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Following on from Mr Blask's excellent ruminations on the Moose about population growth and Sci Fi dystopias it failed to deliver, forgive me if I busk for a moment on another Sci Fi theme; partly as a rehearsal for a brief talk today for a Futureworld Event at London's Science Museum Dana Centre.

To show how seriously I take this subject, I'm going to kick the talk off with a British ad from the 1970s for a synthetic mashed potato product.

What I love about this ad some thirty years on is that it touches so many of the science fiction elements of robotics, alien life, technology, imagined futures and mashed potatoes. But the three things I want to focus on in this brief talk are these:

1. What would it mean if robots could laugh?
2. Are we clearly 'a most primitive people'?
3. How quickly does science fiction become historical fiction?

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The last point first:

How quickly does science fiction become historical fiction?

Well, if the Smash ad is anything to go by, science fiction becomes historical fiction very fast, in fact faster than the Hamlet cigar or Yellow Pages ads from the same era. The idea that we would substitute a bland additive filled dried foodstuff with the nutritional value and texture of cardboard for real fresh root vegetables is a very outdated concept - perhaps one that lasted a decade or so.

But most the classic works of Science Fiction, from Jules Verne to Philip K Dick actually tell you much more about the eras they were imagined in that the futures they purported to imagine.

Two quick instances of this. Though Orwell's 1984 remains a compelling portrait of a totalitarian state, with its doublethink and newspeak, the mood and the details of his dystopian epic are much more informed by 1948 than 1984 - which of course was Orwell's intention.

Similarly, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey tells us much more about the 1960s than anything else, with its sub-Darwinian emphasis on tool making and technology as the origin of humankind's specialness and isolation. Take the name of the computer HAL, which suddenly gains intelligence and its own murderous intent when it murders one of the astronauts on the way to Jupiter. Of course HAL is a transposition of the letters IBM, and Kubrick projects into the future the massive centralised mainframes of the 60s than actually what happened in 2001, the era of the millions of small personal computers.

Again, the imagined futures of science fiction tell you more about the past than the future.

Are we clearly 'a most primitive people'?

On this I think the Smash Robots are right. Even in our wildest science fiction myths we remain obsessed by the concerns expressed in primitive art, myth and legend. Science Fiction is theology by the back door, obsessed by optimism or pessimism, encounters with supernatural being which are either benevolent and benign, like ET or the extraterrestrials in the movie Contact, or malign, virulent and virtually indestructible, as in the War of the Worlds, The Thing or the alien in the Alien movies.

But it's not all derivative. Though there are hints of the problem of human creativity in Hebrew myth of Adam and Eve plundering the Tree of Knowledge, or the Hellenistic story of Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods, Science Fiction is fixated on the problem of human creativity and invention: what happens when creatures become creators.

This is the recurrent strand from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein all the way to Blade Runner: what if our own creations run riot?

You can see this theme in many of the classic sci fi movies of late twentieth century - the machines taking over the world in the Terminator trilogy, a Skynet like mechanism using human beings as batteries in the Matrix.

Photobucket

In this way, the concerns revealed in Science Fiction show us to be still be wonderfully 'primitive', half fearing, half desiring some force bigger than ourselves, to defeat the world, to defeat, transform and reveal our humanity.

So finally....

What would it mean if robots could laugh?

It would be a lot. In fact it would mean that finally humans had managed to transcend themselves, to replicate themselves in inorganic matter, free from the biological inevitability of ageing, cell apoptosis and death. But I really don't think this is going to happen anytime soon, despite the strongest wish fulfilment dreams of SciFi writers for the last century or more.

Artificial intelligence still looks pretty dumb to me. I still haven't seen a robot that could beat us at football, let alone take over the world. However, belief in this inevitability is still current today among many thinkers, above all Raymond Kurzweil's prediction of the transhuman melding of humanity and spiritual machines sometime in the next 50 years.

I love Kurzweil's work, but I'm convinced his  projections will, in the future, tell people more about our present than theirs. Until robots can laugh, or a computer can pass a proper Turing test, and tell you whether "Yes, dress looks good on you", or "No I don't think your wife still loves you", I won't believe the more breathless prognostications of mind machine melding or human surrender to hi tech.

Throughout its history, Sci Fi fantasies perversely succeed not because they are accurate about science or technology, but because by revealing the limits of both, they still keep talking to us about our rather primitive human nature, in all its inimitable comedy and pathos.

