Wednesday, November 25, 2015

FlyCam UAV top management supports FAA proposal for the registration of drones

FlyCam UAV, based in Chatsworth, California, offers drones for sale and provides drone-based photographic services for film, agriculture, and infrastructure inspection.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently issued proposed regulations to keep the skies safe from drone-related incidents
Etopia News reached out to top management at FlyCam UAV to get their in-the-trenches view of the suitability of the approach set out in these proposed regulationsHere’s what Jeri Donaldson, FlyCam UAV’s CEO, had to say about these proposed new rules:

Since FlyCam UAV opened its doors we have always put safety and education first with respect to drone use. We can’t tell you how many ‘Amazon’ pilots (people who buy online without any knowledge of drone use or safety) have come into our store to tell us that they flew their drone up to 2000 feet.   When we tell them how dangerous that is we are told that they know when planes are coming and can get out of the way in time. Ridiculous.

“Having to register your drone will now hold these individuals accountable. We welcome the FAA's ruling on registration and don't think it will impact sales at all. It should be a relatively easy process and if it helps to keep our skies safe we are all for it.”

She was joined in her support for these rules by her colleague and FlyCam UAV General Manager Jeff Barnett, who added that “We're all for registration of UAV's. We feel people need to be accountable for their actions when utilizing this amazing technology.”

FlyCam UAV is located at 21102 Devonshire Street, Chatsworth, CA  91311 and can be reached by phone at 818-678- 9151. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Opponent of “killer robots” doesn’t like autonomous nuclear-armed submarines, either

Toby Walsh, according to his personal bio page, “is Research Group Leader at NICTA.  He is adjunct Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales, external Professor of the Department of Information Science at Uppsala University and an honorary fellow of the School of Informatics at Edinburgh University.”

As of October 8, 2015, his “How can you stop killer robots?” TEDx Berlin talk has been available online here. 

Recently, Russian television “inadvertently” broadcast plans to build a super-secret autonomous submarine capable of “delivering” nuclear torpedoes off the coast of potential adversaries.  Read about that here.

Following up Professor Walsh’s TEDx talk and news of this Russian initiative to build an autonomous submarine with nuclear capability, Etopia News contacted Professor Walsh by e-mail, and asked for his views on this latest development of a potentially-lethal mega-killer robot.  Within the hour, here’s what he thoughtfully had to say:

Couple of comments.

“First, this demonstrates that the sort of autonomous weapon technologies we've been talking about are, as we warned, very near.

“Second, we don't have to worry about non-state actors or terrorists with these sort weapons. You still need a nuclear device which is beyond the means of such groups.

“Third, I'd be very concerned about control of such weapons ... once launched, there is likely no way of changing your mind and preventing them from attacking, and I'd be concerned about them being "hacked".

“Fourth, this is, again as we warned, likely to start an underwater arms race as these are very difficult technologies to defend against.”

Of course, as you can read here, DARPA is already working on autonomous naval systems to track submarines, including autonomous ones, leading to a situation in which “finally, we may find our submarines themselves going unmanned one day as well, roaming the depths for months on end, looking for and hunting other unmanned and manned submarines. It's the ultimate robotic game of cat and mouse, with patrols lasting years and the ability to track other subs for months on end.”

The struggle for military superiority thereby devolves into a competition between rival teams of coders developing the learning algorithms that these fleets of prowling, autonomous craft will use to optimize their performance in protecting the geo-strategic and tactical interests of their operators.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What they said last night

An exquisitely-talented crowd of Hollywood’s most illustrious writers gathered last night under the Cinerama Dome to celebrate the “101 Funniest Screenplays” of all time.  Annie Hall won, but Airplane! came close.

Rob Reiner hosted the evening, introducing panelists with the throwaway line, “Let’s see how fucking funny they are.”

Generally, they were pretty funny, as were the clips of films on the list.

Here are some of the comments by panelists during the evening:

Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways):  “Why don’t we see excellent movies every summer?”

Jon Favreau (Swingers):  “I wrote a screenplay to get work for me and my friends....Nobody cares what the writer thinks….Everything is autobiographical.”

Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect):  “If I were on the list, I’d do it [sing for the audience].”

Peter Bogdanovich (What’s Up, Doc?):  “It’s a bandana.  An ascot would be pretentious….I loved Boris Karloff.  He was a wonderful man.”

Buck Henry (The Graduate, What’s Up Doc?):  “I have no formula for anything.”

Randi Mayem Singer (Mrs. Doubtfire):  “I liked making things up rather than doing the news.”

Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle):  when he finally was cast in a role, his mother told him to “be the best pimp you can be.  The whole church is praying for you.”

Dale Launer (My Cousin Vinny, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels):  “I’m not even sure what it means to be ‘high concept.’  If the kernel of the idea is funny, it’s high concept.”

Daniel Petrie Jr. (Beverly Hills Cop):  “Our life filters into our work.”

Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex):  “What is the opposite of sex?  I’m living it.”

Everyone mingled afterwards in a delightfully crowded and buoyant way in the main lobby of the ArcLight Cinema, the titles and show times of many current films glowingly on display overhead.

Can you Imagine a film festival devoted to showing, in order, these 101 funniest screenplays?  Just how funny would that be?  What kind of mood would the film-goers be in after watching them all?  What would a mockumentary devoted to such an event be like as a film?  Would you go to such a film festival?  What if you binge-watched them all at home?

The ranking of these films was performed by the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Writers Guild of America, East.  You can read the entire list here

You can read Variety's take on this event here.