More good stuff on the open frontiers – 2/25

A few articles on technology, energy, and publishing that are worth a read and a brief comment.


2/10 – Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View – You Want Advice? Don’t Ask Journalists Journalism as a career path is going through savage turmoil. Want to write in-depth about an industry or topic? She suggests going to work in that industry and find some writing do to there. Then you can go back to journalism if a great opportunity surfaces or your new industry collapses.


2/11 – Chronicle of Higher Education – Meet the New, Self-Appointed MOOC Accreditors:  Google and Instagram

Coursera and Udacity are two of the large providers of MOOCs, those massively huge online courses you can complete for free. They are working with large companies to accumulate a small number of specific courses into a structured mini-series with a project at the end. The companies will recognize those microdegrees or nanodegrees in their companies and perhaps even for hiring.

If you are looking for a very specific type of detailed training, these are emerging ways to get some certification without having to take four years out of the work world and spending a huge sum of money.

Very, very cool.


1/20 – Wall Street Journal – SpaceX Gets $1 Billion from Google, FidelityGoogle and others invested $1B in SpaceX to develop a constellation of low orbit satellites which will provide internet connectivity across the planet. Cool. Wireless speed internet anywhere on the planet. Very cool.

This reportedly values SpaceX at around $10B.


2/17 – Popular Mechanics – The FAA’s New Drone Rules Aren’t Bad for Business – Article points out that the proposed rules open the door to using drones to make money legally. Doesn’t give Amazon everything it wants to deploy Prime Air for delivery of products. But Prime Air isn’t ready to be deployed anyway.

The regs still seem quite reasonable to me. Fly in daylight, with clear weather, below 500 feet, keeping drone in eyesight without using binoculars. Operators must pass a written test with all questions to be drawn from a soon-to-be-published study guide, inspect drone before flight, and file accident report if a crash results in property damage or personal injury.

Sounds like a great first step. If this works over the next few years, I’ll guess we see even more relaxed rules in the future.

1/23 – Schneier on Security – When Thinking Machines Break the LawYour brain stretcher for the day.

If a machine has the ability to make autonomous decision, who does society hold responsible when the machine breaks society’s rules? Live example is a piece of software that bought items on a dark market at random. Concept is to combine the items into an art project. Issue that developed is that in buying stuff at random, several illegal things were purchased.

Here’s the question: Who, or what, should be punished for buying illegal stuff?

If a military drone modifies its targeting parameters based on prior results of strikes and new intel provided to it, and then strikes a crowd of civilians, what do we do?

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