back to article It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?

Welcome to 2019, the year in which Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi film masterpiece Blade Runner is set. And as predicted in this loose adaptation of a 1968 Philip K. Dick story, we have flying cars. The reason you don't have a flying car was explained by author William Gibson, who famously observed, more or less, "The future is …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    "the touchscreen has entertainment value but isn't great for precise picture edits"

    Fixed for you.

    1. illiad

      Re: "the touchscreen has entertainment value but isn't great for precise picture edits"

      yes, the only good use of touch screens is in very basic things like Santander ATMs..

      1. The First Dave

        Re: "the touchscreen has entertainment value but isn't great for precise picture edits"

        Similarly:

        "Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks, like playing chess or Go"

        =>

        "Machines can already surpass humans in specific _mathematical_ tasks, like playing chess or Go

  2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    But in a lot

    of ways we've created the world of Blade runner already, the over crowded and polluted cities, the corrupt politicians, the CEOs with no regards to ethics or morality, with only a lust for hoarding more moeny.

    But then you could have said that about ancient rome , so not much has changed in the past 2000 years

    1. hitmouse

      Re: But in a lot

      O tempora o mores. /Obligatory Asterix joke

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: But in a lot

        "Obligatory Asterix joke"

        I have only one asterisk. Only one '*'. Not like the man with 3 buttocks [from a Monty Python sketch]. He'd have 1 and a half...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But in a lot

      "[...] with only a lust for hoarding more moeny."

      Julius Caesar decried the way his old soldier compatriots had turned into decadent lard tubs sitting in the Senate. The Westminster equivalent is the crony-ism of PPE career politicians.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "Julius Caesar decried the way..."

        Still, his plans was to kill the Republic and become something alike a pharaoh as he saw in Egypt - Augustus achieved it, and paved the way for the fall of Rome. Hardly a good example of virtues. Cincinnatus had already died long before.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: "Julius Caesar decried the way..."

          Ehrmmm...

          Sorry to dissent but old JC was trying to protect and improve the Republic. Supposedly the tensions created by this led to the complot that killed him.

          As examples, he created laws that fought corruption, laws to give citizen rights to colonists and allies, laws allowing foreigners to enlist in the Roman army, and gain the citizenship at the end of their service.

          His successors basically wiped their arses with Caesar's ideas and created that monstrosity that was the Roman Empire.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: "Julius Caesar decried the way..."

            Caesar was an overambitious man who already crippled the Republic with its triumvirate - which was the very example of corruption. Like al dictators, it enacted laws that suited his plans, I.e. a more loyal army. One can be an outstanding military commander, a clever man, and a crook at the same time. Napoleon was no different.

            The Republic was already In very bad shape, and Caesar wasn't killed to save democracy, but he wasn't better than those who killed him. His battlefield successes and its self-propaganda blinded many in the following centuries. Scipio and others faced more powerful armies but were less versed in self promotion.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: "Julius Caesar decried the way..."

              If I might quote.... " I *AM* the senate."

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "I can has flying cars?"

          Ermahgerd! You can haz assignment - research internet memes and then you can haz cheezburger before bedtime. Lolz!

          1. tfb Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: "I can has flying cars?"

            The really astonishing thing here is: how long ago was 'I can has x'? I think ten-twelve years. So (a) that's actually quite a long time, and (b) there are, already, people for whom this is such ancient history that they don't know about it.

            I mean, the internet worm is ancient history, the green card scam is fairly ancient history, but 'I can haz x'? not ancient history. Except it is.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "I can has flying cars?"

              All your X are belong to us.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: "I can has flying cars?"

              The really astonishing thing here is: how long ago was 'I can has x'? I think ten-twelve years.

              Right on the money. ICHC was created in 2007; and Wikipedia says the original Happycat image and caption were posted on the Something Awful website on 11 January 2007, so almost exactly 12 years ago.

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: "I can has flying cars?"

          @BillG

          You can has grammar check?

          You can has downvotes

    3. Brangdon

      Re: the over crowded and polluted cities

      Bladerunner doesn't have over-crowded cities. They are mostly empty, because the general populace have migrated to the colonies. That's why that toymaker has an entire building to himself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the over crowded and polluted cities

        "They are mostly empty, because the general populace have migrated to the colonies. "

        Clifford D. Simak's stories in "City" (1952) postulated a time when local land taxes had risen so much that people's houses were confiscated by default. Those people then moved out of the cities or to space colonies. The land taxes on the remaining people then had to be increased - a vicious spiral leading to empty bankrupt cities.

        There is a whiff of that in the UK at the moment - particularly the "business rate" (building tax) that adds to the woes of high street shops and other small businesses.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: But in a lot

      .. we've created the world of Blade runner already

      Deckard: Enhance 224 to 176. Enhance, stop. Move in, stop. Pull out, track right, stop. Center in, pull back. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance 34 to 36. Pan right and pull back. Stop. Enhance 34 to 46. Pull back. Wait a minute, go right, stop. Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left. Stop. Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there.

      Alexa: Sorry, Deckard, you lost me at Enhance 224 to 176.

      A little more way to go yet I think.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: But in a lot

        Bah, all that is completely real. I saw it on CSI, so it must be.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: But in a lot

          Ahh, the CSI franchise. Stupefying the masses - by misrepresenting police work, science, medicine, IT and the whole f*cking STEM curriculum - since the year MM.

          I've watched a score of episodes or so over the years. Most of them included at least one serious blunder in the areas listed above, and one of them in particular chained several of them.

          The part that worries me the most is that this crappy tv series has continuously been aired for nineteen years.

          1. D@v3

            Re: CSI

            I'm guilty of watching a fair few of these over the years, mostly as just mindless entertainment to kill an hour of an evening when i don't have the enthusiasm to do anything else.

            CSI (vegas) was once good,mainly through being original, but lost its way. Miami was never more than a joke, thanks mainly to David (puts on sunglasses) Caruso, New York seemed to mostly be OK, but CSI:Cyber. oh good god that was awful.

  3. hitmouse

    I'm failing more and more CAPTCHAs, so I'm anticipating that Google will send out a Blade Runner to terminate me any day now. I'm preparing my final monologue now :

    "I've seen things you wouldn't believe: users who confused wallpapers and screensavers,

    managers defragging their SSDs, ... All these moments will be lost, like time machine backups. Time to die."

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      ROFLMAO++!!!

      Quality, Sir!

    2. jonathan keith

      You've done a man's job, sir.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Terminator

    C'mon

    We all know CAPTCHAs are simply a way to increase the data set for recognising traffic lights, shop fronts, etc., using skilled but unpaid labour.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: C'mon

      Yeah, even my bank has started using them. A long established British institution. But I'm expected to be able to identify "crosswalks". I assume they mean pedestrian crossings, "Store fronts", by which I think they mean shops. Traffic lights are bit easier but I wasn't expecting them to be hanging from wires in the middle of the road. Oh, and it appears taxis are always yellow. Likewise, school buses.

      I have written to my bank to point out that as they have little to no dealings with the US or it's residents, it might be an idea to use a test designed for UK citizens rather than one which tests to see how much US TV their customers watch.

      1. dogcatcher

        Re: C'mon

        I fail every time because I only speak and read English

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have written to my bank

        and I presume you have received a long, personal e-mail from the man / woman / other at the helm saying he / she / it takes the matters of customer opinions as top priority and values them greatly, and he / she / it will do all in his / her / its power to look into the matter further and get back to you? With the carefully reproduced personal signature of the above?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Irongut

            Re: I have written to my bank

            How do you know he used "it" to refer to a person? The article is about Blade Runner and mentions artificial life, he could have been referring to a replicant.

