Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Robotic repair satellites, Self -Driving Cars, And Facebook Wants More

Satellites that repair other satellites?  
Believe it or not, it something that NASA is working on called Restore L.  Quite the idea, but I couldn't help but think of the old Enterprise episode where an autonomous repair station seems to good to be true.  Of course while I think it would be a good idea, I don't see it holding up.  Just look at the occasional glitch while trying to get computer components to work well together that are designed to do so.  To have a repair satellite repair others that weren't designed for such service?  I don't see it.  They could launch satellites that would be compatible but it would take a lot of them for it to be worth launching the 'satellite garage'.  And I would love to see such a device try to fix the Hubble!  I watched all the troubles the astronauts went though on the repair missions, I don't see a 'satellite garage' being able to do that.  But I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.

Self-Driving cars are almost here, but would you want them on the road?
In the recent trial with Uber and Waymo I don't think I do.  The idea of self-driving cars have been with us for a long time, and if done right, might be safer.  However, with the current industry doing all it can to beat out the other at any cost, is worrisome.  I don't know about you, but hearing a CEO talk about "cheat sheets" or "shortcuts" displaying that winning is all that matters to them confirms how scary this is.  The problem is, the hazards are not only with the person in the automated car, it is also with others on the road.  So, even if you wouldn't dare get into a self-driving car, one could be driving past you.

In a perfect world, a person would be behind the wheel ready to take over should a problem arise.  But I doubt that would be the case.  Many would be working on their phones or doing something else while leaving the driving to the car.  If there was a problem, they would realize it too late.  And if it was a taxi, forget it.  You are in the backseat far way from the controls should anything happen.

I like the idea of self-driving cars, if it is done right.  But at this moment, I don't see that happening.  Do I think we need more regulation?  No, I think we need to tell the companies that if they want the cars on the road, everything has to be transparent and no cutting corners.  Otherwise no one will use the vehicles they have spent so much on.  Safety has to be their top priority, not winning the autonomous vehicle contest. 

Facebook wants more.
Facebook is trying to coax more private data out of us by giving everyone a 'lists' feature.  Now I know the idea of keeping a list is a good idea, heck there are many list apps out there, but to share them with everyone?  Yes, you can restrict them to only your friends like everything else on Facebook, but how many of us really know all the people on our friends list?  And if one 'friend' shares that with a few others it could lead to a bad situation.

For example, say you have a list of what you are doing over the next week which includes being away for several days.  With that information given to the wrong person your house could end up empty when you get home (or worse).  While this could happen with any post with location information attached, lists may seem benign enough that no one would think about it.  And really, why do you have to share your daily to-do's with everyone?

I also don't like what all of this data collected could be used for.  We have already seen what 'big data' can do, and such 'features' is only giving Facebook even more power.  I haven't liked Facebook for quite a while, and this has only strengthened that feeling.

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