Tuesday, July 19, 2016

That does not compute (or does it?)

A brief round-up culled from recent computer-centric items ...

Tesla Model S
Of late, self-driving vehicles are all over the net (not yet, so much, actual roads). Even before a fatal crash in a Tesla car using the spectacularly misnamed "Autopilot" feature (it's more like advanced cruise control), "U.S. consumers buck investors' rush to self-driving cars." A key quote:

The latest University of Michigan survey found 46 percent of respondents preferred no self-driving, followed by partial self-driving (39 percent) and complete self-driving (15 percent).

Nearly 95 percent of respondents said they wanted to have a steering wheel plus gas and brake pedals so they could take control of a self-driving vehicle when desired, the study found.

The Google approach
For a look at the broader implications of that accident, consider, "Tesla Autopilot Crash Exposes Industry Divide." And what is that divide? On the one hand are those, like Tesla, favoring an incremental approach to developing and deploying features that will ultimately aggregate to self-driving capability. On the other side are those, like Google, favoring a direct jump to fully autonomous vehicles.

Many concepts for fully autonomous vehicles anticipate intervehicular and vehicle/roadway communications and coordination. Such concepts immediately bring to mind (or should, anyway), the need for robust anti-malware provisions. And so, while not a vehicle-specific article, this is nonetheless cautionary: "Symantec – the popular computer protector – may actually help hackers, feds warn." (Tooting my own horn [heh] for a moment, malware commandeering a computerized car was a minor but critical plot point in my first/1991 novel, Probe.)

And in yet more computer-related items ...

The LAN we love to hate
We all use WiFi -- and we often have reason to gripe about it. For a look under the hood, so to speak, and how the situation may be improved, see "Why Wi-Fi Stinks—and How to Fix It." (I'm sticking with my auto metaphor, because the article has traffic-related metaphors of its own.)

One of our monotonic overlords?
As I type, Dallas's recent mass-shooting incident is fresh in everyone's mind. On the topic of computerized vehicles not yet quite autonomous, here's a thoughtful essay on the ethics of how that siege was resolved: "Should the Police Have Robot Suicide-Bombers?"

And with that, I'm ready to drive off to new tasks ...

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