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Column: From LAUSD Student All the Way to JPL and to Mars

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You may have seen the story about self missionNASA is preparing to launch a spacecraft that will travel to an asteroid in search of information that may unlock some of the mysteries of the universe.

But I will tell you a different journey story. It’s about how Luis Dominguez, the son of immigrants from Mexico and Honduras, traveled from southern Los Angeles to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he helped build the Psyche spacecraft.

Dominguez, 34, is the oldest of three children born to Luis and Cecilia Dominguez. His father was an auto mechanic, and Louis would accompany him to his father’s shop when he could, occasionally interfering. His mother was a housekeeper for a while, and as a boy, Dominguez worked with her too.

Luis Dominguez stays at his family home in Los Angeles before moving to Florida in the summer to launch the spacecraft.

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(Irrfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

He began his education at Vermont Elementary School in Los Angeles Unified, followed by Audubon Middle School, where, by his account, he was not the best student on the block. But when a seventh grader brought a book to class about the trip, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.

“I was impressed, and I said, ‘Okay, I want to work on airplanes,’” Dominguez said. He went to Westchester High School, which had an air magnet.

He was up at five in the morning, Dominguez told me, and the bus ride to school took about an hour. Knowing what he wanted to do with his life made him more focused, and his GPA took off like a rocket. On a career day on campus, a visiting professor at California State advised him to consider majoring in mechanical engineering in college rather than aerospace, as it would give him more job options.

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“Louis walked in the door and it was like, ‘What can I do?’” Hi, let me help you with that.

David Groel, JPL engineer

And so he did – at Cal Poly Pomona. Dominguez lived in the house to save money. He went to college every day, spent a few hours in a convenience store and sandwich shop in his spare time, and also worked as a gardener and helped in his father’s auto shop in Englewood.

“In my freshman year, we had a career fair and JPL was there, and frankly, I didn’t even know what JPL was. I was giving out my resume,” Dominguez, who had a 3.98 GPA at the time and was shopping for an internship, said. Self for everyone only. “I got a call back very quickly and I was like, ‘Who is JPL? I looked it up on the internet and thought, Oh, this is NASA’s Space Center. This is so cool.’”

In the fall of 2007, Dominguez was hired as a part-time student intern at JPL Engineer David Groelwho led the team that assembled the Mars Science Laboratory for Curiosity mission. Many of the trainees are passive or introverted, Gruel said. Not Dominguez.

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NASA Systems Engineer Luis Dominguez is a team leader working on the Psyche spacecraft

NASA systems engineer Luis Dominguez is reflected in the chips covering the spacecraft that will probe asteroid Psyche.

(Robert Gautier/Los Angeles Times)

Lewis walked in the door and it was like, ‘Hey, what can I do? Hi, let me help you with that. You could tell he was excited to be where he was and wanted to contribute, and was open and willing to take on whatever task we asked him to do,” Growell said. “So his first experience at JPL was seeing a rover under construction, which was going to land on the surface of Mars.”

When the training was over, and Dominguez graduated from Cal Poly Pomona, his heart was ready to work at JPL. He remembers Growell saying, “Just hire me. I’ll mop the floors. I’ll do anything.”

Gruel saw Dominguez evolve as an intern from small assignments to providing technical support to Curiosity engineers.

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“I can say that Lewis is going to be tough and JPL would definitely benefit from bringing him in to work as a full-time engineer,” Groell said.

Dominguez went to JPL immediately after graduating from college and has been there ever since. Was deputy electrical integration and lead test on perseverance of Mars The rover launched in 2020. He’s now the lead electrical engineer on the Psyche satellite, overseeing a team of five, and will be in Florida when Psyche launches in August from Cape Canaveral.

There are dozens of engineers and support staff on the Psyche team. Basically, Dominguez and his crew build the vehicle’s electronic guts. They take ingredients manufactured in JPL and around the world, put everything together and put them to the test.

“In short, we build the spacecraft, take it into an environment where we shake it up, bake it, and then blast a batch of high-pressure air on it to create the acoustic environment you get during launch,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez, at his childhood home where he used to spend time planting trees and picking fruit in Los Angeles

Luis Dominguez encourages students to shoot high, take risks, not be afraid of failure, and live life with “courage, curiosity, perseverance and a healthy dose of altruism.”

(Irrfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

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The craft will travel through space for years, and is scheduled to reach its destination – an asteroid known as 16 Psyche – in 2026. asteroid mining Dominguez said he considers a future possibility, but is more curious about the fundamental aspect of the mission.

