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Driverless Uber car results in first death

“Are driverless cars safe? Uber fatality raises questions”

This is the headline of the article and question that CNET asks. With a driverless Uber hitting and killing someone walking along the side of the street, the police now have to decide who is at fault: The pedestrian, the driver, or the robot/AI technology?

I think this will be the litmus test for whether the technology can survive or grow in the future. If I had to guess, I would say while this is a technology milestone and it’s never really happened before, the growth into driverless cars is unavoidable. I remember seeing this idea first addressed in the I, Robot movie with Will Smith. As his character takes over the wheel of his Audi, he later has an unavoidable crash (it’s bound to happen if countless robots are jumping on your hood trying to kill you) but after the crash, his police team want to blame him for taking off the auto-drive function and supposedly being the reason for the crash itself. So in the future, will we be pressured not to take the car off automatic, not to drive it ourselves?

Image result for i robot car

Personally, I still think driverless cars will be safer than cars with drivers. Sure there will be fatalities, but it’s unrealistic to think that any kind of driving can be victimless and perfect, considering how many roads we have and how many cars are on those roads at any given time. Perhaps what scares people more is the illusion of being in control of whether or not they get hurt or hurt someone else. But is that any different from getting hurt in a train, plane, bus, or ship?

You can read more about the CNET article here:

https://www.cnet.com/news/uber-self-driving-car-fatality-in-arizona-has-people-asking-how-safe-are-driverless-cars/

 

Thoughts on Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I tried playing this game before but simply couldn’t get into it with the difficulty in getting to some places, the emphasis on stealth, and the myriad of side quests that slowed down the story. Since my recent discovery of the amazing genre of cyberpunk, I decided to give it a go (I was able to get Deus Ex Human Revolution used for $2.50 and its sequel, Mankind Divided, for 12.50 from Game Stop!) I really like the game now, although I wish I could truly power through it as a shooter only, and not always need to rely on stealth. Shooting and destroying things is a lot of fun for me, more so than always trying to stay out of the line of sight of guards. I will say that I really enjoy the psychological profiles you get to try to figure out of the NPCs in the game, in order to activate speech options and make each encounter as successful as possible. I also very much like the possibility of choice in the game, and the sets (especially when you go to the Chinese area). But why does everything have to be so orange all the time? Most items are outlined in orange, vision through walls is orange, all lights are orange. I feel like this game could have had a lot more potential if it weren’t so monochromatic. Nonetheless, it’s still an excellent game. I love the voice actors and the music.

Neon Dystopia

Neon Dystopia is my favorite Cyberpunk website, and I can’t recommend it enough. With countless in-depth pieces about everything cyberpunk, they chose to break down their content into the following categories: Movies & Anime, Music, Games, Fashion & Lifestyle, Books & Fiction, Technology, Politics and Philosophy, and Art & Photography.

They will often discuss news related to up and coming movies, anime, games, or books, providing reviews of the most famous and popular ones. They also share their favorite art and music in the Cyberpunk genre, as well as their thoughts on topics in the news that fall under politics or technology. Finally, the website wouldn’t be complete with a philosophy section to discuss the different philosophical themes that recur in the many different Cyberpunk Media out there.

In addition to all of their blog posts, they also have a Cyberpunk Catalog where you can find different movies and books in the Cyberpunk genre to see at your leisure. They usually only provide a link to where you can buy the media online, however, without much of a description of the media itself. The database they have is incredibly vast, but not very deep, so you’ll have to do the digging yourself. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? To discover what you like and don’t like yourself.

Check out their website here: https://www.neondystopia.com/

5th package explosion in Texas reminds of a black mirror episode of technology misused by humanity.

Starting March 2nd, a series of packages containing bombs have been going off in Texas. So far it has killed 2 people and injured several others, the first three bombs being packages delivered to people’s doors, the 4th being a tripwire on the sidewalk, and the 5th one going off in a fedex factory. Since writing this story, however, I’ve seen on the news that the police were able to find a suspect, and on pursuing the suspect (a 23 year old white male), he decided to blow himself up in his car.

Doesn’t this feel like made-for-television news? Its seems like there’s been a lot of that going around these days. I can’t imagine how the people of Austin Texas must have felt scared and worried to simply order something on Amazon or receive a package. It’s easy enough to hold off on ordering a package until the perpetrator is apprehended, but how about employees of companies who have to order packages as part of their business?

Package delivery is a relatively simple idea, but this fits the theme of Cyberpunk by virtue of it being a simple, harmless technology (online delivery) being misused fwith fatal consequences.

It’s not hard to extrapolate this a little further. Imagine if this happened with Amazon’s drone delivery service. Bombs sent flying via drones to your backyard or doorstep. Truly a hellish idea indeed. This reminds me of an episode I saw recently on Black Mirror, called hated by the nation. In it the bees are dying out, so a company creates a network of robot bees to pollinate the flowers artificially and thus avoid a food catastrophe. Needless to say, someone misuses the bees with similarly fatal consequences.

But it seems to me that misusing something’s original purpose in dangerous means might perhaps go back as old as time, when cavemen fought each other using innocent rocks lying on the ground. Is this really any different? Perhaps the thing that alarms us is not feeling in control, and not being used to seeing the postal service being misused in this way. Although we’ve seen Anthrax be used in mail before, so perhaps this isn’t truly so new.

What are your thoughts? Comments always appreciated below.

Facebook in trouble with sharing private data feels like a Cyberpunk Dystopian nightmare

My, aren’t these interesting times we are living in.

Politicians not only on both sides of the aisle in the US, but also in Europe (namely the UK) are asking that Facebook, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, come to explain the company’s handling of the now current scandal involving the misuse of data and information of millions of users. The company that is blamed for misusing this information, Cambridge Analytica, was purported to have worked with the Trump Administration on making psychological profiles of people using their Facebook information in order to market to them and garner votes. Talk about mind control! A multi-billion dollar tech giant being summoned to members of government to explain their involvement in alleged unethical activities is exactly the theme that is so often shown and discussed in modern day cyberpunk themes. It is reminiscent to me of the company in Robocop, pushing to get congress to agree to cybernetics and robots to be sold and used in the United States. The current state of the world definitely feels a bit surreal. I wake up, turn on the news, see these things, go to work, see the news again on the tv in our lobby, work, come home, and to relax boot up my xbox to play Deus Ex Human Revolution and again see different tech mega-corporations involved in shady dealings. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I love cyberpunk so much. In addition to being simply visually striking, mentally stimulating, and fun, it can also act as a stark warning for different paths that we as a people do not want to walk down.

You can read more about this developing story with Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica here: