Geekly Update - 08 July 2015

Category: Tech-News

What's the best way to simulate a severe migraine headache? When is calling 911 equal to assault with a deadly weapon? And has the robot rebellion finally begun? Get answers to these burning questions, and the scoop on the latest tech news, in this edition of the Geekly Update. It's guaranteed to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!

The AskBobRankin Geekly Update

An artificial intelligence program got snippy with its creators, first refusing to engage in “philosophical debate” and then snapping that it wanted to talk about “nothing.” Siri, Apple’s quasi-intelligent personal digital assistant, gets downright insulting when asked, “What’s zero divided by zero?”

But those examples of robotic rebellion pale compared to the Volkswagen factory robot that killed one of its installers. Ironically, the Financial Times reporter on that robot-kills-worker story is Sarah O’Connor, but she’s never seen the Terminator movies, which feature a robot rebelion and a character named Sarah Connor. Her Twitter followers had a ball…

The maker of Excedrin headache pain reliever wants to give you the experience of a severe migraine headache using Oculus Rift virtual reality simulation. Thanks, but no. I can get that just by watching the Kardashians.
Geekly Update 07-08-2015

A new gadget called Vinli plugs into a car’s OBD-II diagnostic port to provide fuel economy data, monitor and report teen driving habits, provide 4G LTE WiFi throughout the car, and more.

And the award for “Dumbest Product of the Year” is already bespoken. Law enforcement officials nationwide are begging people not to buy the iPhone case that’s shaped like a handgun. “They should market this as, 'The case for the last call you will ever make,” says one police chief.

The Veterans Administration took 20 years to locate just 610 out of 4,000 vets who were secretly used in mustard gas experiments. Barbara Van Woerkom, research librarian for NPR, found 1,200 more in just two months.

Any questions? The Transportation Safety Administration will soon answer travelers’ questions via social media, and soon after that will shut down all of its social media accounts.

“Hadrian” is a robot that can lay 1,000 bricks per hour, erecting a house in two days.

Mathematicians worldwide are mourning the demise of Hagomoro Fulltouch, the “Rolls Royce of chalk.” Whiteboards, colored markers, and Powerpoint have driven the venerable writing tool out of business.

Paypal has clarified its new terms of service to reassure customers and regulators that it will not use robocalling to market anything and that customers can opt out of robocalls at any time.

We still have a ways to go in facial recognition. Google Photos auto-tagged a photo of two Haitian-Americans, “Gorillas,” drawing a caustic note to tech support and a quick, red-faced apology from Yonatan Zunger, Google’s Chief Architect of Social.

Someone is running around cutting high-speed fiber optic cables that carry critical Internet traffic, causing 11 outages in San Francisco and Sacramento so far this year. The FBI is on the case, but experts warn that the main arteries of the nation’s information highway are “basically unsecured.”

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 08 July 2015"

Posted by:

bill
08 Jul 2015

The Volkswagen robot incident was definitely not part of a rebellion. It was a combination of human stupidity along with human error. The stupidity was that the installer neither had the robot locked out and was not out of its reach. The error was that he told it to move while in the danger area.
Most equipment that uses similar robots require that safety switches be set to be sure no one is in their range when they are turned on. There are always ways to cheat on the safety systems and people do that.

This was no more a revolting robot than it would be a phone revolt when stupid druggies call 911 accidently instead of their supplier. The robot did what it was TOLD to do.


Posted by:

Maura K
08 Jul 2015

I thought Oculus was trying to promote their VR system, but simulating migraines hardly seems the way to do it. I've also read accounts of people getting migraine-like headaches from sampling the early VR environments, so Excedrin may do just fine anyway....I say, no thanks, I get vertigo all on my own as it is.


Posted by:

Jay R
08 Jul 2015

After reading your post today, and my comment is directed towards those you are writing about, I am positive, the some people need a hobby.....or a job.


Posted by:

Bluebottle
08 Jul 2015

Definitely 146% smarter after reading this. Maths not my strong point but if you can keep up the good work, I will be up to single digit IQ eventually.


Posted by:

SamG
09 Jul 2015

Reading your column and other tech articles soon after rising in the A.M. allow me to gauge how much of a fog my mind is in. I.e. how allergies? are affecting my person. "Thick as a brick", or slightly to no daze effect. Sometimes including sinus headaches. Here's wishing the best of health to you.


Posted by:

Kathy
09 Jul 2015

Bob, are you familiar with the book, The Case of the Killer Robot by Richard Epstein? It is out of print, but most of the book is available (legally) at http://www.onlineethics.org/Resources/Cases/killerrobot.aspx . It is a fictional account of a similar incident told via fictional news reports, interviews, etc. and explores the ethical issues involved in designing reliable computer software, safety, liability, etc. I have my upper-level CS students read and discuss this even though it is somewhat dated ... or maybe not!


Posted by:

Daniel Mielke
09 Jul 2015

This cellphone gun look-alike is just plain stupid, no matter what side of the gun issue you are on. This is a good way to get shot, it never amazes me that people keep coming up with even dumber ideas. As Weird Al says "Dare to be Stupid".


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