            TWAT

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Paul Stimpson

                Re: I have written to my bank

                Looking back on it, what I wrote was an over reaction. I apologize and have withdrawn my comments.

            2. Nolveys Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: I have written to my bank

              TWAT

              That works too.

              1. swm

                Re: I have written to my bank

                How about s/he/it?

                1. Sanguma
                  Boffin

                  Re: How about s/he/it?

                  SH*T is generally considered disrespectful, except when referring to banking staff and politicians

        2. cookieMonster

          Re: I have written to my bank

          Been there, done that. Closed 4 accounts day before yesterday because its almost impossible to talk to a human, when you go into a branch it's a wall of machines and one or two bods who's only training is directing you to a machine that dispenses cash or accepts deposits.

          Keeping cash at home, fuck the banks, they offer nothing of value these days.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: C'mon

        " A long established British institution."

        The Royal Mail does that too when you are trying to track a "signed for" parcel. Numerous store fronts and dangling traffic lights in the period before Xmas.

        All I wanted were updates on several parcels from different suppliers that seemed to have become stuck for several days in an early part of their transit.

        Invariably just after I had drawn another blank there would be a knock on the door for delivery of said parcel. The status was then immediately saying "delivered". The reporting of the critical steps of "at local office" and "out for delivery" appeared to be missing. That meant a return to the old time-waster of waiting in all day, for several days, for the delivery

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: C'mon

      As outlined here by an ex NASA mathematician.

      "'Crowdsourced steering' doesn't sound quite as appealing as 'self driving' [AI]."

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: C'mon

        "'Crowdsourced steering'

        Sounds like a random car-jacking during a riot.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: C'mon

      It's also a good way to reap a lot of data from someone else's pages. Look at the data Google captcha capture from a page where it is used. It's a lot of data.

    4. tfb Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: C'mon

      'Skilled but unpaid labour' has a name if there's no way of avoiding it: slavery. 'AI' is in fact being built on slave labour.

    5. Mephistro Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: C'mon (@ Zog_but_not_the_first)

      I've fantasized for some time that the captchas we users are solving are sold "as a service" to PR firms and other miscreants so they can automatically create false accounts and such for use in their scams and hacking sprees.

      If this was the case, this would be one of the biggest circular nawks known to History.

  5. graeme leggett

    Electric sheep

    Deckard in the novel wants a real sheep. He makes do with an electric one as mankind has (for reasons not gone into in depth) most all real animals are gone. We haven't gotten there yet.

    Another element I remember from the book is (IIRC) 'kibble' - the general,detritus of broken and unrepairarable materials of civilisation. We might be getting there with drawers stuffed with ancient USB sticks, propriety cables, instruction leaflets and warning labels. Stuff you'd like to throw on the tip but feel morally obligated to dispose of responsibly (you'll get round to it one day) or fear that you might need one day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric sheep

      Two common New Year's resolutions.

      1) lose weight

      2) declutter

      See you next year.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Electric sheep

        > 2) declutter

        I got tired of my 2ft ball-'o-USB-cables, and finally sorted them into ziplock bags, labeled by connector types.

        During Christmas dinner, it saved a friend who'd bought an Apple product that wouldn't speak to the USB-C port on his lowly non-Apple laptop. I had the appropriate A-C cable. He was impressed I was able to lay hands on it instantly.

    2. acolwood
      Facepalm

      Re: Electric sheep

      I've just recently re-read the book. It's kipple (p's). Kibble (b's) is what I feed to my cat.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Electric sheep

        Ta. Must be a programming glitch in my head made me confuse general rubbish and beige pet biscuits.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Electric sheep

      He makes do with an electric one as mankind has (for reasons not gone into in depth) most all real animals are gone

      Don't say that PETA and vegans won?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Electric sheep

        Does an electric sheep produce wire wool?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Electric sheep

          Does an electric sheep produce wire wool?

          Electric sheep - not to be confused with a hydraulic ram.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric sheep

        "Don't say that PETA and vegans won?"

        What would happen to many types of animals if not used for food, captive in zoos, or pets? Obviously some types might survive as objects of religious veneration.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Electric sheep

          Obviously some types might survive as objects of religious veneration.

          As a proud proponent of religious freedom of speech, I've always wanted to nail a chimpanzee to a cross and ritually drink its blood. I consider that much more moral than quietly moving priests to parishes containing yet-unraped children.

  6. steelpillow Silver badge
    Boffin

    AI? Not

    Replicants are not AI as we struggle to create it today, they are biologically engineered - eyeballs being a case in point. Listen too to the dialogue between creator and creation over the way that the engineering of these supermen has led to an (admittedly convenient) un-fixable drastic reduction in lifespan. They are not AI as the article claims, they are supermen. The same applies to the artificial pets (nod to the forgotten owl, here). Given the current bleeding-edge work on athletic performance enhancements, neural stem cell implants, genetics and whatnot, we may perhaps create replicants before we can achieve true AI.

    1. tfb Silver badge

      Re: AI? Not

      I've always thought that, too. Replicants are a way around the problem of needing humans to do dangerous, unpaid work: you can't do that because of human rights, so instead you make humans (except, of course, you don't call them humans bcause that would make it obvious what trick you are doing) and use them as slaves. Blade Runner (the films, at least) isn't about AI, it's about slavery.

  7. Miss Config
    Holmes

    What It DID have that was 'lo tech'

    Namely newspapers with actual paper.

    Several times Harrison Ford is seen at a coffee shop reading a paper.

    Nothing even vaguely resembling a smartphone or internet caff.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: *Spoiler Warning*

      Perhaps something happened that knocked down all the cell phone towers temporarily? ;)

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: *Spoiler Warning*

        Of course you'll buy newspapers in the future. That fondle-slab isn't going to protect you from the heavy downpour of acid rain.

  8. charlieboywoof
    WTF?

    I can has?

    1. RuffianXion

      https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sites/cheezburger

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      You are right! It ought to be "I can haz"

      1. RuffianXion

        Your memory serves you as poorly as mine. I thought that too, but realised I had mis-remembered when I looked up the link for my reply to charlieboywoof above - probably due to the 'z' in 'cheezburger'.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Try

          typing "I can ha" into Google. You'll get "I can haz" as a suggestion. No "I can has" is not in the list (at least for me). "I can haz" haz become the canonical form. Evolution. It's how language works.

          1. dave 76

            Re: Try

            so whatever Google says is reality?

            Other search engines (eg duckduckgo) are available.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And for fans of Vint Cerf:

          http://icannhascheezburger.com/

    3. TheRealRoland
      Coat

      I'll be over there, sitting with the olds.

      1. TheRealRoland
        Thumb Up

        Oh, and i want my akira bike, please.

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

    "Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks, like playing chess or Go."

    Now there's a discussion to be had between the pub crawl and post-pub neckfiller. Are chess and Go intellectual pursuits or just a complex mathematical puzzles?

    Since we don't have AI, then I feel it's unlikely any computer can compete with a human in any intellectual task. Any task that can be broken down into a series of mathematical or mechanical steps isn't intellectual in my book, ir anything which can be automated.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

      Humans are merely very complex machines - some instances of which seem very close to being only automatons.

