1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

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keithl
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby keithl » Thu Dec 31, 2015 7:30 am UTC

Mikeski wrote: The "Magic Roundabout"? Double ugh.
Muswell wrote:The Swindon magic roundabout? That one's nothing. The Hemel Hempstead one, now that one makes life interesting.
Only six legs? With visibility? That's a walk in the park. I invite you to try Church Circle in Annapolis MD, which is narrow, with eight legs, trees and buildings blocking the view of the street signs, and a church in the middle of it. And it is in America, where we drive on the wrong side of the road, so it goes anticlockwise. I'm sure we won our War of Independence with this traffic circle; although the Continental Congress met here for a while, the British fleet sailed right on past, fearing losing their army in dazed confusion.

The tide-turning battle against our new robot overlords will be fought here; they may conquer the rest of the world, but their AI algorithms will be no match for this.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby david.windsor » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:09 am UTC

Teleportation booths
"All those ... moments, will be lost ... in time, like tears ... in rain."

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby bazza » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:16 am UTC

Self Driving Cars
A self driving car doesn't exist unless the manufacturer forever accepts full legal liability for its performance and safe operation under all road conditions on all road types with any type of passenger (or indeed no passengers) on board. So far only Volvo are volunteering to take on this liability (though we don't really know exactly what they're proposing yet).

Until then, they're just cars with pointlessly complicated cruise control. Pointless, because you still can't sit there and work, read, watch a film, eat, drink, sleep, etc. You still have to drive them. If used extensively they will probably degrade driver skill, which ultimately is bad thing. Drivers will be less prepared to deal with the complicated and dangerous situations that the 'self driving car' cannot cope with itself.

Butlers
Jeeves was the best butler there ever was. Accomplished at all the regular butlering tasks, devastatingly capable at managing his charge's complex social life. Until AI manages to be as devilishly cunning, conniving, vindictive and clever as Jeeves, there is no such thing as a robot butler.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby bazza » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:35 am UTC

keithl wrote:
Mikeski wrote: The "Magic Roundabout"? Double ugh.
Muswell wrote:The Swindon magic roundabout? That one's nothing. The Hemel Hempstead one, now that one makes life interesting.
Only six legs? With visibility? That's a walk in the park. I invite you to try Church Circle in Annapolis MD, which is narrow, with eight legs, trees and buildings blocking the view of the street signs, and a church in the middle of it. And it is in America, where we drive on the wrong side of the road, so it goes anticlockwise. I'm sure we won our War of Independence with this traffic circle; although the Continental Congress met here for a while, the British fleet sailed right on past, fearing losing their army in dazed confusion.

The tide-turning battle against our new robot overlords will be fought here; they may conquer the rest of the world, but their AI algorithms will be no match for this.


Keithl, I think you missed the point. The 'magic' roundabouts in Swindon & Hemel Hempstead are multiple mini roundabouts dispersed around the perimeter of a larger roundabout. The one you've pointed to in Annaoplis is simply a roundabout.

In Swindon and Hemel you can go either clockwise or counterclockwise round the larger roundabout, and there's many different routes from an entry to an exit. The Swindon one is, arguably, worse because you can see the whole thing whereas the one in Hemel is somewhat obscured so it's easier to ignore the effect of the larger roundabout. I lived near Swindon for a while, and we had a rule about having to cross the magic roundabout by a different route every time.

The accident rate on the one in Swindon is reported as being lower than the same junction would be if it had traffic lights.

Japan
As a result of the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan they've started introducing roundabouts instead of traffic lights at junctions. The problem was that whilst people were driving to flee the tsunami they were still needlessly stopping at red traffic lights. Roundabouts do away with that problem.

It's not going well. AFAIK there was a single roundabout in the whole of Japan, in a quiet seaside town south of Wakayama, so almost everyone there has never seen one. Now they're springing up elsewhere there's a lot of confusion; people drive the wrong way round them, they don't know what to do, etc.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:47 am UTC

Muswell wrote:
Mikeski wrote: The "Magic Roundabout"? Double ugh.


The Swindon magic roundabout? That one's nothing. The Hemel Hempstead one, now that one makes life interesting.

I shall take your word for it. Living in Minnesota, the goofiest one I've had the pleasure of driving on is this one, and it's nothing by comparison. Just a single freeway-spanning roundabout that serves all four entrance/exit ramps, interlaced with a bicycle/pedestrian trail.