“The cool thing about it is that it’s the largest metallic asteroid that we know about, and all the data points to the fact that it’s probably the core of a failed planet,” Dominguez said. “We can get a better understanding of what the Earth’s core might look like, something we’ve never been able to do.”

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday, Dominguez and others were putting the final touches on the spacecraft. On a media day, I came across Brian Boone, Director of the Assembly, Testing and Launching Operations Unit.

“Lewis was a key player,” Boone said. “I’ve seen quite a few people do the same amount of work whether you ask them to or not. He just participated, and he’s always excited to be here.”

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Dominguez—who was engaged to a woman he met years ago when they were both working at McDonald’s—will soon be moving with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team to Florida in the summer. He gave up his lease on his downtown Los Angeles apartment and temporarily moved into his brown stucco home where he spent most of his youth in the southwestern neighborhood of USC.

When I visited him there, his parents were away and visiting his family in Mexico and Honduras, but I spoke to them on the phone.

His mother Cecilia said he was always a smart kid, and he worked hard.

“I had no doubts that he would succeed,” said his father, who is proud of his three sons. One of Lewis’ younger brothers is a medical assistant and the other a paralegal intent on becoming a lawyer.

Dominguez told me he developed another passion during his time at JPL.

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“One of the things that I am most excited about is the opportunity to do community outreach and talk to children about the things I do – especially the children where I come from,” he said.

Last fall, Dominguez was the Distinguished motivational speaker In an address that is broadcast to students, faculty, and staff in the California state system. The Cal Polly graduate told his story from the chancellor’s office in Long Beach, noting the focus it took to become a better student in high school. He credited his parents with showing the value of sacrifice and hard work.

“I never thought I would help put two one-ton robots and a helicopter on Mars,” he told his audience, describing himself as a “first-generation college student and proud child of immigrants.”

His advice to every student was to shoot high, take risks, not be afraid of failure, and live life “with courage, curiosity, perseverance and a healthy dose of altruism, because these are the principles that got me where I am today.”

Dominguez – named in 2017 by CNET en Español as one of the 20 Most Influential Latin Languages ​​in Technology – concluded with this:

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“Just like the universe, every human being is full of infinite potential and unlimited potential, with genius, no matter their background, no matter what their zip code, no matter their financial circumstances. It is our duty as leaders to find that genius, to kindle it and let it shine, Because at the end of the day, genius is everywhere.”

steve.lopez@latimes.com

Watch the LA Times today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live on the Spectrum News app. Palos Verdes and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on Channel 99.

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Meet the trio of artists suing AI image generators

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The lawsuit claims that Stable Diffusion was trained on billions of images removed from the Internet without consent, including those owned by this trio of artists. If products and services supported by generative AI products are allowed to run, a press release from Savari SaysThe expected result is that they will replace the same artists whose plagiarized works are supported by these AI products with whom they compete.

Ortiz, a concept illustrator who has worked on video games such as World of Warcraft And Hollywood movies like jurassic world And Dr. StrangeShe told BuzzFeed News that art is her “happy place”. She added that she is obsessed with technology.

In early 2021, Ortiz stumbled upon DiscoDiffusion, a former text-to-image AI creator, and discovered that the tool was capable of creating images in her style and those of other artists she knew. “It felt invasive in a way I’d never experienced before,” she said.

Concerned, she began organizing town halls around the topic with the Concept Artists Association, an organization for artists in the entertainment industry on whose board she sits. She also reached out to machine learning experts to better understand the technology and connect with other artists. In November, she saw newsletter of the co-pilot suit and contacted Savery about filing a suit of her own. The company agreed.

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In December, Ortiz saw McKiernan’s tweet spread about generative AI, and an opinion piece by Andersen books in the New York Times about how alt-right members of 4chan used generative AI tools to create pro-Nazi-style comic strips. I reached out to the two of them immediately, and they both agreed to be a part of the lawsuit with her.

“Artists have a right to say what happens to their hard-earned work,” Andersen told BuzzFeed News via email. “It is clear from the way the AI ​​generators were deployed that there was no regard for the artists, our wishes or our rights, and that it was our only option to listen to them.”

Concept Artists Association offline Fundraising To hire a lobbyist to protect creators from the march of generative AI.

“It’s gross to me,” Ortiz said of AI-powered apps and services that stream art instantly based on a text message. They trained these models through our work. They have taken away our right to decide whether or not we want to be a part of this.”

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Hiltzik: Rodney Brooks is fighting the tech hype machine

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Rodney Brooks knows the difference between true technological advances and unfounded hype.

