Hey, Pay Attention

Watch Your Step.jpeg

It’s funny, when the way forward is uneven, broken, or fraught with danger, and someone just puts out a sign (and orange cone) warning you to be careful. 


Sure, it’s the responsible thing to do–protect people from misstepping. 


But even with the largest, loudest warnings, there always seem to be some people who just go right ahead anyway and tempt fate–they step on that 2nd broken stair.


Maybe it doesn’t give way (this time for this person) or maybe it does.


But they are too busy, too much in a rush, or too cocky to pay heed or else they like to play the odds–hey, what are the odds that something will actually happen to “me”?


The more cautious, perhaps smarter folks look for another way–using their ingenuity to go over, under, or around the obstacle in their path–in this case stepping over the broken 2nd step. 


Other may yet be deterred altogether and just turn backwards, giving up on their trek or just stop in their tracks like a deer in the headlights frozen by indecision.


I’d suggest that it is well worth it to take the time to look around you, sense the environment, and make a sound judgement before giving up or stepping stupidly into the ditch, minefield, quicksand, or on the broken step. 


It’s much harder to get out of trouble than to avoid it to begin with. 


I joke with one of my colleagues that they always have time to do things a second time (always!), but because they are rushing, never enough time–or focus–to do it right the first one. 


Watch your step, because some of them of definitely broken. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Blooper With Our Blimps

Military Blimp

Oops, so this is one for the books…


The multi-billion dollar Raytheon-built military JLENS surveillance blimps are pictured above.


They are supposed to sense and alert us to a possible devastating surprise cruise missile attack on the U.S. eastern seaboard.


However, one of them lost its tethering and went sailing into the skies and had to itself be tracked by NORAD and two scrambled F-16 fighter jets. 


What was designed to surveil instead needed surveillance. 


The JLENS crashed landed in Amish country, Pennsylvania and took out the power to 20,000 people.


We need a strong, capable, and ready military!


If we are trying to improve our posturing with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians–this is not the way to put our best blimp forward. 😉


(Source photo: here with attribution to Bill Dickinson)

What Does A Robot And A Spouse Have In Common?

This is a pretty cool advance in robotics.

The robot doesn’t just perform tasks, but it interacts with the person–sensing his movements and thereby anticipating his needs.

According to Gizmag, this advanced robot was developed by Cornell’s Personnel Robot Lab.

As you can see in the video, the robot sees the person picking up a pot and moving towards the refrigerator, and the robot “understands” and goes to pull open the fridge door.

In another example, the robot first without anticipating the person moving his coffee cup, pours coffee, spilling it on the table, but then with the special programming, the robot “sees” the person picking up the cup to drink and putting it down, and waits to pour until the cup is in stably in place.

The anticipatory skills of the robot are based on 120 3-D videos in its database of people doing everyday tasks and extrapolating from it to what is occurring around it.

The robot’s predictions of the person’s actions are refined as the person continues to move making the robot’s response that much more in tune and precise with the person it is interacting with.

The less far out in time that the robot has to predict, the more accurate it is: for 1 second out, it is 82% accurate; 3 seconds out, 71% accurate; and 10 seconds out, 57%.

It is pretty incredible that we are able to program a robot to watch and sense similar to the way we do, and to react accordingly.

The challenge will be as in the show Lost In Space, where the Robot is often confounded by illogical or unpredictable human behavior, and frequently, repeats “Does not compute.”

People are not programmed like computers–they experience conflicting and complex thoughts and emotions, behave in unpredictable or seemingly illogical ways, may have difficulty making up their minds in the first place, or may change their minds, even multiple times.

Being a robot in a human world will by necessity mean being adaptable and understanding to changing human moods, whims and desires, and being able to respond quickly and appropriately–sort of like what being married is all about. 😉