News from the open frontier of technology – 7/15

Amazon’s Prime Day sale marks an amazing anniversary. Autonomous robotic ‘cheetah’ can jump over obstacles as it is running. Other fun news from the astounding open frontier of technological innovation.

5/29 – Washington Post – Oh cool, now this robotic cheetah can make running leaps – Extremely cool. A mechanical cheetah that can run is an amazing step. Compound that with been able to clear barriers half its height.

Watch the slow-motion and you can see the complexities of calculations needed to position and push-off for the jump, having to pull in the rear legs to clear, having to absorb the force of the landing, and then resuming the run.



7/15 – The Economist Espresso (via email thus no on-line link) –  Amazon at 20: bargains and much, much more –

Amazon is running a huge sale on July 15. Why? This is the 20th anniversary of their website going live. The article points out that in that time, Amazon has made typing your credit card into a browser to have things shipped to your home has become normative. The e-commerce market is now a $1.5 trillion big deal.

The Kindle was launched in 2007. E-books are now a big deal.

Online rating of products by consumers was pioneered by Amazon and is now a big deal in everything.

Renting a slice of server farm capacity by the hour was also pioneered by Amazon. Cloud computing is also a big deal.

Quite a lot to accomplish in twenty years.

Incredibly cool.

6/15 – Carpe Diem – Uber vs. Big Taxi: Time to register and resolve driver complaints – seconds/days vs. years If you want to know why the rideshare services are threatening Big Taxi and will eventually put it out of business, just consider the time it takes to file and resolve the complaint.

With Uber, a good or poor rating can be filed within seconds. Within seconds or a minute the driver knows someone was unhappy with him. In a matter of weeks, Uber is likely assessing whether to drop drivers that don’t have good enough scores.

Information provided from the District of Columbia taxi oligopoly and regulators presents a different story of the world of Big Taxi. To file a complaint against a taxicab you have to provide a massive amount of information about your ride. It can take anywhere from one year up to three to get your complaint resolved.

Big Taxi is one of the walking dead.

6/10 – Next big future – Teamsters versus the AARP and the rest of society for Robotic cars – Article looks at the upside of autonomous vehicles.

The downside is millions of jobs will be lost.

Consider the upside mentioned by the author: he could reclaim two hours a day on his commute.

Elderly people would regain mobility. Article suggests men will outlive their driving ability by six years and women will outlive their driving ability by 10 years.

Traffic accidents claim 30,000 lives and generate 240,000 hospitalizations a year. Autonomous big rigs and cars could redeem a big portion of that tragic waste. The auto club estimates the all-in cost of automobile accidents to be around $300 billion a year.

The union cited in the article pushing hard to exempt transportation drivers from any prosecution for accidents is going to swing public perceptions. Unintended consequence of exempting a couple of negligent drivers today will be a moderate increase in the probability of losing millions of jobs tomorrow.

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