Google’s Self Driving Car Initiative

 

The self driving car is Google’s initiative, but what drives the giant to complete it?

Google has yet to NOT surprise me. From balloon wifi to free internet to Google glasses. I mean, Google finds ways to incorporate itself into everyone’s daily lives one way or another. If you have an android phone, the Play Store where you get all your apps? Google. How about your web browser Chrome? Google. (Mind you if you don’t have it, it is quite possibly the best browser out there, at least from what I have tested.) I mean who doesn’t use Google.com for their daily searches. How about YouTube; now I know for a FACT ya’ll use YouTube. And yes, Google owns that too. Here is a diagram of stuff Google owns and invests in, just for fun.

Related ArticleThe Road Rage is Strong With This One

 

 

It seems that Google is once again taking things further, this time in the form of a self driving car. As it is, Google has been working on self driving cars for a long time now, but most recently they decided to roll out their idea into the world around us. Google’s self driving car initiative is taking to the public streets for tests and trials as they move forward to a promised public release date of 2017. But of course, that consumer friendly release of a self driving car is all speculation, and critics such as Dan Flores, from General Motors’ advanced technology group, say very hurtful things:

 We do not think someone will have a fully autonomous production vehicle that soon, vehicles that can drive themselves are years — maybe decades — away. The technology will develop in steps to allow the vehicle to do more and act incrementally as sensors get more robust and costs come down.

Leave it to a big auto company like GM to put us down. And yet, Google perseveres. Already 3 states have legalized public testing of the self driving cars; Nevada, California, and Florida have made changes to laws to help Google’s plans for driver-less cars to move forward. Already we are seeing companies work on transport grids that would warn drivers of upcoming hazards and instant traffic details. With technology like this in the works, it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to expect driver-less cars sometime very soon.

Google’s future in car transportation seems to point to a Google taxi service, a Robo Taxi of sorts. With the newly introduced, and fairly popular Lyft driving services, it would only make sense for Google to move in the direction of replacing conventional taxis. As this idea is only speculative, it does somewhat make sense. A search engine giant that has a taxi service to inspire more search engine time goodness? Focusing on creating self driving cars to allow for more YouTubing and Google+ing? Why else is Google Maps so popular and updated so frequently?

Related Article: Blimps are the Future!

Who knows what is in store for driver-less cars from Google. With the way things are panning out I wouldn’t be surprised if Google’s driveless cars featured solar panels and some sort of wind turbine to gather energy throughout the daily drives. Then again, (deep breath) I wouldn’t be surprised if Google turned out to be run by a self aware computer that was looking to entwine itself into everything and anything living on Earth only to have the human race rise against it and fight nearly to extinction but through a last ditch effort survive and beat the main computer that the AI started from because of course the computer wouldn’t think to make a lot of central hubs that it can reside in. Boy wouldn’t that be a sci-fi movie cliche. Cheers to artificial intelligence!

 

Research:

Google Glass

Wikipedia: Google Play

Google Browser: Chrome

CNET: How Google’s robo-cars mean the end of driving as we know it

GM: Dan Flores

CNET: First Smart Cars, Next Smart Transport Grids

USA Today: States take the wheel on drive-less cars

Google’s Robo-Taxi Rumors

Be a Lyft Driver

Google Plus

Google Maps

Wondergressive: A Non-Loony Google Project Called Loon

Wondergressive: Free Internet, Help Yourself

Wondergressive: The Road Rage is Strong With This One

Wondergressive: Blimps are the Future!

Stem Burger, The Future of Meat

The world is growing. People are multiplying. We are all living longer. And we like to eat. How do you satisfy a horde of hungry humans that want to live a long and hearty life? In this day and age we can turn to science to answer that question.

Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are a thing of the past, present, and likely our future. It is so important for people to understand the uses and benefits of being able to mass produce food to satisfy the hungry population. Well, at least to prepare for a future necessity for more food.  A new development in the world of food has peaked my interest. The creation of the schmeat, or as I like to call it, the Stem Burger. It is meat grown in vitro, and is really quite a step in the right direction, in fact, in more than one way. For animal right’s activists it definitely is a blessing in disguise.

