Hackaday Links: October 2, 2022

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“Necessity is the mother of invention,” or so the saying goes. We’ve never held to that, finding that laziness is a much more powerful creative lubricant. And this story about someone who automated their job with a script is one of the best examples of sloth-driven invention since the TV remote was introduced. If we take the story at face value — and it’s the Internet, so why wouldn’t we? — this is a little scary, as the anonymous employee was in charge of curating digital evidence submissions for a law firm. The job was to watch for new files in a local folder, manually copy them to a cloud server, and verify the file with a hash to prove it hasn’t been tampered with and support the chain of custody. The OP says this was literally the only task to perform, so we can’t really blame them for automating it with a script once COVID shutdowns and working from home provided the necessary cover. But still — when your entire job can be done by a Windows batch file and some PowerShell commands while you play video games, we’re going to go out on a limb and say you’re probably underemployed.

People have been bagging on the US Space Force ever since its inception in 2019, which we think is a little sad. It has to be hard being the newest military service, especially since it branched off of the previously newest military service, and no matter how important its mission may be, there’s still always going to be the double stigmas of being both the new kid on the block and the one with a reputation for digging science fiction. And now they’ve given the naysayers yet more to dunk on, with the unveiling of the official US Space Force service song. Every service branch has a song — yes, even the Army, and no, not that one — and they all sound appropriately martial. So does the Space Force song, but apparently people have a problem with it, which we really don’t get at all — it sounds fine to us.

When you’re a pedestrian trying to cross a street in traffic, one of the best pieces of advice is to make eye contact with drivers. Making sure an approaching driver sees you and processes the information is only possible by a serious look in their eyes, and it may be the only thing that prevents you from becoming a hood ornament. But what happens to that rule when cars no longer have drivers? Easy — stick huge motorized googly eyes on their front grills. Researchers at the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University did just that, using an autonomous golf cart with comically large robotic eyes to gauge whether it helps reduce pedestrian accidents. The eyes swivel towards a pedestrian to show that the car is going to yield the right of way, or look away if the car is planning to blitz right through the crosswalk. It seems to work, with pedestrians less likely to attempt a crossing if they don’t get eye contact from the car. Interesting results, but we seriously doubt anyone is going to be slapping googly eyes on autonomous vehicles anytime soon.

And finally, we’ve grown quite fond of all these AI-generated videos that base their images on song lyrics. There were a couple of Led Zeppelin songs done by AI Midjourney recently that were interesting, but we really like this comparison of three different AI takes on Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” The images were done by DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney, and the difference in results is remarkable — especially given the nonsensical nature of the poem. DALL-E 2 seemed to have the most trouble with the poem, and tended to use more photorealistic images than the other two. Personally, we’d give Midjourney the edge here for creativity and general coolness of the images, but all three were most frabjous and quite mimsy — not the least bit slithy.

22 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 2, 2022

  1. As a guy who rides a bike in traffic a lot, i learned really quickly that when a driver looks at you right in the eyes, it doesn’t mean jack. They will stare right at you as they pull directly in front of you. I assume motorcyclists are aware of same. Even at a stop sign when they wave me, I refuse to put myself in front of a car intentionally for any reason. Maybe this is an instance where autonomous drivers are way better than organic ones. Or a reminder to just cut behind the car and never trust one ever when your only protection is a silly foam hat and some sexy Lycra.

    1. The basic rules of participating in traffic:
      – When you’re participating in traffic in a non-motorized vehicle all car drivers are lunatic sociopaths who will attempt to run you over if give a chance.
      – When you’re in a car or other enclosed motorized vehicle all (motor)cyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized traffic are all raving suicidal lunatics who will throw themselves in front of your car just because they can

      It’s also the reason I, as a Dutch cyclist, intensely dislike drivers stopping for me when they have the right of way, especially when there is more than one lane. I must first be entirely and absolutely convinced that you’ve seen me, are indeed slowing down just for me to cross and that you are going to stick to that decision until I’ve safely crossed. THEN I must be absolutely sure the traffic behind you has understood your intention to slow down and will do likewise, after which I must then be convinced that the traffic in the other lane(s) will also let me cross.
      The end result is that it’s much faster and easier for everyone if you just take your 1.5 metric ton steel box and take your right of way. I’ll wait.