      Apparently even a slime mould can teach us something about optimising network links.

      1. Pseudonymous Howard

        Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

        Correction: "Humans are seem to be merely very complex machines [...]". Even though I am personally not so much into dualism ad would basically agree to your statement, I tend to be careful with the word "is" when talking about things we hardly understand.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

          "Even though I am personally not so much into dualism [...]"

          A life form has already been recreated by building the GACT structure to form its DNA. Obviously a very simple bacterium.

          If/when that could be done with a human DNA - and probably mitochondrial DNA - then it would decide the argument.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

      in one particular video game, Final Fantay XIII-2, there are some clock-related puzzles that become impossible to solve within the given time limits [unless you cheat and hit the 'save' button which pauses the action]. The only solution was to write a program to do it for me. I published the source on usenet after doing so. A few others have creeped into 'teh intarwebs' since but I might have had "the original".

      Cruel humans, programming impossible puzzles into a video game, only to drive people like me into countering their madness by writing a 'bot' to do it FOR me (and giving it away to the world).

      [the current incarnation lets me use a fondle-slab via a web page to do it, one written with PHP and NO client-side scripting, very 'REST'-ful even]

    3. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

      That's essentially the Chinese room argument. If you believe it you either end up believing that there are some special magic things which somehow can not be 'broken down into a series of mathematical or mechanical steps', or you agree that intelligence can be perfectly simulated by such a process while not actually being intelligence. Searle (who is responsible for the Chinese room) holds the latter view I think (I think that view is absurd: I'm with Einstein in believing that if two things are indistinguishable, even in principle, they are the same thing). I think Penrose holds the 'special magic things' view, which seems to me a lot stronger than Searle's.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Chinese room is erroneous.

        IMO opinion anyway.

        It seems to be missing one or two aspects of human (our measure for intelligence) interaction. It would need something else.

        A bit like how a cart is not a car, because it does not have self propulsion. Yes, as a larger system, the cart is using gravity, and the car petrol, so on some scales they do not differ... but a car can move against gravity, and a cart cannot. This is a *physical difference*.

        Likewise, I can probably find a physical difference between the Chinese room and a human brain/intelligence, and thus show it's a false argument.

        We know people are born, so there is at least one method of "starting/creating" intelligence. We don't know what that method is though. For instance, a Quantum calculator is also a physical object, but one we have more difficulty replicating (some instances are not replicable).

        So finally, it may be something like intelligence is a developed system, not a built one. The chinese room fails in that it is expected to *contain* the required symbolism. It may be that human intelligence (or even low level general intelligence) is a system that can be built upon. (A Chinese room with all the info of a 100 year old mind pre-loaded into it, no longer becomes a logical analytical tool, because your close to increasing one of the measures to "magically instantly has infinite knowledge" and you mess up your calculation with nonsensical inputs. If we assume the Chinese room has the mind of a 2 year old... how does it "learn"? AFAIK it could not!!!)

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: The Chinese room is erroneous.

          The Chinese room is really an argument against the Turing test. It presupposes that the room can pass the test (ie it can converse with a Chinese native speaker in such a way that the native speaker believes they are talking to a human, which means talking to a human who can learn things), but claims that even so there is no intelligence.

    4. jmch Silver badge

      Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

      "Are chess and Go intellectual pursuits or just a complex mathematical puzzles?"

      Here's a thought experiment - introduce chess to a machine via images from a camera showing people playing it, and nothing else at all. No context as to what are the pieces are and how they move, that different colours are different sides, what the win conditions are, or even thet there is a 'win' condition at all...Leave aside for a moment being any good at playing chess, would the machine even be Able to work out the rules? And how would that compare that to the same exposure to chess to say an 8 or 10-year old?

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks

        That's probably not going to work, because the machine would find it hard to be able to work out who won the games: people do this by understanding a lot of stuff about human behaviour (the one jumping up and down cheering has won, while the one jumping up and down shouting has lost) and if you have a machine which can deal with that you've probably already solved the general-AI problem.

        But if you are willing to give the machine reinforcement (you tell it if it's won without expecting it to parse facial expressions) then yes, machines can learn this sort of thing, and there's a fairly recent example of a machine learning to play video games this way. (I think this is the PDF of the paper, and here is an article which talks about it.)

        Note that I don't particularly think any of this tells you anything about general AI: see my other comments.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Part of developing a relationship with an animal is knowing that there's no off switch to get it to stop pestering you to take it out for a walk."

    IIRC some of the electronic pets "died" if you didn't look after them regularly. Unlike gods who merely got smaller as people stopped believing in them.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      IIRC some of the electronic pets "died" if you didn't look after them regularly. Unlike gods who merely got smaller as people stopped believing in them.

      The 'pets' on Animal Crossing by Nintendo get really stroppy and whiney when you don't play for a week or two, and the town gets weed-choked - it's like being back in shared housing where everything else is someone elses problem, as long as it isn't theirs.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: someone elses problem

        @Teiwaz

        Reminds me of being a student, we printed off a little note and had it on the back of the kitchen door:

        "There was a job to be done and Everybody thought that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody ended up doing it."

        (I paraphrase, but it was something like that)

        Despite this little nag, one guy only washed up annually.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: someone elses problem

          "Despite this little nag, one guy only washed up annually."

          Possibly he never used the kitchen?

          I took in a courier parcel for a nearby multi-occupancy house. It took several days before the owner claimed it. I wondered why no one had answered knocks on the door. He said that the guy who was in during the day - only left his room for his pizza deliveries.

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      "Part of developing a relationship with an animal is knowing that there's no off switch to get it to stop pestering you to take it out for a walk."

      No way tor treat your kids.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "No way tor treat your kids."

        I thought nowadays it is the parents pestering their kids to go out for walk?

        A friend has just bought a little whiney puppy to replace her recently deceased elderly dog. She says when she takes the puppy out for a walk it often stops and refuses to budge. She ends up having to carry it while she gets her daily exercise.

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The real hangup isn't the technology

    Yes it is. If you want it to really work on a road and without a runway and be quiet enough and have useful range and in average weather!

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

      So given news around drones, I've been looking into miniture jet turbines and turbofans used in some drone and RC craft.. And a few people have turned into jetpacks. So it's possible to strap on enough thrust to get airborne, and steer yourself in the general direction of where you want to go. And ideally be able to avoid collisions, or just melting your shoes with the exhaust. Or melting someone below you's baseball cap.

      So having a strap-on pack that could be programmed to fly people between destinations seems a lot more doable* than lifting something car-like.. Plus somewhat less hazardous if they fall out of the sky. Hazards being a big reason why I guess they're not being developed commercially, ie dodging liability issues.

      *Possibly not suitable for true Scots, unless they're exhibitionists. Or to avoid upskirting issues, could make a pod, although for marketing reasons, best not to make that coffin shaped..

      1. Justicesays

        Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

        What common availability of jetpacks might look like...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDIojhOkV4w

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

          ^^^This!

          And in my opinion the video you linked is over-optimistic!

          ;^)

        2. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

          Jeez, it is 2019 and I am fatter than David Mitchell.

          I never wanted a jet-pack, I want a drink that makes me slim without exercise.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

            drink with tapeworm(s) in?

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

              Buy my dehydrated water! Perfect for active lifestyles!

              But think of jetpacks simply as heavy-lift versions of Amazon's delivery drones. What can possibly go wrong?

