Friday, July 1, 2016

Are Tech and Automakers not considering there may be a big backlash to self driving cars?



Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash

DETROIT — The race by automakers and technology firms to develop self-driving cars has been fueled by the belief that computers can operate a vehicle more safely than human drivers.

But that view is now in question after the revelation on Thursday that the driver of a Tesla Model S electric sedan was killed in an accident when the car was in self-driving mode.

Federal regulators, who are in the early stages of setting guidelines for autonomous vehicles, have opened a formal investigation into the incident, which occurred on May 7 in Williston, Fla.

In a statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said preliminary reports indicated that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes.

It is the first known fatal accident involving a vehicle being driven by itself by means of sophisticated computer software, sensors, cameras and radar.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/business/self-driving-tesla-fatal-crash-investigation.html?_r=0

There is a ALOT that remains to be seen with self-driving cars that unfortunately can't be answered fully until the thing (in this case fatal accident) happens. Who is responsible? Is the car manufacturer or the owner of the car?

There many other questions and situations about self driving cars that I don't think have been war gamed out  enough to anticipate the public reaction.

It seems to me that the ultimate end game of self driving cars to make them disposable transports that people with get into and out of without thought much like they do a bus or uber. Its not going to happen all at one or over night but at some point two things will happen.

1. No one will own a car.

2. People will begin to resent that a real aspect of their freedom was taken away.


This MAY be what the future will like in 2050....you wake up, get dressed and go to work or whatever appointments you have. When you step out the house, a car is waiting for you having pulled in front of your house at the requested time. You get in and the computer in the car syncs up with your smart phone and all the features in the car adjusts to your personal settings. radio stations, seat levels, heat or cooling, etc.

The car gets you to your destination and you get out, go to your job or appointment and when your done you set up another pick up on your phone and as you walk to the curb another car pulls up, you get in and go to wherever you want without saying a word. And the process repeats over again.

That scenario of cars being available for everyone at any time is already here in the form of car share companies. But I saw a segment on CBS morning news about car owners being able to do  this:


MOBILITY SOLUTION, PEER TO PEER SHARING, MILLENNIAL GENERATIONAL SHIFT

The selling point is your car could be making money for you instead of just sitting in  a parking space for hours at a time.

The down side is strangers will be driving your car.

You realize the idea that your car sitting idle isn't cost effective has NEVER been an issue before. Never. car sharing isn't something that could have only been done today, it could have been done decades ago. No one thought about it because the car manufacturers pushed for individuality and personal ownership. Now that's all changing for the idea of cost effectiveness but the trade off is individuality. Everything comes at a cost.

And in that future scenario, no one owns a car in this time..they just pay for usage. maybe yearly, monthly or weekly but YOU don't own a car..in fact in 2050 you CAN'T own a car. Because by the 2020s there will be so much proprietary tech under the hood that they will lobby that people can only lease the use of the car and not own it outright. That argument is being made today:

Owners Hack Tesla Model S Electric Car: Tesla Politely Asks Them To Stop
As DragTimes (via GreenCarReports) details, some of the more tech-savvy tinkerers over at the TeslaMotorsClub have been connecting computers to a hidden diagnostics port on the left-hand side of their car’s dash. While the connector itself might not be easily recognisable as a networking port to most folks, it is in fact an industrial version of an Ethernet port, a telecommunications standard that serves to link one or more computers together.

While these little exploratory investigations into the Tesla Model S’ onboard computer systems were done locally — ie., they were done by physically connecting a home-built cable between the car and a laptop —  the connections did not go unnoticed.

Shortly after hacking into their car, one Tesla Model S owner was contacted by the Californian automaker, detailing what it believed was a ‘tentative hacking attempt’ on their car. The owner was told that the attempts could be seen as an industrial espionage attack, and politely asked to refrain from doing it again as ignoring the warning would invalidate the car’s warranty.

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1091288_had-to-happen-hacking-into-a-tesla-model-s-electric-car

they saw the guy tinkering in real time and called the owner and told him to stop. How do you tell someone who OWNS something to stop fucking with it? Not only is that creepy but incredibly intrusive.

GM: That Car You Bought? We’re Really The Ones Who Own It.

Congratulations! You just bought a new Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac. You really like driving it. And it’s purchased, not leased, and all paid off with no liens, so it’s all yours… isn’t it? Well, no, actually: according to GM, it’s still theirs. You just have a license to use it.

At least, that’s what an attorney for GM said at a hearing this week, Autoblog reports. Specifically, attorney Harry Lightsey said, “It is [GM’s] position the software in the vehicle is licensed by the owner of the vehicle.”

