Morality of Self Driving Cars

Mon Oct 22 2018

Although the movie I Robot has not aged well, it still brings up some interesting ethical questions that we are still discussing concerning self driving cars. The protagonist Detective Spooner has an almost unhealthy amount of distrust towards robots. In the movie, a robot decided to save Spooner’s life over a 12 year old girl in a car accident. This ignites the famous ethical debate of the trolley problem, but, now with artificial intelligence. The debate boils down to this: are machines capable of making moral decisions. The surface level answer from the movie is presented as no when Spooner’s presents car crash antidote. This question parallels the discussion that we are currently having with self driving cars. When a self driving car is presented with two options which result in the loss of life, what should it choose?

When surveyed, most people say that they would prefer to have self driving cars take the utilitarian approach towards the trolley problem. A utilitarian approach would try to minimize the total amount of harm. MIT made a neat website where it presents you with a bunch of “trolley problems” where you have to decide who dies. At the end of the survey the website presents you with a list of observed preferences you made when deciding who’s life was more important to save. The purpose of the trolley problem is merely to ponder what decision a self driving car should make when all of its alternatives are depleted.

Moral Machine
Moral Machine



My College Essay

Fri Mar 16 2018

Students hate writing essays. It is easy to get wrapped up in the traditional 5 paragraph essay which is dull and boring. When writing a college essay, you have more freedom since you are telling a personal narrative. Since you are writing a story, you want to make it interesting. You should not rephrase the prompt which you are responding to, and you should not write about anything that the admissions office already knows. Your application already mentions all the clubs, classes, sports, and volunteer service you do– so don’t mention them.

I don’t want to go off on a huge tangent about how to write the perfect college essay, I’m not an expert. However, I would like to share my personal college essay which got me accepted into RIT and Clarkson last year. As a computer science applicant, it is a great idea to write your college essay based on the programming experience you had outside of school.

/**
 * Title: HTTP ERROR 500
 *
 * Prompt: Describe a problem you’ve solved
 *
 * @author Jeffery Russell
 *
 * September 13, 2016
 */

#include <stdio.h>

main()  
{  
printf("

        On a dim screen in the corner of my room flashed the dreadful message- HTTP
    ERROR 500. That simple warning taunted, probed, and questioned my mind for
    hours on end. As I pivoted my binocular gaze from the computer to out the
    window, I saw the front yard dimly lit by the drowsy moon. Time for a second
    stood still as the crickets chirped and the trees swayed in the cool summer
    breeze. Closing my eyes for that second of silence made me realize how tired
    I really was. A beeping, piercing, and dinging sound focused my gaze back to
    the computer. Still flashing was that error reminding me that I had a long
    night ahead.
    
        For the past two weeks I had been working on an employee management system
    for a store. This web based system was to keep track of employee hours for
    payroll. The project was near complete; however, there was a few bugs left
    to fix. The most annoying of which was password verification for the
    webform. Now nearing the end of the development cycle, the project was
    suppose to go live tomorrow.
    
        Debugging a project is often a daunting task for programmers. Simply finding
    an error is like finding a misspelled word in the dictionary. Correcting the
    misspelling may be easy but finding that word is another story. What I love
    about programming is that the program does exactly what I tell it to do. If
    it makes a mistake it’s because I told it to, not because it feels tired, or
    doesn't like me. Every bug, error, and glitch I unintentionally create.
    These bugs eventually come out to the surface like a fish gasping for air.
    An error is never just a mistake. It represents something much larger- an
    error in my way of thinking. Debugging is a process that enables me to
    further understand the program and crush the bug like the parasite it is.
    
        Sitting back in my chair in deep thought I resumed the process of scanning,
    poking, and probing my code for any source of the error. For the past hour I
    narrowed the source of the error to ten lines of dubious code. Pondering
    these lines of code I added an echo statement which allows me to see the
    inner workings of the code. The error became as clear as day, the password
    was not getting hashed: a feature that adds security to password storage.
    Excitedly I typed a few lines of code to fix this problem. Then swiftly I
    pressed execute, only to my disappointment to receive a different error
    code. Eyes glazed over, I realized my mistake. In the process of debugging I
    left a block of code commented out.
    
        On a dim screen in the corner of my room beamed the message- Currently
    Working.

");  
}



Deepfakes

Fri Feb 23 2018

What are Deepfakes

We all know that you can do silly face swaps with snap chat and other apps. Previously face swapping faces on videos was terrible because you simply sequentially swapped all the faces frame by frame. As a result, the quality was very poor and did not handle head movements well. A Reddit user by the name of Deepfake created a recurrent neural net which accurately face swaps videos. Deepfake(the user) initially gathered a following by swapping celebrity faces onto porn videos.

Reddit has banned Deepfake and Pornhub has banned deepfakes from their platforms. Despite the attempts to remove fake deepfake videos, they are currently all over the internet.

How Can You Make Deepfakes



Why Do I Blog

Tue Feb 06 2018

It seems like there are millions of blogs on the internet. For every popular blog there is, there are hundreds of smaller blogs that go unnoticed. Should you start a blog if it will go unnoticed? Personally, I think the answer is yes. Different people may have different takes on this. There is an incentive to start a website in the hopes that it will become popular and make add revenue. However, I argue that there is a intrinsic value to a personal blog.

Organize Your thoughts

Being able to clearly articulate your ideas is beneficial. Having time to brew over topics in a blog posts helps that process. Even though I worked with both Nodejs and PHP, I might not be able to a convincingly debate with somebody why one is the better platform. Writing a blog posts allows me to fully flesh out my own ideas.

Learn



Ways to Avoid Getting Hacked

Sat Dec 27 2014

Please note that these are just personal recommendations, and this article was written in 2014.

  1. Avoid bad websites.



Should You Run a Server on Desktop Hardware

Sun Dec 14 2014

Short Answer

The short answer is: yes, if it is not on an enterprise site.

Long Answer

I have hosted numerous servers on old desktop hardware, there is nothing wrong with this. Old computers can make excellent file, Minecraft, and web servers. However, if you are honestly asking the question “should you run a server on desktop hardware” it implies you are running something important. Don’t get me wrong, running a Minecraft server is very important, however, it is not as important as a production web server for a larger company. In that case it is better to have an actual server with redundant power supplies and hot swappable hard drives.