Fire-Fighting Robots

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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. 

Do Killer Robots Seem Like A Great Idea To ANYONE??!

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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.

Shayni Notelovitz

A Sex Robot Won’t Give You Syphilis

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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…

  1. A sex robot wouldn’t carry disease.
  2. It would, theoretically, be down with whatever. Got a weird toe thing? No judgment from the android.
  3. It could be designed to be physically perfect.
  4. 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.

Always fails.

That’s why it’s brilliant.

Blog’s starting to get weird eh.

This article talks through the whole issue in much more civilised terms if you’d like to hear the actual story

Shayni Notelovitz

The Human-Machine Connection

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?

Shayni Notelovitz

An Introductory Rant

Humans are quickly becoming redundant. The rise in automation will see an unprecedented level of unemployment. From truck drivers to doctors, no one’s job is safe. And with the exponential rates of development in technology, the influx of intelligent machines is going to hit us far sooner than we care to imagine.

What I’m suggesting is not a revolt against technological advancement. Would there not be more merit in coming to terms with the not so awful idea that there is no need for every person to have employment? When Kodak and it’s 145,000 employees were usurped by Instagram’s 13 there was a major lesson to be learned.

See 

Very clever man.

The way to make such a system economically viable for the rest of us; a basic income. Governments heavily tax corporate entities, try very, very hard to resist their corrupt inclinations (robots can no doubt assist in policing this) and distribute the money amongst the entire population as a sort of unconditional welfare payment. The idea has already been seriously considered, with Switzerland’s government coming very close to passing a law for basic income. And you know if the Swiss are thinking about it it’s probably a good idea.

While the proposition obviously requires a change in policy it also requires, more fundamentally a change in mindset. Perhaps the purpose of life is closer to achieving a state of being in which robots are in fact doing all the work and society is allowed the time and the means with which to do whatever else it is they might, conquering the rubix cube, reading Plato, mastering the art of Tai Chi, for instance.

There seems to be a persisting idea that the purpose of our homogenised lives is to work, consistently, for an income with which we can purchase all the things we do or, more likely, don’t need. Just because this is the way things have always been does not necessarily mean it needs to continue.

Buckminster Fuller said it best about 40 years ago:

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest… We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

Shayni Notelovitz