Killer Robots Sneak Through

Harriet Grant at The Guardian just published a Tech piece describing how United Nations action regarding banning robots from making lethal decisions about humans is stuck in a morass of debate.  This slowdown is useful because intelligent warfighting robots are a boundary issue– and the boundary is moving every week as new capabilities are fielded.  Many countries find the bureaucratic process useful, therefore, because it gives them time to move the goal lines so that existing research projects have immediate payoffs.  Sadly, the long-term results of this deliberate process is that we become ever more unlikely to be able to avoid some of the negative side effects of autonomous lethal systems in wars all around us.

Welcome to VonnegutLand

This is right out of Piano Player’s future possible world: Upshot in the New York TImes writes about a restaurant of the future where you can order and eat your food without ever having to interact with a human: Restaurant of the Futures? Service With an Impersonal Touch. So, remember, order a driverless carshare car next year, have it take you to a waiter-less restaurant, and enjoy as fully an antisocial dinner as possible. It’ll all be cheaper, and you will be supporting the minimal possible number of employees. Great.

STEM Education review

An excellent article by John Cassidy in the New Yorker, College Calculus, reviews Peter Cappelli’s new book: Will College Pay Off? The article, and Cappelli’s excellent book, both talk about STEM, discussing just what STEM means to whom, and how technological underemployment and STEM leave questions unanswered as to whether STEM skilling for our children will indeed help them with a future career, or not. I recommend the article, and will read and review the book.

Technology that Empowers

The Heinz Endowment summer internship program borrowed Speck air quality sensors from us to empower the students to explore the city of Pittsburgh, quantitatively understanding the fluctuations and variegations in air quality in our city. This is a wonderful example of how an educational programme can empower students with technology, furthering their sense of reach and civic enablement: What are we breathing? – great example of community empowerment via technology.