Time to get rid of the word ROBOT

Time to get rid of the word ROBOT

Robot is problematic. Not because it was originally derived from the Czech word for forced labor but because we commonly use it to describe two distinct classes of machine.

The first is a something that is either fully scripted (a Disney ride) or fully operated by a human (a bomb disposal robot). Most 'robots' are like this.

The second is a machine with some autonomy that makes potentially unpredictable decisions based on its programming. Like a Tesla.

If the first one kills you it's either an industrial accident or a person killing you through more levels of indirection than usual. When the second one kills you it's a little murkier. Was it the driver of the Tesla? The programmer? Elon?

I bring up killing because the San Francisco Police Department is claiming the power to kill people with robots on some state mandated paperwork. I'm being asked to tell my supervisor to stop this kind of thing, but on reflection I'm all for it because SFPDs robots are very much the first kind and not the second and we should be far more worried about self-driving cars running us down than a remote controlled wheelbarrow with a shotgun.

I'd prefer SFPD to use lethal force only when absolutely necessary but I really don't think we should constrain how they pull the trigger. Imagine a hostage situation with an active shooter in an inaccessible location. Would you rather resolve the situation with a SWAT team and potentially large scale loss of life or would you use the shotgun equipped wheelbarrow?

But I'm certainly not in favor of Robocop or pretty much anything out of Runaway and so SFPD shouldn't be able to use the word robot to describe their policy.

(Related: 1,000th Post!; Can I move to a Better Simulation Please?; Sod Searle And Sod His Sodding Room)

(You might also like: Have we Already Proved that the Simulation Hypothesis is False?; Vernal Equinox 2016; Fortune Cookies for Android 1.30)

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1,000th Post!


This is the 1,000th (possibly voluntary) post on I Thought He Came With You. To celebrate, here are 17 posts in no particular order from the past 17+ years of blogging.

Methyl L-α-aspartyl-L-fucking-phenylalaninate: What does the UK have against sugar?

How to fix software patents: I co-founded a startup that was killed by a patent lawsuit and so I think it's fair to say I have strong feelings about this. I've had various ideas for improving the system over the years, this one is still the best. It's a radical proposal to stop examining patents altogether, while continuing to protect genuine innovation. Fuck the trolls.

Extreme Environmentalism: Environmentalists are slowly coming around to nuclear power, but is it possible that the greenest thing to do is even more radical?

What do you get when you multiply six by nine? Brexit.: If Douglas Adams were still alive I'm 42% certain this is what he would have written about Brexit. The problems we need to solve a species are better solved together, stop putting the 'B' arkers in power FFS.

The real reason Americans don't have passports: Maybe this is finally going to get fixed, but why can't we overhaul basic government services like other countries seem to manage to do routinely.

ESRI Shapefile Reader in .NET: A shapefile is a common file format for GIS (Geographic Information System) data like county or country borders. I needed to work with this for an update to Catfood Earth and there was nothing that made it easy to just load the data and do something with it. I ended up writing and releasing an open source library which became quite popular. I'm still discovering interesting and/or frightening places where this is used, like laying out power lines or forming evacuation plans.

Response to GGNRA Draft Dog Management Plan: In which I fought the National Park Service and eventually won. It wasn't just me, but it still felt good. Let happy dogs forever roam Fort Funston.

Bishops: Get them off of the kids and out of my government.

I didn't think I'd ever fall for fake news on Facebook: I discover that I'm just as dumb as everyone else which is a bit humbling. Social media sucks and we should all go back to wonderful blogs like this one. It's a problem that only you can fix - do something like this.

Got It: I hate this trend in interaction design.

Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet: This is by far the most popular post on my blog. I think that's partly because Google loves it when you do the hard work of supporting their products for them. It also scratches a real itch for a lot of people who want to liberate their data and so something interesting with it. And I just love apps script which gives you free and easy cloud computing, it's Google at their very best.

Sod Searle And Sod His Sodding Room: So much sloppy thinking about AI. I had lectures about this at university when they should have just had us read Gödel, Escher, Bach instead.

Meeting Defragmenter: I have achieved this vision manually via slow nudges and strategic calendar blocks and it's actually pretty great. You end up with some horrible days and some transcendentally good ones. YMMV.

Reviews and links for March 2011: I still read a lot, but I'm not as good as I used to be at taking the time to write a thoughtful review. Whenever I remember the time I tore Eric Carle (RIP) a new one for The Very Quiet Cricket I make a resolution to start again.

Cam of Fortune!: I so nearly got fired for this, when the Managing Director at my first post-University job got the fax instead of me. He thought it was for real. And then I did this when we moved offices. How did I stay employed?

Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators. It turns out that meaningless paperwork is a worse problem for society than actual serial killers.

Bernal Hill: My very first blog post from August 13, 2005. I had just received a GPS for my birthday and was very excited about getting data from hikes but also very embarrassed about writing anything in public on the internet. I had been online for more than a decade at this point. My first email address was 1991 and my first website 1996 (lost even to the Internet Archive, www.catfood.demon.co.uk). The first thing I actually ever published online (in 1997) was this article exposing something very interesting about the Pentium processor. I wrote this with a friend earlier and it ended up in the first issue of Catfood Magazine. It has been a long time since I've used a stand alone GPS, but I have posted a lot of hikes.

