11 May 2012

On Robots

Another subject crying out for further analysis is robots.

"Robotics" is the science of making really cool robots.  We asked a professor of roboticism at a nearby university to elaborate on the meaning and significance of robots.  This was his response, via e-mail.

So far robots can only do what we tell them to do.  They can tell us what to do, but we don't have to listen to them, not yet.  We can ask for their advice on matters simple or complex and all they can do is output some information and we don't even have to follow it, they can't force us, they can't at this stage of their development shove us up against a wall and threaten to snap us in half like a toothpick if we don't obey.  Heck they can barely shove anything up against anything else, at least not anything faster than a badger.  The technology is not far away and we are working inexorably to perfect it, but thank god, we are not there yet.

As far as really cool robots, making a robot that humans regard as cool is one thing, but making a robot that is cool around humans is much easier, actually.  You just have to slow the response time, tamp down the emotions, learn to relax the jaw muscles.  What is more difficult is making robots with joie de vivre, a certain je ne sais quois if you will (and robots won't).  In fact I am working right now on a robot that will be able to direct high school theater – well dramas anyway, comedies and musicals are still several years in the future, but with time and generous funding, we'll get there.  But I don't believe we should ever create a robot that could be president of a homeowner's association, or even an assistant to the vice principal of a beauty college.  Some lines just should not be crossed. 

Once thing I like to say for certain is, People will make lots of robots, and they'll make lots more people to make even more robots, but no matter how many robots they make and how smart they make 'em, they'll never make a robot that can make a person.  Robots will never replicate like rabbits.  Even robot rabbits will probably never learn to replicate, at least not like real human rabbits.

So you can see that from professors you can learn lots of things, and among the best of all those things you can learn about is really cool robots, which some professors actually study as their full-time job.
How cool would that be, can you imagine?  Well, don't.  I will require your full attention, for what I am about to do right here.  This is where I get my sign-off on, yo.

[Precise pause.]


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