One of the world’s most accomplished experts in robotics and artificial intelligence, Brooks is the co-founder of IRobot, maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. the co-founder and chief technology officer of RobustAI, which makes robots for factories and warehouses; He is the former director of the Computer and Artificial Intelligence Laboratories at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So when, in 2018, Australian-born Brooks encountered a wave of unwarranted optimism about self-driving cars — “People were saying outrageous things, like, Oh, my teenage son will never have to learn to drive” — he took it as a personal challenge. In response, he compiled List of predictions On self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel, he promised to review them every year until January 1, 2050, when he would have turned 95 if he was still alive.

I don’t think we’re limited in our ability to build humanoid robots, after all. But whether we have any idea how to do it now or if all the methods we think will work are remotely correct is entirely up for grabs.

Robotics and artificial intelligence expert Rodney Brooks

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His goal was to “inject some reality into what I saw as an irrational exuberance.”

Each prediction carries a time frame – maybe something happened on a certain date, not before a certain date, or “not in my life”.

Brooks published his book Fifth Annual scorecard On New Year’s Day. The majority of his predictions were spot on, though this time he admitted he thought he, too, had allowed the hype to make him overly optimistic about some developments.

“My current belief,” he wrote this year, “is that things will go, on the whole, more slowly than I thought five years ago.”

As a veteran technologist, Brooks has insights into what makes ordinary people, or even experts, overly optimistic about new technologies.

People have been “trained by Moore’s Law,” Brooks told me, to expect that technologies will continue to improve at ever faster rates.

His reference is to an observation made in 1965 by semiconductor engineer Gordon Moore that the number of transistors that could be fitted on a microchip doubled approximately every two years. Moore’s observation became a proxy for the idea that computing power will improve exponentially over time.

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This tempts people, even experts, to underestimate the difficulty of reaching a chosen goal, whether it be self-driving cars, self-aware robots, or living on Mars.

He told me, “They don’t understand how hard it is to get there, so they assume it’s just going to keep getting better.”

One such example is self-driving cars, a technology with limitations that ordinary people rarely recognize.

Books about brooks experience with Cruza service that uses self-driving taxis (with no one ever in the front seat) in parts of San Francisco, Phoenix, and Austin, Texas.

In San Francisco, Cruise only operates between 10pm and 5:30am—that is, when traffic is lighter—and only in limited parts of the city and in good weather.

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On his three cruises, Brooks found that vehicles avoided left turns, preferring to make three right turns around a block instead, driving very slowly and once trying to carry him in front of a construction site that would have exposed him to oncoming traffic.

“The result is that it was two times slower than any human-operated transportation service,” Brooks wrote. “It may work in specific geographic areas, but it won’t compete with human-run systems for a long time.” He also said that it is “decades away from profitability”. In his annual scorecard this year, he predicted that “there will be human drivers on our roads for decades to come.”

The annual scorecard is one of several outlets Brooks relies on to mitigate the “irrational exuberance” around technology in general and artificial intelligence in particular. He has been a frequent contributor to IEEE Spectrum, the home member of the leading professional society for electronics engineers.

In an article entitled An inconvenient truth about artificial intelligence In September 2021, for example, he noted that each wave of new developments in AI was accompanied by “breathless predictions about the end of human dominance in intelligence” amid “a tsunami of promise, hype, and lucrative applications.”

In fact, Brooks writes, nearly every successful deployment of AI in the real world has either had a human “somewhere in the loop” or a very low cost of failure. He wrote that the Roomba operates autonomously, but that its more serious failure would involve “losing a piece of land and failing to catch a dust ball”.

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When IRobots were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to disable improvised explosive devices, “a failure there could kill someone, so there was always a human in the loop giving supervisory orders.”

Robots are common today in industry and even around the home, but their capabilities are very limited. Robotic hands with human-like dexterity haven’t advanced much in 40 years, Brooks says. This also applies to independent movement around any home with clutter, furniture and moving objects. “What is easy for humans is still very, very difficult for robots,” he writes.

Rodney Brooks

(Christopher B Michelle)

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For ChatGPT, the creator of AI prose that has garnered a lot of attention from high-tech enthusiasts, along with warnings that it could usher in a new era of machine-driven plagiarism and academic forgery, Brooks argues for caution.

“People are making the same mistake they’ve been making over and over,” he wrote on his scorecard, completely mistaking some new AI demo as a sign that everything in the world has changed. did not happen “.

He writes that ChatGPT repeats patterns in a human prompt, rather than showing any new level of intelligence.

This is not to say that Brooks doubts the eventual creation of “truly artificial intelligence, with cognition and consciousness distinctly similar to our own.” Written in 2008.

He predicts that “the robots that will roam our homes and workplaces…will emerge gradually and symmetrically with our society” even as “a wide range of advanced sensory devices and prosthetics” emerge to enhance and strengthen our bodies: “As our devices become more like us, we will become more like them.” And I am optimistic. I think we’ll all get along.”