      1. One of the reasons traffic segregation in urban design would be a good thing. More expensive, but the more squishy parts of travel are separated from those things that can squish them.

      2. One day Dad came home from work all excited. I solved my software problem using a railroad analogy. “When two trains meet at a crossing neither train shall pass before the other.”

        That’s a good philosophy to have while walking across a street or riding a bike.

      3. Yeah that behaviour *seems* polite but is actually quite dangerous. Did they really stop for you, or do they have a mechanical failure? Does the driver behind them know what’s going on? Etc.

    2. > I assume motorcyclists are aware of same.

      You don’t have to assume. It happens to me about once a year. Guy in car coming from opposite side of me. Guy wants to go left. Guy is looking me straight in the eye, I’m looking guy straight back in the eye. Guy just pulls his steering wheel to cross right in front of me, as if I’m not there at all. And I’ve got my headlights on and all, and my bike is a 1997 flashy-colored (yellow and purple) Honda CBR900RR. Not intentional at all, they’re always sorry. But those guys are just looking but don’t see sh*t.

      Never assume someone is seeing you, even if it seems as if they’re looking you straight in the eye.

      I envision a great use of parts of this self-driving software: let the driver drive as usual, forget about self-driving. But automatically slam the brakes if the driver tries to do something dangerous. It’s possible right now, unlike 100% safe and reliable self-driving cars.

  2. One interesting aspect of the googly-eye experiment is that the results of it were highly gender dependent. Apparently men (at least in their study cohort) have a much higher tendency to assume the vehicle will yield when given no cues, which makes them prime candidates to get mowed down by the car if they assume wrong. Having the googly eyes gives the cue to these men that maybe they shouldn’t cross, increasing pedestrian safety. In contrast the females in the studied group had a tendency to NOT cross even if the vehicle would yield, thus them being much safer and less likely to get hit by a car that didn’t yield and thus not really helped safety-wise by the eyes. Their efficiency however increased with the addition of the cues, since they would now be more certain the car would yield and would cross in situations they would otherwise have waited on the sidewalk for.

    (also further evidence to the “Why women live longer” meme)

  3. The reaction/behaviour of drivers and pedestrians is noticeably dependent of where you do such a study I expect. Both because of local habits and.. let’s say ‘temperament’. But also local laws.
    And I fear also on what year you do the study, since things aren’t necessarily improving over time (perhaps influenced by the sometimes negative globalization effects of increased cultural mixing by immigration/foreign workers).

    1. Your blatant racism is a sign of a serious lack of intelligence, among other things (as evidenced by the fact that you actually thought it was subtle enough to go unnoticed). This isn’t telegram or 4chan, keep that disgusting drivel to yourself. (“cultural mixing”, “globalization”, “local…temperament”? Gaaaaw)

  4. IDK what I think about the Space Force song.. kinda generic and jaunty like it was done up for a movie, but not really any battle honors to cite yet so it’s hardly gonna be like .. “From the halls of Montezuma…”

    1. To be clear, I’ll start by saying that no, I couldn’t have done a better job. But honestly, that song sounds like a high school fight song. Everything about Space Force looks and sounds like someone just threw it all together. My father was in the Army Air Corps, and he never said they got dissed when they split off to become the Air Force, but maybe that’s because people could see they had a unique role beyond that of the Army. The role that the Space Force is performing is no different from what the Air Force has been doing for 60 years or so.

  5. Next move is to have some storm-troopers in one of the star-wars shows gather and sing ridiculous songs like that.
    But people would find it unbelievable and too silly I guess, so perhaps not do that?

  6. @J. Samson
    You must be an American since you think everything is about race, and must be about race, and shall be about race.

    An example I was thinking of incidentally was when I was in a whole other part of the world and I was trying to cross a road, the kind of road where in my own country you can assume you will have to wait until there is a lull in traffic to attempt a crossing, but as I stood waiting within seconds traffic on both sides spontaneously stopped to let me cross. I was amazed since I don’t see that happen in my own country. Point being that if you travel you notice the flaws in your local population (Although I don’t think everybody would see such. Some people for instance are probably too busy projecting racism on everybody else and superior intelligence on themselves and they can’t be arsed of course..)

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