back to article Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

There is a house in old Belgrade that has male and female private parts. If you were tempted to sing that last sentence, I suppose you could call it the House of the Rising Bum. Bum-bum tish. I thank you. You may not consider a building with gender junk to be so unusual. After all, there are Hitler houses and cat cottages, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    country & western singers

    No rappers? Kardashians?

  2. 0laf Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    Some rappers are well worth saving some are not. As for the others I'm suggesting the Deadpool option of running them over with a Zamboni

  3. Pascal

    Re: country & western singers

    The list is a good first draft, but you really should bump "influencers" up a bit. Probably above country singers even.

  4. MyffyW Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    @Pascal not that I disagree with you, but if you are successful in your suggestion some might identify you as an "influencer".

  5. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    You omitted an obvious target: MBAs - especially those who attempt to manage anything technical.

  6. Ogi
    Pint

    Re: country & western singers

    > Clearly the list of those at whom an out-of-control autonomous car should aim are as follows, in order of priority

    To be honest I find the whole question a bit silly. In my opinion, If the autonomous car is out of control, then by definition, even if it can make a decision on who to kill, it can't actually control the vehicle to take aim.

    If the autonomous car still has control over the car, why wouldn't it decide to not kill anyone? It could aim to miss everyone, or just stop. One of the main things autonomous car enthusiasts go on about is how AI self driving cars will be millions of times better than human drivers and their puny animal brains. It will be able to stop faster, it will always drive at a speed fitting the road conditions, predict events better, and be so much safer, etc... i.e. the autonomous car is smart enough to never get into a position to have an accident in the first place.

    Assuming all the above is actually achieved in the future (personally as a non techno-fetishist, I am skeptical), the only time the autonomous car has to make a decision about who to kill is if things have gone badly badly wrong. Basically we are talking about a hypothetical situation where the autonomous car still has enough control of the vehicle to use it to kill someone, but for some reason cannot use that control to avoid killing anyone (I don't know, suddenly a large group of people, all in a line and easily distinguishable, instantly appear just metres away from the car? Even then, either the car can hit the brakes and stop, or it can't, and it will skid straight into the group with no control over who exactly it hits).

    Barring a malfunction (or it being hacked) that renders the AI car homicidal in intent, I can't actually see a use case for where the autonomous car has to make such ethical decisions.

    And on that cheery note. Happy Friday, almost pint o'clock!

  7. Oh Homer Silver badge

    "Who should an autonomous vehicle kill in an avoidable crash?"

    Well if it's avoidable then obviously the answer is nobody.

    Next!

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    In the interests of lengthening the list as well as helping to conserve world resources, I feel futurists and TED talkers ought to be added to the list.

  9. BillG Silver badge
    Joke

    Re: country & western singers

    In western Europe and further west to the Americas, we tend to be wary of cleverness. We believe smart people are up to no good, being deliberately and revoltingly smart all the time, trying to catch us out and being undeservedly satisfied when it turns out they were right all along. It's only fair that we beat the shit out of these spotty, bespectacled kids at school.

    Another name for people wary of cleverness: Rednecks. They should be #1 on the list.

  10. Trilkhai
    Thumb Down

    Re: country & western singers

    Wouldn't the British term "chav" be better? It's not like poor uneducated whites in the Deep South are all "wary of cleverness" or anywhere near the only racial sub-group to produce a lot of people that fit that description...

    FWIW, as an olive-skinned Californian geek, I'm not even close to being a redneck; I just don't think it's any cooler to target them than it is to use the offensive terms for poor uneducated non-whites and suggest they should be killed first.

  11. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Youtube Stars

    With under 1900 views in 3 years at the time of writing, I think Mme Dabbs is not in any danger of becoming a widow due to an autonomous car...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGfYHTJitlo

  12. pinkmouse

    Re: country & western singers

    I'd like to add one more to the list; anyone that uses the term "Workshop" not in reference to a light industrial facility.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    "In my opinion, If the autonomous car is out of control, then by definition, even if it can make a decision on who to kill, it can't actually control the vehicle to take aim."

    My guess would be that an autonomous car gets out of control of it's AI by the latter overloaded with conflicting information and rules so that in order to ditch the lot it needs an emergency routine to follow. I suspect they're all loaded up with a secret "kill the lone pedestrian" function and that eventually it will be triggered where the overload arises in an entirely innocuous situation.

    After all the emissions cheating stuff would you really believe it would be beyond the car manufacturers' inclinations?

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    Where do those using the term "scrum" and wearing rugby boots appear? Hopefully not too far below those wearing football kit. And amongst the latter do those not on a football field appear above or below those who are? I appreciate that in the normal circumstances the car is unlikely to find itself running down those who are on a football field; the manufacturers should make more efforts in this respect.

