your own salary, which are now more expensive too. This means just as much research effort and proposal writing. This is exacerbated when research funding is cut at a large scale (sequestration). The reduction really comes from i) having established robust lab practices, methods, and management skills and ii) improved proposal writing skills combined with a track record. Junior faculty expend a lot of time finding and developing the right models, processes, and skills.

Another problem is that you spend your early career developing and reinforcing workaholic habits. It is very hard to step away from work, even for a regular weekend. Unlike most high intensity jobs, the flexible time is great for scheduling around family so they actually see you. You can insulate them from the worst of it.

about a year ago

Valve Announces Linux-Based SteamOS

awtbfb Way earlier (510 comments)

Um, no. It has been in living rooms for over a decade. TiVo runs linux. Now get off my lawn!

about a year ago

Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car

awtbfb Reaction times (149 comments)

V2V is peer-to-peer and really focused on reducing reaction times. It allows the car ahead to instantly tell the car behind it is braking. This means less latency for corrective action. This also helps non-autonomous cars since V2V equipped vehicles could, theoretically, suck up some of the shockwaves present in current highway driving.

about a year ago

Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car

awtbfb Re: How is this news? Answer: Closer to market (149 comments)

The main advance is the progression towards real-world sensor selection and packaging. If you look at all the cars which completed the Urban Challenge, and the Google cars, you'll notice the spinning Velodyne laser sensor on the roof. It is a great sensor and makes autonomous driving much easier. Unfortunately, that sucker costs more than most luxury cars and would never be deployed the real-world since nobody wants a spinning can on their roof.

Carnegie Mellon would not have won the Urban Challenge without that sensor or the others littered all over the exterior of the car. The major advance for this new Carnegie Mellon car is comparable performance with cheaper sensors fully packaged within the car. This is a big deal since (a) economics limits which sensors you can buy and (b) the car body and shape limit the size and location of sensors. These obviously limit your overall sensing capability.

The new car also has better computer packaging. Most autonomous vehicles have no trunk space and frequently have no back seat room. For a historical perspective, Carnegie Mellon's Navlab 1, which found a spot and parallel parked autonomously in 1992, had racks of computers and an extra air conditioning system to handle the heat load. Urban Challenge vehicles also had racks in their trunk areas. The Cadillac SRX team was able to cram all the computational gear out of sight. This is really Moore's Law, etc but it is still a respectable achievement.

about a year ago

Cadillac SRX Converted Into Self-Driving Car

awtbfb Re:Hasn't Google been doing that for years? (149 comments)

Actually, Google built the All-Star team from the Urban Grand Challenge. The Google group has lots of CMU (winner) and Stanford (2nd place) team members, including the technical lead from CMU.

about a year ago

SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants

awtbfb Without NSF, there'd be no Google (307 comments)

It's not that simple. A lot of groundbreaking work is the result of side project within a larger research effort. Google is a good example of this. The ideas and approach had their origins in the NSF project Larry and Sergey were working on. While the SDLP project probably had an impact on digital libraries, the stated goal of the work, the larger impact was the creation of a technology behemoth with thousands of US jobs and a major influence on the digital economy. Using your model, would Google have happened? Probably not.

Also, the way you posed the question is interesting for other reasons. Whether a person changes their behavior is often based on far more than just basic science and technology advancements. Issues like federal policy (political science) can have a huge impact. For example, I'm working on technology research related to the aging of the population. This is a very real societal need and it is easy to justify the work from a financial perspective (take a look at nursing home and caregiver costs). However, many health and independence technologies are intertwined with privacy, whether Medicare will pay, and other non-technical issues. We rely on the insights of our colleagues doing research in the social sciences to help us understand the interplay between functionality and barriers to acceptance and commercialization. Without their research, we'd probably make very expensive paperweights.

about a year ago

Researchers Analyze Twitter To Find Happiest Parts of the United States

awtbfb Mod Parent Up (160 comments)

No if you're posting from a vacation destination you're probably happy.

Exactly. If the researchers didn't account for traveling behavior (i.e., check to see if the person was posting from their typical geographical region) then the results would be heavily skewed by vacations. Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Utah and Vermont are all popular vacation locations.

about 2 years ago

Researchers Opt To Limit Uses of Open-access Publications

awtbfb Re:That makes sense (172 comments)

It won't stop them, but it gives you the ability to get the plagiarized material pulled. Remember, plagiarism is antithetical to academia. Mashups are fine, as long as you give appropriate credit.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For Developers To Start Their Own Union?

awtbfb And the t-shirt design! (761 comments)

... which, of course already exists

more than 2 years ago

French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity

awtbfb Obligatory PhD Comics (139 comments)

Research is -- on the scale that government or really large corporations operate -- cheap. It is a relatively small portion of the budget and yet returns value over decades and centuries.

I'm not so sure about that. PhD Comics broke down the FY 2009 budget. It's worth taking a look. $68B out of $3,518B, or about 19%. Now, having said this, there are impacts from government research funds that reach far beyond a large corporation research budget. Research can produce massive savings that last decades, grow whole new industries, or create entirely new "really large corporations" (Google came from an NSF grant). A typical corporate lab is not focused on problems that lead to societal-level savings or whole new fields. They lack the large-scale funds and are often constrained to the company's best interest. Government funded research generally covers a sector of the research map that companies avoid due to risk, long-term payback, or scale.

more than 2 years ago

Stem Cells Turn Hearing Back On

awtbfb Deaf Culture != Deaf community (101 comments)

An important distinction is that Deaf Culture members are not speaking on behalf of all deaf people. There are many, many deaf and hard of hearing people who use cochlear implants and hearing aids. Most of this population were raised by hearing parents who opted for their child to grow up in their world, rather than the world of the DC-oriented state school for the deaf system. Since 90% of the children born deaf have hearing parents, it is not surprising that many of their parents choose an oral, mainstream route. If an insular community that spoke a different language told you that, because of a physical feature on your new baby, your child should grow up in a culture other than your own, would you? It is also hard to dissuade a hearing parent of a newborn when they see an older implanted kid talking and singing - the evidence is staring them in the face.