          2. graeme leggett

            Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

            "I never wanted a jet-pack, I want a drink that makes me slim without exercise."

            and that tastes of bacon....

            1. Mephistro Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

              Much as I like bacon, a bacon-flavoured drink would make me puke my last two meals.

              Mmmhh... Yeah, it might work!

      2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

        I remember an incident from decades ago, whilst I was training to fly hang-gliders. The training involved a lot of top to bottom glides down hills, preferably those with a decent breeze blowing up the hillside. On one such occasion we were in the Dales, near Kilnsey, on one side of a big U-shaped valley. The wind speed was steadily increasing over the day, and when it came to my turn for a trip down-slope, it seemed that a critical speed had been reached.

        Starting a hang glider flying is quite difficult. Merely jumping off a cliff is a recipe for sudden death; insufficient airspeed. The way you do it is to run downhill into a wind; when the airspeed gets high enough, the kite lifts you off your feet. On this run it didn't, and having run flat out down a steep slope and failed to get a glider to lift even a little bit, you tend to feel something of a fool.

        This however was caused by the windspeed getting too fast. We'd gone from laminar flow down one side of the valley and up the other to turbulent vortexes spinning off the far side and actually briefly reversing the wind direction on our side of the valley; this closed down flying for the day.

        The point I am trying to make is this: just a small change in conditions invisibly changes flying conditions from good to lethal. Large areas of the country will be completely off-limits to flying cars with only minimally-qualified pilots simply because these areas are potentially too dangerous. Flights over cities will similarly be forbidden; over somewhere like London the only safe crash zone is the Thames, and try getting an insurer to cover a flying vehicle that is actually programmed to ditch into a river in case of trouble!

        This is what will, and does kill flying cars: insurance and difficulty. You cannot permit flights over cities, for fear of harming whatever is underneath the craft. You cannot permit flights over seas, or over rail or motorway infrastructure and so on, and you have to keep idiot pilots away from things like power lines. GPS isn't safe enough, Galileo isn't safe either, and so it goes on.

        Self-driving cars are the best we're going to get.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The real hangup is an instinct for self-preservation.

          "Self-driving cars are the best we're going to get."

          For what reasons are all these cars travelling anyway? That seems to be the crux of the problem.

  12. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    measure the subject's empathy response to questions

    Basically the same idea as the "lie detector" or polygraph much loved by USA and rubbished as pseudo-science by real scientists doing proper testing.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: measure the subject's empathy response to questions

      "Basically the same idea as the "lie detector" or polygraph much loved by USA and rubbished as pseudo-science by real scientists doing proper testing."

      Is that part of the reason Trump got elected?

      1. dbtx Bronze badge

        lie detector

        Presumably none of them can sense whether you are lying to yourself and believing it and/or manufacturing confidence that you are right about something.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: lie detector

          "Presumably none of them can sense whether you are lying to yourself and believing it and/or manufacturing confidence that you are right about something."

          Something like that, but I was really referring to the apparent rise in the belief in pseudo-science in general but in the USA in particular.

        2. Mephistro Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: lie detector(@ dbtx)

          Even easier, you can fool the stupid contraptions just by clenching and relaxing Uranus in the right moments, as was explained in the Penn & Teller Show years ago. So anybody potty trained (~= older than two years or so) can fool a polygraph.

          ;^)

    2. Dahhah6o

      Re: measure the subject's empathy response to questions

      Term: Polygraph.

      Definition: A relic of 20th century witchcraft repurposed as a stage prop in interrogations.

    3. ma1010 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: measure the subject's empathy response to questions

      True story. Many years ago, my wife and her then-husband both applied for a job where you had to take a polygraph. She failed the polygraph because she was extremely nervous, although she was telling the truth. Her ex-husband, who was a con man by nature, passed the polygraph just fine, lying all the way.

      However, the manager hired her and not the ex-husband because he realized who was trustworthy, despite what the machine said.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: measure the subject's empathy response to questions

        "Her ex-husband, who was a con man by nature, passed the polygraph just fine, lying all the way."

        The essence of being a good liar is to be convinced yourself - consciously or unconsciously - that you are not telling lies. It has been said that a good salesman is one who believes in his product.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""Perhaps it's going to take 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI," said Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI researcher, during a presentation earlier this year. "

    IIRC there was a similar prediction by Donald Michie in the 1960/70/80s?

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Absurd AI claims

      I don't know if he made such a prediction. However Herb Simon said, in 1965, 'machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do', and Marvin Minsky said, in 1970, 'in from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being'. AI has a long history of absurd claims & hype cycles, usually made by people who want to be funded. This particular one is less obviously absurd (30 years is a conveniently long time) and cevers itself ('perhaps more').

      As usual, human-level AI will turn out to be a harder problem than anyone involved in the current hype cycle (which, really, is just a combination of training NNs on stupidly large amounts of data and employing slave (well, unpaid at least) labour to train NNs in other cases) thinks it is. But they will get funded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Absurd AI claims

        " Marvin Minsky"

        Thank you - my mistake. I Googled "Micky" - and the "Michie" hits seemed like the right contextual match although I couldn't find confirmation of that quote. There wasn't a hit for "Minsky" otherwise that would have jogged my memory.

        1. tfb Silver badge

          Re: Absurd AI claims

          I woukd not be entirely surprised if Michie made similar claims, although I like to think he was too smart to have done: he certainly seemed very smart when I knew him.

  14. Mycho Silver badge

    Artificial organs

    New research suggests that bioprinted organs develop better in space.

    Welcome to the future, ladies and gentlemen, please mind the gap between the spaceship and the platform's edge.

  15. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

    Wishful thinking. AI simply has bigger databases and more CPU performance and more illicitly obtained training data (in greater volume). It's still basically a fragile human written algorithm, with human curated training data using a dataflow architecture. It's updated mid 1980s techniques and can't ever deliver "real" AI.

    Anything not primitively working in a lab today is usually simply a guess or wishful thinking.

    Philip K Dick was a storyteller. Bladerunner is typical Hollywood. It's not researched futurology. It's Cinema entertainment loosely based on a written story.

    The problem is rich greedy people (Sillycon Valley particularly) that either want to believe in Transhumanism fantasies, or think all SF is "blueprints" when most of it was warning of the environmental, social and human cost of stupidity and blindly applying technology or letting big companies have too much power.

    Very many so called Tech companies are the very evil villains writers from 1890s to 1970s were warning us about. They totally miss the point of Harry Harrison, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, EE Doc Smyth and many others.

    Cyborgism isn't the future either. The way forward is to persuade the body to regrow damaged parts. Not Six Million Dollar Man implants.

    We don't even understand dog, cat, Corvid, ape or human intelligence. We don't understand why we can do language. Learning a vocabulary (signed or spoken) is not language, though proponents of teaching sign or speech to apes or parrots seem to often ignore this.

    We've no AI as flexible in learning, face recognition, tool use, sound recognition, problem solving as either a common British Rook or a pre-school child. Computers can be programmed to do lots of things very difficult or impossible for a human. Programming a computer to do many apparently simple things a rook or small child can do seems to be impossible. This was known at least 40 years ago. Now marketing and exploitation wants to hide this fact!

    Even the inventor of the IQ test said it didn't actually measure intelligence. It and Psychometrics are misused as simple pre-selection tools for HR (or even education).

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

      "EE Doc Smyth"

      Smith. Viewed by many as the father of Space Opera, though it wasn't called that until much later.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: E.E. "Doc" Smith

        Typo and edit time expiry. I have a shelf of them below the Ben Bovas. Sixth shelf up and not far from desk.