  15. cosmogoblin

    Re: country & western singers

    My guess would be that an autonomous car gets out of control of it's AI by the latter overloaded with conflicting information and rules so that in order to ditch the lot it needs an emergency routine to follow.

    Isn't that how humans work? If our cerebral cortex can't handle a tense situation, the decision-making responsibility is handed over to the amygdala, which has a small bank of emergency responses (fight-flight-freeze). The available responses aren't always appropriate, but they're usually better than mulling it over until it's too late.

    If it's worked for animals over a billion years of evolution, it seems a good starting point for devices we design today.

  16. Hopalong
    Joke

    Re: country & western singers

    If it is a Tesla car, very high on the list would be Tesla share shorters, it may even go out of its way to bag one.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: country & western singers

    Autonomous car.. driving 70mph in the middle lane of a motorway. traffic both sides. all of a sudden, the back doors of the lorry in front burst open, and hundreds of logs are flung out...

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    Do the autonomous vehicle AI training image sets contain country & western singers?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46055595

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: country & western singers

    The training data set used during software development unaccountably failed to include pictures of hundreds of logs and so the AI takes no action.

  20. cynic56

    Re: country & western singers

    "the back doors of the lorry in front burst open, and hundreds of logs are flung out..."

    Now it's getting much more complicated. Should it run over Beech before Ash, Horse Chestnut before Sycamore, Elm before Oak, on number 4 - the larch. I didn't even know these AI cars were qualified Dendrologists.

  21. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Re: country & western singers

    Should it run over Beech before Ash, Horse Chestnut before Sycamore, Elm before Oak, on number 4 - the larch

    Less of a problem in the US, where thanks to invasive pests we essentially no longer have many chestnuts or elms, and ash is on the way out too.

    The loss of the American chestnut is particularly unfortunate. Those were huge, attractive trees that once represented maybe a quarter of all the trees in large parts of the Appalachian forests. They still survive in some isolated areas, where the blight hasn't been introduced or has been displaced by less-virulent strains, and various organizations have been working on varieties with better resistance to the blight.

    Oak, on the other hand, we have plenty of. Run those suckers over.

  22. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Terminator

    Re: training AI

    I have detailed files ->

  23. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Here on the other side of the planet, our banknotes have poetry on them, written in tiny text readable only by kiddies with perfect eyesight.

  24. Stevie Silver badge

    our banknotes have poetry on them

    Not poems and rubbish ... SCIENCE!

    Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll capture a fighting machine, learn how it works, then;

    WHOOSH! WITH OUR FIGHTING MACHINES! WHOOSH! WITH OUR HEAT RAY! WHOOSH! AND THEM RUNING AND DYIIIIIIIING!

  25. Geoff May (no relation)

    Re: our banknotes have poetry on them

    Ah! Bollocks, why can I only up vote once? <sigh>

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What have we here, laddie? Mysterious scribblings? A secret code? No! Poems, no less! Poems, everybody!

  27. HandleAlreadyTaken

    Re: our banknotes have poetry on them

    >Maybe one day we’ll capture a fighting machine, learn how it works

    The chances of anything coming from that are a million to one, I say...

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. MyffyW Silver badge

    Don't blame the Serbs

    British fears of German Naval strength, French desire to reclaim Alsace-Lorainne, Russian angst at the length of time it would take to mobilise their army, Austro-Hungarian dented pride mixed with internal contradictions inherent in a land empire, German expansionism and desire to avoid encirclement might all have a had a slight part to play beyond the single hand weapon that Gavrilo Princip discharged in Sarajevo back in 1914.

    I'm out of breath now ....

  30. james_smith

    Re: Don't blame the Serbs

    Yup, but the assinassation was the final straw, and Princip's group was funded and directed by the Serbian intelligence services. They also helped kick off the series of wars in the Balkans leading up to the big one ...

  31. #define INFINITY -1

    Re: Don't blame the Serbs

    "British fears of German Naval strength"

    Naval strength built with no other purpose than to rival Britain.

    Some still recall a telegram to Kruger--some realize military old-salts are ignored only to the enemy's advantage.

  32. JPeasmould

    Re: Don't blame the Serbs

    A headline (not the winner) from a headline competition years ago went: -

    "Archduke Ferdinand found alive - 1st World War Fought in Vain"

    It made me laugh but does point out the daftness of blaming his death alone for the mayhem that followed.

  33. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Electricity

    A good choice of tune, their speeded-up version of Kraftwerk's Radioactivity is a fine tribute to Tesla, but there is, of course, a more direct tribute.

  34. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Electricity

    is a fine tribute to Tesla

    There's also a very fine album by Australian Prog band Unitopia which is (almost) all about him:

    http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=28241

    I don't know whether they are still a going concern (like most good prog bands they seem to go in and out of existence that the drop of a stage costume) but, if they are, they are well worth seeing.