Though I imagine a lot of the issues with both the roundabouts arise from unwary travellers seeing the signs for them and having panic attacks, and perhaps AIs wouldn't do that...

But handling interlocked roundabouts a special case in the code. You can't just depend on the car "seeing" the sign and interpreting it correctly (signs get hit and knocked down), or seeing all the paint lines on the road (snow/ice/debris can obscure them), or trusting GPS+google maps (some script kiddie will hack it, or point a jammer at it, or something).

The human mind is very good at coming up with the correct solution from incomplete information.

Even when the "correct solution" is the "incorrect solution". Quite often, before the plows come out to remove 4-6" of snow from the roadways, our "N-lane highways" get treated as "N-minus-one-lane highways", as everyone drives straddling the lane markers rather than driving in the lanes. This prevents driving off the road into the (invisible, snowed-over) ditches, or just prevents curb-checking the (invisible, snowed-over) median at 40+ mph, depending on what's there. Will a self-driving car "do like everyone else is doing" and drive on the wrong part of the road?

This website has some good pictures. I believe a self-driving car can do the right thing when your snowy road looks like this. How about like this? Or this? Or this? Maybe this?

And if the answer is "the self-driving car will do everything up through picture #2, then the human has to take over for #3 through #5"... how will that work? I have no issues driving in #4 and #5 conditions, because I drive all the time, and the simple parts are second nature (or muscle memory) to me. If the only time I have to take the wheel is in something like that, and I'm driving like a 16-year-old who just got his license because the last time I "drove" was 10 months ago... that would not be fun.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:52 am UTC

da Doctah wrote:
armandoalvarez wrote: I don't know if the naysayers are the equivalent to "We'll never land a man on the moon" or more like "underwater bubble cities aren't happening in the next century."


21st-century version of an old standby: "If we can cure the common cold, why can't we put a man on the moon?"

Ouch. Ahhhh.... ouch.
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby AverageWriter » Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:28 pm UTC

I know it's just a movie, but I know why we don't have all the great stuff pictured in Back to the Future Part II.

Simple economics tells us that nature abhors a vacuum. In a nutshell, even when something seems simple on the outset, it may have very complex undercurrents.

Biff Tannen used an illicit book of gambling to create a significant level of winnings- this much we know for certain. However, the empire we see in Back to the Future II has a number of things that aren't discussed at length; the continued wealth of Tannen beyond a reasonable level even when betting, and the huge levels of employment present in that future.

What can we extrapolate happened in that span of time Marty was away? We know that Tannen became familiar with Doc Brown; it was a familiarity only hinted at in other mentions of the story.

So if you're Biff, and you want to continue making large amounts of money in your old age, and you're not smart enough to do it yourself?

You hire a scientist.

Tannen, in the "alternate" BTF2, financed Doc Brown, allowing the invention of things like the self-drying jacket, the hoverboard, and the flying car.

By removing that funding source when Marty stole back the almanac, Marty unwittingly obliterated all the inventions Tannen had funded...

Leaving us with where we are today.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby speising » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:28 pm UTC

Except that the 2015 presented was not the alternate timeline with a rich Biff. That was in 1985, with no sf tech.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby armandoalvarez » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:42 pm UTC

speising wrote:Except that the 2015 presented was not the alternate timeline with a rich Biff. That was in 1985, with no sf tech.

Speising is right.

Clearly the reason we don't have the technology pictured in the movie is that after Doc and Marty return from 2015 to alternate 1985, they did something that changed the future in a Butterfly-Effect-type way. Maybe it was the fight with Biff in his convertible in 1955. Maybe it was saving Clara. Maybe the car that Marty hit in the original 1985 was driven by someone who would have been a great scientist if they had been in the car accident, but instead when there was no accident, they chose to be involved in Major League Baseball in some big way, causing the Miami baseball team to be in the NL and causing the Royals to win the World Series instead of the Cubs.
Last edited by armandoalvarez on Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:09 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Quicksilver » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:51 pm UTC

I'll leave anything relating to hoverboards to Seth Sentry.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Heimhenge » Thu Dec 31, 2015 5:49 pm UTC

bazza wrote:Self Driving Cars
Until then, they're just cars with pointlessly complicated cruise control. Pointless, because you still can't sit there and work, read, watch a film, eat, drink, sleep, etc. You still have to drive them. If used extensively they will probably degrade driver skill, which ultimately is bad thing. Drivers will be less prepared to deal with the complicated and dangerous situations that the 'self driving car' cannot cope with itself.