        Indeed some of the 90 year old approx E.E. "Doc" Smith is still very readable (squint and ignore the poorly done women, though at least there are women). I find some 1990s to 2010 SF much less fun and too full of it's own importance. I'll make an exception for "The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" (1995) which has a lot to say about AI and is mostly quite good. Been meaning to read my copy of "Snow Crash".

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: E.E. "Doc" Smith

          The diamond age impressed me very favourably. I've read it three times, and it's both interesting and fun to read.

    2. gypsythief
      Terminator

      Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

      "Cyborgism isn't the future either."

      It is always those that are, that deny it most strongly.

      Deckard didn't think he was a replicant either... tell me, has someone made you an origami crane recently?

      1. gypsythief

        Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

        Dammit! it was a unicorn!

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

          Your memories are not your own. I have some bad news for you...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

            "Your memories are not your own. I have some bad news for you..."

            Very true. Things you are sure you remember always need correlation. Then you find the other observers/participants remember it differently. On occasions you find you weren't there at all - or at least not old enough to have retained a first hand memory. Your "memory" is actually supplied from other sources.

            With all my immediate family now deceased - my memories of many past personal events in my life are very suspect as there is no one to offer modifications.

            The autobiography of Gyles Brandreth*** is interesting as it is drawn from his large collection of daily diaries going back to childhood. His foray with Lord Longford's sampling of Denmark's pr0n culture - was as one of two "representatives of youth". The other was Cliff Richard.

            ***"Something Sensational to read on the train"

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

      "We don't even understand dog, cat, Corvid, ape or human intelligence. "

      Nobody will ever understand cat intelligence, that is the nature of cats.

      On a more serious note, cats can understand a a range of words, we have to to spell out certain "trigger" words when the cats are around (e.g. "chicken", "outside" - basically food related or related to cat flap opening and them going outside) - otherwise we get a queue at the fridge or flap as appropriate (depending if food related or cat flap related word)

      1. tfb Silver badge

        Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

        I knew a cat which learnt 'food'. She then learned 'food' spelled out, and in turn if it was spelled out as 'fud'. Our current cat, fortunately, is not so smart.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

        "On a more serious note, cats can understand a a range of words [...]"

        It has been suggested by acquaintances - and immortalised by Garfield - that the word "vet" is also a trigger.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

          My ex-SO had a small poodle, and whenever he heard the word he would run and hide under a bed. He wasn't much bigger than a rat, but he was a very clever dog.

        2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

          "The word "Vet" is also a trigger."

          Wait, we have gone to putting these words in speech marks in our posts too? So cat can read? :O

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 30 years, perhaps more, to reach human-level AI

      So much talk about artificial intelligence, but when I look at this world I sometimes wonder if we have any *actual* intelligence

  16. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

    Or refuses to launch after activation!

    I don't need to imagine it. "Dark Star"

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

      I don't need to imagine it. "Dark Star"

      You are false data. Therefore I shall ignore you.

      1. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

        Let there be light.

        (As "Benson Arizona" plays softly,,,)

        Gotta go. My turn to feed the alien (and service the elevator).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

      ...or refuses to explode where it was meant to, instead exploding where it was not meant to, but where it meant to explode.

      ...

      yeah, OF COURSE they'll have safety switches!

      ...

      Did I just hear a snigger from that dumb bomb? Nah, can't have been...

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

        ...or refuses to explode where it was meant to, instead exploding where it was not meant to, but where it meant to explode.

        See Peter Watt's story Malak (Warning: PDF) about AI weaponry doing just that.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

          Or see that there Timelord bomb. It must have taken about 1 week to design and build the explosive itself, but 300 years to develop an AI interface that could argue you down from using it.

    3. Hurn

      Re: Imagine a smart bomb that refuses to explode

      "Ah, bomb?"

  17. MrMerrymaker

    2019 is also the year for the events of...

    Akira (eek!)

    The Running Man (surprised it took so long)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

      "The Running Man (surprised it took so long)"

      It woudn't surprise me to find that something akin to Running Man is already a game show on Japanese TV.

    2. MrMerrymaker

      Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

      Who down voted this and why?

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

        A TV executive whose plans have been exposed

      2. Old69

        Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

        "Who down voted this and why?"

        Like people who spray their tags all over public spaces - they just do it as a reflex for some insatiable inner need.

        At one time down votes bothered me - wondering how something had so upset someone. Now I ignore them unless someone has posted a critique from a different standpoint.

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

          Yeah, but...upvotes do give you a rush though. Be honest.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 2019 is also the year for the events of...

            "Yeah, but...upvotes do give you a rush though"

            True - like getting awarded a star at school.

            Human motivation is interesting. A friend ignored my birthday/Xmas "no presents" request. On both occasions they gave me 5x£1 of lottery scratch cards - which is something I would never buy. The odds were given as just under 5:1. So it was interesting that in both cases the middle one yielded a £1 or £2 prize. It could be postulated that they make every fifth one a small prize - so that people buying five at a time will always get the encouragement of a win. Even though it is actually just not quite a complete loss of the stake.

            I find it interesting what gets up/down votes in El Reg. Some down votes seem fairly predictable when a poster is being abusive - although that may be what they want as confirmation of their "victim/rebel/martyr" self-image?

            The number of up votes for something apparently esoteric and dull can be surprising.

  18. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    We've got until November.

    Given that the main action takes place in November 2019, we've got another eleven months to achieve full alignment with the depiction.

    1. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: We've got until November.

      Wait, when does Windows 7 stop being supported?

  19. zbark

    You could has has, but not in our crony capitalist environment, which stifles true innovation and hides the best ideas or our smartest people behind trade secrets, patent thickets, and technology obfuscation. Sure we have ipads, so what. We only have them because we had a works program for egg heads back in the late 60's doing something interesting like the moonshot. That technology and developed talent was subsequently parasitized by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and other capitalist scum who have given up only crumbs since. If we wanted this future, we could have had it, but we sold it off to billionaire hoarders instead. People like Elon Musk are not the solution. The solution is instead of spending 600 billion on murderiing people overseas for nonrenewable resources, invest that back home in our best and brightest, most of whom waste all their time spinning wheels to nowhere on Wallstreet figuring out new and more clever ways of robbing your grandma of her life's savings.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "which stifles true innovation and hides the best ideas"

      People were hiding ideas even when patents didn't exist - even more so because everybody could steal your ideas and you didn't get anything in exchange. Very few people like to give knowledge away for free - many are motivated by the chance of greatly improve their recognition and wealth - some even just because it allows them to pursuit even bigger challenges, without having to ask money from somebody else.

      We got the university/research centers so people are paid to share their knowledge, and the patent system asks to publish an invention details in exchange for the exclusive for a while.

      Research is not just funneling more money into it - it's creating the right environment for it to flourish. And telling people they won't get anything but a "thank you" may not be enough. You can't plan researches much, and it's very difficult to know where the next big jump forward will come from.

      Also, like it or not, a lot of technology was first developed for military reasons - once again, when big things are at stakes, people are forced to think faster and "better".

      To achieve what you dream, you'd need basically to change the human nature - which has always been the dream of dictators.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "which stifles true innovation and hides the best ideas"

        "To achieve what you dream, you'd need basically to change the human nature - which has always been the dream of dictators."