Related Article: I Believe in GMOs

Enormous swaths of the population can’t bring themselves to become vegan, so it’s logical to support in vitro meat if its goal is to reduce suffering of animals

Says Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It would be something new, where we no longer harm animals or mass produce them, instead we’d use their cells to grow the foods we need, or clone them rather for our purposes. Playing god only as a necessity some would argue. Yes, yes…

Religious groups are crying out against stem cell research, and it isn’t likely that it will ever be fully supported, but when push comes to shove and there isn’t enough food to feed families, where will we turn? Mind you, these concerns aren’t something that we should fear or even worry about in our current state, but a stem burger could lead to other preparations for the future.

Granted, this Stem Burger actually wasn’t the best burger that participants of a taste test have tasted, however, with work, I am positive that a Stem Burger will become the number one choice for people in the future. Now if the scientific community could only use stem cells for medicinal uses without being criticized and scrutinized…

May that future come swiftly. Cheers!

Related Article: Don’t Fear Anti-GM Hysteria

 

Research:

Time: Meet ‘Schmeat’

PETA

Wondergressive: The Ugly Face of Overpopulation

Wondergressive: I Believe in GMOs

Wondergressive: Don’t Fear Anti-GM Hysteria

Indiana Blue Laws Exemplify Crony Capitalism

The set-up and continuation of the current economic crisis in America has numerous sources. A particularly aggravating one is best described as crony capitalism, in which a supposedly free-market system is actually undermined by blatant political favoritism. The government picks winners and losers in the economy at the expense of the market and what benefits consumers. High-profile and massively expensive examples of this type of cronyism can be seen in the Too Big To Fail bank bailouts and the federal intervention to prevent GM from floundering. Another can be seen in Obamacare, a.k.a the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in which individuals are forced to purchase health care coverage from large insurance companies and face penalties if they don’t.

This type of economic intervention can also be found in smaller, though no less maddening doses. My home state of Indiana has some of the most onerous “blue laws” in the nation. While a dozen states prohibit the sale of distilled spirits on Sundays, the Hoosier State is the only one that also bans the sale of beer and wine as well. In addition, it’s the only state to regulate the sale of alcohol based on temperature—although grocery stores can sell beer, only liquor stores can sell it refrigerated.

This NPR piece details the current struggle in Indiana between convenience stores and liquor stores. Predictably, the dispute is about money and market share, a battle too often fought through cronyism. Convenience stores and gas stations, represented by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, have filed a federal lawsuit for the right to sell cold beer. Liquor stores are lobbying to preserve the blue laws in order to maintain their monopoly.

Dave Bridgers, vice president of Thorntons, an Indiana chain of gas stations and convenience stores, says that the laws reduce choice for customers and eliminates competition, leading to changes in how his company will do business. Bridgers states:

Not having the ability to sell what our customers want impacts our bottom line. We will continue to invest in other states, where laws are more business friendly to our company, and where it makes the most economic sense.

Following through on his promise, Thorntons hasn’t opened a new store in Indiana since 2006. The company has instead decided to expand into Ohio and Kentucky, with many stores located near the border in or around Louisville. Many Hoosiers, and I happily include myself as one of their number, frequently cross state lines to circumvent Indiana’s blue laws.

John Livengood, president of the Indiana Association for Beverage Retailers, argues that eliminating the blue laws would be ruinous for the liquor store industry. He estimates between 25-50% of stores would be shuttered were it not for their existence. He argues that since Sunday is a popular day to go grocery shopping, allowing consumers to purchase groceries and alcohol in one stop would render the liquor stores obsolete. By lobbying the government to preserve the blue laws, he thinks he can keep these stores in business.

This is the crux and curse of crony capitalism: Rather than competing for customers by providing superior products and services, two rival industries are instead lobbying to curry government favor—one to repeal a law and the other to maintain it.

Both sides feel a very real need to divert valuable resources into politics. They are both aware of the government’s formidable power to pick winners and losers in the market. With Washington’s blessing and intervention, even shoddy business models can—perhaps briefly—be successful in the market. For examples of this in one industry alone, look at Solyndra and at least 18 other green companies that went bust despite receiving substantial financial assistance from the Fed.

As tempting as it is to blame businesses and K Street for the problems of political favoritism, the blame truly lies with the government itself. Lobbyists ask Washington for special treatment that would help their industries because they know the government has the power to grant those favors. If the government were truly restricted in its power, say—if they actually followed the Constitution,  businesses would cease to lobby because they would know that it would be unprofitable to continue to do so.

