Category Archives: The Future

How Far Can Driverless Cars Take Us?

The potential complications are enormous, but so might be the benefits.

Driverless cars and trucks—or autonomous vehicles (AV)—offer a tantalizing promise of safer and unclogged roadways. In 2017, 37,150 people died in accidents on America’s roads, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up sharply from 32,479 in 2011, and far worse per capita than anywhere else in the Western world. And the United States has ten of the 25 most congested cities globally, according to the Inrix transportation intelligence group. Cars that drive themselves could reduce crashes to a small fraction of today’s totals, while moving people about more efficiently, in larger groups and at faster speeds.


Facial recognition systems will imprison us all

We all know the arguments against prison as a form of punishment. It’s inhumane. It’s expensive. It’s counter-productive.

The counter-argument – that ‘prison works’ – is based on at least one incontestable truth: when criminals are locked-up, they can’t do anything to harm the general public.

But what if offenders could be kept apart from the public – at least in the situations where they’re most likely to cause harm – without the need for, and disadvantages of, imprisonment?


Why Technology Favors Tyranny

Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it.

I. The Growing Fear of Irrelevance

There is nothing inevitable about democracy. For all the success that democracies have had over the past century or more, they are blips in history. Monarchies, oligarchies, and other forms of authoritarian rule have been far more common modes of human governance.

The emergence of liberal democracies is associated with ideals of liberty and equality that may seem self-evident and irreversible. But these ideals are far more fragile than we believe. Their success in the 20th century depended on unique technological conditions that may prove ephemeral.

In the second decade of the 21st century, liberalism has begun to lose credibility. Questions about the ability of liberal democracy to provide for the middle class have grown louder; politics have grown more tribal; and in more and more countries, leaders are showing a penchant for demagoguery and autocracy. The causes of this political shift are complex, but they appear to be intertwined with current technological developments. The technology that favored democracy is changing, and as artificial intelligence develops, it might change further.


Make robots pay taxes? Documents detail ideas to adapt to changing labour force

OTTAWA – The Liberals have been told to consider taxing robots that displace workers, letting people pay their tax bill in kind rather than with cash, and work to prevent income inequality before it happens.

The ideas are part of a massive government effort to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce and stave off some of the strain it could cause on federal finances.


UK Police criticised for using computer to work out whether a burglary is worth investigating or not

A computer programme that calculates whether a burglary is worth investigating, is “insulting” to victims and risks alienating the public, the head of the Police Federation has warned.

Norfolk Constabulary has been trialling a new system which uses sophisticated algorithms to determine whether there is any point attending a break in.

Officers input various details about the offence, such as whether there are clues including fingerprints or CCTV, and then the computer will suggest whether it is worth devoting any police time to.

No Go Zones by Algorithm!


The Flying Car is Coming and Japan Wants In On the Tarmac

On Friday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that it would allocate $40.4 million to be used for the private-sector development of high-performance batteries, motors and other equipment for flying cars, Japan Times reported Saturday. The use of flying cars will help to solve the problem of traffic jams in big cities, according to industry reports.


Nearly half of Americans don’t want a self-driving car: survey

Consumers’ interest in automatic braking and other autonomous features is high, but drivers view self-driving cars as less safe compared to a similar survey conducted two years ago. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would never own a fully-autonomous car, known in the industry as a Level 5 vehicle. Two years ago, 30 percent said they would never buy one.


Another reason why machines can’t think as we do

As philosopher Michael Polanyi has noted, much that we know is hard to codify or automate.

From Denyse O’Leary at Mind Matters Today,

We have all encountered that problem. It’s common in healthcare and personal counseling. Some knowledge simply cannot be conveyed—or understood or accepted—in a propositional form. For example, a nurse counselor may see clearly that her elderly post-operative patient would thrive better in a retirement home than in his rundown private home with several staircases.

Michael Polanyi (1891-1976)

The analysis, as such, is straightforward. But that is not the challenge the nurse faces. Her challenge is to convey to the patient, not the information itself, but her tacit knowledge that the proposed move would liberate, rather than restrict him. More.

Reality check: That’s why many jobs are not nearly as threatened by AI as some fear. But then many others are.

See also: Why can’t machines learn simple tasks?: They can learn to play chess more easily than to walk. If specifically human intelligence is related to consciousness, the robotics engineers might best leave consciousness out of their goals for their products and focus on more tangible ones.


Beer label uses facial recognition

Multi-Color Corporation and Talkin’ Things, Internet of Things (IoT) packaging platform providers, have combined augmented reality (AR) and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to create a “unique” customer experience in connected products, according to Talkin’ Things. The label of Black Red Ale beer incorporates a large “talking” skull using advanced AR facial recognition and dynamic scenarios dependent on users’ emotions. For more information see the IDTechEx report on ten forecasts for digital transformation.

As the customer scans the smart label with a mobile app, the skull presented on the label engages in an interactive dialogue with the consumer. The facial recognition feature detects if the customer is happy or sad and customizes the next part of the dialogue to accommodate a flowing conversation. Furthermore, variable AR scenarios are also launched depending on answers provided to questions asked.


Robot workers will lead to surge in slavery in south-east Asia, report finds

Research shows risk of trafficking will rise, as automation pushes low-skilled workers into ‘race to the bottom’ for jobs

Robots will slash millions of jobs and create an upswing in trafficking and slavery across south-east Asia, research claims.

In a report launched on Thursday, supply-chain analyst firm predicts that the rise in robot manufacturing will have a knock-on effect that results not only in lost livelihoods but in a spike in slavery and labour abuses in brand supply chains.