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This brings us back to Brooks’ scorecard for 2023. This year, 14 of his original predictions were deemed accurate, whether because they occurred in the time frame he predicted, or because they failed to happen before his deadline.

Among them are driverless package delivery services in a major US city, which he predicted won’t happen before 2023; It hasn’t happened yet. In terms of space travel and space tourism, expect a suborbital launch for humans by a private company to happen by 2018; Virgin Atlantic beat the deadline with such a flight on December 13, 2018.

He predicted that spaceflight with a handful of paying customers wouldn’t happen before 2020; regular flights no more than once a week no earlier than 2022 (possibly by 2026); and fly two paying customers around the moon no later than 2020.

All those deadlines have passed, which makes predictions accurate. Only three flights took place with paying customers in 2022, which indicates that there is “a long way to go to get to the sub-weekly flights,” notes Brooks.

Brooks constantly questions the predictions of the most-cited tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, who Brooks notes “has a pattern of overly optimistic time-frame projections”.

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Brooks notes that lunar orbit for customers pushing in Musk’s SpaceX Falcon Heavy capsule doesn’t seem possible before 2024. Landing the payload on Mars for later use by humans, which Musk predicted would happen by 2022, doesn’t seem to happen before 2026, and even This date is “overly optimistic”.

Musk has yet to deliver on his promise for 2019 That Tesla will put a million automated taxis on the road by 2020 — that is, a fleet of self-driving cars called through an Uber-like Tesla app. “I think the actual number is still firmly zero,” Brooks wrote.

As for Musk’s dream of regular service between two cities on his Hyperloop underground transit system, Brooks puts that in the “not in my life” hole.

Many of Brooks’ predictions remain open, including some relating to the electric vehicle market. In his original forecast, he predicted that electric vehicles would not reach 30% of US auto sales before 2027 or 100% before 2038.

Growth in electric vehicle sales becomes turbocharged in 2022 – increasing 68% in the third quarter over the same quarter a year earlier. If this growth rate continues, electric vehicles will account for 28% of new car sales in 2025.

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This assumes that the driving forces for EV adoption continue. Head wind, however, should not be underestimated. Electric vehicle sales may have spiked due to the massive hike in gasoline prices in 2021 and last year, but that inflationary trend has now disappeared. Battery plants may take longer to come online than expected, which could lead to shortages of these critical components and drive up electric vehicle prices.

“There is clearly something going on,” Brooks wrote, though “the jury is still out” on whether the US will see 30% market share for electric vehicles by 2027.

Brooks does not wish to stifle human aspirations to build robots, artificial intelligence systems, or space exploration.

He told me “I’m a technician”. “I build robots — that’s what I’ve done with my life — and I’ve been a space fan forever. But I don’t think it helps people to be so overly optimistic off the charts” that they ignore difficult problems that stand in the way of progress.

“I don’t think we’re limited in our ability to build humanoid robots, eventually,” he says. “But whether we have any idea how to do it at the moment or whether all of the methods we think will work are just right is entirely up to you.”

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The dream is compared to the dream of medieval alchemists searching for how to turn lead into gold. “You can do that now with a particle accelerator to change atomic structures, but at the time they didn’t even know atomic structure existed. We might as well be at the level of human intelligence, but we have no idea how it works at all.”

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Thousands of fake Twitter accounts have been created in support of Andrew Tate

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His username has long been TateCobratate, while Neo is a reference to the Matrix movie character. Both have long been part of his ideology and he advocates for men to “escape the Matrix”, and he has always promised his followers to teach them how to become a “Top G”.

“If Elon Musk is serious about dealing with fake accounts, bots, and inauthentic behavior, then Twitter must act on Andrew Tate’s network of fake accounts manipulating the Twitter algorithm,” CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said in a press release.

In the past year, much of Tate’s online presence has come from an affiliate marketing scheme involving Hustlers University, Tate’s discord server. The University offered business classes where students were tasked with editing seditious videos featuring Tate in an effort to get more Heliopolis University buys. This was later closed when the social media platforms started deplatforming Tate.

BuzzFeed News investigation The Hustlers University 2.0 server was found to have more than 200,000 members. At a fee of $49.99 per month, this meant that at least $11 million in membership payments were taken in October 2022 alone.

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Now, Tate has created “The Real World,” a similar set of chat rooms and classes, and there’s a new affiliate marketing bootcamp that’s getting more users on Twitter. CCDH’s graph shows the flow that joined Twitter after enrollment in the new marketing bootcamp began.

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