Technology

Tell me again why we are wasting billions on light rail

Phil Goff and Phil Twyford are intent on pouring billions of dollars into light-rail to the airport. There isn’t a business case, nor the money to do it.

But why even bother when we should be encouraging enterprising private companies willing to spend their own cash on building a much faster solution: Quote:

Auckland could be one of the first cities in the world to use Uber’s electric aircraft, as the company works with Boeing to make flying taxis a reality.

The San Francisco-based ridesharing company is considering Auckland as a third city for the trial of Uber Air flights in 2020, and hopes to launch the service in 2023. End quote.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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How clean and green are wind turbines?

How clean and green are wind turbines?

Turns out not so clean, or green: Quote:

As older turbines see subsidies expire, thousands are expected to be taken offline due to lack of profitability. Green nightmare: Wind park operators eye shipping thousands of tons of wind turbine litter to third world countries – and leaving their concrete rubbish in the ground.

The Swiss national daily Baseler Zeitung here recently reported how Germany’s wind industry is facing a potential “abandonment”.

Approvals tougher to get

This is yet another blow to Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies). A few days ago I reported here how the German solar industry had seen a monumental jobs-bloodbath and investments had been slashed to a tiny fraction of what they once had been.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Listen to this post:

Robotic development

From The Conversation Quote:

The uptake of robotics technology is increasing at a startling rate.

Most of these robots will perform repetitive tasks that require little or no intelligence, but a huge range of useful jobs need robots that can adapt and learn on their own. That’s why we’re using Darwinian evolution as the basis of our robot design process.

Robots are often used in what we might call a “structured” environment – somewhere that conditions are predictable and controllable, with no hidden surprises.

But robots struggle when we take them outside. Australia is a prime location for deploying robots outdoors, whether performing long term biodiversity studies in rain forests or providing vital information to first responders following a natural disaster. Robots would be incredibly helpful in these “unstructured” environments, which are unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Instead of a population of birds or plants, what if we used Darwin’s principles to evolve a population of robots that automatically improve their performance in an environment?

We can do this either by creating a computer simulation of the robots – which saves time and money – or by creating them in real life.

Let’s say we want our robots to count wombats in a certain region. We define an equation called a fitness function. Fitness is a score that tells us how well the robot is performing – for instance, how many wombats it counts per hour. The robots attempt the task, which gives us a fitness score for each robot. Some robots will be fitter than others, and the fittest robots are more likely to be picked as “parents”.

Our parents create children. Crossover combines genes from both parents into a new “child” genome. Mutation slightly changes some of these genes as they pass from parent to child. We can make the children and get a fitness score for each, as before. Because the genomes of the children are similar to the genomes of fit parents, they are likely to be good at the task.

We perform this loop many times, incrementally optimising the population of robots to be suited to their task and environment. End quote.

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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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Maybe the government was a bit too quick on axing oil & gas exploration

The government, based on a petition from Greenpeace, moved to axe any further exploration for oil and gas. They’ve decided, not on any science, but basically on virtue-signalling to hamstring our industry and to decide that there is no future for those products in New Zealand.

They state that we need to do our bit on emissions.

Well, perhaps they acted a bit too fast because in the US a new power plant is testing their zero emissions power production from natural gas: Quote:

A company called NET Power has begun testing a unique demonstration power plant in La Porte, Texas, that burns natural gas but releases no emissions into the atmosphere. How can it do this? The natural gas is burned in pure oxygen rather than ambient air, and the resulting heated carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to power a turbine instead of heating steam or gas.   

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Listen to this post:

More on Amazon flipping the bird at the government

Tom Pullar-Strecker looks further into the Amazon Tax issue: Quote:

The Government’s plan to require foreign firms to collect GST on goods they ship to New Zealanders from October next year – its so-called “Amazon tax” – is suddenly in genuine trouble.

Australia is the canary down this particular coalmine, and right now that canary is looking pretty poorly.

If you listened to New Zealand retailers, you might think this was the last country in the world to close down a loophole under which consumers can buy low-value items from overseas without paying sales tax.

It is fair for them to grumble. New Zealand’s $400 tax-free threshold for most goods crossing the border is relatively high by international standards and they have been dealt a bad hand in that regard.

But the solution the New Zealand and Australian governments have come up with to create a level-playing field for local retailers – requiring foreign firms to collect GST on their behalf at the point of sale – is untested.

Amazon has decided that rather than go to that trouble, it will instead block Australians from buying products through its main website.

Instead, Australians will only be allowed to shop at Amazon Australia, which for years at least looks set to offer only an inferior range of goods at higher prices.

