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Lost Dreams May 7, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in movies & TV, robot rights, space, weird news.
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Forget Mars. Returning to the Moon is too great an ambition for the US (where victory is not an option) and the Japanese have their own odd take on what it means to explore. I find the notion that they want a bipedal robot to act as a surrogate human distressing, but then they want robots to act as surrogates for almost everything.

Robots don’t have to look like humans and shouldn’t unless their performance depends on humans pretending to be doing what the robots are doing. Projection.

Yesterday down at White Sands the Orion escape pod was successfully tested. I say successfully because there was a 95 second flight, rockets fired, parachutes deployed, all went well. But for what? The Constellation program has been cancelled, yet because money is still in the pipeline work continues. This sounds more like a machine running the program than a human.

And the headline of the paper today was how machines have taken over. I was watching the stock market live yesterday when the Dow took its 1000 point drop (so what do you do while eating lunch?) Proctor & Gamble went from 62 to 40 in seconds. Fascinating watching the talking heads react. Erin Burnett looked as if she were having an orgasm (I would certainly like to find out firsthand what this would be like, but she’s supposed to be reporting, not emoting, while on air. She forgot the line “the humanity, the humanity.”). She jumped up and down and screamed and otherwise looked as if she was losing it entirely. Not so oddly, Jim Cramer, who makes an entire show out of screaming, jumping around and throwing things, was level-headed, calm and simply said “there’s been a machine malfunction.” Nobody listened to him. So we know which is on-air schtick and which is his real personality. Given what seemed a crisis he was cool throughout. And he was right. Only it was likely a human mistake–a trader at Citi entered a trade as $16b instead of $16m for P&G. This drove down the stock when the trading programs kicked in and started selling, which added another 500 pt loss to the Dow.

But the machines accelerated the mistake.

Using surrogate machines to explore the Moon and beyond (and mocking us with human features) is just wrong. We ought to sift alien dirt through human-gloved fingers.

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