June 2016

Garbage gizmo to reduce food waste?

A team of Mechanical Engineering students at Rice University have invented a gizmo that they hope will help mitigate food waste.  The device is called "BioBlend" and it consists of an add-on to a standard garburator that processes food scraps into a paste suitable for composting or conversion to biogas.

Check out the video below.

Efficient medicine

A couple of interesting pieces have appeared describing effects of computerization on medicine.

The bots are coming!

The Communications of the ACM has an interesting short article on the rise of so-called social bots.  A social bot is software that emulates a human being on social media.  An example of a social bot would be a Twitter account that talks up Kanye West.

Should your robot car kill you?

The arrival of self-driving cars poses many society-technology challenges.  For example, since self-driving cars do not possess deep-seated instincts for self-preservation, they could be programmed to react in almost any way in the event of a collision.  

Intelligent bike helmets

Innovation is a hallmark of good design that we discuss in our STV 202 class.  According to noted designer Dieter Rams, it is important to distinguish between true innovation and mere novelty.  True innovation improves the essential function of a design in a given category.  Novelty is change for some other purpose, such as artistic expression or gimmickery.

DNN: 21 June 2016

When people think of delivery drones, they likely picture a small aircraft bringing them some tacos or the laundry soap they forgot at the store.  Of course, drones can also be used to deliver things for people whose needs are much more basic.

Why blame humans?

A Slate post by Madeleine Clare Elish explores the role that human drivers or pilots play in semi-automated vehicles.  Semi-automated vehicles have features that take over some, but not all, driving tasks.  

A simple example would be cruise control, now standardly available in cars, or the autopilot function of modern airliners.

Technology and women's jobs

The World Economic Forum recently released its annual jobs report.  As Emma Teitel of the Toronto Star points out, one of the issues flagged by the report is potential loss of 7.1 million jobs in the "office and administrative jobs" category by 2020.

Insurance for self-driving cars

British insurance company Adrian Flux has issued an insurance policy to cover self-driving cars.  Highlights of the policy include coverage in the following circumstances:

  • Crashes due to loss of communication with satellites or software failures;
  • Crashes due to hacking.

Even failure of drivers to take manual control in these cases is covered.

However, other situations are not covered, including:

Blog topics

  1. 2018 (17)
    1. December (2)
    2. October (2)
    3. August (2)
    4. July (3)
    5. June (3)
    6. May (2)
    7. March (2)
    8. January (1)
  2. 2017 (44)
    1. December (1)
    2. August (3)
    3. July (4)
    4. June (6)
    5. May (5)
    6. April (3)
    7. March (6)
    8. February (8)
    9. January (8)
  3. 2016 (95)
    1. December (7)
    2. November (13)
    3. October (13)
    4. September (15)
    5. August (20)
    6. July (18)
    7. June (9)