Category Archives: Tech

News and observations on science and technology.

Smarter Than Human Machines to Take Our Jobs!

“Bill Gates thinks super machines could eventually become smarter than humans and take our jobs”

I hope he’s right, I hope I live to see it, and I hope I have a small part in making it so.

I don’t see this prediction as a threat, nor is it particularly profound or insightful – it’s obvious, it’s positive, and it’s our destiny. Viewing those words as a threat seems to me akin to standing in a freshly plowed field 13,000 years ago and saying, “All this agriculture – it’s going to completely eliminate the need to hunt and gather. THEN WHAT?”

Trusting GPS

I was recently driving to an appointment and I was running exactly on time. I was a bit stressed about not having any buffer because the office I was going to runs like clockwork. I really didn’t want to be late. Suddenly the highway came to complete stop.  People started making u-turns in the median. But I had data. I knew I was fine. This traffic was already factored into my ETA. I charged ahead into the traffic and I made my appointment. Maybe there was a little luck involved, but I will continue to believe the data was on my side.

(Also I didn’t know any other way to get there, so either way I had to keep going that way.)

Improving GPS

Every time I get in my car I ask my smartphone to use precise measurements of time beamed from several points in space to quickly triangulate my location, then wirelessly connect to the internet, find my destination, map a route avoiding traffic, then read the directions to me as I drive. And yet I will complain it’s not doing enough.

Here’s a short list of features I’d like to see added to GPS:

  • If my next turn is the next traffic signal tell me that! Say, “turn left at the light,” the way a person would.
  • Show me the speed limit. Alert me when I’m speeding.
  • Search for things along my route. I used to be able to do this – I don’t know where that feature went.
  • Give me an ETA/trip time factoring in projected traffic based on a later start time.
  • Suggest a lane based on the next turn.
  • Show me the current weather radar, like the Radar Now app.
  • Route around high crime areas.
  • Allow me to set the height of my vehicle and warn me if I’m going to drive under something too low.

Phones – Now Smart!

Before there were smartphones and before there were feature phones there were just phones. They were simple, and they worked. There were flip phones, which had a certain appeal, and there were candy-bars, which I preferred.

To call my wife I would mash the 2 key for a second to activate the speed dial. (1 was reserved and not available for speed dials.) A few seconds later the phone started ringing.

Now to call my wife I simply:

  • Hit the Home button
  • Slide to Unlock (patented!)
  • Punch in a code
  • Press Home again
  • Press Phone
  • Press Favorites
  • Select Chrissy