Ginning up government favor with promises of both votes and money, lobbyists can be viewed as a teenage kid with a heroin problem. The kid goes to his parents—Washington in this analogy—and asks them for cash to help him out, with the promise that he’ll go to rehab and clean up next week. The kid doesn’t ask his neighbors because he knows that they have no reason to give it to him and that it would almost assuredly be a waste of time. The parents end up forking the money over. They are encouraging their kid’s behavior and will likely see him again with his hand held out wearing a fake-sorry frown.

This “Gimme! Gimme!” behavior needs to be punished if we are to see less of it, however, it is unfair to punish the special interests groups, as they are only asking for favors. Politicians are the ones actually granting them in return for campaign donations and loyal votes. Just like the kid with the smack problem, why shouldn’t lobbyists ask for special favors? The gravy train is certainly flowing, as Congress spent $16.5 billion on special pork projects in 2010 alone. For this behavior to stop, the politicians need to be punished for doling out unconstitutional favors.

Blue laws are written by state and local legislatures (famously, Jack Daniel’s is distilled in dry-as-a-bone Moore County, TN) and they operate under a different set of rules than policies dictated by Washington. However, the current struggle in Indiana is indicative of the larger problem of crony capitalism in the nation. More and more industries are fighting for market share and favorable treatment by lobbying legislatures rather than competing for customers by lowering prices, increasing quality or providing additional services.

However, when the government gives out billions of dollars of special favors each year, it’s awfully hard not to put your hand out, with a wink and a smile, and shout “Gimme!”

 

 

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_big_to_fail

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-taxpayers-loss-gm-bailout-20130607,0,3122760.story

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/21/obamacare-and-the-49-employee-company/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_law

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/07/03/193865442/Indiana-Convenience-Stores-Sue-To-Sell-Cold-Beer

http://www.ipca.org/

http://www.indianabeverageretailers.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K_Street_%28Washington,_D.C.%29

http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/06/green-graveyard-an-in-depth-look-at-governments-bad-bets-on-19-now-bankrupt-companies/

http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/2012_Pig_Book.pdf

 

Can Genetically Modified Corn Form Tumors in the Body?

If you are planning on prolonging your life and evading this cancer frenzy, you should be careful of which breakfast cereals and tortilla chips you choose. If you are not aware of the negative effects of wheat, a quick glance about wheat and what gluten is won’t hurt, but read on to learn about yet another daily source of negative possibilities.

Most of the consumed corn in the United States is genetically modified. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Caen connecting genetically modified corn and long term effects on health, it can cause rapid and uncontrollable tumor growth as well as damage organs. This has been already tested on research rats. We can be thankful to Monsanto for the GM maize and their fertilizer, which in trace amounts is enough to cause the aforementioned wreck along with premature death.

According to the same site, this genetically modified maize that we all consume, also known as NK603, even in the smallest quantities has made the rats form tumors in the mammary glands as well as develop liver and kidney damage. The male rats exhibited the observable effects as early as 4 months, and female rats as early as 7 months. The control group observed the effects within twenty-three and fourteen months respectively.

Here is a quick list of some the facts from the study

  • Between 50 to 80 per cent of female rats developed large tumours by the beginning of the 24th month, with up to three tumours per animal. Only 30 per cent of the control rats developed tumours

  • Up to 70 per cent of females died prematurely compared with only 20 per cent in the control group

  • Tumours in rats of both sexes fed the GM corn were two to three times larger than in the control group

  • The large tumours appeared in females after seven months, compared to 14 months in the control group. The team said the tumours were ‘deleterious to health due to a very large size’, making it difficult for the rats to breathe and causing digestive problems

Shortly after the release of this study RT reports that:

The national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies issued a joint statement condemning the findings on Monsanto’s NK603 corn, which were published last month by molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen.

RT also reports that Seralini’s study also:

earned widespread criticism for its methodology. Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King’s College London, saying the study was a “statistical fishing trip,”manipulated from the start to achieve a specific result.

This later report was released and backed by two government-commissioned scientific reviews, however Monsanto has a bit of a history of manipulating governments and placing itself in a seat of power.

Genetically modified food is a very controversial debate with many sides to the story. In the mean time we should think about what we’re putting into our bodies and make sure to always read labels when buying food.

