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Our tiny autonomous killer drone future

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The very beginning of Attack of the Killer Robots by Sarah Topol features this quote by Stuart Russell, a Berkeley computer science professor. It is terrifying:

A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in diameter can carry a one- or two-gram shaped charge. You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You can program the code to say: "Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target." A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone's head. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They don't have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to find the target.

There will be manufacturers producing millions of these weapons that people will be able to buy just like you can buy guns now, except millions of guns don't matter unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys to write the program and launch them. So you can just imagine that in many parts of the world humans will be hunted. They will be cowering underground in shelters and devising techniques so that they don't get detected. This is the ever-present cloud of lethal autonomous weapons.

They could be here in two to three years.

Who needs a hug?

Tags: crime   drones   robots   Sarah Topol   Stuart Russell
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nickoneill
452 days ago
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Finally a valid use case for those face detection foiling dazzle makeup jobs
san francisco
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2 public comments
fxer
450 days ago
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Voting Trump if he makes the wall high enough to keep out drones
Bend, Oregon
satadru
451 days ago
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The strongest argument I've ever seen against the advancement of battery technology. ;)
New York, NY

Olympic athletes will sport Visa's new payment ring in Rio

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For those making their way to this year's Olympic games in Rio this August, Rio, Visa will be the only card accepted at official venues -- a pretty sweet deal for the credit provider. But, rather than be satisfied with exclusive access to the wallets of a... a half millio...
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nickoneill
536 days ago
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Visa is the only card accepted at the olympic games? Mark this down as another instance of "Putting the Customer last marketing"
san francisco
sirshannon
536 days ago
Pretty sure everything other than Olympic Committee profits are tied for last on the list of things important at the Olympics.
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Augmented reality desktop with Oculus DK2 and prototype color Leap Motion

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totally into this, though I'd guess the mouse/keyboard would be more convenient [via
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nickoneill
875 days ago
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I'll take two please.
san francisco
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The Population Bomb defused

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In the 1960s, the idea of an overpopulated planet took hold, sparked by the publication of The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich.

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

Ehrlich advocated radical population control methods, including voluntary incentivized sterilization, a tax on things like diapers, and adding chemicals to temporarily sterilize people into the food and water supply. Retro Report has a look at how the Population Bomb was defused by a combination of different factors, including urbanization, the Green Revolution, and a decrease in poverty.

Tags: books   Paul Ehrlich   The Population Bomb   video
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nickoneill
884 days ago
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san francisco
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Richard Feynman: fire is stored sunshine

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In 1983, the BBC aired a six-part series called Fun to Imagine with a simple premise: put physicist Richard Feynman in front of a camera and have him explain everyday things. In this clip from one of the episodes, Feynman explains in very simple terms what fire is:

So good. Watch the whole thing...it seems like you get the gist about 2 minutes in, but that's only half the story. See also Feynman explaining rubber bands, how trains go around curves, and how magnets work.

Tags: physics   Richard Feynman   science   video
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nickoneill
968 days ago
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Life, from the perspective of a tree
san francisco
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Discover Mount Olympus, A Hidden City Landmark

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Castro, Cole Valley, Upper Haight
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Photo: Flickr/Steve B

If you live around the Haight but haven't heard of (let alone seen) Mount Olympus park, there's a good reason for that: it's almost as hard to find when you're looking for it as it is to discover accidentally.

Mount Olympus is the peak of a hill at the center of Upper Terrace, between Ashbury Heights, Corona Heights and the Castro on a spot that was once (but is not currently), according to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, considered the geographic center of San Francisco.

Now obscured by trees and houses, the monument at the top of Mount Olympus is no longer even visible from below.

Information about the monument is scarce: it's referred to in passing in Adah Bakalinsky's Stairway Walks In San Francisco, but most available information on it dates from a Cityguides article by Susan Saperstein and a related FoundSF piece by Annalee Newitz.

The park was dedicated to the city in 1887 by former San Francisco mayor and entrepreneur Adolph Sutro, who built a local fortune with his earnings from the Comstock Lode and who gave a number of more famous parks to the city.

Upon its commemoration, the park was topped with a statue, called Triumph of Light, that stood above the 553-foot peak; the statue remained in place, slowly deteriorating until it was removed in the late 1950s. According to Cityguides, nobody knows what happened to the statue after it was de-throned.

Below are two views of Mount Olympus, taken in the 1940s, with the peak of Buena Vista Park in the background.

(Photo via San Francisco History Center, SFPL)

(Photo via San Francisco History Center, SFPL)

The park is remarkable not only for the fact that it marks the heart of the city, but also because it commands near-360 degree views, albeit now largely through trees.

Below is a view looking west, towards Mount Sutro (which, as we recently learned, was once logged for timber) from the park:

(Photo via San Francisco History, SFPL)

As late as the early 1960s, the park would have been a familiar component of the skyline from the Sunset, the Haight, the Mission or the Castro. Below, a photo dating from the 1950s, as seen from Collingwood and 22nd:

(Photo by Charles Cushman, via Flickr/IMLS)

And for fun, dating from the same period, a shot looking east over the Bay with Corona Heights in the middle-distance and Mount Diablo on the horizon.

(Photo by Charles Cushman, via Flickr/IMLS)

In the late 1960s, according to Cityguides, neighbors attempted to buy the land to preserve it from development. But they weren't successful, and the park is now surrounded by a ring of homes and condominiums.

Mount Olympus still offers a fantastic view of the city, though, and is accessible via a short hike from the 33 stop at Clayton and 17th Street, or by a slightly more strenuous ascent directly from the Haight or Castro. No signs mark the way, though, so bring your own map and a bottle of water.

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nickoneill
988 days ago
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A cool nook in the city, a great run spot too.
san francisco
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