Archive for Technology - page 3

The “internet of things” is coming…and it doesn’t look good.

The “internet of things” is coming…and it doesn’t look good.

At least that’s my opinion.  Every step forward is not neccessarily progress.

Let’s back up a little in case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “internet of things”.  More and more devices we use have microprocessors and internet connectivity built in for automation or for more efficient operation.  In practicality it means many things we use are becoming “smart”.  The “internet of things” refers to this grid of interconnected smart devices.

As I have stated in the past, I am skeptical of our implementation of new technologies, mostly in regard to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence.  Now you can add to that the smartification and internet connectivity of every damn thing we own.  Apparently I’m not alone.  At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have co-authored a piece entitled “When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone” that outlines a few concerns starting with three things that happen to an object when it connects to the internet.  It becomes smart, it becomes hackable and it becomes something you no longer completeley own.  It goes downhill from there.

Companies are working on this technology in ways you probably would never imagine, in order to Make Your Life Easier.  Pull quote:

“Smartness” implies a smartphone-like upgrade cycle…This aspirational smartness is not just coming to watches. Any product that’s worth more than a few bucks will have some intelligence and communication abilities embedded in it. Companies that exist today are trying to create smart umbrellas and smart crockpots.

Do you want a crockpot that has to be replaced at every few years—or at least that will be forever upgrading itself? Would apps change your mind?

Let’s talk about a few examples that exist today.  The “smart” thermostat comes to mind.  The utility company will “give” you one – free of charge!  To help you save money on your bill.  How nice of them.  The little bastard will also rat you out to the utility company if you set it too low or too high, and the utility company can take control over it in certain situations.  Not really yours, is it?  What about your Smartphone?  Well, you can’t do everything you want with it.  Your only allowed to use it consistent with the carrier’s terms of service.  And you can’t unlock it and use it on another carrier.  Plus it spies on you.  Is it really yours?

So do you really want to be driving around in a Smart Car that won’t go as fast as you want it to?  You want to get to work today don’t you?  Click here to agree to our terms of service.  Don’t agree?  Get out and walk.  Do you want to have a Smart Toaster  or other Smart Appliances collecting data about your kitchen habits and sending them up to the cloud?  All just so you can control them with your smartphone without having to get up off the couch ten feet away?  I don’t.


The more automation simplfies our lives, the more it complicates our lives.  And the only reason to have autonomous machines is so that human decision making and judgement are not required for their operation.  You see where that’s going?  As our machines get smarter and smarter, we get dumber and dumber.  And dumberer.  Don’t believe me?  Look around.

I will make an exception for the Manhattan Project BarBot.  Lemme just look over these terms of service.  Hmmm……two drink maximum per person?



I don’t trust robots, and I don’t trust monkeys

I don’t trust robots, and I don’t trust monkeys

With the exception of my (future)  Manhattan Project BarBot, maker of the “Perfect” Manhattan.  I’m gonna love that guy…err…thing.

Like This



But I digress.  I’ve written a few posts about my skepticism of Robotic Technology, referring (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek to the coming Robot Revolution.  I’ve also written a few posts about the differences between humans and animals, and now there’s information about a similarity that humans and chimpanzees share.  And it’s why I say “never trust a chimp”.  Turns out that Chimpanzees are natural born killers, and they prefer mob violence.  Apparently this is not new information to researchers, you just don’t hear about it because no one wants to think of cute little animals as potential murderers.  That’s right, I said murderers.  Chimps don’t kill for food.  They kill each other.  Just like us.  Isn’t that sweet?

Of course, we can only guess at the motives because chimps haven’t mastered language – yet.  So it’s going to be Robots or Chimps.  We’re screwed either way.

Now You Know What To Get Me For Christmas

Now You Know What To Get Me For Christmas

Here’s one Robot I’m not afraid of:

The peeing Cherubs are a nice touch.