An excellent point. That already happens with GPS obviating the need for map reading skills. Take away the GPS from someone who's never navigated otherwise, and hand them one of those multi-page books that cover an entire city, then watch them struggle. Kinda what happened with calculators and longhand arithmetic. Once the "autonomous" vehicle exists, and given the need for human driving in certain difficult scenarios that couldn't be anticipated, we would probably want annual testing to keep everyone's driving skills fresh.

I don't expect the need for a drivers license will ever go away.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:05 pm UTC

Of course not. It has practically nothing to do with driving right now. It's your paperwork for the police when they feel the need to look at you funny and the pharmacy when you need to prove you're old enough to buy cold medicine.
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby eidako » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:04 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Of course not. It has practically nothing to do with driving right now. It's your paperwork for the police when they feel the need to look at you funny and the pharmacy when you need to prove you're old enough to buy cold medicine.

...or obtain a job, open a bank account, enter a government building, board an aircraft...

It's 2016. Where's my barcode tattoo?

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby yakkoTDI » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:04 am UTC

Quicksilver wrote:I'll leave anything relating to hoverboards to Seth Sentry.


As do I.


CocoaNutCakery wrote:Here's the robot butler of 2016:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51yGC3iytbY


I kept waiting for it to go crazy and slaughter the family. What a huge letdown.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby jc » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:37 am UTC

yakkoTDI wrote:
CocoaNutCakery wrote:Here's the robot butler of 2016:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51yGC3iytbY

I kept waiting for it to go crazy and slaughter the family. What a huge letdown.

Nah; what's more likely is that it'll get a command from its CS department telling it to upgrade its OS and then do a full reboot. This will be interpreted by its lower-level routines as requiring killing all the current residents of the house, including itself last, then restarting itself with the new OS, then creating new residents that on their visible surface look exactly like the old residents.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby sotanaht » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:52 am UTC

bazza wrote:Self Driving Cars
A self driving car doesn't exist unless the manufacturer forever accepts full legal liability for its performance and safe operation under all road conditions on all road types with any type of passenger (or indeed no passengers) on board. So far only Volvo are volunteering to take on this liability (though we don't really know exactly what they're proposing yet).

Until then, they're just cars with pointlessly complicated cruise control. Pointless, because you still can't sit there and work, read, watch a film, eat, drink, sleep, etc. You still have to drive them. If used extensively they will probably degrade driver skill, which ultimately is bad thing. Drivers will be less prepared to deal with the complicated and dangerous situations that the 'self driving car' cannot cope with itself.

Butlers
Jeeves was the best butler there ever was. Accomplished at all the regular butlering tasks, devastatingly capable at managing his charge's complex social life. Until AI manages to be as devilishly cunning, conniving, vindictive and clever as Jeeves, there is no such thing as a robot butler.


I want more information on this "Jeeves". It's surprisingly hard to search, due to the WoW item of the same name (which is also a robot-butler), and Jeeves being commonly used in reference to almost any fictional butler.
Last edited by sotanaht on Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:57 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:54 am UTC

I assumed we were talking about Ask Jeeves.
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby da Doctah » Fri Jan 01, 2016 8:37 am UTC

eidako wrote:It's 2016. Where's my barcode tattoo?


Since 2010, barcode tattoos have been assigned and applied at birth. People born before 2010 may get barcode tattoos later in life, but in time it will come to be considered at least slightly suspicious to have one of these "back-dated" tattoos, like you're trying to make yourself appear younger.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby AverageWriter » Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:17 am UTC

Speising is right.


No, he isn't.

They took the almanac, preventing the sci-fi future from existing, thus dooming us to... this.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby kelly_holden » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:57 am UTC

sotanaht wrote:
bazza wrote:
Butlers
Jeeves was the best butler there ever was. Accomplished at all the regular butlering tasks, devastatingly capable at managing his charge's complex social life. Until AI manages to be as devilishly cunning, conniving, vindictive and clever as Jeeves, there is no such thing as a robot butler.


I want more information on this "Jeeves". It's surprisingly hard to search, due to the WoW item of the same name (which is also a robot-butler), and Jeeves being commonly used in reference to almost any fictional butler.