While some kids in the oral mainstream education path end up migrating away from technology for various reasons, most stay on this track and are very technology friendly. This isn't surprising given the outcomes. Extensive, longitudinal research shows the vast majority of children implanted with a CI in their first few years and enrolled in an oral school (e.g., Option Schools) are mainstreamed into regular classrooms by kindergarten/1st grade. Mainstreaming is a huge predictor of English reading literacy (ASL is not English), which as we all know, is important for many higher income employment opportunities. You don't hear about this population because most of them melt into society.

The advance mentioned in TFA is likely to receive the same attack the DC crowd is waging on cochlear implants. They claim deaf kids should make the decision for themselves. This is a smokescreen. Kids implanted after the early language development windows (pre-5) have a much harder time learning to understand and use the sound provided by the implant due to reduced brain plasticity. If they are much older, they are also less likely to be mainstreamed and therefore behind the curve on literacy. Therefore, it is not surprising kids who are "given a choice when they are older" would have poorer outcomes and are more likely to abandon technology.

Having said all this, many adult cochlear implant and hearing aid users are unlikely to opt for this advance. If they are like my wife, they are comfortable with their hearing loss, get good use out of their cochlear implant, and don't see a strong need to change. However, this advance would have a huge impact on newborns and kids still in the language development window.

more than 2 years ago

DHS Best-and-Brightest STEM Program Under Fire

awtbfb MOD parent up (108 comments)

I've seen OPT used properly and effectively for very talented foreign students. I've been around very good universities and I can confirm OPT is critical at keeping top-tier foreign students here in the US. The most common cases are (a) the summer grad school gap when changing schools and (b) a gap between graduation and an employment visa. The former may seem trivial, but it can allow a student to finish up a research project at University A before moving on to University B (e.g., undergrad to grad, MS to PhD, etc). Losing three months of an integrated, talented student has significant impact on a research project. For the latter, I've met numerous students who used OPT as key step towards gaining eventual permanent status.

more than 2 years ago

Subdermal Magnets Allow You To Wear an IPod Like a Watch

awtbfb Lessons from the cochlear implant community (228 comments)

Magnets are used to keep the internal and external antennas aligned for cochlear implants. CIs have been around for a while, so the community has learned some important lessons. First, you need to plan for magnet removal in the event of an emergency MRI. Most CI users don't get MRIs but sometimes there is a critical need. Therefore, newer implant models allow a qualified doctor to make a small incision, pop the magnet out without damaging the implant, and then put everything back after the MRI. This is extremely rare for obvious reasons.

Second, the magnet in the external component is usually tailored to the individual. The need for different strengths is due to magnet depth, hair, etc. There are several strength levels (e.g., high, medium, low) and you want one that will hold the coil tight, but not so tight that it leads to skin damage.

more than 2 years ago

Blind Man Test Drives Google's Autonomous Car

awtbfb I'm killing my MOD points for this (273 comments)

I want to see the CVs of these engineers first. On how many high-integrity systems have they worked so far? I know plenty of people with an AI background, and trust me, I don't want these to program my car. I'd also need to know which programming languages and development tools they have used, see the source code, and would like to know which formal software and hardware verification methods were used to verify the code.

I'm fortunate enough to know some of the people on the team. They come from robotics backgrounds and are very experienced in highly reliable systems. For example, a big chunk of the Google team was hired out of the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing team. That team tested their systems so much that they wore out hardware. The Carnegie Mellon team also originates from the Field Robotics Center which sends robots to Antarctica, volcanoes, sinkhole lakes, the mountain deserts of Chile, and abandoned mines. These are hardened systems developed using hard core systems engineering and serious software engineering methods. Trust me, this is not a group of ivory tower AI people ignoring version control and using latest beta release of LISP. One of the technical leads, Chris Urmson gave a talk last year at Carnegie Mellon. It was apparent that they have continued these practices in Google. The incredible volume of field testing is the outward evidence.

more than 2 years ago



Turning Down a Glass Explorer Invite

awtbfb awtbfb writes  |  about a year and a half ago

awtbfb (586638) writes "An invited Explorer discovers Glass has accessibility problems and may interfere with her hearing aid and cochlear implant. There's a 30 day return period in case the accessibility barriers are insurmountable, and she was willing to try. However, Google is insisting she gamble on travel expenses to one of their three showrooms. It seems they still have customer service problems. Disclaimer: I'm related to the author."

Man with quadriplegia controls robot arm with mind

awtbfb awtbfb writes  |  more than 3 years ago

awtbfb (586638) writes "Tim Hemmes, with the help of University of Pittsburgh researchers, successfully controlled a robot arm in three dimensions. He's had quadriplegia for seven years. The feat was accomplished using implanted ECoG electrodes and weeks of computer training. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Ever since his accident, Mr. Hemmes said, he's had the goal of hugging his daughter Jaylei." Next up are six more 30-day participants, followed by a year-long study."
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