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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Inside the Icelandic Facility Where Bitcoin Is Mined

Cryptocurrency mining now uses more of the Nordic island nation’s electricity than its homes.
Source: Wired

The surprisingly boring road to self-driving cars

At last, it is here! The truly self-driving car, no human behind the wheel! For the public! …A few hundred of them, in a closed beta, in a small corner of sun-drenched (never snow-drenched, almost never water-drenched) suburban Phoenix, five years later than some people were predicting six years ago.

Few new technologies have ever been more anticipated and more predicted than the self-driving car. Anyone who drives cannot help but imagine not having to drive any more. It has been said that they will change our cities, our homes, our commerce, even our fundamental way of life.

But at the same time, the actual progress has seemed … well … glacial, to the casual driver’s eye. We’re mostly talking about software, after all. OK, and LIDAR, and cameras, but the software is the key. People couldn’t help but expect a roll-out like that of smartphones, where the launch of the iPhone in 2007 led to adoption by every tech-savvy person by 2010, and the vast majority of the developed world by 2013.

People couldn’t help but expect a mass market push. In 2014, the optimistic attitude was, maybe your next car is electric; then your next one — or even that same one, courtesy of an OTA software update — will be self-driving! Set the controls for the heart of Los Angeles, or Boston, or both, and lie back and snooze, baby.

That’s not how it’s going to happen. Waymo’s closed beta is a huge yep, yes, but it is also a tiny incremental iteration. We aren’t going to see a Big Bang moment, when suddenly you buy your next car and it will carry you unaided from Vancouver to Halifax, or even Vancouver to Whistler. Instead we’re going to see a series of tiny steps forward, measured over years, frequently in industrial or commercial settings rather than personal ones.

First they drive the broad, sunny streets of Phoenix; then highways; then in more complex situations, such as airports and downtowns; then in heavy rain; then amid detours and road closures; then in rough, winding country roads prone to landslides and flooding; then (some considerable time from now, says your Canadian correspondent) in snow and ice…

And even then, how can a truly self-driving car handle anomalous situations, when the car doesn’t know what to do and screeches to a halt? Even more importantly, how will it know it’s in an anomalous situation and it doesn’t know what to do? Will cars be drivable remotely, in such cases? If so, how will we secure that process? What about adversarial attempts to manipulate the neural networks behind the figurative wheel, by feeding them misleading inputs that they respond to but the naked human eye might not notice?

I suppose we have to talk about the so-called “trolley problem,” too. I’d rather not. It is by far the silliest and most overanalyzed question about self-driving, since in 99.9% of problematic situations the solution is simply “stop.” Anything like the trolley problem will only come up in the edgiest of edge cases — but, if only to satisfy the public, those cases will have to be publicly hashed out as well.

The larger issue brought up by the “trolley problem problem” is that we have no collective social understanding of how to judge the risks posed by self-driving cars, and what risks we should accept. On paper, if all of America moved to self-driving cars overnight and they started killing 100 people every single day … America should rejoice, because the death rate from car crashes will have fallen!

In practice, however, he understated, it seems likely that America, or at least American media, will not rejoice. Rather the opposite.

When you step into a self-driving vehicle, you will be taking a risk, just as you do whenever you step into a human-driven vehicle. But it will be harder to measure this new risk, and even if/when we can, we won’t weigh it the same way that we do the old risk. Such is human nature. Liability alone will be a giant can of worms.

We have an entire infrastructure of regulation built around the old risk. It will change only slowly to manage this new risk, and it will have great difficulty sloughing off old preconceptions which no longer apply. Dream of cars with no steering wheels all you like, for example, but my guess is that in many jurisdictions, self-driving cars will have to include a legal driver among their passengers at all times.

When you consider the combination of the technological challenges, the social challenges, and the regulatory challenges, all of which are seriously nontrivial — it seems apparent that we are going to creep, rather than bound, into the self-driving future.

And so: self-driving vehicles will slowly, quietly, take over closed industrial / commercial settings. Waymo’s self-driving taxis, followed (apparently at some distance) by others, will very gradually expand their beachhead from Phoenix, bit by bit and clime by clime, with occasional setbacks. Personal cars will continue to increase their self-driving capabilities one situation at a time: parallel parking, stop-and-go highway traffic, parking garages, certain patches of quiet suburban territory.

This means there will almost certainly be no point at which you suddenly have a self-driving car. Self-driving isn’t a product, an event, or a feature; it’s an aspirational limit to which we will asymptotically approach. We’re collectively already on that curve — which is exciting! — but it seems apparent that its climb will be much more gradual than almost everyone, including me, thought not so long ago.


Source: TechCrunch

Drones That Work for Food, a Self-Landing Plane, and More News This Week

Uber Eats unveils its latest drone, which may begin deliveries next summer, and our reporter lands a $2 million plane with the help of new tech. 
Source: Wired

The Impeachment Vote in the House Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup

Last week, the US House voted to formalize the rules of the impeachment investigation against President Trump. Also, a nice dog won a medal.
Source: Wired

How to play Minecraft Earth, now with adventures – CNET

Microsoft Earth is now available in half a dozen countries. Here’s everything you need to know about Microsoft’s new AR mobile game.
Source: CNET

This Pennsylvania teen homebrewed an invisible A-pillar for cars – Roadshow

14-year-old Alaina Gassler came up with the system after seeing her mother struggle with visibility in their car.
Source: CNET

The First BlueKeep Mass Hacking Is Finally Here—but Don't Panic

After months of warnings, the first successful attack using Microsoft’s BlueKeep vulnerability has arrived—but isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
Source: Wired

Hillary Clinton: Zuckerberg should 'pay a price' for hurting democracy – CNET

Clinton speaks out about social media and the “war on truth.”
Source: CNET

UFC 244 Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal: Start time, how to watch online and full fight card – CNET

Also, what the hell is a BMF title?
Source: CNET

How to watch the Canelo vs. Kovalev fight – CNET

Saturday night’s title bout between Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev will be streamed on DAZN in the US.
Source: CNET

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