    One of the few bands better live than on record.

  35. Alien8n Silver badge

    Re: Electricity

    Or you could go for The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing's "Tesla Coil"

  36. juice Bronze badge

    Re: Electricity

    TBH, I think this is one of the better tributes, courtesy of steampunk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYc9-OtxNE0

    "A Tesla Coil

    A Tesla Coil

    My wife's been fitted with a Tesla Coil

    If I get frisky in the marital bed

    Sparks shoot down her leg"

  37. Alien8n Silver badge

    Re: Electricity

    @Juice thanks for finding the youtube vid, being at work it's not something I can really search for just yet.

    The Men also have some rather more IT related songs, notably "Vive La Difference Engine", an ode to Babbage and Lovelace :)

  38. juice Bronze badge

    Re: Electricity

    Aye, they're lovely and only occasionally slightly angry chaps, who do an excellent job of highlighting social issues from the Victorian era inbetween their more comedic moments.

    In fact, I'd say that they're one of the very few bands who actually put the punk into steampunk.

    Friday pub, you say? Mine's the hat *without* the cogs on...

  39. james_smith

    Re: Electricity

    Singer Andy is also an alumni of the chaotically brilliant Creaming Jesus and a nice bloke as well.

  40. MiguelC Silver badge
  41. HandleAlreadyTaken

    Re: Electricity

    >IT related songs

    I like Bad Religion's "I Love My Computer"; it reminds me of the better, more innocent days before Google and Facebook...

  42. The Oncoming Scorn
    Pint

    Re: Electricity

    I just read that to the tune of (in my head) Tesla Girls.

    I feel one of my (infamous) parody songs coming on.......

  43. jake Silver badge

    Re: Electricity

    I suppose not a one of you heathens has heard of Captain Beefheart, much less His Magic Band. Well, it's time you did. Enjoy.

  44. Spamfast

    Re: Electricity

    alumni

    alumnus (unless female)

  45. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

    When you ask someone what a Tesla is unless they are an old skool Electrical Engineer they might say 'oh, that's a funny car that runs on batteries'.

    A child might ask 'are the batteries included'? (joke)

    I wonder what Nikolai would have said about the design cues of a vehicle that bears his name?

    Would he be into minimalism? (like the Model 3 interior)

    nice piece though Dabbsy.

  46. Mongo

    And to see the hijackers beating his name to death

    Just google "tesla free energy". If that doesn't give you enough woo for a Friday arvo add terms like "masonic conspiracy" or "flat earth". An ocean of conspiracies awaits, for example:

    "Nikola Tesla appears to have been murdered killed by Prescott Bush and his Family by way of german S.S. Lt. Colonel Otto Skorzeny. Also, George Bush Senior appears to be directly linked to a hand in the JFK assaination via Richard Nixon (a.k.a. Tricky Dick). For example, did you know Jack Ruby worked for congressman Richard Nixon in 1947?"

  47. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Re: The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

    When you ask someone what a Tesla is unless they are an old skool Electrical Engineer they might say 'oh, that's a funny car that runs on batteries'.

    I'd go with something you shouldn't go near with your keys in your pocket, unless you want to be stuck to whatever is causing it.

    As a unit of measurement, the scale is a bit off of most practical uses.

  48. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

    That's OK. Tesla (as in Nicola) still strikes back.

    "Тесла" in Southern Slavic languages is the name of a carpenter tool. It is the nearly obsolete in Britain adze (most carpenters to use one have retired and I have seen one only in Eastern Europe). By the way - Judging by his family name Tesla quite clearly had a few carpenters in his ancestry.

    In any case, to cut a long story short. Today, "Tesla" (or Тесла) in these languages in addition to carpentry tool meaning is also the colloquial for "botched job", "f***-up", someone not showing up for a meeting/date or something not being on time.

    Good luck to Tesla Motors to sell a Tesla in a Balkan country. They are going to need it. It is after all a Тесла. Colloquial for a Tesla.

  49. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Re: The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

    Today, "Tesla" (or Тесла) in these languages in addition to carpentry tool meaning is also the colloquial for "botched job", "f***-up", someone not showing up for a meeting/date or something not being on time.

    Good luck to Tesla Motors to sell a Tesla in a Balkan country. They are going to need it. It is after all a Тесла. Colloquial for a Tesla.

    Perhaps they could rename the export version a "Nova"...

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chevrolet-nova-name-spanish/

  50. MiguelC Silver badge

    Re: The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

    That's why you usually have some local brand management

    Mitsubishi's Pajero was renamed Montero in Spain (wouldn't you proudly drive your Mitsubishi 'Wanker'?)

    And Hyundai Kona was renamed Kauai in Portugal (who knew that driving a 'Kunt' could be embarrassing for some?)

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