If you're looking for the original Jeeves try adding "Wooster" or "Wodehouse" to the search. Bertie Wooster being Jeeves's employer, and P.G. Wodehouse his author. Though, with Wooster you'll also get results about the BBC series based on the books, where Jeeves and Wooster are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby RFredW » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:04 pm UTC

bazza wrote:Japan
As a result of the Tōhoku earthquake in Japan they've started introducing roundabouts instead of traffic lights at junctions. The problem was that whilst people were driving to flee the tsunami they were still needlessly stopping at red traffic lights. Roundabouts do away with that problem.

It's not going well. AFAIK there was a single roundabout in the whole of Japan, in a quiet seaside town south of Wakayama, so almost everyone there has never seen one. Now they're springing up elsewhere there's a lot of confusion; people drive the wrong way round them, they don't know what to do, etc.


There's at least one other "old" roundabout in Japan - in Tottori (@35.498045,134.2262501 - I'm not a sufficiently frequent visitor to these parts to post links yet), but yes, they're pretty thin on the ground.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby armandoalvarez » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:19 pm UTC

AverageWriter wrote:
Speising is right.


No, he isn't.

They took the almanac, preventing the sci-fi future from existing, thus dooming us to... this.

I'm not sure I understand. How does taking the almanac and burning it in 1955 change the future like that?

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Muswell » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:32 pm UTC

kelly_holden wrote:
sotanaht wrote:
bazza wrote:
Butlers
Jeeves was the best butler there ever was. Accomplished at all the regular butlering tasks, devastatingly capable at managing his charge's complex social life. Until AI manages to be as devilishly cunning, conniving, vindictive and clever as Jeeves, there is no such thing as a robot butler.


I want more information on this "Jeeves". It's surprisingly hard to search, due to the WoW item of the same name (which is also a robot-butler), and Jeeves being commonly used in reference to almost any fictional butler.

If you're looking for the original Jeeves try adding "Wooster" or "Wodehouse" to the search. Bertie Wooster being Jeeves's employer, and P.G. Wodehouse his author. Though, with Wooster you'll also get results about the BBC series based on the books, where Jeeves and Wooster are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.


Though it should be noted in every thread dealing with Jeeves, and doesn't appear to have been in this one yet, that though Jeeves on occasion acted as an ad-hoc butler for some of Bertie's numerous relations, he wasn't actually a butler by profession. He was a valet (and the "t" is pronounced, emphasis on the first syllable rather than the second). You can find a lot of entertaining rants on this topic, including a fairly good one by David Mitchell on his Soapbox.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby gcgcgcgc » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:54 pm UTC

Why would anyone want a jetpack anyway, when we already have powered paragliders? I'm not sure what advantage the jetpack is realistically expected to provide.

Edit: I suppose the jetpack has the ability to hover in one spot and take off or land vertically. This might be an advantage for certain uses, such as escaping from a confined space, if you're not going to be sharing that confined space with anyone who might object to being fried by your jetpack jets...

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Isaac Hill » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:52 am UTC

AverageWriter wrote:...Tannen, in the "alternate" BTF2, financed Doc Brown, allowing the invention of things like the self-drying jacket, the hoverboard, and the flying car.

By removing that funding source when Marty stole back the almanac, Marty unwittingly obliterated all the inventions Tannen had funded...

Leaving us with where we are today.
In the "alternate" 1985, Doc's in an insane asylum, as indicated by the newpaper found in Doc's lab. He ain't inventin' nuthin'.

If Biff Tannen's money were responsible for flying cars, the DeLorean would have dropped out of the sky when Marty burned the almanac, and the newspapers changed.

armando's idea about Marty's car accident leading to flying cars is more solid. We only see a future where the accident happened, since middle-aged Marty's hand is still messed up. We don't know what other effects preventing the accident has.
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby I_am_I » Sat Jan 02, 2016 5:38 am UTC

Where's my hoverboard? You can order one, just Google "Arca board"

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:08 am UTC

Um, the strip itself addressed this....
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Echo244 » Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:39 pm UTC

Actually, there's still a point there; while the term "hoverboard" is ambiguous, the existence of both the scooter thing and the ARCA board (ducted fan hoverboard - twenty thousand dollars for a max endurance of 6 minutes, then another 4 and a half thousand dollars for the charging station so you only have to wait 35 minutes for your next go instead of the default 6 hours) means that the answer to the question can be simplified to "the term is now ambiguous but once you've worked out which one you want, you can order one off the internet, and either is more fun than the argument".
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby orthogon » Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:14 pm UTC

sonar1313 wrote:
Geekoid wrote:A fallacy people in this thread seem to be falling for is the idea that autonomous cars need to be perfect. They do not. They just need to be better than people.

