I’m feeling a little like I’ve been lady negativity on the robot front for the last couple weeks. So in the interest of being an objective robot aficionado, I’m taking up the other side. And in doing so I’ve done some research on firefighting machines, because everybody loves a firefighter. And granted their christmas calendar would be a devastating disappointment compared, there are some significantly less superficial merits to sending robots into infernos instead of beefy dudes. Sigh.
Stop daydreaming about the Christmas calendar and concentrate.
I may be projecting.
Aaand we’re back.
In Feb the US Navy revealed a working prototype of an onboard firefighting robot. See the big deal about fires on ships is that they’re a tad more drastic than fires on land. One can’t just go “oh yeah this house is a lost cause, let’s get everybody out and minimise damage to the neighbours.” Because when you’re at sea it’s entirely possible that you don’t have any neighbours, or your closest neighbour is Cannibal Island. And let me tell you Cannibal Island is not an ironic name for an island with no cannibals. It’s full of them. Well not full… because a lot of them got eaten. But there are a few.. like enough that you don’t wanna be there. Honestly, any more cannibals than zero cannibals is kinda too many cannibals. And the Navy OBVIOUSLY realised this. So they turned some knobs and did some science and built SAFFiR. These humanoid machines have a built in stereo infrared camera, laser range finder and gas sensor that allow them to detect and eliminate the smokey threat. They can also walk and balance aboard a ship on rocky waters without falling headlong into the blaze. Impressive considering I trip just walking down the street.
Point being, SAFFiR has the potential to save you from cannibals and is therefore a categorical winner.
This week in robot news, talk has turned to killer robots.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots have been voicing their concern for years. And they’re finding that the UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons seem to be doing little more than “having talks” on the issue. And somewhat like coming to a film/media student for information on robotics/economics, that really doesn’t seem like it’s gonna help. Even if she’s the only one that finds a way to relate Monty Python to pertinent issues.
But I digress. Here’s an idea for an action that might get them started; put a stop to the military’s development of machines that can autonomously track and kill people. Because those sound absolutely wretched. The solution to men and women dying in wars is not sending machines in their place, it’s chilling out on the war.
The whole situation is more complicated.. I realise that. But here’s the thing, when the very thought of something makes your skin crawl and reminds you of every dystopian future you’ve ever nightmared about MAYBE DON’T BRING IT TO LIFE.
Sexbots over deathbots. That should be our chant when we rally.
I’m not saying every prostitute will. That would be a generalisation. And I haven’t done enough research into the sexual health of prostitutes to make a definitive claim… I’m just saying it’s possible.
So sex robots are a thing, almost. I mean they’ll very soon be a very big thing. And it’s no doubt going to cause a total reworking of the prostitution trade.
A few things to consider…
A sex robot wouldn’t carry disease.
It would, theoretically, be down with whatever. Got a weird toe thing? No judgment from the android.
It could be designed to be physically perfect.
It would probably be much better at it than humans. No insecurities about uncultivated manscape. Doesn’t stop until you tell it to. Will tell you on cue that you’re “the biggest she’s ever seen” without a hint of sarcasm, and additionally, without bursting into hysterical laughter before she even gets the sentence out …That kinda thing…
But before you perves start lining up there are some other things to consider. For instance, how would the market be navigated with regard to pedophilia and child-bots? And at what level of robotic sentience would the entire thing become exploitative? How would these machines be dealt with in countries that haven’t legalised prostitution? Do any of us even think it’s not insanely creepy to have sex with an android, or is it really just a glamourised vibrator?
On another note- this is a brilliant topic to bring up when there’s an uncomfortable lapse in conversation at a party, especially a shnazzy party. Like one without paper plates. Take it from this undisputed social queen. Never fails.
Initial thoughts, this thing is goddam adorable. And I think possibly all my problems could be solved if it would just tell me it loved me. But after the momentary hysteria settled I began to question the idea at the heart of this strange commercial. The notion that a human might have an emotional connection to a machine.
