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* Posts by John Robson

2050 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Say what you will about self-driving cars – the security is looking 'OK'

John Robson
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Re: Entertainment systems...

Why does an infotainment system need a connection to the rear of the car...

If it has its own GPS chip then that covers basically everything it needs,

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John Robson
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Entertainment systems...

Why would they be related to the self driving at all...

They don't need any connection to the rest of the car.

Grumble mumble....

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Devon County Council techies: WE KNOW IT WASN'T YOU!

John Robson
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Surely...

You write a cheque out...

To the wrong payee, with different amounts in words and numbers, and signed by someone obscure.

Bonus points if you still have an old chequebook for an account long closed (even more if the bank has closed down).

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Funnily enough, no, infosec bods aren't mad keen on W. Virginia's vote-by-phone-app plan

John Robson
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And of course...

When voting on a mobile phone there is no possibility that you be being forced to vote for someone against your will (actually that's a problem with postal votes as well, but hey)

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Amazon, ditch us? But they can't do without us – Oracle

John Robson
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Of course they're still spending...

And they will do right until they turn off the tap, and that's a big customer to lose...

Not only is it a big customer to lose, it's also one that has the capability to develop it's own solutions, and then to sell them to your other customers as well...

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'Fibre broadband' should mean glass wires poking into your router, reckons Brit survey

John Robson
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Re: Fibre is Fibre

JeffyPooh - I'm not a Robinson, but hey...

The point was that I think that most people have landlines which are dependent on mains power already.

One of the arguments for the POTS lines has always been that they give you a phone line which 'just works' in the event of an emergency. And a fire is one thing that is likely to take out your electricity supply. SO it doesn't really matter what the overall reliability is, the reliability * frequency of needing to call the services is a terrible measure. I don't care if a device is 99.999% reliable if the 'other bit' is inevitable when there is a situation I need to call the emergency services.

One of the issues is 'power loss can stop me calling the emergency services', and power loss is frequently associated with a fire (which is something I want to make that call for)

If most people's landlines (as I suspect) are mains dependent - then the POTS vs Fibre discussion possibly doesn't need to consider the 'power loss emergency services' issue, because it's just covered by mobile phones now.

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John Robson
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Re: Fibre is Fibre

"Worst case, there are more than several mobile phones in the house. We don't really require 99.999% reliability on our landline these days. 99.99% is fine."

Yes, but it's what causes that 0.001%.

If that is caused by fire then you *really* need it at that exact moment.

Now the other question is... how many people have a telephone that isn't dependant on the mains now? Mine is...

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Ransomware is so 2017, it's all cryptomining now among the script kiddies

John Robson
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Re: Core!

Maybe, but ransomware is a one time hit. If you can keep under the radar on a box you can keep it mining for a long while.

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You're indestructible, always believe in 'cause you are Go! Microsoft reinvents netbook with US$399 ‘Surface Go’

John Robson
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Re: Obvious questions that will be asked

" Microsoft really doesn't care if you buy one and put Linux on it; you still gave them money in the process"

And I don't mind paying a hardware manufacturer for their hardware.

The drivers are likely to be generated in fairly short order if the hardware is any good.

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Apple will throw forensics cops off the iPhone Lightning port every hour

John Robson
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Just needs an option for certain peripherals to be explicit trusted

So you can go an 'trust' your car, or your headphone adaptor, or your hdmi adaptor or whatever...

Because otherwise it will be turned off more than it will be turned on.

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Cops: Autonomous Uber driver may have been streaming The Voice before death crash

John Robson
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"So in what way, then, was this car "autonomous", If the "safety driver" was supposed to be watching the road and liable to have to take over at any second."

In the same way that anything autonomous is when under development and test.

You don't do a first iteration (or a second, or a hundredth) and say 'that's autonomous' and just let it out. You watch it, test it, monitor it, evaluate it...

That's the stage they're at. They just didn't have processes in place to ensure that the monitoring actually happened...

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John Robson
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"Chances are it still would have hit her, it just may not have been instantaneous death."

Aren't the stats something like an 80% fatality rate at 30mph, and 80% survival at 20mph?

Probably a fraction better than that given modern car frontal design for pedestrian impact mitigation (I refuse to call it safety).

40mph is always going to be in the instant fatality except in rare circumstances territory.

20mph is nowhere near that - and getting that much braking done is massively valuable.