No ifs ands or buts…the future WILL get weird

No ifs ands or buts…the future WILL get weird

I have speculated that the future could get weird, and now the speculation is over – the future WILL get weird, no ifs ands or buts.  Here is the Prima Facie evidence: this article at cites a report by The Pew Research Center that states “robotic sex partners will be commonplace” by 2025.  What’s weird about that you may ask?  Well, most of you will just say “Eeewww”, but some of you may ask.  Here’s a clue:


I can’t wait for all the political unrest over people demanding the right to marry their Dutch Wives.  And don’t think that the sexbots wouldn’t turn on us in a minute.  Turn ON us, not turn us on.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

The Future could get weird…

The Future could get weird…

I have contemplated a time or two the imminent Robot Revolution.  These next two stories only add to my paranoia.  Did I say that out loud?  I mean apprehension.

The first story is about scientists who have taught (programmed?) swarms of micro-robots to act in unison to form larger objects or shapes.  They even  title the article “Mini-robots Self-organise into Army”.  You know…like the hordes of androids in the movie “I, Robot”.  That’s reassuring.

The next story is about one of those industries that is uniquely Japanese – the Sex Doll Industry.  Yes, there is a Japanese Sex Doll Industry,  Well, they call them “Dutch Wives”.  Read the story if you don’t believe me.  No, they don’t explain why they call the that, and I’m not sure I want to know.  They are simply detailed, life like poseable dolls with realistic….never mind.  They’re not actual robots – yet.

Anyhoo…the story is about how the industry has reached “the next level” in creating the perfect Dutch Wife.  The only conclusion I can reach is that we are destined to be taken over by a sentient self-organising army of Dutch Wives with perfect skin.  And that could get weird.

robot love

Fighting Fires From They Sky

Fighting Fires From They Sky

It seems like the right time for this – this is fire season.  All over the west, but in California…Northern California in particular.  Since I live near an airfield with a long runway, the occasional large tanker flies over my house.  So why not do a little post with some video of the largest air tanker in operation in the U.S.?  That would be the DC-10 “Rainmaker”.  The McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 is a wide-body airliner that is no longer used for commercial passenger flight.  It’s three engine configuration, with two engines mounted on wing pylons and the third engine mounted at the base of the vertical stabilizer makes it easily identifiable whether on the ground or in flight.  The DC-10 ended production in 1989.

Here’s a Modern Marvels segment that give you the basic facts:

Here’s some footage taken by a news crew that was in the drop zone:

There are only two of these flying, Tanker 910 and Tanker 911.  Quite a machine.  Glad we have ’em.

Sketch Factor – is avoiding bad neighborhoods racist?

Sketch Factor – is avoiding bad neighborhoods racist?

A minor internet kerfuffle has erupted over the introduction of an app called “Sketch Factor”.  Sketch Factor is a crowd source app where users can upload information they find “sketchy” about their neighborhood or wherever they happen to be.  This is then added to map data and can be used to avoid, or if you’re looking for sketchiness, to find certain neighborhoods.  Some on the internet have declared the app “racist”.  Here’s the logic:

Step 1:  The app was created by two young white people,

Step 2:  All smartphone users are affluent white people,

Step 3:  All white people distrust black people and find them “sketchy”,

Step 4:  Therefore white people will use the app to flag black neighborhoods and black people as “sketchy”.

Step 5:  Racism!

I suppose that my labeling of some neighborhoods as “bad” is confirmation of my “racism”.  I am a firm believer in situational awareness and minimizing risk, and so I would find this app usefull especially if I was in a strange town.  I don’t see at all how that equates to racism.  A lot of the discussion of the app seems centered on Washington, D.C. maybe because the Gawker writer lives there (I think).  Anyway, a Washington D.C. news crew went out to do a story about one of the neighborhoods identified as “sketchy”, and while they were doing man on the street interviews with the residents there something happened:  but as folks were telling us that it was a good neighborhood, and that not much activity happens around there — as that was being told to us, our van was being robbed.”    

So…Sketch Factor: 10 out of 10.  I wonder if they reported the incident.  Probably not, that would be racist.