 

 

 

 

Sources: 

The Grocer- Monsanto Roundup Weedkiller and GM Maize Implicated in ‘Shocking’ New Cancer Study

Wondergressive- Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting it by the Limbs

Wondergressive- Natural, Living Pesticides

International Journal of Biological Sciences- A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health

Mail Online- Cancer row over GM foods as study says it did THIS to rats… and can cause organ damage and early death in humans

RT- Good crop, bad crop: French scientists dismiss Monsanto ‘cancer corn’ study

Global Research- Obama Gives Key Agriculture Post to Monsanto Man

Wondergressive- And the Court Battle Begins Between David and Goliath, Bowman and Monsanto

Wondergressive- I Believe in GMOs

 

The Most Dangerous Animal, and How We Can Defeat it

When I envision the most dangerous animal in the world I picture, like most people, a shark strapped to a starved bear coated in Valyrian steel. Some of the more clever humans among us may tell us that WE are in fact the biggest threat to ourselves.  Well, as news to all you General Zaroffs out there, there’s a much more serious and clandestine danger than humans out there, and it is lurking the skies with a stark mad craving for blood.

 

 A. aegypti, the Dengue Dealer.

A. aegypti, the Dengue Dealer. (www.impe-qn.org.vn)

Vampires! Scientifically known as mosquitoes.  Throughout history, mosquitoes have killed more humans than all wars and plagues combined. Every year, there are 200-300 million cases of malaria and 50-100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide, diseases that are easy to catch and highly fatal.

With malaria, you can head to the hospital and be treated with antibiotics relatively quickly (though malaria mutates rapidly and is becoming immune to just about every drug proven to be effective at a rapid rate). Dengue on the other hand, known as breakbone fever (because it feels like every bone in your body is shattering) is a completely different story. Unlike malaria, there is not a single drug proven to directly seek out and destroy the dengue virus.  If you get it, you are stuck riding out the ordeal in a hospital.  If you get it again, rather than becoming immune, you will likely die.  If you get it a third time, unless you are Bruce Willis from Unbreakable, you have absolutely no chance. The worst part?  Despite huge efforts to rid areas of the mosquito that carries the dengue virus, as seen by this frequently updated, interactive map from the CDC, it is spreading at a rapid rate.

In this eye-opening TED talk,  Biotech entrepreneur Hadyn Perry asks the question: why, with all our advances in technology, have we not succeeded in destroying the single greatest killer of humanity?  Why are we treating the symptoms and not aiming for that tiny hole leading to the main power source that is always built in to every death star? Why can’t we just kill all the mosquitos?

Most people will point out that ridding the world of the mosquito legion scourge would leave a gap in the global food chain, causing irreparable damage to eco-systems around the world. Despite the rationality of this argument ecologists are very certain that the removal of mosquitoes, a species that has existed on the planet for over 100 million years, would have little to no effect on the overall ecology of the planet.  Something would quickly fill the gap left by mosquitoes; everyone would be less itchy, our skin would be deet-free, and the hand of God would come down to give us a well deserved high-five.

So, how do we get rid of mosquitoes forever?  We’ve been hosing down towns and cities with insecticide and pouring larvicide into the planet’s waters for decades and the result has been even more death and disease due to mosquitoes.  As usual, biotechnogoly is the answer.

Hadyn Parry is on the forefront of genetic modification research and he wants the issue of genetic modification, or GM, to stop being so political and start focusing on actual research and results. He has at the ready, a cheap, efficient, proven to work solution for ridding the world of mosquitoes through the use of mosquitoes engineered in the lab.  Through his method of releasing genetically sterile males into the wild, females that mate with these males (which look like the perfect mixture of Edward and Jacob to female mosquitoes) produce sterile offspring.  His team has put this method into practice with remarkable results.  He has reduced mosquito populations in villages throughout the world by over 85% within 4 months, with the mosquito death toll continuing to rise with time.

Imagine a world where you can lay out on a summer’s eve without smelling like a chemical cocktail and bitch slapping yourself repeatedly.  According to Hadyn Parry, this vision of the future is a reality ready and willing to take place.

Take a look at the TED talk below for more information and specifics regarding Parry’s method and ideology.

 

Sources:

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/General_Zaroff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever

http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Valyrian_steel

http://www.healthmap.org/dengue/index.php

http://www.ted.com/talks/hadyn_parry_re_engineering_mosquitos_to_fight_disease.html

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html