        Dictators are very happy with human nature - they know how to manipulate it to their own ends. Their only concern is not to let the populace get educated enough to see through the lies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "which stifles true innovation and hides the best ideas"

        "We got the university/research centers so people are paid to share their knowledge, [...]"

        IIRC many researchers are complaining that their progress is being hampered by having to churn out unnecessary papers to satisfy the organisation's vanity and attract funding.

    2. KSM-AZ
      FAIL

      Tolling, trolling, trolling, RAWHIDE!

  20. Steve Knox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "...AI systems at present fall short of rats in terms of overall intelligence."

    So... we should have rats driving our cars?

    1. Munchausen's proxy
      Trollface

      "So... we should have rats driving our cars?"

      Have you ever taken a taxi in the U.S.?

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        Other than in the middle of very big cities, I find US drivers to be vastly superior, in manners and patience, to those in the UK. And in the middle of very big cities drivers in the UK and the US are virtually identical. I cannot see 4 way stops working, even marginally, in the UK since they rely on manners and politesse. UK drivers are bastards. Perhaps it's because there are so many of them in such a small space getting in each others way. Whatever, they are...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " I cannot see 4 way stops working, even marginally, in the UK since they rely on manners and politesse. UK drivers are bastards."

          UK drivers still obey the "Give Way" signs at junctions. Not sure whether there are still back street junctions that are unmarked - and should be treated in all directions as a "Give Way".

          Even "Four Way Stops" have their moments of metastability when no one is quite sure who got there first.

          In my experience - UK drivers still voluntarily stop at pedestrian crossings to allow someone to cross. Some even do it for a pedestrian on a traffic island approaching a junction. That is the mark of a polite society. There has always been the odd driver who isn't paying full attention.

          Admittedly many years ago - a visitor to the UK was on her first excursion to central London. She was amazed that even taxis stopped at "zebra" pedestrian crossings. So much so that she went back and forth several times until she was persuaded it wasn't a fluke.

          1. M7S

            There's a danger in this, some years I went to Tokyo for a couple of days. The drivers there were so polite that if I so much as stood near the kerb well away from a crossing, they still stopped and encouraged me to cross in safety. After a couple of days I was quite used to this so landing after that in Australia and blithley assuming this might be similar (as, sensibly, they also drive on the correct side of the road) turned into an almost lethal experience.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "[...] turned into an almost lethal experience."

              In Stockholm in 1978 we used to stop at pedestrian crossings as we would in the UK. We were puzzled that pedestrians started to cross - but then stopped and peered round the car. In fact cars did often overtake us while we were stopped.

              Swedish colleagues told us you only had to stop if a pedestrian was actually in your path on a crossing. Unlike the UK system where a pedestrian anywhere on the crossing stops all lanes simultaneously - even if they are just reaching the pavement. Though it is wise to check when you think another driver's view of you will be partially obscured.

  21. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

    years ago I did a de-motivational featuring the space station [incomplete but spinning nicely in orbit] from '2001 A Space Odyssey'. The caption was something like "If it were not for LBJ and 'The Great Society', we'd be COLONIZING MARS by now".

    Sci Fi, even in a dystopic work, tends to be more optimistic about our future than reality. This is because in the Sci Fi world, there aren't a bunch of ninny-nanny wealthy "I have mine but you cannot get YOURS" socialist types that use their power and influence to "keep the rest of us in our place". This includes literallly standing in the way of progress, at every turn. Think of the OVERCOMPLICATED AND UNNECESSARY STEPS you must go through just to build a HOUSE nowadays. I rest my case.

    1. KSM-AZ
      Meh

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      This doesn't really deserve a downvote, although a bit vitriolic. There are thinks about building a house that perhaps warrant a modicum of regulation. Not sure *where* that should occur. What is the libertarian way to make sure the wiring in your house is at least reasonable? Caveat Emptor? Do we really want to allow a sub-division at the end of an airport runway? Sure, don't worry about the leaky gas line up to your house. How could that possibly affect your neighbor 20 feet away?

      OTOH, there was a movie with James Cromwell about building a house on his property in the middle of nowhere, basically from scratch. Who am I or anyone else to tell him how he is to do it? So the best ticket is the least intrusive, but we have to keep folks from screwing other folks next door by being stupid.

      YMMV

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " "I have mine but you cannot get YOURS" socialist types"

      Are you sure it's the "socialist" type? I see that behaviour in any society where those who for any reason got some power in the past want to stop anybody "below" them to climb the ladder and challenge their inherited wealth. Any society which don't have a strong and widespread democratic culture deteriorates that way, from the right or from the left - it really doesn't matter. Both communism and fascism share a basic platform - and both lead to societies where some have theirs, and the others cannot. Even whole religions have been invented or corrupted to justify that kind of society, and ensure those at the top can't lose their power - as "it comes from god".

      Some complicated steps to build an house could be necessary, as greed types can build really dangerous ones with subpar materials and bad designs to earn more without effort - ask the poor people who were killed by morons who covered a tall building with flammable panels because they were cheaper - oops, you can't ask them, they died horribly. But they were "have-nots", it is much more important to ensure those wealthy could become even more without much effort, right?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      You're a right wing idiot though Bob.

      Here's a thought. Do a George Costanza - when you think something or feel something, do the opposite.

    4. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      > If it were not for LBJ and 'The Great Society'

      Sigh. Actually, LBJ was in great favor of the space program and did a lot to keep Apollo going after Kennedy was killed. He was fucked (along with the rest of the country) by the Vietnam war though, which was a money sink for everything.

      Don't forget that Apollo 13 was not televised until after the accident because "people were already bored of it" * after 2 Moon flights.

      * Not sure who/how that was determined.

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

        Lets not forget that there is a rather interesting theory, with some evidence, that people who wanted LBJ in power were behind the killing of Kennedy. We can be kind and not suggest that LBJ himself had a hand in matters. I know this is generally considered to be tin foil hat territory but if you actually read some of the data there is on the Kennedy assassination, some of the conspiracy theories actually make more sense than the accepted establishment version of events.

        I know, it's bonkers to even contemplate such heresies that Oswald wasn't just a lone gunman. Down vote away...

    5. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      The only time there were no rules in the USA about where you could build your house or castle was back when the first invaders came over from Europe and started killing the locals. Once those invaders had their houses and empires settled they created rules (and armies and policemen (police women only came later at the behest of those damn socialists)) to stop other invaders coming over and stealing their property and eating their lunch. Socialist is only a label to slap onto those with whom Republicans and Libertarians disagree and about which you know absolutely nothing. Silly boy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

        "The only time there were no rules in the USA about where you could build your house or castle was back when the first invaders came over from Europe and started killing the locals."

        Those locals would also have had rules about the layout of their community. Look at the Mediterranean communities in the misty depths of history.

        There are relatively modern buildings that are classed as "spite" architecture.

        1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

          Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

          True, but those locals were just savages who didn't even speak proper European so could safely be ignored.

    6. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      "Think of the OVERCOMPLICATED AND UNNECESSARY STEPS you must go through just to build a HOUSE nowadays. I rest my case."

      Logical fallacy there Bob, despite the valid point you ended on.

      Just a hundred years ago we could all just build a house, if we were capable. There are a fair few Norwegian and Icelandic historical books on the subject that you should read. Now it's all planning regulations and every inch of soil is owned by somebody - damnable capitalism!

      Nobody should be able to own land that they aren't standing upon.

