Tag Archives | Safety

Choosing An Autonomous Ethics System For Your Robot

In ten years, how will the machines that run your daily existence respond when confronted with life-or-death decisions? Matthieu Cherubini at the Royal College of Art offers prototypes of Humanist, Protector, and Profit-Based moral parameters for self-driving cars:

Many car manufacturers are projecting that by 2025 most cars will operate on driveless systems. How can such systems be designed to accommodate the complicatedness of ethical and moral reasoning? Just like choosing the color of a car, ethics can become a commodified feature in autonomous vehicles that one can buy, change, and repurchase, depending on personal taste.

Three distinct algorithms have been created – each adhering to a specific ethical principle/behaviour set-up – and embedded into driverless virtual cars that are operating in a simulated environment, where they will be confronted with ethical dilemmas.

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20,000 Emergency Room Visits Caused By Energy Drink Consumption In 2011

Idiocracy in our midst, via USA Today:

A new government survey suggests the number of people seeking emergency treatment after consuming energy drinks has doubled nationwide during the past four years.

From 2007 to 2011, the number of emergency room visits involving the neon-labeled beverages shot up from about 10,000 to more than 20,000, according to a survey of the nation’s hospitals released late last week by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The report doesn’t specify which symptoms brought people to the emergency room but calls energy drink consumption a “rising public health problem” that can cause insomnia, nervousness, headache, fast heartbeat and seizures that are severe enough to require emergency care. The findings came as concerns over energy drinks have intensified following reports last fall of 18 deaths possibly tied to the drinks.

 

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The Psychology of Mass Denial: 9/11 Truth and Cognitive Dissonance

“Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out” by the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

Join 23-year architect Richard Gage, AIA, in this feature length documentary with cutting-edge 9/11 evidence from more than 50 top experts in their fields — high-rise architects, structural engineers, physicists, chemical engineers, firefighters, metallurgists, explosives experts, controlled demolition technicians, and more. Each is highly qualified in his/her respective fields. Several have Ph.D’s — including National Medal of Science awardee Lynn Margulis. She, along with the other experts, exposes the fraud of NIST and discusses how the scientific method should have been applied and acknowledges the “overwhelming” evidence of high temperature incendiaries in all dust samples of the WTC. High-rise architects and structural engineers layout the evidence in the features of the destruction of these three high-rises that point inevitably to explosive controlled demolition.

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Americans Are As Likely To Be Crushed To Death By Furniture As Killed By Terrorism

Writes Micah Zenko in the Atlantic:

[On June 6th], the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) released its 2011 Report on Terrorism. The report offers the U.S. government’s best statistical analysis of terrorism trends through its Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS), which compiles and vets open-source information about terrorism—defined by U.S. law as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”…

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year. This is not to diminish the real—albeit shrinking—threat of terrorism, or to minimize the loss and suffering of the 13,000 killed and over 45,000 injured around the world. For Americans, however, it should emphasize that an irrational fear of terrorism is both unwarranted and a poor basis for public policy decisions…

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Study: Marijuana Legalization Reduces Traffic Deaths

sceneLegalizing pot across the nation would save many lives. The University of Colorado Denver Newsroom explains:

A groundbreaking new study shows that laws legalizing medical marijuana have resulted in a nearly 9 percent drop in traffic deaths and a 5 percent reduction in beer sales.

“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.

The researchers collected data from a variety of sources including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The study is the first to examine the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic deaths.

“We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana,” Rees said.

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Confessions Of A Nuclear Power Safety Expert

3464115270_3c602de1d8An expert on the safety of nuclear power plants comes to the conclusion that there is simply no such thing as an 100 percent safe nuclear reactor. Via Miller-McCune:

I soon came to the conclusion that neither international cooperation nor technological advancements would guarantee human societies to build and safely run nuclear reactors in all possible conditions on Earth (earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, wars, terrorism, climate change, tsunamis, pandemics, etc.). I am sadly reminded of this turning point in my life as I listen to the news about the earthquake, tsunami and extremely worrying nuclear crisis in Japan.

When Italy decided in the mid-’70s to add nuclear power to its power portfolio, young mechanical and nuclear engineer Cesare Silvi was among those attracted to the opportunities it presented. His work centered on nuclear safety issues — in particular, what might happen if something unexpected struck a power plant.

Corners he saw cut there eventually soured Silvi on that endeavor.

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Toxin From Genetically Modified Crops Detected In Canadians’ Blood

bigredbarnUntil now, scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.

Eating GM corn, soy, and potatoes is perfectly safe, provided you don’t mind having a powerful toxin swirling in your bloodstream. Oh, and your unborn baby’s bloodstream as well. So says a debbie-downer peer-reviewed Canadian study, India Today reports:

Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.

Scientists from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, have detected the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab, circulating in the blood of pregnant as well as non-pregnant women. They have also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation.

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Does Safer Nuclear Power Exist?

Photo: Stefan Kühn (CC)

Photo: Stefan Kühn (CC)

Can thorium be a safer alternative to uranium? China thinks so. The Telegraph reports:

This passed unnoticed –except by a small of band of thorium enthusiasts – but it may mark the passage of strategic leadership in energy policy from an inert and status-quo West to a rising technological power willing to break the mould.

Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster.

If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.

China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball.

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America’s Most Vulnerable Nuclear Power Plants

3596889720_f52826d665_zIs this list a case of fear-mongering? Possibly, but I would want to be aware if I lived nearby one of these wildcards. The Daily Beast presents a ranking of our nation’s most ripe-for-disaster nuclear reactors, as determined by a panel of experts, with Indian Point (Buchanan, NY), San Onofre ( San Clemente, CA), and Limerick, PA rounding out the top three:

1. Indian Point

Location: Buchanan, NY (24 miles north of New York City)
Reactors: 2
Electrical Output (megawatts): Unit 2: 1020; Unit 3: 1025
Year Operating License Issued: Unit 2: 1973; Unit 3: 1975
Population within 50 Miles: 17,452,585
Relative Safety Rating: bottom third

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Sales of Doomsday Bunkers Up 1,000%

Blake Ellis reports for CNN:

A devastating earthquake strikes Japan. A massive tsunami kills thousands. Fears of a nuclear meltdown run rampant. Bloodshed and violence escalate in Libya.

And U.S. companies selling doomsday bunkers are seeing sales skyrocket anywhere from 20% to 1,000%…

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