GM’s claim is all about copyright and software code, and it’s the same claim John Deere is makingabout their tractors. The TL;DR version of the argument goes something like this:


  • Cars work because software tells all the parts how to operate
  • The software that tells all the parts to operate is customized code
  • That code is subject to copyright
  • GM owns the copyright on that code and that software
  • A modern car cannot run without that software; it is integral to all systems
  • Therefore, the purchase or use of that car is a licensing agreement
  • And since it is subject to a licensing agreement, GM is the owner and can allow/disallow certain uses or access.


The U.S. Copyright Office is currently holding a series of hearings on whether or not anyone other than the manufacturer of a car has a right to tinker with that car’s copyrighted software. And with the way modern design goes, that basically means with the car, at all.

Folks who like to tinker with their cars, as well as independent (non-dealer) mechanics say they need the copyright exemption in order to be allowed to continue repairing their own cars, or keeping their businesses open. Manufacturers, like GM, say that it’s a safety issue: if people who aren’t authorized mess with any one piece of software, they could make the entire ecosystem of connected code unsafe.

https://consumerist.com/2015/05/20/gm-that-car-you-bought-were-really-the-ones-who-own-it/

This is the argument being made for people actually DRIVING the damn things..what do you think is going to happen when the damn things are driving themselves and you're just a passenger in it?

Going back to my future scenario. here is a self driving concept car from Rolls Royce:


If you noticed there is no steering wheel in the thing. You're ONLY interface with the car is through a touchscreen. You can't operate the vehicle. If that's the case then this opens up a whole bunch of questions for the users/consumers...

IF I DON'T/CAN'T OWN THE VEHICLE THEN:

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ACCIDENTS?  If I'm not operating the car then I refuse to assume any responsibility.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UPKEEP? If I'm just a passenger in the thing then how am I responsible for the upkeep...I don't have that responsibility with a cab or bus and I'm just a passenger in those vehicles too.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INSURANCE? Again as a passive passenger I don't pay insurance for using a cab or bus so why should I for a self driving car I can't own?

And there are a myriad of other issues that branch off from those that remain to be dealt with. But there is also a very basic backlash that I don't think car manufacturers have thought about or anticipated.

THE BASIC PRIDE OF CAR OWNERSHIP. 

For 100 years since cars became ubiquitous on US roads, its been drilled into out heads and conscience that we MUST own a car and that OWNING a car brings a certain amount of pride and satisfaction:







Its the last advert that illustrates my point, for decades car manufacturers have been telling us that owning and operating a car means FREEDOM, PRIDE, LIBERTY  its a status symbol and a very real extension of who you are.

And now theyre going to start telling us we don't NEED that anymore?

We're going to have to unlearn the great feeling of freedom in operating a vehicle and let it take us wherever we want rather than us charting our own way. There will be no more exploring as the car will only go where GPS will allow it. While you won't get lost anymore you also won't be "discovering" a location either as you will need to have a destination when you get in the thing.



And this is, I believe, where the public backlash will begin.

Driving in itself is a skill and there's a basic modicum of pride that comes with being able to operate a complex machine. As a driver and having wanted to drive I can't imagine not doing that anymore.

Hey, I can see the advantages of self driving cars:
  • If only self driving cars are on the roads they will all be in sync and accidents will be reduced greatly. 
  • Ease of availability in getting around will increase as all vehicles will be accessible.
  • elderly people and people who never learned to drive will have greater mobility and independence. 
But I also see some of the drawbacks:
  • Less individuality as you won't own a car that you can customize to your personality. 
  • Increased technology means you're more interconnected to the grid than you may care to be. 
  • You will be limited to scope and scale of what the car manufacturer wants you do with with the car.  
  • Decreased spontaneity as you will need a destination for everywhere you go. 
The very reasons and things they've said we NEED to OWN are car for the last 100 years are the the things they're going to say we DON'T need to own a car for in the near future. And as the technology gets better and more reliable it will be used to replace humans so the people moving and cargo moving industries will see massive layoffs and reductions. We're talking about MILLIONS of people potentially being thrown out of work because the most basic level jobs, cab drivers, bus drivers, truckers, delivery drivers will be done by self driving vehicles.

And its not just drivers that will be affected. Most if not all vehicles will be automated by 2050 which means the car service and support industry will be restructured as well, meaning not only will YOU be banned from fixing the thing, the mechanic you trusted and have been going to for years...either he will have to be an authorized service tech of the manufacturer or his business gets enveloped by the maker...

You USED to take your car to Miller's Auto Service in next couple of decades Millers will become GM Service Station Number 7.

This isn't farfetched or a long way off either...

