Scottish Independence?

The polls in Scotland have been packed with people today to answer the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

The government of Scotland lowered the voting age from 18 to 16 for this special referendum. There are approximately 4.2 million registered voters. The youngest voters make up a very small percentage of this number, but they are deeply passionate on both sides of the issue. For more on the teens’ perspective, check out this report from NPR.

According to the BBC, polling stations will remain open until 10pm (it’s already 5pm over there as I’m writing this). Counting will begin when the polling stations close, and the final result will not be announced until tomorrow morning. If the independence vote wins, it will take about 16 months to complete the process with an independence day targeted for March 24, 2016.

For full and continuing coverage, check out the BBC’s “Scotland Decides” special.

SkyNet Online

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Robots and the Internet of Things seem to be the next big waves in tech, and companies like Google have been getting in on the action with timely investments in robotics labs and connected services, such as their purchase of Boston Dynamics (the frequent DARPA contractor) late last year and the purchase of Nest for a cool $3.2 billion.  And with robots, drones, and wearable tech on the path to disruption, the public and lawmakers are struggling to come to terms with the future,  speculating about the nightmarish potentials of the Connected Home and asking questions like: Who’s liable for driverless cars?

California has already stepped into the breach to attempt to answer the latter question and design a state regulatory scheme for automated vehicles, and Nevada has had regulatory control over automated cars since 2012.  The District of Columbia is also working on a regulatory scheme.  However, legislation is spotty at best at the state level and nonexistent at the federal level, which has led professor Ryan Calo to release a paper this month through the Brookings Institute arguing for the creation of a federal robotics commission.

This commission would function mostly in an advisory capacity to help guide robotics policy and bring the US up to speed with other countries that have already taken steps to advance robotics regulation and, therefore, innovation.  Calo’s chiefest concern appears to be that without a central agency to administer the robotics market, piecemeal regulatory efforts might create an inconsistent and oppressive robotics policy that halts innovations and advances due to fear and lack of understanding.  As calls to action go, the paper is thoughtful and encouraging, making the point that our government has the responsibility to understand emergent technologies and encourage growth of the tech sector.  Certainly this approach would combat some of the fear inherent in displays of raw robotic power or the threat of surveillance by armies of drones.

What do you think, readers?  Do you envision a federal robotics commission enforcing Asimov’s Laws?  Do you imagine running from this fleet-footed monster in a dystopian future?  Share your thoughts on robotics and robotic regulation in the comments below!  And for more info on lawmaking related to automated vehicles (including links to the enacted and proposed bills around the country), check out Stanford’s cyberlaw wiki, and for robotics, they have a Robotics Law blog and have been past hosts of the We Robot conference on robotics law and policy.

Flag-related Folderol

In case you missed it, yesterday marked the 200th birthday of the original verses that became the National Anthem. The words were written by Francis Scott Key on September 14, 1814, during the War of 1812, at the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. Key was an attorney and amateur poet. I know many attorneys, and attorneys-to-be, but I don’t think many of them dabble in poetry. I suppose everyone needs a hobby.

The Star-Spangled Banner grew in popularity and significance throughout the 19th century. However, it did not officially become our National Anthem until 1931.

The Smithsonian provides a great history of the song, and the flag for which it is named.

Maybe that’s too much history for you. Check out some baseball-related folderol instead in this interesting piece about the National Anthem and it’s relationship to our national pastime.

 

2nd Saturday and Free Stuff

happy kid

Take a break from studying tomorrow night and enjoy free entertainment at 2nd Saturday Downtown!

Explore downtown Tucson and check out all the food, music, and entertainment options. Events start early with special programs at the Main Library, art exhibitions, and kid-friendly activities. Then head over to the main stage later in the evening for free music and more entertainment.

 

Remembering 9/11

We all remember where we were when we heard the news on September 11, 2001. Thirteen years later, and life goes on, though in a very different world. Today’s headlines are full of the NFL and Ray Rice, the Pistorius trial, and even more coverage on Ferguson. Perhaps most striking are the news stories about ISIS, a stark reminder of the ongoing threat the world faces from extremists.

Take a moment and reflect. The NY Times, NPR, and US News, to name a few, are offering coverage of today’s commemoration events.

That’s classified!

Or maybe it’s not anymore.

The National Declassification Center (NDC) is looking for input in their prioritization plan for which records should next undergo the declassification process. Check out this blog post if you want to learn more and possibly voice your opinion.

The NDC was created in 2009, and is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The mission of the NDC is “To align people, processes, and technologies to advance the declassification and public release of historically valuable permanent records while maintaining national security.”

If you’re interested in historical documents, genealogy, or more declassified materials, the NARA website is a good place to start.

School Work Life Balance

I know that Law school is a stressful time. The needs of studying, sleeping, and more studying are all paramount. Caffeine is not the answer to all of Law school’s ills. If you spend some time organizing your time, you will reap the benefits in the future.

Step One- List all of your tasks and projects: Figure out what you have to do and when.

Step Two – Prioritization: What is most important to you? Rank the list in that order.

Step Three – Make a schedule based on these and stick to it.

Note –  Always remember to include enough time to eat, sleep, and live. If you make an impossible schedule you won’t keep it.

schedule

 

For more information, check out these links:

http://jhsap.org/self_help_resources/school-life_balance/

http://hbr.org/2014/03/manage-your-work-manage-your-life/ar/1

http://www.levo.com/articles/office-hours-recaps/achieve-passionate-work-life-balance-through-priotization