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Even if the cars’ computers can project the anticipated path of one jumping roo, a whole troop of roos is likely to cause a computer headache

Jumping Kangaroos: 1 – Autonomous Cars: 0


By —— Bio and Archives--July 6, 2017

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As The Verge reports, self-driving, i.e. “autonomous cars” (ACs) have a problem, at least in Aussie-land. They can’t figure out whether the kangaroos are going to jump or not or, if so, where to.

At least the Volvo company engineers recognized the kangaroo problem and admitted to it. Other AC proponents appear to be less cognizant or forthcoming at this time.

Perhaps the problem is even worse than you may have thought. The autonomous cars’ computers may not be able to differentiate between kangaroos, jumping mice, or any other “small animal” species with a tail—or even between some without a tail.

Deep Thinking Needed

Clearly, this problem calls for some deep thinking by the crème de la crème of entrepreneurial thinkers of the day, like the ones that think YOU should go to Mars, while they are just fine here on Earth. Of course, there aren’t any kangaroos on planet Mars, yet, as far as we know, so their current talk is easy.

There is an old proverb “Many hounds soon catch the hare.” A hare will always be able to outrun ONE hound, as it jumps ”any which way” while a whole pack of hounds will be the hare’s demise.

But let’s get back down to Earth again and begin.

The First Step

The first step is to re-charge all your battery-powered devices, or replace the batteries with new and fully charged ones. (I hope you don’t miss any).  Remember the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Louisiana in 2010? It was supposedly due to a small battery that had not been replaced with a new one. I cannot vouch for the veracity of that but it sounds plausible.

If you think of all the timing devices in your home that run on batteries, some for years, you may be surprised. They include not just electric wrist watches, but light-, darkness-, or motion-activated gadgets, some handheld drills, lights and other devices that run on batteries and need a minimum voltage and also a deliverable energy supply to function properly.

Many of those instruments come with their own “power packs” to recharge the gadget’s battery system when needed but few of those are interchangeable. Nearly each manufacturer has its own battery design, voltage and power pack requirement, outgoing plug design and so forth. Over time I appear to have accumulated a variety of such I don’t remember what they were used for in the past, nor appear to fit any new gadget. Even the all-knowing Wiki page shows only a small selection of the available variety.

After you have taken care of all those little problems comes the real challenge.

The Real Challenge

The real challenge is to make the things work without fail, even under less than ideal conditions. It requires a much higher level of understanding of the technology, its potential failure points and, above all, the complexities of life and potential encounters of all sorts. If that were an easy problem to solve, it would have happened already decades ago. The many thousands (or millions) of computer programmers that work diligently to improve and enhance existing software to run everything would hardly have any work left to do if it were.

In fact, more people seem to be employed in that field than ever before and the demand for new talent is growing even more rapidly that the supply. If anything, that points to the increasing complexity in the field and a commensurate difficulty in keeping abreast with new developments.

 

Continued below...

Complexity

The complexities of life and gadgets are rising fast. On a personal level you may have experienced more volume of junk email and more “too-good-to-be true” offers than in the past. Even with internet service providers strengthening their junk mail filters and guarding against malicious software buried in innocuous looking files, you cannot be sure of a novel malware not getting through to your own system.

Just imagine the problems faced by multi-level systems with millions of concurrent users, such as large government agencies, or autonomous cars (that may be conferring with each other in real time) and some wayward kangaroos nearby for good measure. Even if the cars’ computers can project the anticipated path of one jumping roo, a whole troop of roos is likely to cause a computer headache.



Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts Convenient Myths

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