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July 2013

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SI.com: The story behind football’s innovative yellow first down line

SI.com: The story behind football’s innovative yellow first down line

While the line looks simple on TV, the technology behind it is very complex. Sensors were placed on the three main game cameras (at midfield and the two 20 yard lines), capturing the pan, tilt and zoom movements of those cameras 30 times a second. A three-dimensional, virtual model of each field had to be constructed, with the exact measurements of the crown of the field (the center of the field is always higher, for drainage, than the sides and ends, but the precise levels vary in each venue). An exhaustive color palette had to be produced on the fly as the game progressed, so that the green pixels of grass the yellow line replaced would be exactly the “right greens” even as shadows crossed the field and changed the grass hues — an essential feature to assure replacing only the green blades of grass and not the green threads of a Packers or Eagles jersey.

I’ve wondered at how this was done and it’s a lot more complicated than what I thought. The addition of this line really did revolutionize the watching experience.

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NYTimes.com: U.N. Expert Calls for Halt in Military Robot Development

NYTimes.com: U.N. Expert Calls for Halt in Military Robot Development

“War without reflection is mechanical slaughter,” said Christof Heyns, the United Nations special rapporteur onextrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“A decision to allow machines to be deployed to kill human beings worldwide — whatever weapons they use — deserves a collective pause,” he told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

This is a bad idea. Science fiction explores the issues with automated killing machines, and some general themes exist.

1. Control- If you think you control something completely, you don’t.
2. Logic- Robots are more logical than humans and will some day realize that all humans are the enemy.

A line should be drawn now before artificial intelligence technology catches up with science fiction. Our technology has grown by leaps and bounds and it’s probably sooner than we think.

The scary part of this is that there are actually people that think killing robots are a good idea.

Supporters of the robots say they offer a number of advantages: they process information faster than humans, and they are not subject to fear, panic, a desire for revenge or other emotions that can cloud human judgment. Robots can be used to acquire more accurate battlefield data that can help to target fire more precisely and in the process may save lives.