Driving Blind: CIA Conspiracies and Robot Laborers

Mike Masnick highlights how the weird retail history of cars has led to state laws which leave electric luxury car manufacturer Tesla out in the cold.

Disney continues to milk the Avengers franchise, now with a Joss Whedon directed prime time series, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Network television is already so bad this can only be good for it.

Harry McCracken (which, if a real name, is awesome) brings my attention to a piece by Michael Mace on the future of the personal computer.

Kevin Drum explores the coming evolution in robotics and AI and what that would mean for the traditional labor economy.

This week the New Yorker will be publishing letters from Italo Calvino translated by Martin McLaughlin. An excerpt,

In any case, I’m fed up writing stories. I’m beginning to develop a style, which is maybe a good sign: after having imitated others so much, I can now afford to imitate myself a bit. At any rate these that I am enclosing are the last ones. (One of them I haven’t time to type and maybe it’s not worth it anyway.) Do what you want with them, maybe even rip them up. Be careful with the one about the game of tip-cat. I’ve sent it to you anyway but I didn’t think it could be published. Watch out because only Garroni could find it in conformity with the legally constituted authorities. If it turns out not to be publishable, don’t give the other one either to N. O., it’s not worth it just for one story, maybe give it to Gigliozzi, never mind about payment. And what do you mean that its form is slack? Do you know how much I polished it, word by word, to get that unsophisticated, rough and ready style?”

And Freddie DeBoer and Conor Friedersdorf try to bring some common sense back to the highly politicized, super-partisan discussion surrounding the U.S. consulate bombing in Libya last summer.

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5 thoughts on “Driving Blind: CIA Conspiracies and Robot Laborers

  1. I like the bit on PCs. I already have a LEAP Motion controller on order, and I’m a bit giddy with excitement over what I’ll be able to do with it.

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    • He’s totally wrong on speech. Speech is slow. Moreover, speech is loud.

      Can you imagine the freakin’ noise of an office full of cubicle workers trying to dictate? Not to mention — why? Reading is faster than listening. Which means you’re going to use a slow method of input (speech) to dictate something that will be read, which means you have to hope your software scrubs out the vocal errors, which means you have to proof-read it ANYWAYS.

      I don’t even buy the “people talk faster than they type” argument anyways. Especially once all the effort required for the end-product is summed up.

      (Not to mention: I can’t dictate MY job — I’m a software engineer. What am I gonna say? “Compiler: widget array element x equals widget array element y? No wait, I wanted that in a while loop. Crap”)

      But noise would be the biggest problem. I’ve worked in a room with 150 people talking all at once. What you got was a LOT of requests from management to use the voice loops (headsets and mics) and to keep your voices down and let the loops amplify them. Otherwise nobody could hear anything, even with the volume up.

      Not that speech recognition won’t be a big thing. Just not as desktop input.

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      • In the home, noise is less of an issue. In public/at the office, sub-vocalized commands could clear the noise issue (if you had on a throat mic).

        Assigning keywords to command macros can make speech the faster input, if you have a large set of common commands that could be macro’d (e.g. you get into the office & while getting situated for the day, you say “Computer: Login Morat20. Computer: Launch IDE, Firefox, Outlook”. Still, speech recognition will be much more useful for dictation than interfacing.

        However, I think stuff like Leap will be a bigger interface boost, especially for modelers of any stripe.

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  2. I’m looking forward to the Calvino letters, as he’s one of my favorite authors.

    Do you know how much I polished it, word by word, to get that unsophisticated, rough and ready style?

    This, strangely enough, reminds me of when Dolly Parton used to say, “Do you know how much it costs to look this cheap?”

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