Catching up on History

Catching up on History

Having been busy the last few days I have not had time to note the 45th Anniversaries of the first manned moon landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 and the first men walking on the moon – Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on July 21.  I was twelve years old when it happened, and I remember the interest in the event was intense and universal.  It was broadcast live on all three major networks, TV and radio were the only sources for live information at that time – no internet or cable TV yet.  Looking back now, especially at the moon landing sequence, it was a little risky airing it live.  Some years afterward we found out that the landing computer “overloaded” and began spewing error codes, and rather than wasting effort to translate the codes Armstrong and Aldrin shut it off and flew the Eagle in manually.  They landed with 30 seconds of fuel remaining.  Here are some highlights:

People worldwide were glued to their TV sets.  For at least a brief moment, it seemed humanity shared a common dream, embodied by two men and an idea.  It was a monumental feat carried out at great risk.  I do not believe that a mission like this could even be carried out today as risk averse as we seem to be, and as evidenced by the fact that manned space flight has been all but abandoned.  And we are worse off for it.

In Case You’re New Here

In Case You’re New Here

In case you’re new here, welcome!  And here are a few ins and outs of how my blog operates.  First off, I’m Mike, the sole proprietor.  Pleased to meet you.  This blog is my peronal communication platform, and posts here reflect only my personal opinions.  I claim no expertise in anything.  In other words, if I write about Law, do not use that as legal advice.  If I write about medicine, do not take that as medical advice.  Get the picture?  OK, good.  Since there is no “official” theme to this blog, you will find posts about many different subjects here which may (or may not) fall loosely into one of several “categories” which you will find listed in the right hand sidebar just under the “recent posts”.  If you want the unfiltered blog, that is to see all posts regardless of category, simply start at the top and keep scrolling down.  Newest posts are at the top, and as you scroll down you go back in time.  If you wish to view only posts in a certain category, then find the category you want in the sidebar and click on it.  Voila!  Only posts in that category will be displayed.  Also in the sidebar are listed “popular posts” and “recent posts”.  Popular posts are those most viewed – not neccessarily the best, but most viewed.  For whatever reason.  And recent posts are just that…the most recent posts.  At any time you can click on the “home” button at the top right to bring you back to the top of the front page.

Within each post I will embed links for additional information – whenever you see red text like this you can click on it, and it will open the link in a new tab.  Try it.  Back? OK, good.  Many of the graphics such as pictures, graphs or cartoons may be enlarged simply by clicking on them.  Some of these graphics are mine, others are not. Embedded youTube videos can bel viewed by clicking on the “play” arrow at the bottom left or in the center of the YouTube frame.  Easy.

driving dog

Finally – comments.  To the left of the post title, under the red date box you will see a grey box that says “comments” with a number in it (usually a zero, unfortunately).  If you wish to leave a comment on a post, click on that box and a dialogue box will appear – type your comment and click “submit”.  If you don’t want to enter your e-mail adress just use a fake one.  I do not work for the NSA.  Comments can be simple – “I like this” or “you are an idiot”.  My favorite one so far is “ha ha ha this”.  I guess he thought the post was funny.  I think that’s about it.  If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments.  Enjoy.

How Can An Airliner Just Disappear? Part IX

How Can An Airliner Just Disappear? Part IX

I have not written a post about the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 since May 18th  because there have been no new developments.  Yesterday, however it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that Australian Authorities have announced a new search area and are seeking bids from private contractors to search that area.

Since the plane disappeared on March 8th, thousands of square miles of the Indian Ocean west of Australia have been searched, but have yielded no trace of the missing plane.  The new search area was deduced using a combination of known facts and educated guesswork.  The current assumption is that the plane’s autopilot was switched on (it could not have been accidentally engaged) after the plane deviated from it’s assigned course, and that the plane flew on it’s own for several hours after the crew was disabled, possibly from hypoxia or oxygen depletion.

MA 370 new search area 6x27


This is a mystery that may never be solved.  The search area is immense and in arguably the most remote and unfriendly ocean in the world.  Even if the wreck is found it may not hold all the answers to what happened and why.  The investigation continues…

WSJ: Australian Report Postulates Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Lost Oxygen

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