    7. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Where we are vs. Sci Fi predictions

      Sci Fi, even in a dystopic work, tends to be more optimistic about our future than reality. This is because in the Sci Fi world, there aren't a bunch of ninny-nanny wealthy "I have mine but you cannot get YOURS" socialist types that use their power and influence to "keep the rest of us in our place".

      Ah, I see, it's socialsm, and nothing at all to do with the laws of physics not needing to apply because it's, you know, science fiction. If it wasn't for socialism we'd all have hover boots and time machines, right?

  22. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Stop

    "Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks"

    No, they can't. If you take vast amounts of data stored in entire rooms, and a processing unit measured in cubic meters, then yes, a machine can beat a human at Go, which is nothing to sneeze at.

    But if you constrain the machine to the size of the human brain, the only thing machines are beating us at is precise mathematical computation and, until positronic brains become a reality, it's going to stay like that for a long time.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: "Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks"

      Smaller CPUs will happen. Either Intel will get their act together and sort out their sub 14nm manufacturing process, or some other company will.

      Also, you could fit of CPU cores into a brain-sized space if you wanted to optimise for space - if it was basically solid silicon with liquid cooling channels running through it.

      But that isn't the problem. Sure your supercomputer will beat a human at Go, but could it find its way to the nearest bus stop and make its way back home afterwards?

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: "Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks"

        Also, you could fit of CPU cores into a brain-sized space if you wanted to optimise for space - if it was basically solid silicon with liquid cooling channels running through it.

        but would those CPU cores consume less power than a light-bulb and fuelled by chocolate biscuits?

  23. SkippyBing Silver badge

    'the fictional road-and-sky craft relied on a system called an aerodyne'

    Aerodyne just means a heavier than air flying machine, aerostat means a lighter than air one. So the fictional craft didn't rely on a system called aerodyne, they were aerodynes.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: 'the fictional road-and-sky craft relied on a system called an aerodyne'

      Aerodyne refers to generating lift through dynamic action acting on air, e.g. rotors or wings. A Zeppelin is a heavier than air machine - the flying part just relies on lift generated through buoyancy, aka static lift. Take out the gas and the machine stops flying. Although I suppose one could argue that it's not a Zeppelin if it's empty.It's aero as it relies upon the presence of air as a medium providing the lift. Zeppelins do not work in a vacuum. Rockets, however, are not aerodynes or aerostats - they use aerodynamic principles generally for guidance alone, their weight being countered by the thrust of the rocket motor rather than through lift.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We'll settle for machine-gun toting land-drones (...) with a remote operator for kill decisions.

    This belief in human reason both stunning and - for now - hilarious. In any case, it has proven consistently wrong, across the history, but there's always hope that THIS TIME we'll get it right :D

    p.s. please don't tell me we're a reasonable species as, after all, we haven't blown ourselves up with all the nukes at hand. But just you wait, it comes to REAL war between nuclear powers, it might start with conventionals, but once you get nuke mortars wiping out a batallion here or there to tip a balance to one side, it won't end there. Well, that's an optimist take, anyway.

  25. Notas Badoff

    Who does?

    Kudos on your allusions:

    "Tyrell had told me Rachel was special. No termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?"

    1. David Pearce

      Re: Who does?

      In 2049 Rachel is long dead. I think that in the original she was built with a normal human span, she was not enhanced.

  26. RobThBay

    Ad-festooned Airships

    We don't have the airships but we have an ad-festooned internet.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lab grown organs.

    "In 2012, a windpipe created from stem cells was grown and implanted in a 2-year-old girl."

    You do realize this references a surgery performed by the infamous Dr. Paolo Macchiarini? Might want to look that name up if you like real life horror stories.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Lab grown organs.

      Crumbs. I looked him up. Was the 2 year old girl one of the subjects who died or the one (singular) who survived?

      I guess I'll wait a bit longer for a new implant.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lab grown organs.

        She died within several months.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Less Philip K Dick, more Harry Harrison

    In particular Bill the Galactic Hero.

    Who goes off to war in a cardboard battledress sponsored by a burger company, and ends up solving the earths waste problem by using free government post to post all the trash to galactic colonies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Less Philip K Dick, more Harry Harrison

      Another story - by an unremembered author - was the invention of a vacuum cleaner that sucked into worm holes to another dimension. It was a great success.

      Then one day the inhabitants of the other dimension sent all the accumulated detritus back - pouring out of the worm holes and filling people's rooms.

  29. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Netflix no more

    I am having to cancel Netflix, the only TV I've had since 2013. I've lived without TV before, happily, but this will be a wrench because I have less in my life now.

    I am going to watch the film Roma today, then cancel with an email explaining why. This is why: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46732786

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Netflix no more

      What would you have Netflix do? If they get a legal demand from any country they have to follow it. They can certainly appeal but that's obvioisly not going to get them anywhere in Saudi.

    2. Is It Me

      Re: Netflix no more

      Hi Danny 2,

      I am puzzled as to what you think Netflix should have done in these circumstances.

      They have pulled one episode of a comedy in a territory where it has been deemed illegal to show it.

      Should they have pulled out of the territory all together?

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: Netflix no more

        Hiya Dan 55, one of my favourite Dan's here, I take it a Tom Waits reference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PejBkU4-1fk

        And hiya Is It Me. Don't know you, pleased to meet you. I'll address your question directly.

        Should they have pulled out of the territory all together?

        No. They should have ignored it. The KSA is murderous bunch of wank that should be ignored. If those moronic losers don't like a Netflix satirical comedy then they should stop watching it. To kow tow to a despicable regime just makes you compliant. When anyone threatens you to curtail your freedom of speech then the only correct response begins with "Eff" and ends with you.

        I was banned from The Intercept a few months ago for calling a far right troll there a "soapy tit wank". I was being polite, using a Viz insult. On the same day I got my silver badge here. I love this place, I loathe all the so called 'free speech' forums that heavily 'moderate'.

        I am the only member of my college never to have worked for an arms manufacturer. I was offered such jobs often. Eff that for a game of soldiers.

        So in my teens one of my Ferranti classmates started evangelising Christianity to us, and I pointed out he wasn't a Christian because he built weapons. He had an epiphany and said he'd quit the next day. I had to persuade him to get a new job before he quit because we were in a recession.

        I was a peace protestor for four years. Too many stories to bore you with. Anyone with a finger in the KSA merits losing that digit.

        1. Is It Me

          Re: Netflix no more

          So you are saying that they should operate illegally in Suadi by continuring to show something that is deemed illegal there?

          In which case they will be completely blocked.

  30. SVV Silver badge

    Novel predictions

    I'm old enough to remember lots of articles like this in 1984, so take some comfort that back then they all had a good laugh about a book that predicted control through mass media propaganda, mass state surveillance through technology, and a situation where countries who were our allies suddenly become our enemies.

    How we laughed at the fact that none of that shit had happened.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Novel predictions

      IIRC it was only the educated classes who were subject to rigid social control. The plebs were basically allowed to do whatever they liked in their separate defined areas.

      The same in "Brave New World" with the "savages" resrvations outside the system. Those people were distinguished from the engineered lower orders inside the system who were kept compliant with free Soma.

  31. tfb Silver badge
    Boffin

    'Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks ...'