Crossposted from Motley Moose

Originally posted to Brit on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 02:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse, Black Kos community, Hydrant, Moose On The Loose, DKOMA, Progressive Hippie, Community Spotlight, and Readers and Book Lovers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I, Robot: Howard S. Smith (14+ / 0-)

    This theme recurs again and again in some often thoughtful literature.

    I recently discovered this novel, same title as Asimov, but an independent work, written by Howard S. Smith, who is reported to be an expert in programming artificial intelligence, and who reportedly designed supermarket automated checkouts.

    Editorial Review - Library Journal vol. 133 iss. 15 p. 49 (c) 09/15/2008

    In a near future overshadowed by an escalating threat between North Korea and Japan, Tokyo Police Inspector Suzuki Haruto uncovers evidence of an arms deal between Japan and Israel—a group of Japanese military robots in return for Israeli nuclear weapons and the knowledge behind their testing. Haruto is a humanized robot who must follow his rigid internal code of behavior while at the same time preventing an international disaster and falling in love. Deliberately drawing on the title of the late Isaac Asimov's classic work of robot-centered literature (I, Robot ), Smith brings robots into the 21st century, incorporating today's technology while retaining the spirit of Asimov's seminal world. As both homage and a sf adventure, this title belongs in most libraries.

    http://books.google.com/...

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 02:50:20 AM PDT

  •  This skiffy fan agrees (13+ / 0-)

    tipped and rec'ed!

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 02:53:44 AM PDT

  •  Another example of (15+ / 0-)

    projection of the current era into futuristic science fiction  (and is quite funny, imo) is the fashion and decor used by the film makers. Total Recall is totally 80s on Mars. The 2001 depicted in Kubrick's classic is groovy, baby!

    Watching that Smash ad, I find it troubling that we had once taken natural and organic for granted and it was considered cool and futuristic to do so. I remember those days. I see improvements in the general public health messaging and awareness on many fronts. It seems hopeful but sometimes I think it's harder to make pollution a nonpartisan issue because things have improved on the surface a bit. Anyone who remembers the 70s remembers the highways full of styrofoam fast food things.

    I saw a film called Sunshine a while ago and the main thing I remember about the film is the oxygen garden room on the spaceship and the way it made use of solar panels to navigate. Reading your diary, I find it interesting that futuristic in the 50s-70s meant powdered food, food tablets, buttons and centralized robots and a shedding of dependency on nature (because, obviously there is no forest in space) and natural things. Currently, futuristic is defined in a more humanistic way. We show ourselves less dependent on hydrogen or fossil fuel for rocket boost power and clinging to an eco friendly image of ourselves in the future when we will have been smart enough to figure it all out. Notice how our collective human guilt at being the locusts of the earth (and knowing it) has affected our imagined futuristic culture. I think it's endlessly fascinating.

    I realized about 30 years ago that science fiction was less about technology than humanity's deepest fears and desires. I secretly write it to amuse myself.

    To answer your questions more directly;

    1. Science fiction becomes historical fiction as it's written. Time is linear in our dimension. We can only speculate but so far and the rest is only hypothesis about humanity itself. Politics, game changing people, progress, etc of today shapes the future. The factors are too many to predict accurately what we will desire or covet as a species by then. We adapt quickly and global communication shares our ideas faster. If no one predicted the PC and the internet in science fiction 50 years ago, their predictions have gotten less and less like reality as the decades advanced, for example.

    2. We are probably not a most primitive people. We aren't extremely advanced but if the goal of ultimate humanity is to have human development at 100% on this planet, we would be getting closer to that, I believe. When humanity as a whole frowns on slavery, it's a pretty good sign that some exponential advancement in humanity has taken place after thousands of years of slavery across the globe. Again, global communication will probably play a role in how quickly humane ideas are spread. Social singularity or something.

    3. If robots could laugh....? I'm not sure if they would need to. If we were to replicate all of our cell functions in an artificial creature, I'm not even sure if that's a robot. A clone, maybe?

    This was a fun read. Thanks, Brit.