(Related: I Love Email; Got It; The Trust Project, Fake News and a Partial Facebook Uninstall)

(You might also like: EAT; ISS over Wales; Anemone Cave)

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Webmention on ITHCWY


ITHCWY now supports a basic webmention implementation. Any inbound mentions will be dropped in the post moderation queue (so may take up to a few hours to appear as I check everything manually to keep the spam out). If an outbound link supports webmention then it will be mentioned. I'm only doing this for new and updated posts, not for the full archive. I'm a little Fediverse curious and this is a first step towards maybe implementing Bridgy Fed or even rolling my own ActivityPub implementation. Mostly I miss trackbacks and hope that we can figure out how to have nice things again.

(Related: Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet; Got It; Doing news right with Feedly and Google News)

(You might also like: Fungus; SETIcon 2; Sunrise)

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Maybe Elon really is playing three-dimensional chess

Maybe Elon really is playing three-dimensional chess

I have learned not to trust social media posts about Donald Trump. And I certainly don't trust the opinions of Scott Adams. But now with Twiter fucking around with trust symbols on a daily basis I can't really trust that it even is Scott Adams any more. This is brilliant. We should all trust social media a lot less and Elon is (probably unintentionally) helping us to make better information choices.

(Related: I didn't think I'd ever fall for fake news on Facebook; 1,000th Post!; Zombie Robs)

(You might also like: Windows 11 Broken Notifications; 1,000th Post!; Winter Solstice 2019)

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This is a typo, but also maybe my dream application given the amount of both screen snipping and embarrassingly basic calculations that I do every day. Could be the core feature for Windows 12.

(Related: Going Chrome; 3D Printing a 72-58mm step down Camera Filter Adapter; Using the Azure Monitor REST API from Google Apps Script)

(You might also like: Sunol Wilderness; Fleet Week 2019 Parade of Ships; Resist Report)

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Space Journey

Space Journey

Animation of a trip through a random collection of stars with a bit of a hyperspace effect in the middle. I didn't mean to write this code but it's what ended up happening anyway. It would make a good mid-90s screensaver. I'll post what I was actually trying to do next.

(Related: 1,000th Post!; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3; Capture DropCam (Nest Cam) frames to Google Drive)

(You might also like: ZoneInfo Update (tzdata for .NET); Google Maps Ate My Battery; DeepCoder)

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Links for October 2022

Stable Diffusion Watches a Security Camera - a short horror movie

Updated on Friday, September 16, 2022

Stable Diffusion Watches a Security Camera - a short horror movie

A horror movie made by forcing img2img to watch a Japanese security camera over 24 hours.

The office was empty, so the main influences are sunrise and sunset and then just subtle shifts in lighting. In terms of settings, strength was 0.75 with scale of 6.6 so the animation doesn't look anything like the actual office in question. The prompt was "photo of something unspeakable lurks in the shadows of the office, high quality, cinematic lighting, subtle horror, horrifying, japanese, found footage, sharp focus, 8k, no text". I upscaled with Gigapixel AI and then added some music.

(Related: A black lab chases a Roomba and then things start to get weird...; Stable Diffusion Animation of Scale Parameter; Time Zone Time Lapse)

(You might also like: Catfood Weather 2.20; LEGO Management; Hummingbird 2)

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Better Rotating Outages

Power Cut Contest

I have an idea for PG&E. We're facing the possibility of rotating power cuts this evening in California due to record heat. The California ISO has a thing called a flex alert where they ask you nicely to reduce power consumption, and I got a text and email earlier today. If the ISO calls for outages PG&E starts flipping off the switch for some blocks, and you can even look up your address to see if you're at risk.

This could be so much better.

Just keep tabs on average power consumption for each block during hot weather. And then instead of a flex alert we need a leaderboard - the blocks which save the most power are safe, and the blocks that do the worst are the first to get shut off.

(Related: Windows 11 Broken Notifications; Amazon Alexa Echo Wall Clock Review; Long term solar powered time lapse camera using Arduino)

(You might also like: Three reasons the dream of a robot companion isn't over; Digital Services Act; Spoiler Alert)

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A black lab chases a Roomba and then things start to get weird...

A black lab chases a Roomba and then things start to get weird...

Another experiment with Stable Diffusion (see my San Francisco skyline video from earlier today). This one uses img2img instead of txt2img. I started with a video of my dog following the Roomba around the house. I dumped all the frames out and then used Stable Diffusion with the strength parameter ramping up from 0.0 (source image preserved) to 1.0 (source image ignored) and a scale of 11.5. The prompt was "illustration of a black labrador being chased by a giant scary roomba trending on deviant art". The frame at the top maybe best captures this concept. I used Gigapixel AI to scale the output back up to 4K resolution and then added the original soundtrack.

(Related: Improving the accuracy of the new Catfood Earth clouds layer; Style Transfer for Time Lapse Photography; Stable Diffusion Animation of Scale Parameter)

(You might also like: Humpback Whale Feasting off Rockaway Beach in Pacifica; Fort Funston in the rain; Space Journey)

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