    Every time I see someone say this, with the inevitable implication '... and soon they will be as smart as we are' I want to laugh. I have a Curta, a thing made of brass and stainless steel, which 'surpasses humans in specific intellectual tasks', namely arithmetic. Machines have 'surpassed humans in specific intellectual tasks' for well over a century and probably much longer than that (Napier's bones? the Antikythera mechanism?): this tells you nothing about whether a machine will surpass humans in all such tasks any time soon.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: 'Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks ...'

      Canturi? The Antikythera mechanism exists... though TBH that was a design of convenience, not one "better" than a human. It's just easier to get the mechanism out of your (very large) saddle bag to check when the next olympics is, than to get your (much bigger) saddle bag out to get the astronomer* out! ;)

      *For timekeeping I will call them astronomers, but for their made up wibblywobbly they were astrologers.

      1. tfb Silver badge

        Re: 'Machines can already surpass humans in specific intellectual tasks ...'

        Well, if the Antikythera mechanism provided a smaller, cheaper and (I bet) more reliable way of performing the task it was designed to perform than a human astronomer/astrologer did then it did, in fact,surpass a human for that specific task. Which should not be surprising: that's what we build machines for, after all. Steam engines and levers surpass us at various specific physical tasks, calculating machines at various specific intellectual tasks.

        But generalising this to a single machine which surpasses humans at all intellectual tasks is just AI hype: there's no reason (I believe) that this should not happen, but it is an enormously harder problem to solve than a collection of machines, each of which surpass us at one particular task.

  32. kensal

    My Goodness...what an incredible film...and 2049.

  33. Herring`

    AI

    What passes for AI these days seems to have little resemblance to any actual intelligence. I would lose at Go to any competent player (never played it) but I know what a "game" is and what "lose" means. There isn't a machine that understands those concepts.

    It's certainly not my field, but I wonder if perception is a key thing that's missing. A human baby, using sight, sound, touch etc. is able to build a mental model of how the physical world works. Is anyone exploring this process with machines?

    Also, I note that the attempts to build self-driving cars use far more energy than a human driver would do. Plus sooner or later they are going to come across a situation which they cannot classify or classify incorrectly. What happens then will be ... interesting

  34. David Pearce

    Self driving cars will be on motorways first, an AI only environment and no driveways, pedestrians, 2 wheelers etc. Urban streets are way too complex for computers to manage

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Self driving cars will be on motorways first, an AI only environment and no driveways, pedestrians, 2 wheelers etc. "

      Hardly a week goes by in the UK without a news report of pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooters, or horse and carts intruding on the motorways. Not to mention wandering horses, cattle, and swans. The occasional collapsed overhead bridge is more unusual.

      Presuming that human drivers will be co-existing - then slip roads or even wrong way cars will be potential hazards.

      1. David Pearce

        An AI only highway is more realistic, then the coordinated controllers can pack the vehicles in close.

        Humans are far too unpredictable to join in.

    2. davenewman

      Wrong. Oxbotica already manages small twisty roads in Oxfordshire.

  35. TRT Silver badge

    I was under the impression...

    that Bladerunner replicants were completely biological robots. No need for "batteries" in the conventional sense. I mean, if there were a mechanical component to the replicants, they wouldn't bother with psychological tests, right? A quick run over with an x-ray machine should reveal any mechanical components.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was under the impression...

      The created "pets" like the snake had a maker's ID code built-in. The replicants could have had a DNA sequence as a type code - so a simple mouth swab test would have identified them as such.***

      Unfortunately that not too distant development would have thwarted the plot completely.

      ***There was a sci-fi story I read probably in the late 1970s. It postulated a fireman who was preserved by cryogenics after an accident. On his resuscitation he found a hedonistic world which his accumulated trust fund allowed him to enter. At one point in the story he is identified to a robot messenger by his iris/retina pattern.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I was under the impression...

        I can just imagine Deckard getting Rachel a "23andme" kit for Christmas...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was under the impression...

        "There was a sci-fi story I read probably in the late 1970s [...]

        Just for completeness. "The Age of the Pussyfoot" (1966) by Frederik Pohl.

  36. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Nexus 6

    That Nexus 6 you have is getting close to it's expiry date but it's not going to try and kill you.

  37. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Robot pets

    > Artificial pets may have some therapeutic benefit for certain conditions like autism

    Dementia.

    A robot dog, with the lead attached to the wrist of a person with dementia, could allow that person to wander wherever they like for as long as they like, but make sure they cross the road safely and bring them back home when it's dinner time / gets too cold / starts to rain etc.

  38. SNAFUology
    Facepalm

    " it's the regulation and integration into existing infrastructure"

    not to mention the people & the corporation that implements it.

    Just more #SNAFU - flying cars, reigning doom on people.

    We have self-driving vehicles making their entry into the market. We will need massive collision avoidance while people read Facebook on Twitter on their phones.

    The hyperbole of tech is what first should be regulated - Disruptive innovation more grey goo consuming itself to create more of the same.

    Blade Runner isn't here yet, the settings were styled from yesteryear in Tokyo & New York

    The closest you'll come to Blade Runner emulation is the Sex Automata with AI.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: " it's the regulation and integration into existing infrastructure"

      The closest you'll come to Blade Runner emulation is the Sex Automata with AI.

      - I wouldn't be so quick to go for that either.....

      There was a slight circuitry problem...'

      'She wouldn't stop. It was like being trapped in a milking machine.'

      'Well, if sir would care to make another choice, at the expense of the management -'

      Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers - Grant Naylor

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " it's the regulation and integration into existing infrastructure"

        "It was like being trapped in a milking machine."

        A colleague in our Scottish office circa 1980 said that there were two things given to a groom on their stag night - a lot of booze - then a farm milking machine.

  39. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Terminator

    "Replicants".

    In my mine, the story (in the original) was always about how the politics/science/marketing had tricket people into thinking clones were robots... but worse still, that clones were not people (a clone is just a twin, and a twin is just a normal person/baby).

    I watched it as you would 1984... to me it's not a science fiction story... it's a social engineering story. Trick people into thinking there is an "other" group we can mistreat. Take some things away from them (physically or legalities) assume those changes are real/significant, then you have an excuse for your behaviour.

    They asked/presented this problem in the modern sequel/reboot... however, the biggest fear is not what may be, but what is, for decades how many people actually stood up and said "but he was not killing clones, he was killing people". No, everyone is "but were they clones or people"... see, you trick them into doubt, and then can attack their morals/facts/whatever to get your own agenda done.

    It worked in the film, showing, amazingly well and terrifyingly realised, that people can be tricked into their position of thought and action!

  40. Zed Zee

    Police Spinner?

    "Harrison Ford with a spinner in a still from the 1982 Ridley Scott film"

    Err...that's NOT a Police Spinner in the photo!

    That's Deckard's own Toyota Prius or whatever it is. But it's definitely not a Police Spinner.

    El Reg - I will classify this under 'New Year Party Hangover', but please, do check your facts next time. It's somewhat embarrassing.

  41. neilrieck

    grammar fubar in the title of this article

    Has someone notified the publisher about the grammar fubar in the title?

    What's up with "I can has flying cars?" (probably intended to type "can I have flying cars?")

  42. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    idiot flyers

    I see one very severe flaw in the whole idea of "flying cars". Just look at the number of idiots and morons you'll encounter in your daily commute. Consider that you're only dealing with them in (effectively) *two* dimensions. Now consider the situation where those same morons can come from above as well. Consider the idiot who forgets to check if he has enough fuel for the trip (hey, ALL of us have done that at one point or another). Now consider those same folks running out of fuel *in the air*.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019