Articles, bits and pieces

Google recently reported 11 minor accidents with its self-driving cars over six years and nearly two million miles driven -- and the company says that none of the scrapes were its fault. That sounds like a solid safety record. But when the first person gets killed because of a decision the Google robot car makes, who will be held responsible for that death?   Robot cars will be making their own decisions and in certain situations may have to make decisions detrimental to your life. If the car has to make a decision in a situation involving you and a school bus full of children without seat belts, should the car try to protect you at their expense or vice versa. The car may very well be programmed to sacrifice your well being.  

As I leave India this time, I take with me memories of the most beautiful thing its people have physically created – the Taj Mahal.  I had seen it before, but this time I experienced in some sense, the beauty of its creation.  I knew all the basic historical information:  that it was a monument to the love of Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaj; that it took 20,000 people 22 years to complete this marvel; and it was finished in 1653; etc. But it had never quite been real for me before; it had felt more like a beautiful photo.

The world is full of beautiful and amazing things that we would like to remember frequently. Sometimes we get a photo or a keepsake to remind us. I have so many such places to remember. I try to buy something representative of the place i visit. I have a small bust of Athena after i visited Athens recently. Near Chennai there is a historical place called Mahabalipuram, a historical city with art and carvings going back to the 6th to 9th centuries. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.These carvings are amazing. Many are practically house size structures carved out of single rocks. This was one of the legacies of the Pallava dynasty rule in South India. I have loved going there ever since i was in college and one of my friends lived there.  Like many amazing places in India, there wasn't a keepsake of the actual art even though there was a ton of tourist shops. This place draws traffic in the millions every year. I always found the lack disappointing. Then, in conversation with one of my friends I proposed we do something about it. The below is the output from that effort.  There is a very large bas relief called Arjuna's Penance or alternatively Descent of the Ganges in Mahabalipuram. It is probably about 40 feet by 25 feet in size, very large and filled with beautiful carvings representing a large number of stories from Indian culture and religion. It is fun to hear a tourist guide explaining all the various stories. My friend attempted to find a sculptor to make a full model of the shore temple at Mahabalipuram. But the results weren't satisfactory. I decided that the Arjuna's Penance would make a good subject.  I did some research to figure out how to do this without a huge amount of time and effort. I figured out that if I took a large amount of detailed photos, i can merge all of them together and create a CAD/CAM file of the photos, using one of the websites available, for free. It took a little bit of effort, since I didn't have background in CAD/CAM.  But I was able to get it done.  Then I was able to take that output and feed it to another site that was able to create 3D models from the file. This site also allowed the ability to print it in many formats, plastic, porcelain, aluminum, and even gold. I got it printed in a few formats.   I took one model and painted to get a better look and feel.  it came out pretty well.   It is very true to the original but the small size ( 4" x 2")  does not allow good detail. I love feeling it in my hands and looking at it. I can now directly and deliberately connect to a place that means so much to me and that i love. The business itself did not get started. But i believe there is a large opportunity to convert all the thousands of such landmarks and objects in India into beautiful and true keepsakes. Contact me if you want to try.   Click here for more details.  
As I was passing through an airport,  I saw the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink in the book store. I found myself immediately picking it up and starting to read. As a person involved in producing software for calculating sales commissions and incentives, I had a natural desire to understand and learn about human motivational behaviors.  But on reflection I realized that I had started picking up the book even before really knowing what it was about.  It was clear it must have been something about the cover. What was it about the cover that got me to automatically like the book and act on it almost without intention?