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Visa fingers 'very rare' data centre switch glitch for payment meltdown

John Robson
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Global next

"The firm has launched a number of reviews and is also in the process of migrating its European systems to a more resilient global processing system, VisaNet."

Great - now we can stop processing transactions all over the world instead of just over here...

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National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

John Robson
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The card isn't the issue for most people...

It's the database.

If only there was some way we could store data on the card itself, and have the important data on there both encrypted (so only readable with a pin from the card owner) and signed (so the reader can verify that the data was confirmed correct by the relevant organisation).

No need for central anything other than key distribution - all the potential benefits, with many fewer drawbacks.

If you're really ambitious you could have a number of separated data regions on the card... so you could store a relevant slice of information from NI/NHS/DVLA/HMRC on your card (and not have to have them all linked in one place elsewhere).

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Google cloud VMs given same IP addresses ... and down they went

John Robson
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Re: More Google CloudFog

- The risk can be mitigated by building and managing your own sh*t. Letting others manage your stuff just makes no sense.

Well that depends on how many bits of kit you would have to manage, and how many people you have available and competent to manage them.

The risks involved in hosting your own are that you end up coming in on Monday to find everything offline because even your monitoring system has gone down. Then you have to figure out what has gone wrong where and drive round the country fixing bits...

There are risks with cloud deployments, but those risks can be measured and compared with 'in house' risks... and the balance, for some/many may well be in favour of the cloud.

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Pwned with '4 lines of code': Researchers warn SCADA systems are still hopelessly insecure

John Robson
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Re: SCADA systems running windows

No team viewer...

That’s fine. They didn’t think about an IP KVM for remote support?

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Dual-screen laptops debut at Asus' Computex chat

John Robson
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"More importantly: can it fold back on itself, and be used to play Battleships in two-player mode?"

According to Linus Tech Tips - yes it can... it got called 'tent' mode rather than battleships mode though...

And the 'book' dual screen option was shown as well...

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John Robson
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Dual screen laptops in an office make sense, most people where I work dock their laptops most of the time - so that keyboard is a waste of space most of the time.

Occasionally useful when travelling (but I still tend to take an external keyboard to put the screen far enough away).

If the clamshell can sit up in dual portrait mode....

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Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

John Robson
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Same error...

But in currency futures saw an accountant I know put an extra zero in an order for Yennfornthebyear for a large business. Ordering hundreds of millions of pounds worth instead of tens of millions.

By the time he spotted it (end of the day) and it could be corrected (start of the next day) the currency markets had moved.... fortunately they had moved in his favour.

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Schadenfreude for UK mobile networks over the tumult at Carphone

John Robson
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Re: Soon?

"Distance Selling Regs are your friend here ... use for a day or two and then if you find something annoying do a factory reset and send it back."

A "couple of days' use" is probably not what the DSR was intending. Unless there were any physical marks or other signs of use, I doubt the retailer would be able to tell and levy depreciation charges, though...

Pretty sure it's exactly what it is designed for.

Maybe a couple of days is a little over the top, but you can certainly find things out in 12 hours that you couldn't know from seeing things online...

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John Robson
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Re: Internets for the win!

Meh - I'll let a provider charge me £20 over three years for a phone, but not £300...

Many companies are now doing the contract and phone on separate bills even, so you can actually see what you are paying for the device and what for the airtime. At the moment my airtime is more than my device - I'm just upgrading at the moment though, so that will reverse (a combination of getting a reasonably current generation phone, and a cheaper tariff with more data/calls included).

I'm nowhere near paying £60/month though...

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Russian battery ambitions see a 10x increase in power from smaller, denser nukes

John Robson
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Probably is rather useful for something like, say, a pacemaker...

Or anything where you value consistent long term power... You'll not be recharging this battery...

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AWS outage killed some cloudy servers, recovery time is uncertain

John Robson
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Re: Isn't cloud supposed to be fault tolerant?

It is pretty reliable - but that's why you have multiple AZ's.

You don't get to complain about an outage caused by a hard disk failure if you aren't running RAID.

If you aren't running the fault tolerant options on a cloud service... you don't get to complain about an outage that those options are designed to deal with.

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Facebook caught up in court battle with Amazon and pals over 'ageist job ads' that targeted young

John Robson
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Re: Shouldn't it depend on why they specified age limits?

"Shouldn't it depend on why they specified age limits?

