- Story one – scary robots. Robotics/AI expert Noel Sharkey, among others, has warned that GPS-guided robots are already cheap and easy to build, and it’s just a matter of time before terrorists use them to launch remote attacks. The robot tech is out there, easy to get and easy to copy. Toy plane + GPS device + grenade = …You get the [ugly] picture.
- Story two – cute robots. A study released this month says that elderly in nursing homes were equally comforted by a trained therapy dog and a robotic dog. That’s right. "They worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments.”
Are they looking into cost-cutting? Saving on kibble? Who was sitting around one day and suddenly thought, Hey, I wonder if those old folks would be just as happy with a robot dog? I realize the story addresses those questions, sort of, but still...
What solution would the heuristics of Electronic Jesus yield?
One of my favorite Douglas Adams creations is the Electric Monk, introduced in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Just like other labor-saving devices that took over tedious tasks for us, “Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.”
Will aging robots be just as happy with live dogs?