A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 19, 2019

How 5G Interference May Put Accurate Weather Reporting At Risk

At the intersection of convenience, speed and safety. JL

Dan Maloney reports in Hackaday:

Three-day outlooks are right 90% of the time. What made accuracy possible is super computers running weather modeling software. But models are only as good as the raw data they use as input, and increasingly that data comes from satellites with sensitive sensors detecting changes in winds and water vapor in real-time. People tasked with running these systems believe the quality of that data faces a threat from 5G cellular networks. Microwave radiometry can tell us what’s going on within a vertical column of  atmosphere. 23.8-GHz (is) in danger of picking up interference from 5G, which will use frequencies very close to that.

Mapping Gastronomic Borders In the US

At what geographical point do tacos outsell Chinese food? JL

Matt Daniels reports in The Pudding:

Google provided an anonymized dataset based on actual restaurant visits. The first thing to map was the popularity of individual cuisines around the US. What is the taco capital of the US? What is the exact longitude where Chinese food eclipses tacos? What about regional preferences, such as the South‘s affinity for BBQ? This led to a lengthy “wait but why” debate, specifically if the divide was a vestige of the eastern border of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

To Eliminate Airport Pickup Mayhem, Lyft Reverts To Taxi Line

How old solutions may provide the answer to new problems. JL

Lucas Matney reports in Tech Crunch:

Ridesharing companies and airports have always had a fractious relationship. Riders looking to catch an Uber or Lyft have to walk to parking garages, follow makeshift signage and find arbitrary pickup points. Instead of matching with a driver, riders nabbing a Lyft will hop in a line at the airport and match up with a driver irl. They won’t have to tell the address before the meter starts running, users will still enter everything in the app, but after doing so they will tell the driver a four-digit code that will sync the request with the driver and get moving. It’s a bit funny when companies try everything only to settle on the old ways,

How Videogame Joysticks Are Used To Recruit For Blue Collar Jobs

Applying extant skills and interests to the work that needs to be done. JL

Jayson Bailey reports in the New York Times:

Industry is trying to attract teenagers with realistic computer simulators of heavy machines, hoping to build a younger work force. To attract replacements who grew up playing Call of Duty, some construction companies, unions and schools have turned to simulators that replicate jobs done by heavy equipment, like pushing dirt or lifting steel. Each simulator cost $80,000. The excavator, which has three screens, can also be used with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which produces a 360-degree outdoor canvas.

Why Are Companies Buying Insurance That Doesnt Cover Cyber Attacks?

Because cyber policies as currently written usually do not provide coverage for the real risks - and are too expensive even for the limited liabilities they do cover. JL

Fred Kaplan reports in Slate:

“There’s a mad rush for insurance companies to write cyber policies." But even when cyberattacks are not offshoots of war, the coverage offered is thin. Policies cover direct costs of a breach—the interruption of business, unauthorized credit card charges. But the policies do not cover the much bigger losses of intellectual property, reputational damage, or theft of trade secrets. From the standpoint of insurers, the proliferation of attacks and the size have started to outgrow their ability to reimburse the damage such attacks inflict. If cyberinsurance is to become serious (for) insurance and cybersecurity, a total rethink is required.

The Key To Loving Your Job In the Age of Burnout

Meaning can rarely be found solely through work, even as technology makes it more omnipresent in people's lives.

Motivation can best be nurtured within oneself. JL

Cassie Werber reports in Quartz:

Surveys find that the majority of people globally feel unfulfilled by their work. (But) meaning isn’t something to be found, and it can’t be uncovered by heartfelt commitment, long hours, and self-sacrifice. Meaning is something we make. Some of us get a lot of fulfillment out of what we do for a living. In many jobs, however, the connection between our work and the meaning we derive from it is much less obvious. “There are lots and lots of different ways of organizing your life which don’t rely on one full-time job."

Apr 18, 2019

A Robot Has Figured Out How To Use Tools - And Why It Matters

Learning to use tools could be an important determinant in programming robots to self-improve - just as it was for humans. JL

Will Knight reports in MIT Technology Review:

Learning to use tools played a crucial role in the evolution of human intelligence. It may yet prove vital to the emergence of smarter, more capable robots, too. By observing and experimenting, the robot develops a simple model of cause and effect  but it builds a more complex model of the physical world The work hints at how robots might someday learn to perform sophisticated manipulations, and solve abstract problems, for themselves. “It’s exciting because it means the robot can figure out what to do with a tool in situations it hasn’t seen before,”