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In a software world, humanity comes first

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Google Duplex was announced earlier this year as a way to automate tasks that require a phone call - such as booking an appointment. Rather than calling yourself google has an assistant that understands human speech and speaks convincingly enough to do these simple tasks. Relatedly, a few days I read an article describing how Google is also pushing Duplex to be used in call centers. A bit surprising but makes a ton of sense since the vast majority of the calls are relatively simple tasks that companies are already trying to automate as much as possible using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems.

Now imagine both of these becoming successful: we end up in a world where my consumer Duplex is having a conversation with a call center’s Duplex. If only there was a way for machines to communicate directly with each other in a standard protocol instead of depending on some advanced natural language processing.

On a more serious note it’s pretty amazing that that we’re getting to a world where computers are actually able replicate human behaviors. Rather than building systems that can speak to each other via APIs we’re instead building systems that have to speak human first.

This is the same thing that’s happening with self driving cars. Building a self driving car is much more difficult in a world with humans driving than if every car was driven by software. In fact, if we didn’t have human drivers on the road today I suspect we’d already have self driving cars.

The irony is that as software gets better and becomes universal is when it could be dead simple. The software first has to convince us it’s good enough to be human before it can act as a machine.

Maybe this is what’s going to save us from the AI apocalypse.

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ChrisDL
6 days ago
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New York
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Those grainy Moon photos from the 60s? The actual high-res images looked so much better.

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In 1966 and 1967, NASA sent five spacecraft to orbit the Moon to take high-resolution photos to aid in finding a good landing spot for the Apollo missions. NASA released some photos to the public and they were extremely grainy and low resolution because they didn’t want the Soviet Union to know the capabilities of US spy satellites. Here’s a comparison to what the public saw at the time versus how the photos actually looked:

Old Moon New Moon

The Lunar Orbiters never returned to Earth with the imagery. Instead, the Orbiter developed the 70mm film (yes film) and then raster scanned the negatives with a 5 micron spot (200 lines/mm resolution) and beamed the data back to Earth using lossless analog compression, which was yet to actually be patented by anyone. Three ground stations on earth, one of which was in Madrid, another in Australia and the other in California recieved the signals and recorded them. The transmissions were recorded on to magnetic tape. The tapes needed Ampex FR-900 drives to read them, a refrigerator sized device that cost $300,000 to buy new in the 1960’s.

The high-res photos were only revealed in 2008, after a volunteer restoration effort undertaken in an abandoned McDonald’s nicknamed McMoon.

They were huge files, even by today’s standards. One of the later images can be as big as 2GB on a modern PC, with photos on top resolution DSLRs only being in the region of 10MB you can see how big these images are. One engineer said you could blow the images up to the size of a billboard without losing any quality. When the initial NASA engineers printed off these images, they had to hang them in a church because they were so big. The below images show some idea of the scale of these images. Each individual image when printed out was 1.58m by 0.4m.

You can view a collection of some of the images here.

Tags: Moon   NASA   photography   space
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ChrisDL
21 days ago
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New York
popular
21 days ago
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Self-driving cars will change how we get around, which could mean using more energy

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If self-driving cars take off, people might wind up taking more car trips, which could lead to Americans consuming more energy than if self-driving cars rarely leave the lot, according to a government report.

Today, transportation — including passenger vehicles, buses, and commercial trucks — accounts for about a third of energy use in the US, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). (It’s also the number one source of carbon emissions, YaleEnvironment360 reports.) By 2050, the EIA predicts that transportation will probably use less energy in the form of gasoline and electricity, thanks to cleaner and more efficient vehicles. But how much less? That depends, in part, on how popular self-driving cars become, according to...

Continue reading…

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ChrisDL
25 days ago
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this does not make intuitive sense to me. self driving should end up driving more energy efficiently than a human, and shared cars might mean less cars on the road as well, which will also save energy on the production and logistics sides of making less cars... i see what they are saying but public transportation in america is already pretty abysmal, i thoroughly wish trains and busses were a better experience, and i do agree that self driving cars might compete with that a bit.
New York
lukeburrage
25 days ago
It’s a well known fact that as soon as steam engines became more efficient, their use didn’t stay the same to do the same work, but immediately people built more of them to do waaaaay more work. The efficiency increase made them cheaper to run, and their usage skyrocketed. Same with fuel efficiency in modern cars. If electric cars are 50% cheaper, it’ll probably mean more people can afford to make trips. And will. It only takes a 100% increase in use to offset a 50% efficiency increase.
jlvanderzwan
19 days ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox
jlvanderzwan
19 days ago
Related but not quite the same: https://www.wired.com/2014/06/wuwt-traffic-induced-demand/
jlvanderzwan
19 days ago
https://bwl.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/lehrstuhl_ind_en_uw/lehre/ws1213/SE_Energy_WS12_13/The_Fundamental_Law_of_Road_Congestion_Evidence_from_US_Cities.pdf
ChrisDL
18 days ago
Thanks for the links jlvanderzwan (could you choose an easier name to type?). I wonder how it will play out, I definitely feel like more resource consumption due to autonomy is a very real possibility now =/
jlvanderzwan
18 days ago
You can say Job, that's my first name :P
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pr1nceshawn: Street Art: Before & After.

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pr1nceshawn:

Street Art: Before & After.

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sarcozona
17 days ago
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ChrisDL
26 days ago
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New York
dreadhead
27 days ago
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Vancouver Island, Canada
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Hungry Hungry Hippocampus

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Before the Starfinders can make their way off Absalom Station to investigate the Acreon and the Drift Rock, yet another group reaches out to enlighten the party to their cause.

Source

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ChrisDL
38 days ago
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If you are into this sort of thing (think adventure zone) I highly recommend you check it out. Full disclosure: my wife Elli is on the podcast.
New York
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I kill

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Warning: This video features numerous instances of animals being killed and butchered.

I Kill follows a New Zealand slaughterman named Beatle as he travels from farm to farm, killing pigs, sheep and cattle with a single gunshot to the skull, and dressing their carcasses before delivering them to butchers. Though his relaxed attitude towards the deaths of these animals might make him appear detached from the act of killing, he’s thoughtful and principled about his profession. He describes his methods as an honest, informed and humane way to avoid the stress and suffering dispensed in slaughterhouses, and as simply the best way to provide meat for human consumption.

For a very different perspective on animal slaughter, read 'A "humanely" Killed Animal Is Still Killed – and That’s Wrong' by Anna Charlton and Gary Francione.

By Aeon Video

Watch at Aeon

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ChrisDL
38 days ago
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If you have to kill animals this does seem like a better way to do it and our industrial slaughterhouses. But i'm no expert.
New York
wtf
38 days ago
Just the trip to the slaughterhouse stresses the animals. A stressed animal has tougher meat and, obviously, stress hormones all over. I understand how this can be shocking to people who have never seen an animal slaughtered. This guy is a master. Pigs scream when they know they are going to die. Not these - eating apples, pop, gone. Not a peep.
ChrisDL
38 days ago
also: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/existence
jlvanderzwan
44 days ago
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