If they sent out some ads targeting 22-35 and talking about how they have flex work and locations near hip downtown locations, and another ads targeting 36-50 talking about how they have on-site child care and 12 weeks paternity leave, and ads targeting 51+ talking about how they have great health care plans and allow people to transition to part time work as they approach retirement..."

Absolutely - if you have covered the whole working age range with ads then that's fine. Pretty clear that this is unlikely to be what has been done though.

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John Robson
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Slam dunk

Advertising in a teen mag is still visible to other people if they choose to look.

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Ongoing game of Galileo chicken goes up a notch as the UK talks refunds

John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

"Then you must accept the answer"

When the answer is not clear, and the decision is so asymmetric then only a fool would run with it in the way the current leadership is.

Which bowl of rice is clearly bigger?

"You can still believe we would be better off in and so vote a party to rejoin."

Except that's not what I think we should do - and parties have a variety of policies which need balancing when you consider who to vote for.

Particularly difficult when you consider that where I live there is virtually no chance of the incumbent MP getting voted out, and even less chance of them getting voted out in favour of a party I'd like to see in power. SO I actually cast my vote for my second choice party, because I'd rather they got an extra MP than the party who hold this seat.

It's not nearly as simple as you seem to think... Elections are not a single policy decision, and they're not even a fair representation of people's view.

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

"So will the remain crowd do that?"

Will the remain crowd do what?

If the vote had been 2/3rds in either direction then I don't think there would have been that much more debate afterwards... The point is that it wasn't, there was practically nothing in it.

And rejoin != stay.

The two are fundamentally different as a result of the various exceptions we already hold (but could not possibly negotiate in any attempt to rejoin).

That's why I think leaving at this point is a mistake - it's because the decision is asymmetric.

- If we stay now, we can leave in 5-10 years.

- If we leave now, we cannot reverse that decision in 5-10 years.

General elections with a FPTP local representation and tactical voting doesn't give a particularly accurate view of what the electorate feels about the parties as a whole, let alone what they think about one specific issue.

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

@Phil O'Sophical

a) My memory might be poor, but my maths is correct.

b) If it actually means apathy then you can count them for either side, you can't suggest that apathy means they only agree with you.

c) The whole point of a referendum like this was that it wasn't binding. It could easily have been written to be binding - but it wasn't. It was a proper scale opinion poll.

d) No it's not. Cameron may have claimed discontent, he couldn't point to evidence of it.

e) Non founder, but still with significant special exceptions which we will never be able to get again.

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

"Counting the whole population of the UK, including infants, isn't realistic. 46.5m people were eligible to vote, so claiming 65.6, as your baseline is nonsense."

Why not. Does the decision only affect those who are registered to vote?

I said (wrongly) 1/6th of the country. Not of the registered voters.

I should have said <25%, rather than ~1/6th.

Farage himself said:

(Mirror interview published online 22:00, 16 MAY 2016)

"In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the Remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it."

Interesting that he didn't consider the option of the Leave campaign winning by enough margin to 'end it'

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

>> Not half the country. About 1/6th if it.

> 53% of 74% is not 1/6th. If that's an example of remainer maths then it doesn't bodw well for the quality of your other arguments.

UK Population: 65million

Votes to leave: 17million

Ok, it's much closer to a quarter than I had remembered - that's a memory issue, not a maths one.

but 51.9% is not 53%, and the actual turnout was 72.2%, not 74%.

I'll assume your memory isn't perfect either.

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

"If you express no preference, you are deemed to be happy with whatever is decided. So the total percentage happy to leave the EU is 63%, and those who do not want to, 35%."

a) Your maths leaves a little to be desired.

b) You could equally read that those happy to stay number 63%

The margin of victory was such that it is a realistic negotiating tool. Farage's desire for a second referendum if the result was 'close' was soon forgotten.

The non binding nature of such referendums was soon forgotten.

The one way nature of the operation is just ignored.

We could easily have said.

Referendum shows deep discontent, we need to make some changes - we'll see what changes we can make over the next 5-10 years and then come back and ask again. Because the option to leave would always have been open.

If we go through with this, then we can never reverse the decision - the best we could do would be to apply to join as a non founder full union member...

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John Robson
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Re: Let's not question the EU

Not half the country. About 1/6th if it.

Because that’s how many people voted for this idiocy.

It’s a non reversible transaction - so we should be a hell of a lot more than 1/6th behind it...