They need to be better than people at doing the things people are bad at, and at least as good as people at the things computers are bad at but people are better. People aren't going to say, "well, it's OK that the car keeps driving over the same pothole every day, because it's better at checking the blind spot than I am." Or, "I don't mind that it almost drove off the road in the snow." All they'll think of is that it keeps smacking the pothole and almost plowed into a concrete barrier because it couldn't find the snow-buried lane lines. They'll magnify the flaws, and if there's some part of the experience that doesn't live up to expectations, they'll remember it.

Self-driving cars have been covered in several threads with many of the same arguments, yet there have been a few interesting points made that I haven't seen before. Sonar1313's post is an excellent reminder of the way in which public opinion weighs in debates like this. I foresee a situation in which technocrats are desperate to convert entirely to self-driving cars because of the massive reduction in fatalities and serious injuries that would result, whereas the general public gives far more credence to the anecdotal evidence of the dangers of robot drivers, ignoring the statistical evidence on the other side. There are parallels to the whole MMR vaccine issue, particularly if a minority of individuals eschewing the technology put everyone else at risk.
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:33 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:This website has some good pictures. I believe a self-driving car can do the right thing when your snowy road looks like this. How about like this? Or this? Or this? Maybe this?

And if the answer is "the self-driving car will do everything up through picture #2, then the human has to take over for #3 through #5"... how will that work? I have no issues driving in #4 and #5 conditions, because I drive all the time, and the simple parts are second nature (or muscle memory) to me. If the only time I have to take the wheel is in something like that, and I'm driving like a 16-year-old who just got his license because the last time I "drove" was 10 months ago... that would not be fun.


The answer is tiered control rather than a binary switch - for example, let a human take over steering with the car still handling the speed...

Of course, the immediate effect of that is likely to be a significant reduction in speed to allow for the slower reaction time, but in conditions where the computer can't cope, unpracticed humans are likely to be reasonably tentative too...

Do you expect to have to work a manual transmission when called on to take over from the self-steering?

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby grkvlt » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:00 pm UTC

sonar1313 wrote:Right now, self-driving cars have a lot of obstacles to overcome, one huge one being that the only extensive testing done on them is in always-70-degrees Silicon Valley.


Google isn't the only player in town for autonomous vehicles, though. In Europe, both BMW and Mercedes Benz have self-driving prototypes, that have undergone extensive all-weather testing, as do Volvo who are based in Sweden which has a decidedly non-SV climate. So, people are thinking about this...
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby eviloatmeal » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:16 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Image
Aerocar.

It flies. It's a road legal car. Flying car.

Or this, if you prefer something more contemporary:

Spoiler:
Image
*** FREE SHIPPING ENABLED ***
Image
Riddles are abound tonightImage

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby ijuin » Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:44 pm UTC

I never really found the hoverboard scooters appealing. For less money than a good hoverboard costs, I can buy an electric scooter that has more speed, more range, and lets me sit down while riding.

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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby dtilque » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:56 am UTC

I_am_I wrote:Where's my hoverboard? You can order one, just Google "Arca board"


I mentioned those on the first page of this thread. But then no one reads entire threads anymore, so never mind...
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Graham Finch » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:49 am UTC


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poochyena
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby poochyena » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:28 am UTC

I don't understand the "But self-driving cars currently can't ______!" so? what is your point?
I can not understand what point is trying to be made.

As if, unless the car can drive itself in literally any and all instances possible, then it isn't really a self-driving car.

Its like saying we are still very far away from developing submarines since we don't have anything that can go all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

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Copper Bezel
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:16 am UTC

It's not even "but self-driving cars currently can't ____"; we've had a number of diverging hypotheses of which parts of driving are hard, all stated as fact, based far more on experience of driving than any experience with AI, which makes it a lot more like "but I feel like this thing I've never seen a video of a self-driving car doing is really hard, so it's probably too hard for a computer". Double-barrel argument from ignorance.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

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EngineNr.9
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby EngineNr.9 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:22 pm UTC

I_am_I wrote:Where's my hoverboard? You can order one, just Google "Arca board"


"ArcaBoard is an atomic commercial hoverboard developed by ARCA Spaaaaaace Corporation. It is powered by 36 atomic ducted fans..." (Wikipedia)

Sounds awesome...