That's not going to unnoticed or easily accepted.

I think in the next 10 years, we the consumer will be fascinated with the gadgetry of it but once the auto and tech makers start implementing the next phase and we see a reduced human presence in something thats always had one, we're going to say "wait a minute, what if I don't want to be a part of this thing? What if I want to drive my own car and OWN my own car?" and the response is going to be you have no choice its progress. Then we'll see a groundswell of resistance to it.


How big and how far that will go remains to be seen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Can Kevin Hart bring fun back to Hip-Hop??



Universal has acquired the action-comedy pitch Run the Jewels by writing duo Alex Blagg and Neel Shah. Kevin Hart is attached to produce via his Hartbeat Productions banner.

The film centers on a group of failed rappers who attempt to rob an eccentric hip-hop mogul.

source

2013 marked the 20 year anniversaries of not only the two best hip hop parody films but apparently the only two major screen released hip hop parody films so far, CB4 and Fear of a Black Hat. No, seriously it is...google hip hop parody films and these two movies are the only things that pop up.


Released in 1993 and starring Chris Rock, Allen Payne and Deezer D as MC Gusto, Dead Mike and Stab Master Arson the profane faux gangster rap group CB4 the first hip hop parody film is a hilarious romp.


Coming out the following year, Fear of a Black Hat starring Rusty Cundieff, Larry B. Scott and Mark Christopher Lawrence as Ice Cold, Tasty Taste and Tone Def, the members of N.W.H. (Niggas With Hats) and equally funny mockumentary about the rise and fall of a rap group.



At first I was shocked to discover that after 20 years there wasn't much if any major film releases following these movies that poked fun at the rap recording industry and hip hop culture. But after looking at how rap music, its participants and the industry has evolved over the last 20 years maybe its not so surprising that no one has done any more parodies and satires of the music and the people.

When CB4 and FOABH came out, the extremes they portrayed were comical because at that time no one thought any of that macho, hyper masculine posturing and behavior was real. I mean it was all for show right? All the songs about murder and mayhem and all the attitudes that reveled in it was make believe and exaggeration for effect just to stand out in a increasingly crowded genre of music that was becoming global before our eyes. No one would really act like that...right?

In FOABH there was a running joke that NWH had to keep getting different managers because they would always end up getting killed some how, usually because of the groups bullshit in some way. But that running gag was inspired by the rock mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap more than spoofing any real life examples. And that's because in the early 90s when those movies came out there were no high profile rap artist or managers that got killed. In CB4, the record label the group was signed to, TrustUs Records, was slimy but only in the way that the recording management industry have always been slimy. And all the guns that all the characters carried around and threatened each other with, that was all exaggerated as well, it makes the movie funnier to see a rapper strapped up to his earlobes. You see at that time no one would believe that any of that stuff would happen in real life.

But if there was a spoof film about Rap music and artists today who and what could they exaggerate for comedic effect? Maybe that film would have a scene where a rapper at an award show interrupts the acceptance speech of an artist in completely different category of music to complain about how fucked up the voting was or how they thought they would win and then the camera would pan across the shocked faces of audience members at the rude action. Yeah, that would be funny because what artist would do something as ridiculous as that in real life? How about a scene were a rapper gets arrested with a stockpile of guns and automatic weapons at his home? Kind of like the way Tasty Taste had a whole room dedicated to guns and bombs in FOABH. Because as we all know no one in their right mind would have that many weapons in their possession. Maybe  female rappers could be featured and in one scenario two top selling female rappers get into a beef not because they don't like each other but because their entourages clash and it culminates into a shootout  at a radio station.

The ideas are flowing now, let's do a scene where there's a gangster rap label and the CEO runs this legitimate business like a criminal organization complete with actual gangbangers hired as security and office personnel and during meetings whenever someone makes a bad suggestion the CEO would lock the door of the conference room and that person would catch a beat down from the label owner and gangbanger/security. Hell let's take it even farther and have a scene where a studio technician gets beat up for rewinding the tape too far back during a recording session. That's just crazy right? I mean no real business would do some dumb shit like that. Or the film could be done like one of those comedy murder mysteries where prominent top selling Rap artists are getting killed one by one (a few in public no less) but the cops are so clueless that they can't solve the killings. And even though that one is a bit macabre its okay because it stretches the suspension of disbelief. No one would believe that celebrities so prominent in the public eye would be killed and the cops not arrest someone in connection with the murder so it makes great material for a comedy of errors movie...right?

Unfortunately that movie or movies (could have been a franchise like the Scary Movie series) haven't been made over the last 20 years because rappers have been too busy doing all that crazy shit in real life. An award show interruption not only occurred but happened three times,  twice with Kanye West and before him Ol' Dirty Bastard jumped on stage during Shawn Colvin's 1998 Grammy award win for Song of Year .




