With regard to jobs, we hear a lot about the idea of collaborating with robots, and that this will be the future of our workforce. But could we collaborate in the same way with a robotic mind? The camaraderie and collective motivation that exists in many workplaces seem like they might be the very ingredients that have brought about some of the greatest human creations to date. Discovery, design, art, invention… that cinematic moment we all know so well where the group bands together and achieves something incredible, and it gives you goosebumps and makes you want to become a Mighty Duck. How would this work if our co-conspirators were non-human?
And on another level.. how much would it change the very nature of the human experience if we were no longer the builders of our world? If everything was outsourced… wouldn’t there be a sense that we were no longer the designers of our space, even if the robots weren’t out of our control. Isn’t there something to humans being responsible for our own environment?
Seeing as preparedness is key, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best things you can do with your time once you’re unemployed.
Find a corporate entity that you don’t particularly like and TAKE THEM DOWN.
A friend told me a story about a mysterious panther that has been spotted off a walking trail in Wollongong. Conduct a mission to locate it. But voyage at your own peril. I will not be held responsible when the panther gouges out a section of your upper thigh.
Shoot a time-lapse in as many different cities as you can drag your jobless ass through.
Volunteer your time teaching a class in something you’re good at. Even if it’s something rather silly. Here are a few I’d sign up for in a heartbeat:
Whistling, for those that still can’t and have tried EVERYFUCKINGTHING.
Understanding Inception, a detailed workshop series explaining the science behind sci-fi films. In such a class, one should be allowed to ask as many questions as they like and never be called stupid.
Hashtagging For Beginners, #dos and #donts? #dosanddonts? #dosand #donts?
The Science Behind Beat Boxing. An in-depth study of the vocal cords allowing students an insight into how it is possible to have two voices without being possessed. Spoiler: IT’S NOT.
Devote your life to engineering a perfect scent, the greatest perfume of all time. Call it Elon. Post the formula online in the name of open sourcing.
Adopt more puppies than you could ever have imagined caring for. Spend all the days rolling around on the floor with them.
Perform some extensive research into Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch’s family history. Lady needs a recipe.
Dig deep into your dark, dark soul and ignite a spark of altruism. Volunteer some time aiding the less fortunate.
Wolfpack it… Gather your pals, learn the lines to your favourite films and recreate them. If completed with the necessary attention to detail, this can take decades.
Rush small children on the street and preach to them about the technologies of old. Carry a printed newspaper just so you can fling it at them while making your point. Be sure to collect said newspaper after flinging. Lord knows if you’ll ever find another.
Study something, just for the heck of it.
Become a conspiracy nut. You’ll get to put together one of those “mad-guy” pin boards with scratchy lines of red marker that connect important clues and take shaky hand-held video footage outside the gates of government facilities. Dammit thats a good one.
The first to be hit; everyone that moves goods/people…
“The transport industry in the US employs about 3 million people, extrapolating world wide thats about 70 million jobs at a a minimum.” These jobs are already all but done for because autos are ALREADY BETTER DRIVERS THAN US. By all accounts they don’t feel the need to just-really-quickly-check if they received any Instagram likes while at the wheel. And probably won’t insist on opening the windows so everyone else can enjoy their Techno Jams of Summer playlist. This may be beside the point.
While it may be further away, it is also significant to note that your pearly white collar will not protect you from the bots for long.
“The cutting edge of programming isn’t super smart programmers writing bots, its super smart programmers writing bots that teach themselves to do things the programmers could never teach them to do.” This notion is exactly what governs the principles of the predicted intelligence explosion which will foreshadow the singularity. And it is exactly why we are all struggling to imagine that the clunky robots and machines we see now will soon learn and imagine and create in ways we never could. Once this shit hits it’s going to snowball rapid-fire. The current system CANNOT EXIST under these conditions.
Watch this film, it actually is going to fry your brain.