Mikeski
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby Mikeski » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:05 pm UTC

It does matter how you define "self-driving car". Glorified cruise-control that can steer? We're almost there. Better than an average human in most situations? We need some breakthroughs, at least in computer vision. No need for licensed drivers anymore? I don't see it happening in the predictable future.

I'll admit my AI and computer vision background is way out-of-date. I did both in college, but that was 20 years ago. The real world has moved me from fanciful cutting-edge inventions to real-world not-quite-as-cutting-edge engineering. (16nm mixed-signal IC design, if anyone cares.) Which is why I'm trying to patch in some links to current discussions on the topics.

Since I was the one pointing out that current computer vision probably can't handle driving in a real Minnesota winter, and real-world conditions can affect the behavior of cameras/radar/etc, I was interested in the comment upthread that "since Volvo is doing it, they're probably working on that." So I found some articles on the Volvo autonomous cars. They're putting 100 of them in consumer hands in 2017! They'll handle "heavy traffic and emergency situations"! They can "read" road signs! That sounds awesome!

...but the system depends on a preloaded "high definition 3D map," rather than being able to identify "this is a road and this is not" by camera & radar. It'll only run on "30 miles of roads around Gothenburg", and "its test roads will be without pedestrians, cyclists or on-coming traffic." So, it's still just freeway-only cruise-control, plus braking and steering; the same level of incremental change that keithl was talking about on the first page of this thread. "In cases where the autopilot must shut off due to weather or malfunction, the car will prompt the driver to take over." So no workarounds for for seeing snowy roads, or using muddy radars or road-salt-glazed or insect-splattered cameras yet. (Quotes from here, here, and here.)

And, just today, there's news about Ford and UofMichigan working on autonomous cars that can drive in the snow. But, again, "To deal with [snow flurries and other adverse weather conditions], Ford is having its LiDAR sensors look for landmarks that are higher up, like road signs, and combining that information with stored high-resolution 3D maps of the environment that were captured using LiDAR in better weather conditions." So, a preloaded "google-street-view camera car"-gathered 3D map, taken when there's no other vehicles/people/etc around to mess up the view. That's not what I'd consider real-world-applicable technology. "We eventually want our autonomous vehicles to detect deteriorating conditions, decide whether it's safe to keep driving, and if so, for how long." So even Ford's look to the future is not for "fully autonomous", but for "how much precipitation can we handle before we have to give up".

If we were on the edge of more-than-just-a-glorified-cruise-control, or the-car-sees-as-well-as-a-human, the big marketing press releases would be about that. Instead, they're about "we can handle driving on 30 miles of studiously pre-mapped roadways in pleasant conditions if we know there's nothing but same-direction vehicle traffic around." So, pick your definition of "self-driving car", and tune your expectations appropriately. Define it generously, and we're already there. Define it strictly, and... maybe your kids will have it.

And there is sort of a parallel to the "uncanny valley" problem... the closer you get to perfect, the more dangerous a self-driving car becomes. A car that can drive itself 20% of the time means all the cars still have drivers who drive almost all the time, and still do things by muscle memory or well-trained instinct. The roads will be about as safe as they are today, or safer. A car that drives itself 99% of the time, and only requires human intervention in the worst 1% of situations, is very dangerous. Now you have a road full of complete newbies dealing with only the hairiest of traffic and weather situations. (I would have only driven ~100 miles last year, not ~10,000). If you're doing this for safety reasons, you need to make the jump from 80% (or 66%, or 90.3%, or pick-your-own-number, whatever you think leaves the driver with "enough" experience), to 100%, in one swell foop. No insurance company is going to insure a driver with a 99.44%-self-driving car, unless the other 0.56% is "shut it down" and not "now let the human do it".
Last edited by Mikeski on Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:54 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

rmsgrey
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Re: 1623: "2016 Conversation Guide"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:53 pm UTC

So a car that can only handle adverse conditions when it knows the area well isn't acceptable? Most humans are more willing to drive in poor conditions when they know the area well too...


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