Great post here about NASA robots and Mars – there are, I guess two general schools of thought – send humans into space or send robots.

Robots are hardier and dont need as much oxygen / heat / organic fuel (food) / water as humans, so cheaper to achieve and health and safety aspects lower too.

 

 

PC in my pocket

June 28, 2011

A long,long time ago, in a galaxy that seems so far away, Bill Gates said there would be a PC in every home. That revolution was scoffed at back then in the 1970s. But it has come to pass.

What is happening now – which I think Microsoft is trailing behind on – is the PC in every pocket.

I have a HTC phone – which has more processing power than the first computer I ever owned (tho that Spectrum +2 will always have a special place in my heart). I would guess it is also more powerful than the first IBM clone (PC) I ever owned too. It runs an Android operating system and I use it to surf the net more than my desktop PC.

I would hazard a guess my HTC has more processing power than NASA used to send men to the moon, but that statemnet would have to come with a citation request (more on Wikipedia another time).

At some point the PC in my pocket will become as powerful as the desktop in my house. There is a good article about the future of “smartphones” here.

When my pocket PC (that also makes phone calls) is as powerful as a desktop is now, what I want is either a docking station (or an app that conects via wireless) to my 17 inch monitor, keyboard and mouse, so I can work from home in a comfortable way.

NASA has sent a humanoid robot into space.

This type of robot is called a Robonaut (this  specific oneis  named R2) it was sent into space in the Space Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay en route to the International Space Station.

R2 is the first humanoid robot in space.

An unmanned (robot) spacecraft, named Johannes Kepler, has completed an eight-day mission to fly itself from Earth to the International Space Station, docking itself accurately.

If we have robots that can do that, how long before the Google cars are out and about on our roads?

Did you ever watch Blake’s Seven – either when it was first broadcast or on video / DVD / download/ whatever.

I  was quite young when it was broadcast in the late 70s / early 80s, but one of my earliest memories is of my older sister loving / talking about / drawing images from the show Blake’s Seven.

I remember watching parts of the last series in the 80s and especially the shock ending of the show.

During the late 90s I watched most of the show on video (my sister owned them) and it was then I really GOT it.

Terry Nation (inventor of the Daleks) created the show and one of the key ideas what that these people were more real than anyone else in TV sci fi ever had been before. These characters had faults, were sometimes morally ambiguous and would not always make the right decision based on doing something which was right, but didn’t benefit them. They were pragmatic.

TV sci fi before then had been very black and white in terms of you were either completely good or completely bad. Star Trek so far was all about that – as was Dr Who (altho interestingly, Dr Who has had a slight edge at certain periods since then – Sylvester McCoy‘s Doctor always had a very dark side).

If you look at TV sci fi since then – Farscape, re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Firefly – or many others, they have that edge. And in my opinion this is down to Blake’s Seven.

If you haven’t seen it before take a look (but please forgive the 1970s BBC special effects).

Robotic actress causes a sensation in Japan.

The robot is named Geminoid F and is extremely lifelike.

I seem to remember one of the really early Asimov robot stories being about how human looking robots freaked people out so they were always built in a human shape but with an appearance that made it very clear they were not humans (I always imagined the Asimov robots looked like the IL series Cylon in the original battle Star Galactica.)

This is of course a really serious issue for our collective futures. Should we make robots look like us (for some reason a bible quote comes to mind about “man being made in god’s image”) or not?

In Alien Resurrection the character Call (Winona Ryder) turns out to be an human-looking android who like many others of her kind burnt their interfaces and hid among humans.

This is a moral dilemma which we should consider. What do you think?

 

First contact

September 29, 2010

As mentioned by a commenter on a previous post about publishing, it is great to get a copy of the Sunday Times and spread it out across the lounge and read it.

Of course, you have to make sure you have nothing booked on Sunday and that you get to the paper shop early doors to have enough time to read the bulk of it that day and that you have at least one completely free evening in the week to mop up reading the various magazines / other non time specific supplements.

The publication, as it’s advertising used to say, “is the Sunday papers”. At £2.20 a pop you have to read it all.

Unfortunately owner Rupert Murdoch has erected a pay wall around his publications, so I can’t link to the original story I want to post about.

A brief synopsis is that a UN employe at the little known UNOOSA dept based in Geneva apparently told the Sunday Times it was she who all first contact with alien life forms should be directed too.

The paper ran this story on page 3 of the News Section of last Sunday’s edition.

I was fascinated by the story as I’d always assumed the US president / Russian President / Chinese President / UN Director General would be among the delegation sent for by any visitors. But no, this story said a UN dept head would deal with it.

Can you imagine, visitors arrive and instead of Obama or Putin or Cameron or Julia Gillard or Kim Jong Il their first appointment is with the head of a small UN dept.

“Er, right, we were going to give you the gift of eternal energy from water, but since you don’t seem to think its worthwhile we cross hundreds of light years of space, we aren’t going to bother now,” or something similar crackles through their universal translators.

The lady in question, Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, has since insisted she did not say such a thing.

Well, whatever she did or didn’t say to the Sunday Times reporter I’m glad its been cleared up and she won’t be the person first up to meet the aliens.

However, my Jerry Springer final thought for today is: maybe it would be a good idea if we worked out who would be first in to bat if they ever did show up?

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