Rapper T.I. was arrested on federal weapons charges after trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers from undercover federal agents in 2007. That came after the rapper's best friend was killed following a party in Cincinnati in 2006. The rapper said the bullets that killed his friend were meant for him.

Lil Kim got into a beef on wax with Foxy Brown, Brown even admitted that it had more to with the people around them than the two women themselves yet it escalated to the point of a shooting outside of a radio station where the members of the two entourages encountered each other. The result was one person shot in the back and Lil Kim jailed for a year for lying to the grand jury about what she saw or didn't see. And I'm not going to recount the ridiculous list of rappers killed in the last ten, fifteen years.

Hip Hop and rap music is in dire need of an image makeover  and the first place to start is to bring back fun in the music and culture. Before Rap music's Dark Age (the period between 1995, after Tupac was killed, and somewhere in the 2000s) there was fun and diversity in the genre.



I'm not going to say it was all rainbows and lollipops but one could get silly and be popular in rap music. Humpty Hump anyone? But it seems today the humor and comic sensibilities in Hip-Hop leans hard into the mean spirited. Kinda like the way someone would laugh if they saw a guy trip and fall down a flight of steps.

Chocolate Droppa (Hart's parody rap persona) seems well poised to bring back some much needed silliness and light hearted humor to the culture. Actually CD could have been used a few years ago but Hart has the clout now to make it happen with himself as a producer. I know its a tall order to expect one person to have a significant affect on a whole culture but maybe Kevin Hart's project can initiate some change in direction that others can pick up on.

Hopefully.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

What really killed Harambe the gorilla wasn't bad parenting or a security decision, it was tourism.





Police are investigating a toddler's fall into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo — an incident that ended with the gorilla shot dead, authorities said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters announced the investigation Tuesday.

Following the investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department, police will confer with the prosecutor's office on possible criminal charges, Deters said in a statement.

News of the investigation comes amid renewed scrutiny of the zoo, with an animal protection watchdog group calling for the federal government to hold the zoo responsible for Harambe's death.

source

This isn't the first time or even one of the rare times animals and humans have crossed paths in a zoo. You can google the litany of  animal escapes from zoos or humans getting to habitats or circus problems with elephants or tigers etc, the issues continue and yet all the outrage is directed at security or safety protocol breaches.



A four year old breaks away from his mother, climbs a fence and falls into the gorilla's habitat. Ten minutes later the animal is dead and everyone is pointing fingers and placing blame at everyone else except the one thing that's really responsible for this tragedy. The existence of zoos period. Taking a wild animal and putting it in a cage or artificial environment just so random people can pay to look at it is beyond cruel when you really think about it. Harambe the gorilla wasn't killed by zoo security, he was killed by the want for tourism dollars. And its not just zoos, all animal parks and exhibits are cruel. Only recently has the public been enlightened to the treatment of killer whales at Sea World. The outrage of that lead to the facility shutting down the exhibit. But thats just one exhibit. All the other animals there are still captive. 

The saddest thing I saw was an Orangutan make a hammock. 

 

This creature had the wherewithal for tool usage and to make adjustments for comfort and your telling me he's not aware he's in captivity? Its not fascinating its sad. Harambe was a western lowland gorilla that's indigenous to Central Africa and he was born in captivity and raised in Texas then moved to a habitat in Cincinnati, Ohio for the purpose of breeding more gorillas in captivity. I understand that gorillas in Central Africa are being hunted and poached to the point where their population numbers are dangerously low,  that's tragic and every effort should be made to stop that travesty. But what good is breeding a wild animal in captivity so that it can't survive on it own without human aid like Harambe? Or the tigers that escaped their enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo a few years back? 


If you think the lion gif is funny it shows how much you don't consider how cruel zoos are. Thats a wild animal acting on instincts and he's in an enclosure thats suppose to mimic his natural environment, we're capturing these animals to study what makes them tick but we're still destroying their territory and native lands and the ones in captivity can't survive on their own even if returned to their homeland, so whats the point? The point is tourism is big bucks for a city and zoos, safaris and exhibits generate millions for city and state coffers. Hell, an aspect of a city's prestige can lie in the quality and size of its zoo. So these wild animals are put in cages and enclosures almost strictly for the revenue they bring.

I'm not naive enough to believe that this topic will ever get examination in the public forum, there's too much money in zoos for that to ever happen. But let's at least be honest about the root of the issue that ended with a dead gorilla in the middle of Cincinnati.