    "Warm smell of Moulitsas rising up in the air..." -seanwright

    by GenXangster on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 04:42:01 AM PDT

  •  Science fiction as allegory (14+ / 0-)

    Science fiction has been so clearly a portrait of its own times that it is sometimes an unwitting roman a clef or allegory. Other times, and I would like to think more commonly, it is a conscious allegory. From the 1710's on, writers learned that they might not be able to safely criticize the king, but it was alright to talk about a newly discovered island, where that king does these crazy things (the most infamous example, from the reign of George II, is "The Persian Letter"). I grew up with the first "Star Trek," and even as a little kid I said, "Hey! That's not the future!" (Encoded hippie-phobia everywhere. The last episode, "The Turnabout Intruder," is one of the worst things ever filmed, and it is a fantastic example of the encoding of contemporary, dominant culture fears, as it's fear of women's lib.)

    I do not think, therefore, that science fiction becomes historical fiction at any rate greater or lesser than other works, because its projections are simply part of its literature. In other words, it would only be otherwise if we took it as non-fiction prophecy rather than literature. As literature, it is wholly subsumed in audience, society, and psychology (including, I suppose, archetype).

    Everyone is innocent of something.

    by The Geogre on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 04:55:41 AM PDT

    •  Good points (7+ / 0-)

      Though my quick perusal of ads from the 1970s shows Sci Fi dating more quickly, I'm just viewing an HD clip of 2001, and that still looks bang on the money, nearly 50 years later.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:09:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The artifact or the impulse? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brit, Rashaverak, Larsstephens, oldcrow

        I'm a litgeek, so this may color my perspective, but I would ask whether we are judging the artifact of the fiction's impulse or the fiction itself.  In other words, we can see in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels Book III a description of a machine for universal language, and we can say, "Oh, goodness, how prescient!" Yes. However, that is a necessary embodiment of the fictional and satiric impulse for the author.

        In advertising, of course, science fiction is distorted to begin with, as advertising is either a parodic or populist lens held up on science fiction. Either it will ape science fiction film and literature (parody) or push it in the way that popular desire wants (a Wall-E-like creature with a Nikon Zoom in a field of flowers, rather than trash). However, Clarke was a scientist who used fiction and balanced the two, so the science part of his science fiction does have some serious staying power, but we wouldn't marvel at that, would we? It would be like marveling that the laser is being used for communications, just the way that Bell Labs people said it would in the 1960's.

        Everyone is innocent of something.

        by The Geogre on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:45:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  turnabout intruder WAS terrible (4+ / 0-)

      but it serves now as a period piece of how some men felt about feminism in the 60s

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      I am a volunteer for Bob Massie for MA-Sen

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:34:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the varieties of SF that I most enjoy (10+ / 0-)

    is where a postulate is explored for its social effects. Larry Niven is a past master of this and other SF writers often complain that when Larry has done a subject, he's wiped out the seam.

    For instance, Niven postulates a future where organ transplants are easy. Therefore there will be a trade in organs. People will get kidnapped and disassembled for their parts by gangs of vicious organleggers. Societies with the death penalty will realize that an executed murderer can return something to society after all and citizens will keep on voting to lower the bar for the death penalty and so on. And, it has started, there is a trade in kidneys and it is early days yet...

    Naturally, SF in print and SF on film are really quite different things. Print allows imagination so much more room and while any piece of literature will always be a product of the time it was written in, books will generally become dated at a slower rate than movies or tv shows.

    As for robots laughing and passing Turing tests, do not be too sure that it's not closer than you think. A lot of work is being done with robots to get them to recognize facial expressions and respond appropriately and Watson did just win at Jeopardy. Give it another decade or two and we might be getting close to a glimpse of R. Daneel Olivaw.

    Cheers

    We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about. Tim Jackson

    by Athenian on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 05:11:07 AM PDT

  •  The Future Ain't What it Used to Be (7+ / 0-)

    Very good diary.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 05:58:40 AM PDT

  •  Lost among today's (7+ / 0-)

    Special effects extravaganzas is the simple fact that the best SF always takes a current matter or concern and extrapolates it, sets it in a possible future or alternate time and explores the possibilities.

    "Star Trek" was masterful in doing this with the racial and political issues of the 1960s; "Next Generation" did it best with the scientific discoveries and personal-identity issues of the late '80s and early '90s.

    There are many, many more ("Enemy Mine" comes to mind, for example).

    Good diary. Thanks, brit!

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:18:07 AM PDT

    •  Most fiction does that in some way (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rashaverak, Larsstephens, blue muon

      Takes a trend or a trait, and extrapolates or amplifies it for effect. However, I'm struggling to think a new forms of Sci Fi in the last ten years. The last big movement - correct me if I wrong - was the virtual worlds innovation of William Gibson.