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Uber robo-ride's deadly crash: Self-driving car had emergency braking switched off by design

John Robson
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Re: Not ready for prime time

"Except learner drivers are usually accompanied by an experienced instructor with dual controls, * who is paying attention because he isn't expected to be doing paperwork while instructing *"

Pretty sure that the same rules should be applied here...

Interestingly of course in the UK the driving examiner is expected to make notes.

And that's clearly with someone not yet qualified...

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John Robson
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"the driver was distracted by having to review/flag an Uber touchscreen, which logs significant trip contextual info. This is part of her job, _per Uber design_."

At that point the vehicular manslaughter charges against Uber's management should be upgraded to negligent, or even deliberate.

If you need someone reading a screen during a drive then that should be a different person from the safety driver...

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John Robson
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Re: Not ready for prime time

Uber maybe - but there is no evidence that the various other manufacturers are doing anything so stupid as disabling the braking systems, failing to alert the driver that the car thinks braking is probably needed...

By your logic we shouldn't ever train learner drivers, because they aren't certified as safe, secure and reliable yet.

Actually, we shouldn't have anyone driving anything...

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Uber jams Arizona robo-car project into reverse gear after deadly smash

John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"You persist in trying to muddy the waters here, and I wonder why?

The supervising driver was at fault, because they were not concentrating on the road, and were not in a position to override the vehicle in time to prevent the accident, but the fact is that the vehicle should have been able to avoid the accident by itself, and didn't."

I'm not muddying the waters - the fact is that the human driver allowed the car to plough into a pedestrian. Saying that no human would ever do so is therefore clearly tripe.

You only have to look at global accident rates to realise that people drive vehicles into perfectly visible objects on a frighteningly regular basis - your assertion that they don't simply doesn't hold water.

Today's report reveals, as had been suggested from the start, that the car's braking system had been explicitly *disabled*. The car *wanted* to stop, but was not allowed to.

Moreover it didn't even have the option to shout at the human driver either.

Uber also expected the human driver to be manipulating a touchscreen device to flag up 'interesting' logs - which would certainly put that driver on the wrong side of the law on this side of the pond, and I expect it would be similar on that side as well (see my previous links).

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John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"There *was* a human driver - they still ran straight into a pedestrian.

No, there wasn't. There was a human passenger with responsibility to monitor and override the vehicle.

You cannot equate that with a human who is fully engaged in driving the vehicle, the awareness and concentration required is completely different."

That driver was in the same position as a driving instructor in a dual control vehicle (better actually since they also had a steering wheel directly in front of them).

In UK law at least, the supervising driver is considered to be 'in control' of the vehicle (even in cars *without* dual controls).

A quick google suggests that the same probably applies in the US as well:

https://www.smorganlaw.com/who-is-liable-when-a-student-driver-gets-in-an-accident/

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/who-is-liable-if-a-drivers-ed-student-crashes.html

(Both explicitly list instructors texting as a case where the instructor could be held liable)

So yes - there was a driver who was legally in control of the vehicle and managed to kill someone.

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John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"I'm not convinced that humans can instinctively control a vehicle, and I'm pretty sure that many of them have no idea what they are doing, even after significant training and a small test.

If a human driver - even only a learner driver - was put in the same circumstances as the Uber crash, it would not have happened. A human driver would have seen the victim, and either slowed down or manoeuvred the vehicle to avoid a collision.

Even a learner driver on their first ever outing would not have blithely continued and run into the victim. This is what I mean about the built in instincts."

There *was* a human driver - they still ran straight into a pedestrian.

And there are enough cases across the world where people manage to hit clearly visible objects that I don't think you can reasonably assert that a meatsack wouldn't have blithely continued.

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John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"That's not a fair comparison either. Human learner drivers have built in instincts and abilities which are entirely absent from current autonomous vehicles."

Really?

I'm not convinced that humans can instinctively control a vehicle, and I'm pretty sure that many of them have no idea what they are doing, even after significant training and a small test.

Wait another couple of decades with no additional training or monitoring of their driving behaviour and the number who know what they are doing seems to fall :(

The advantages conferred by the 360 degree sensors, the lack of fatigue or emotion are significant. And not something that a meat sack could ever hope to achieve.

Think of it another way - if you came up with a car now... would it be allowed? A tonne plus of metal that could trivially travel at 60, 70, 100 mph that you can operate within inches of completely unprotected pedestrians and other road users for decades having taken a single 30 minute test...

You'd never get it approved, and quite rightly so.

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John Robson
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Re: AV's Hindenburg?