The move by Amazon came largely out-of-the-blue, and it is only possible to guess at its motivation and end game. End quote.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Amazon provides Nash with a $218m hole in his budget forecasts

Labour has screwed up again, talking big, this time about their so-called Amazon tax.

Well Amazon has a message for the government and it is GFY. Quote:

Doubt has been cast over a plan to make foreign firms levy GST on all internet shopping purchases after retail giant Amazon said it would not play ball in Australia.

A New Zealand tax change – which has been expected take effect in October next year – would end the current situation angering local retailers, under which most goods valued at less than $400 can be bought online from overseas tax-free.

Australia plans to become the first country in the world to require big foreign firms to levy GST on all internet sales to consumers, with the law change due to take effect there from July this year.

But Amazon in a surprise move said on Thursday that rather than levying and collecting the tax, it would instead block Australians from buying from its overseas websites, which includes its main Amazon.com store.  

From July, Australians will only be able buy goods from Amazon’s smaller Australian store, which opened last year. It offers a narrower range of goods at what are often higher prices and does charge GST.

Amazon would be complying with Australia’s new tax law by blocking Australians from its overseas stores – but not in the way Australian consumers or governments on either side of the Tasman might want.

Amazon does not yet operate an online store in New Zealand. End quote.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

Listen to this post:

What’s with all the privacy emails and ‘I accept’ tick boxes?

If you use a computer or smartphone and access the Internet (a reasonable bet if you are reading this post) then you will, over recent days, have been inundated with “Update to our terms and conditions” or “Update to our privacy rules” or “Re-subscribe” or tick boxes to say you accept.  Disqus, used by Whaleoil, had two tick boxes the other day.

Why?

The reason is that the European Union passed a law in 2016 called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and companies had two years to comply with this law which comes into force on May 25, 2018.

So everyone is busily sending you emails asking if you want to receive emails.  A sort of modern equivalent to the teacher saying, “Put your hand up if you can’t hear me down at the back.”

So here is a bit about it all: Quote.

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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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Artificial Intelligence and the rise of the chatterbots

Cambridge Analytica has come and gone and New Zealand has now been offered a report from the AI Forum called “Shaping a Future New Zealand”. Artificial Intelligence it seems is to be part of the New Zealand scene.

The radio advised me that no applications for the Chief Technology Officer were deemed to be suitable enough to make an appointment so I expect our latest Artificial Intelligence is not off to a great start.

Skimming through the report I found some answers. A survey on page 81 found that 44% considered “education a key barrier to Artificial Intelligence adoption ” which surprised me. The expanded view is that ” traditional education providers are not yet providing the skills and training required to develop [Artificial Intelligence] excellence”

While I cannot speak for all of New Zealand I do know that Otago University has been studying  Artificial Intelligence to post-graduate level for decades.

China is overtaking USA in this area because Trump decreased funding by ten percent to $175 million (see page 33 of the report.)

Artificial Intelligence is with us now. We already use some “intelligent” machines almost every day. If you use Siri (iPhone), Alexa (Amazon), Cortana (Microsoft) or Google Assistant, you are using Artificial Intelligence on computers to enhance your own. On-line you can find legions of Artificial Intelligence “chatbots” with one of the latest being Oscar (for AirNZ).

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A guest post submitted to Whaleoil and edited by Whaleoil staff.

Guest Post content does not necessarily reflect the views of the site or its editor. Guest Post content is offered for discussion and for alternative points of view.

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Saving the planet? Yeah, nah

I wish our lazy MSM journalists would provide a little context for their breathless articles extolling the virtue of saving the planet.

.

A recent headline in the Herald caught my eye, “Why buy an EV? The planet, your wallet … and Trump”

Someone, funded by the taxpayer, has done a survey to find out why people buy electric vehicles and one idiot “singled out US President Donald Trump as a reason people couldn’t rely upon politicians to combat climate change.”

So, one person mentions Trump and it becomes the headline. Sigh!

There were many reasons, apart from Trump, given in response to the survey question. Quote:

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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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The multi-billion dollar industry that makes its living from your data

Visual Capitalist provides a frightening infographic showing how much personal information we have freely given away.  For a large, more readable version, click here. Quote:


In the ocean ecosystem, plankton is the raw material that fuels an entire food chain. These tiny organisms on their own aren’t that remarkable, but en masse, they have a huge impact on the world.

Here on dry land, the massive volume of content and meta data we produce fuels a marketing research industry that is worth nearly $50 billion. Every instant message, page click, and step you take now produces a data point that can be used to build a detailed profile of who you are.
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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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