I read a good piece recently about how the mobile internet would ensure three students couldn’t get lost in the woods  a la The Blair Witch Project resulting in some kind of horrific doom.

The use of GPS mapping or even basic telephony (to phone for help…) would be eliminated by your handset.

To be honest this was at least partially true at the time the movie was released back in 1999. I had a mobile at the time the film came out (and had had for over two years at that time) and while it didnt have gps or mapping (it could barely text) it could have been used to call for help.

The film was set several years before it was released (back in 99 i was certain the non contemporary element was due to spreading use of the mobile phone).

What was good about The Blair Witch Project was the low budget horror (shoestring) which managed to go global based on its online marketing strategy (the first movie web strategy I was ever aware of) and I recall the frustration of waiting for the video clips to play on the iMacs we had at the educational establishment I attended at the time – I am fairly certain this was my first interaction with online video. In those innocent days of the web some people in my class even believed the claims (hype) it was a real video found in the woods (the web was really, really, big on conspiracy theory sites back then – only just outweighed by the number of porn sites) altho it soon became clear this was part of the marketing.

While the analysis of 12 years later can say this would never happen again, I still stick with what I said the first time I saw it – after they lost the map and thought they were hopelessly lost, if the three weren’t bright enough to use the rewind button on the video camera they still used throughout despite their fear to go back to the point at which they filmed the map it its entirety, they deserved everything they got from the Blair Witch.

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.

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