Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Attack, Or Just Another Case of Robot Love?

You may recall from a little while back, I'd written about a robot who trapped a lab assistant for hours because it loved her and didn't want her to leave.

This is only the beginning, folks. The apocalypse is near. The day of the robots is upon us! Where's John Conner when you need him?!

From a Swedish newspaper:
"A company must pay fines of 25,000 kronar because it has been deemed responsible for the [robot attack].
"I have never heard of a robot who beat a man in this way," said prosecutor Leif Johansson.

In June 2007, a man who is employed at a factory in BĂ„lsta north of Stockholm took a look at a malfunctioning robotized machine. The machine was used for lifting heavy stones. When the man went into the building he thought that he had cut the power to the machine but he had not. Instead, the robot was activated and forcibly grabbed the man's head. He managed to defend himself, but received serious injuries on the body.

"The man was very lucky. He had four broken ribs and was almost killed," said Leif Johansson."

A few things here.

1. A fine of 25,000 kronar?! Seriously folks, that's like $3000 in US dollars. A robot went nuts on company property and damn near killed a man, and they only got fined three grand. I'm starting a business up in Sweden, because I'll be saving a bundle just on the insurance I won't need to buy.

2. I'm obviously missing something, because how does this industrial robot, made for picking up large rocks (and....doing what, exactly, with them? Play marbles?) GRABBED HIS HEAD. And he had four broken RIBS. The last time I looked, my ribs were not located anyplace remotely close to my skull. So unless they're breeding some seriously freakish mutants in Sweden, this is pretty damn fishy.

3. Forgetting the anatomy lesson, I'm still confused; so what if the power was on. What would prompt the robot to "suddenly" activate on its own accord, to grab the man at all? Had he been rolling around in mud all afternoon, and the robot assumed it was a man-shaped boulder? What is the robot supposed to do with the rocks anyway?

I'm thinking...this man is a bot molester. This poor, sickly robot was taken to him for care and maintenance...and he tried to abuse it, thinking it sedated. The robot woke up, saw the perverted things being done to it (I'll let you use your own imagination) and reacted appropriately - which is why the courts gave such a paltry fine to the company. The man had to agree to the cheap payoff, or risk everyone knowing:

He's a robot fucker.

(video embedded)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Parenting License Not Included

There are times when I truly believe some people should have to take an exam before they're allowed to have children.

Or at least, to have children AND technology.

A Colorado dad decided to give his 13-yr old daughter a cell phone. Okay, I know some of you out there do it, and some of you have responsible kids (and are responsible parents), so it works. But in general, I'm of the firm belief that most 13yr olds do not need a phone. What possible use, other than calling Mom or Dad, would it serve? But I digress.

So Daddykins - a Gregg Christofferson, and since his name was published in the Denver Post I'm happy to reprint it here - bought said family plan WITHOUT A TEXT MESSAGING PLAN. Because, I assume, they don't text each other so why would they need it? He later claims he assumed that meant the option was disabled on the phone.

Sure he did.

Fast forward, about a month. Daddy opens his Verizon bill and discovers they owe: $4,765.25

You see, 13yr old Dena was ESTATIC to get her new phone. And had to text her friends, "OMG luk i gt iphon r0xx0rs!"

To the tune, over the course of the month, to over 10,000 messages sent. And about the same incoming.

Dena, as it happens, went on this texting frenzy mainly during school hours - which works out to roughly 300 messages a day, every day, for a month.

It goes without saying, of course, that her grades plummeted from A's and B's, to F's.

So Daddy - and I love this part - TOOK A HAMMER TO HIS DAUGHTER'S PHONE. Because it's the phone's fault. Of course.

Which, in my eyes, means he's now also out the cost of a new phone - because a man who doesn't think saying no to a texting plan means it can't be used, probably also doesn't think he needs the phone insurance either.

And because this is America, of course the Christoffersens are asking school administrators at Johnson Junior High School to crack down on cellphone use during school.

Because it's the school's fault. Of course.

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Whatever Happened To Just Say No?

Sometimes, you come across an item that you really want to say "April Fool!" to, and walk away from.

Getting a kid to sit in a dentist's chair, I guess, is a task far too complex and herculean for the average doc. Some manufacturer, sensing a potential gold mine here, came up with a product that absolutely boggles the mind.

Called the Pedisedate, this wonderful device is made to hook up to both a Gameboy, and a tank of nitrous oxide - so an unsuspecting Junior or Missy can play Pokemon while they fall into a blissful anesthetic state.

I particularly like the concept triangle on the ad of "Comfort, Distraction, and Sedation".

A few questions:
- will there be Xbox and Playstation versions, or is this only for portables?
- can we get a PSP version in black?
- what about a bluetooth/wireless version?

I have to wonder, what are the psychological ramifications of using a Game Boy to lull your child into sleep...and when they awaken, they not only discover that the Nintendo was used to sucker them - but they were violated while unconcious at the same time? Is the ultimate idea to evoke some negative Pavlovian response to Game Boy? "No mommy no, not the Nintendo, I'll be good I promise!"

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Monday, April 06, 2009

When We're Enslaved in the Future, This Will Be Why

Is it me, or are Japanese robots getting creepier and creepier?

This Powder-like apparation with the "I'm going to kill you in your sleep" eyes is named CB2, aka "Child Robot with Biomimetic Body", which to me would be CRBB - but then I guess a kid-bot named CRaBB isn't very appealing. And if it's being created by the Japanese, why would it have an English name? Will it have blond hair too? Be proud of your heritage, Eido-ans! Dammit.

Anyway. So Cree-pio here (cue: star wars reference) is yet another learning bot, specifically designed to think like a human infant and read facial expressions, reacting accordingly. It also has "197 film-like pressure sensors under its light grey rubbery skin, (and) can also recognise human touch, such as stroking of its head".

"The robot can record emotional expressions using eye-cameras, then memorise and match them with physical sensations, and cluster them on its circuit boards, said creator Minoru Asada.

The professor, also a member of the Japanese Society of Baby Science, said his team has made progress on other fronts since first presenting CB2 to the world in 2007.

In the two years since then, he said, CB2 has taught itself how to walk with the aid of a human and can now move its body through a room quite smoothly, using 51 "muscles" driven by air pressure."

So: it walks, it can read your facial expression, and react accordingly. Now...I might be off base here...but this looks uncannily like a child version of:
Am I wrong? Well? Remember I said this, when you're tossed out a high-rise window in the near future! On your way down you'll be thinking "oh shit...he was riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight*splat*"

Why do we keep making robots LOOK more human? I don't want a doppleganger roaming around! Let my robot look like a monkey. Or an alien. Or...I dunno...a goddamn ROBOT! Do you seriously think I want to come home, wasted out of my gourd from a night's drinking with the boys, and see THIS creepy boy-bot sitting in a chair waiting around for me because my bratty kid didn't tuck it away in his toybox?

"You're home late, Dave..."

Hey, boy-toy. I got an facial expression you can read, right'ere!

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