"Whilst ever autonomous vehicles share the road with non-autonomous vehicles, there will be accidents, this is accepted. What's not acceptable is when the accidents are of such a nature that they would not have occurred if the vehicle was being driven by a normally competent human in the same circumstances."

Which is why in all those cases the human behind the wheel is still responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle. We absolutely know that the Uber driver wasn't doing their job, and I think it's pretty clear that the Tesla owners weren't doing what they should have been either (remembering that the Tesla isn't an autonomous vehicle).

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John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"If an autonomous vehicle can't at least match the safety standard of the meatsacks, then further work needs to be done before they are allowed on public roads."

So learner drivers shouldn't be allowed on the road either then?

That's the point of having a 'safety' driver - it's the equivalent of a driving instructor, there to ensure that the learner's mistakes don't cause serious incident.

In the one fatality that we know of from an autonomous vehicle (autonomous, not fancy cruise control) we absolutely know that the 'driving instructor' was watching their phone, not the road.

Note that I do think that initial driver training (car control) should take place off the public highway, but there comes a point when you have to train any person or system using real world conditions. You do that by putting someone next to them in a seat so that they can take over if it all goes horribly wrong.

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John Robson
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

One of them has... not convinced you can say the same about the other companies.

And this up against a bunch of halfwit meat sacks who kill on such a regular basis that it barely makes local news.

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You know that silly fear about Alexa recording everything and leaking it online? It just happened

John Robson
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Re: Most of us knew that this was going on

Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

Alexa can be immensely helpful, have friends with a disabled son for whom it is invaluable.

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NASA’s new exoplanet-spotter survives sling past the Moon

John Robson
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Re: How far?

8.000km - Whilst it's probably a typo rather than a ?German? number format I do like the idea that over at NASA they planned the trajectory by using KSP and went for an 8km periapsis on the gravity assist.

8km - that's plenty of clearance... (most of the time)

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Brit ISPs get their marker pens out: Speed advertising's about to change

John Robson
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Why not pay for the speed you actually get?

Either the sync rate, or an averaged actual data rate?

It's not as though the ISP doesn't have that data...

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Tech support made the news after bomb squad and police showed up to 'defuse' leaky UPS

John Robson
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Re: You were lucky...

You can transport a LA battery - but one that is clearly overheating and doing *something* bad internally...

I'd phone the local fire department for advice, but I might find their 'non 999 number' unless I was really concerned about the battery (like if it was LiIon and I had just googled LiIon battery hot)

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Brit prosecutors fined £325k after losing unencrypted vids of police interviews

John Robson
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No idea how they know a lot disc hasn't been viewed - but they are right that there is likely no evidence that it *has* been. It's just that there is no evidence that it *hasn't* been either.

Of course the data wasn't encrypted. What do you think Herr May would think of that...

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NASA will send tiny helicopter to Mars

John Robson
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Re: I do have to wonder...

It's not nearly as much further to go to Mars than the Moon as you'd think...

Getting to earth obit is the vast majority of the work...

You can actually get to Mars for less dV than it takes to get to the moon (RRS Kerbal dV map assumed correct):

http://i.imgur.com/AAGJvD1.png

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Robo-callers, robo-cops, robo-runners, robo-car crashes, and more

John Robson
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Re: Uber is at fault, but...

"Since you failed to grasp the point, I'll make it again."

I get the point - but since you fail to get mine I'll make it again.

The car was deliberately put onto the road in a configuration where it was told to ignore objects in the road. The safety driver who should at all times have been paying attention was looking at their phone.

The pedestrian was perfectly well visible, and should not have been hit - the fault is entirely that of those who bring the lethal weapon to the collision.

IFF she had jumped backwards off the kerb in front of the vehicle then I'd agree with you, but I'll wager that you rely on cars staying in lane, and stopping at roundabouts etc. all the time.

Was it the best time to choose to cross, I have no idea, would it have been safe if the driver had being doing what they were meant to, yes.

Most importantly - is the appropriate penalty for a possible lapse in judgement death? No.

I don't know the victim, I don't know what her vision was like, I don't know what her hearing was like...

I do know that the company responsible for detecting and avoiding obstacle made a very large mistake, and that the safety driver they employed (specifically to mitigate against such errors) made an even bigger one.

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MPs petition for legally binding target of 95% 4G coverage across UK

John Robson
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Re: But Shirley...

They'll just use their devices in relay mode... what do you mean 4G doesn't support relay mode?

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