The book is a collection of papers published by each team that competed in the 2005 Darpa Grand Challenge, organized by their finishing place. Everyth...moreThe book is a collection of papers published by each team that competed in the 2005 Darpa Grand Challenge, organized by their finishing place. Everything here was in the Journal of Field Robotics originally.
The teams that only made it a few miles mention the causes of their failure but frequently do not critique their approach that deeply- third party reporting would be better here. Usually the cause was mechanical or electro-mechanical, but the authors appear to dismiss that as unimportant compared to how successful their software would have been had not bad luck interceded. Bad luck here is equivalent prior inattention to detail, though budget and time constraints are also at fault.
Many systems are used by nearly every team, like lidars and stereo vision, so there is a great deal of repetition. Pointless details about software configuration mentioned in some of the papers should have been eliminated by a stronger handed editor.
There is a prevalent belief that certain avenues of technological change are natural and inevitable, but for very expensive and difficult technologies...moreThere is a prevalent belief that certain avenues of technological change are natural and inevitable, but for very expensive and difficult technologies this isn't necessarily true.
The last few pages of the book deals with non-proliferation- the author claims that because there are no inevitable technologies that the elimination of nuclear weapons and the prevention of their re-development is very possible.
This book could really use an addendum with information learned after the collapse of the USSR, but I would guess that most information concerning missile guidance has stayed secret, and that since the West is no longer as concerned with Russian missiles that we have not learned much new information through other channels.
Page 238 - Islands of non-capitalism existing in places like Draper Labs not unlike the design bureaus of the Soviet Union. I'd extend this further to point out that every corporation or similar body exists to buffer it's employees against raw capitalism- and if left unchecked this buffering cannibalizes the market through monopoly and reinvents central planning with all it's failings (or even more failures, since at least the state that does central planning is responsible to its citizens, where the monopoly organization only has its shareholders).
It's theorized that the design bureaus were more isolated from each other and this lead to greater differences between say missile guidance and aviation guidance than what was seen in the US at the same time.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union large aerospace companies in the US have consolidated to the point of eliminating competition except at the international level, which may be a step inferior to having at least a handful of design bureaus with enforced separation.
Page 325 - The Soviets were less trustful of software and used voting systems in their missiles while the US employed single-string architectures. This lead to the joke observation that the Soviets had a dictatorship domestically but democracy in their missiles while the US had dictatorship in their missiles but democracy domestically.
-The possibility that a system or theory can be tested (even if it is impractical to do so) raises the reliability or stature of that versus one that cannot be tested. This comes up when the book discusses the infrequency and limited nature of ICBM tests. I would apply this to Intelligent Design vs. evolution- the fact that evolution as it occurs over millions of years can be tested by waiting around for those millions of years and observing the changes makes it a better theory than one where there is no expectation that we will observe in the future the activities of creator aliens/gods, because their creative acts may have been one time events.
The 'certainty trough' is an interesting model of faith in a system's capability: on the x-axis you have a measure of a person's knowledge of a system, on the other you have their certainty. People who know little or nothing about the system and the organizations and technologies involved don't have much faith in it, the trough region is all those who have read the datasheet or marketing materials or equivalent and take it at face value, and finally on the end where uncertainty ramps up again there are those very intimately involved in the production of the system and are aware of the all the design flaws and past test failures.
Taking place only 20 years in the future, this book is more reminiscent of his earlier cyberpunk short stories than the further flung novels.
The modes...moreTaking place only 20 years in the future, this book is more reminiscent of his earlier cyberpunk short stories than the further flung novels.
The modest length of this book was nice- A Fire Upon The Deep and the sequel were great but each should have been a few hundred pages shorter.
Vinge makes a self-deprecating reference to his 'Zones of Thought' books midway through. Humorous but 4th-wall-breaking also: do we really need to be reminded that every work of present day or future fiction takes place in an alternate reality in which the book itself was never written?(less)
This book starts out weak, it seems to be the most pulpy and disposable of any of Stross's books so far, but then the plot starts to kick in about a t...moreThis book starts out weak, it seems to be the most pulpy and disposable of any of Stross's books so far, but then the plot starts to kick in about a third of the way through and it improves greatly.
I thought SF authors would try to avoid it by now, but in that first third there is a constant stream of annoying comparisons of far future life to the 20th century. The story has a good reason for this, but it is still very clunky when the viewpoint characters constantly observe how primitive or arbitrary 20th century clothing styles or kitchen utensils are. (less)
Addresses the age-old problem of how to most profitably re-invent wheels in parallel Earths that did not invent the wheel (or equivalently, re-inventi...moreAddresses the age-old problem of how to most profitably re-invent wheels in parallel Earths that did not invent the wheel (or equivalently, re-inventing them via time travel before they were naturally invented).(less)
It's interesting that technology is held up as the prime example of 'intelligent design', but this book shows that technology is poorly understood as...moreIt's interesting that technology is held up as the prime example of 'intelligent design', but this book shows that technology is poorly understood as a process, and may be best explained in evolutionary terms.(less)