Posted 23 hours ago
My Boss is a Robot - Hong Kong’s subway has 10,000+ maintenance engineers, and one AI manager. If you’ve been wondering about the notable lack of updates recently, that’s because I’ve gone back to school at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business MSx program, and they’re keeping us rather busy. Ironically, while I’m working hard to further improve my management skills, this article describes humans who conceded this task altogether to an artificial intelligence algorithm, simply because it does a much better job.

JUST after midnight, the last subway car slips into its sidings in Hong Kong and an army of engineers goes to work. In a typical week, 10,000 people carry out 2600 engineering works across the system – from grinding rough rails smooth and replacing tracks to checking for damage. People might do the work, but they don’t choose what needs doing. Instead, each task is scheduled and managed by artificial intelligence. Hong Kong has one of the world’s best subway systems. It has a 99.9 per cent on time record – far better than London Underground or New York’s subway.
[…]
The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong’s AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chun. “We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works,” he says.

Manufacturing and administrative office work are already highly impacted by automation; are middle managers next in line? Even engineers have nothing to be smug about, as their expertise seems slated to be captured, repackaged, and automated. Next time you’re arguing to get a raise, you just may have to put that in binary.

My Boss is a Robot - Hong Kong’s subway has 10,000+ maintenance engineers, and one AI manager. If you’ve been wondering about the notable lack of updates recently, that’s because I’ve gone back to school at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business MSx program, and they’re keeping us rather busy. Ironically, while I’m working hard to further improve my management skills, this article describes humans who conceded this task altogether to an artificial intelligence algorithm, simply because it does a much better job.

JUST after midnight, the last subway car slips into its sidings in Hong Kong and an army of engineers goes to work. In a typical week, 10,000 people carry out 2600 engineering works across the system – from grinding rough rails smooth and replacing tracks to checking for damage. People might do the work, but they don’t choose what needs doing. Instead, each task is scheduled and managed by artificial intelligence. Hong Kong has one of the world’s best subway systems. It has a 99.9 per cent on time record – far better than London Underground or New York’s subway.

[…]

The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong’s AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chun. “We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works,” he says.

Manufacturing and administrative office work are already highly impacted by automation; are middle managers next in line? Even engineers have nothing to be smug about, as their expertise seems slated to be captured, repackaged, and automated. Next time you’re arguing to get a raise, you just may have to put that in binary.

Posted 1 month ago

Firefly Revisited - Joss Whedons Firefly is (by a good margin) still my favorite TV show of all times. Working with Amy Pascale he’s penned an autobiography now, and io9 put the entire chapter on the creation and casting of Firefly online. It’s a must read for anyone who’s watched the show, and if you haven’t watched the show, what in the ‘verse is stopping you anyway?!

"I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier," Joss said. "Not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on—the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization." And he wanted to do it on a spaceship.That concept, he hoped, would elevate Firefly above the average sci-fi series.

[…]

Joss characterized his story as an exploration of “how politics affect people personally. And the personal politics are the only politics that really interest me. I’m not going to make this big, didactic polemic—I’m just going to say, ‘When there are shifts in a planet, those tiny little guys are the ones who are affected. So let’s hang out with them—not the Federation heads or the Jedi Council.’”

Posted 1 month ago

The Second Space Age - great promo video by Virgin Galactic VP of Special Projects. Aside from being a slick piece of marketing, it does very much capture the emotional underpinnings that drive so many of us to pursue a future where humans will live and travel in space.

Whether you have grown up hearing that call yourself or not, there is something about the idea of crossing into a realm where humans once thought only gods lived. Combined with the sentiment that history isn’t a spectator sport, it is almost impossible not to get up out of your chair and find some way to contribute after listening to this.

Posted 2 months ago

Floating City - this spectacular looking ocean city is partially submerged, offering its occupants a truly unique urban landscape. The design was commissioned by the China Communications Construction Company, and yes they are serious about building it too. 

Floating City will be a four square mile structure that floats like an iceberg, with some of the surface structure visible above the surface, but most of the action happening down below the waterline. Built on land in large hexagonal sections, the pieces will be slotted together like a giant jigsaw puzzle in the ocean. Designed to be totally self-sufficient, Floating City will have its own farms and waste disposal systems, and will offer everything from housing to entertainment, sports complexes and shopping. Transportation will be provided using a series of underwater tunnels and submarines.

Before you cry foul and say that this will never happen, you should know that the proposal comes from the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). These are the same folks who are currently building a 31 mile bridge connecting Macao to Hong Kong, so it’s not like they’re a bunch of noobs. That crossing also includes a lengthy underwater tunnel, which makes it sound like they have their water construction chops down too.

Check out the gallery at the original posting for many more renderings of Floating City.

Posted 2 months ago

Jupiter Ascending - a new trailer for the Wachowskis Brother’s next movie project has been released, and it does look truly epic. Both the story line and its visual execution span galaxies; it’s genuine space opera, and thankfully without the toddler toy marketing campaign thrown into the lineup. In spite of the delays in production (or maybe because of them), this one looks to be well worth the wait.

Though the studio reportedly pushed the film to February, 2015 to give the directors more time to massage the film and work out some FX work, this new trailer has a lot in common with what we’ve seen before. Yes, there’s some new footage, but its just as bizarre as all the other footage they’ve released. Depending on your take on the project, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.Here’s the full synopsis:

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning toilets and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along – her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.