The Rest of the Robots

October 6, 2010

OMG! Please check out this blog and listen to the podcast. I blogged about robots and supermarkets previously and this follows on from that.

What happens when you have an Asimo in your house that can remember EVERYTHING it sees, hears, smells in its internal hard drive and, if you have a cloud version, on a remote server (and several mirror servers)?

What happens if a Government organisation wants access to what this robot has recorded? Will this data be admissible in a court of law – can the robot’s memory be used against you? What you store on your home PC can be, so why would robots be any different?

And how can we be sure our robots aren’t being hacked by criminals to use against us – are we all sure our home PC has never been hacked?

Ryan Calo works at a top US law school and is a robots expert.

One of the key things he says in this podcast is that robots will be the transformative technology of this century.

He refers to how PCs changed lives in the 80s, the internet in the 90s. I would look back to the 19th century and remember the changes cars heralded and also the telephone and light bulb. The rise of the robots is THAT important.

Seriously, the sci fi fear industry shows us what happens when robots go wrong (James Cameron and The Terminator are the most famous and chilling example). As often happens military applications are where technology is developed and robots are the same. Alan Turing is a perfect example here, involved as he was with the development of modern computing and later defined the Turing Test.

I have been speaking about the use of robots for a long time with someone I know well who remains sceptical (I keep telling this person robots would be perfect to do a certain role in their organisation) and this person mentioned it to their boss who agreed with them and said it will never happen.

The blog goes on to discuss the insurance industry which will naturally rise up around robots in every day use. I mentioned this to an actuary I know over a year ago who was going off to see what his company were doing about this. He has not come back to me, which either means his company think I am nuts, or they are well aware and just don’t want to acknowledge it.

There will also be international industry safety standards for robots as there is for all sorts of items you can buy.

Maybe I am wrong about these robots, but I remember when I got my first mobile phone back in 1997 people couldn’t understand what I was doing carrying around this brick everywhere I went.

Just about no one else I knew had one.

One lady (the mother of one of my friends) pointed out I had a post uni McJob rather than a high-flying career, so what was I thinking?

No one got it – yet today every one of those people has a mobile phone they take everywhere they go.

What James Brown did next

September 25, 2010

James Brown, the guy who launched Loaded (back when it was really, really good) has always been someone I have admired.

His latest project is Sabotage Times which I am thinking is pretty cool.

Contributors don’t get paid upfront for being featured on the site, but if they get sold on to other sites / publishers they do. A sort of shop window for the writers, where the open market judges what is worthy of being read rather than the publishers themselves.

He was interviewed a while back by Media Guardian about the site.

My favourite bit of the interview (not about the bird watching, so apologies to James himself) :

“He has no desire to go back to “dead tree” publishing. “With a high volume, high frequency publication you end up spending a lot of your time thinking about printers, distributors, what’s on the cover, and actually you don’t spend much time thinking about the journalism [he said].”

Which feeds right into my ongoing themes on this blog of where is book publishing going – and I refer to books, magazines and newspapers here.

The interview goes on to say:

“This is my office,” says Brown, holding up his iPhone. “The technology allows you not to invest in bricks and mortar any more. It’s a new type of business – a business of ideas and content, a business without a building.”

So anyone in the publishing industry hoping to hold on to their offices and staff by charging the same prices for digital downloads as real books, should take a look at the business model James Brown is using.

Having changed the face of magazines in the mid 90s, he may yet again be at the forefront of something else revolutionary.

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