Gongol.com Archives: May 2016

Brian Gongol

May 26, 2016

Science and Technology As robots do more, who's responsible when they do something wrong?

In the long run, it's important to do a couple of things. First, government can do well simply to draw a line somewhere -- a clear line -- so that the market can respond by allocating the costs of the damage done by wayward robots. Cutting the check isn't the same as paying the price, so it doesn't matter quite so much whom the law saddles with liability. What matters is establishing the rule itself so that the costs can be allocated efficiently by the marketplace. (Think of real-estate agent fees: The seller "pays" the agent, but the cost comes from the sale price, which is ultimately paid by the buyer. The agent's commission comes partially out of both the seller's and buyer's pockets, even if only one of them technically cuts the check.) What's also important is that the benefits of automation (which tend to be diffuse, or spread out across lots of people who each benefit a little bit) don't get overwhelmed by the concentrated costs (like those of the people who might be injured by faulty robotic systems). In other words, we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, even if there end up being terrible, high-profile stories of people injured or killed by malfunctions. The aggregate gain to society will still be enormous, even if some people pay a very high price. That may very well indicate that a case ought to be made for a national insurance pool for such errors -- otherwise, the cost of private insurance may be prohibitive if the potential costs of liability appear to be unlimited.

News Gov. Susana Martinez -- a Republican -- fires back at Donald Trump

And good for her. Trump's behavior is erratic, nonsensical, and wildly unbecoming a candidate for President of the United States. His continued attacks on members of the Republican Party are petty and unprincipled and only further serve to reveal him not as an authentic Republican, but as a virus that has infected the party.

Science and Technology Apple in the car business

It's practically everyone's favorite tech rumor, and Morgan Stanley now boards the train, arguing that Apple's recent investment in a ride-sharing company in China is indicative of a serious focus on transportation.

Computers and the Internet Pebble returns to Kickstarter roots

Launching three products at once: Pebble Core (a cellular-enabled super-compact computer aimed at runners who don't want to carry their phones and at developers who want something tiny to hack), Pebble 2 (a $99 next-generation black-and-white smartwatch), and Pebble Time 2 (with a big color display for $169).

Computers and the Internet Lenovo has trouble integrating Motorola

Lenovo bought the phone-maker from Google in 2014 and that was after it collapsed in value by about 75% under Google's control.

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