Monday, May 11, 2015

Now This is a Minimum Wage Buster

I had a meeting today at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. Heading down on the elevator I noticed this baby in the lobby on the second floor. So I had to stop

It turns out that it is for a meeting of the high-powered consulting firm Accenture.

The firm is holding a conference at the hotel.

But they wouldn't tell me anything about the robot, not how it works, or what roles the computer might be used for.

Noticing the color co-ordinated tie on the robot, I asked if this meant the return of the tie as a fashion accessory.

I got no answer from the employees there. It was as though they were just programmed to check people in, and could be replaced with, well, robots.



  1. Ooooh, irony DRIPPING!!!
    Nice, Bob!

  2. Robot mows the lawn:

    1. I think this is the most exciting new robot technology being developed right now for me personally(and my company makes tooling for robots from time to

      I recently bought a house with a pretty big lawn and I can't wait for the technology to get to stage where I feel good about plunking down cash for a robotic lawnmower to do it. (I've got some small hills that are still a challenge for the current technology at a reasonable price point)

      It's just a matter of time.....robots are just like the dish washer/clothes washer of yesteryear. Time/labor savers. It's all very exciting.

  3. Automotive assembly robots manhandling, and spot welding Ford Thunderbirds over 40 years ago was just the opening salvo in man's long slide into become AI's neurotic pet in a future that is fast approaching. Having seen the shower of sparks, and wave of heat hitting me up close, the visceral sensation was impossible to forget because of what it said about what was to come. A technological revolution unseen, unfelt, and unheard of by ordinary Americans as they continued to live in an unknowing bliss of how far down the intellectual scale they were about to slide.

    1. I had some free time the weekend before last because the wife & kids were off visiting her brother so I went to the theater and watched "Ex Machina", which is quite good in many ways.

      There's been movies done before of course about AI that's become self aware and a brief exploration on what "life" is and what makes something sentient. Blade Runner, The Terminator(Skynet), I, Robot, etc. et al....most of which trace their lineage back to Asimov and/or Philip K. Dick.

      It's the anthropomorphism that distinguishes that subset of story telling from other computer/robot stories, the attempt to imbue robots/computers with human feelings....versus many other robot stories where computer/robots are clearly inhuman. (Klaatu, Dalek, early Cylon's, etc.)

      Anyway, my point is this:

      It's my personal belief that "AI" is still a very long way away.

      In another 10 years it probably won't even be an issue of computing power(it really isn't an issue now, but we are talking about something reasonably compact & powerful), IMO the issue is the "code" itself and the ability of a computer to take a starting code and reasonably modify it, by itself, to achieve what we call "sentience".

      I think that's a long, LONG way's like cancer research IMO...look at all the capital and research that's been put into cancer yet still no "cure". Sure, treatment has improved dramatically and survivability has increased dramatically as well, but still no cure.

      The fear expressed my Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and a host of other intelligent people in the technology industry while making for interesting news, is overblown IMO.

      Most of these people have made huge blunders despite their brilliance in other areas that should make all of us sit back and take stock of who can truly predict what in the future.

      The internal imperative for humans "to survive", pro-create, have empathy, voluntary cooperate when desired, etc. et al is very complex and depending on your viewpoint, has been shaped by a god or honed over hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection.

      Either way, to try to duplicate it is a monumental task of incredible complexity. Also, without a set of guidelines to dictate how said AI would rewrite it's code, why would it ever develop empathy or the desire for self survival? (which could be considered hallmarks of humanity)

      Most understanding the complexity involved with the task seem to default to the AI doing said work...but it's a circular problem to start and for the sake of story telling an easy way out.

      Back to "Ex Machina"...I think it a good film because it explores the dynamic between sentience & empathy very well...similar to Blade Runner in some respects because you have humans acting inhuman and robots acting human.

      I was disappointed in the Director's message "outside" the film, I read that his main concern about the development of said technology "without oversight" again we have fear driving others need to control people...and obviously and evil government would be that control.

      Regardless of his feelings, he made a good movie. In particular, the creator of the AI in the movie himself appears at times "inhuman" and there is some great exploration into what is "human".

  4. That's called a "Baxter".

  5. That's called a "Baxter".

  6. I watched the movie Moon yesterday which is premised on human clones being less intelligent, less privileged, and less expensive than robots. They are being kept around because they have wider range of motion, and are expandable, which is useful for the mining operations of Helium 3 on the moon.