      However, it might just be me. I adored Sci Fi in the 70s and - as a teenager - it was really my first introduction to literature. Maybe it's me who has dated, rather than the genre.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:36:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most SF these days falls into one of two (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rashaverak, Larsstephens, Brit, blue muon

        Categories: "hard" SF (which is often written by people with degrees in cosmology, astrophysics, quantum theory or some such) and classic-style space opera.

        The best space operas are written by Alastair Reynolds, in my opinion. Jack McDevitt is good also.

        For the hard stuff: David Brin and Stephen Baxter are good for starters.

        But the GREATEST science-fiction I've read in years is the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons. They are stunning and mind-bending, but with real and interesting characters and a style you literally don't want to stop reading.

        There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

        by Phil T Duck on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 09:38:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  i remember Enemy Mine (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rashaverak, Larsstephens
    •  Star Trek didn't quite do it (6+ / 0-)

      I know that it is au currant to argue that each "Star Trek" had its political analog, but the original was written episodically, and so there is no one point of view expressed. The show is more liberal than conservative, I suppose, but it was not really anything we can look back upon with joy.

      I pointed to the last episode, "The Turnabout Intruder," as one of the worst things ever on television and full justification for Shattner's poor reputation as an actor, but for those who can't recall it, Kirk and an ambitious woman trade bodies. The moral of the story? She could have been happy, if she had accepted her place in the world. Women aren't meant to be starship captains. The episode with the Timothy Leary stand-in where the space hippies go to "Eden," the planet, and yet all the fruit is filled with acid passes on the usual 1950's message that "you children can dream, thanks to the noble warrior." The episode where all the grown ups are dead and the children run things is a dystopia, and each of the children really craves a strong man to rule them.

      The point is not to trash the series, but rather to say that the series was honest in reflecting his culture, and the dominant culture for the most part.

      Everyone is innocent of something.

      by The Geogre on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:13:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  don't judge the entire Star Trek concept (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brit, Rashaverak, Matt Z, Larsstephens

        by Turnabout Intruder.

        Do you want to be judged by your worst moments in life?

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
        I am a volunteer for Bob Massie for MA-Sen

        by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:46:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "The point is not to trash the series" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rashaverak, Larsstephens, Brit

          I do not trash it. In fact, I find it fascinating. I actually prefer the original "Star Trek" for the very reason that it had no guiding point of view and relied on scripts that came from a variety of hands. It therefore shows all sorts of things. Sometimes it shows forward thinking things, and sometimes quite retrograde things.

          I felt that the second series, and the third, lacked any point of view much, and I am not swayed by the readings I've encountered so far that they were dealing with gender and identity. For the most part, they seemed neutered and calculated until The Borg showed up, as that (usually omitted when people want to talk about the politics of the show) probably put its finger on a genuine anxiety and therefore a real political problem that would bloom over the coming years.

          Everyone is innocent of something.

          by The Geogre on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 09:25:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Laughing robot? (7+ / 0-)

    Consider the Robinson's B-9B environmental control robot on Lost in Space. It starts out as a simple machine, reprogrammed to sabotage the mission, then grows into a thinking, feeling being. Of course, most will dismiss the whole thing because it is Lost in Space, which gets little or no respect from most sci-fi fans.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:43:58 AM PDT

  •  This Intriguing Subject Is More Than Meets The (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, Athenian, Rashaverak, Larsstephens, Fogiv

    eye, more than meets common discourse, but is quite important. Thanks for the post.

    •  Fascinating piece (5+ / 0-)

      Particularly like the law that lifeforms don't 'de-evolve' but wondered if there are counter examples of species becoming less sophisticated.

      To me, the evolution into machines is in a fact a de-evolution.  None of the machines we've posited, and really none of the machines we've imagined, are any kind of match for the evolved biological world we inhabit.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

      by Brit on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 06:53:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not so much less sophisticated as differently (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brit, Rashaverak, Larsstephens, blue muon

        adapted. If a species which used to have eyes moves into an underground environment, for example, over time the eyes will become useless and may even disappear, while other organs or senses may become enhanced for survival in a dark place.

        As for machines matching the evolved biological world, the 'minds' in Iain M. Banks' 'Culture' novels certainly leave anything biological far behind.

        The post-humans in Simmons' Ilium and Olympos may not be terribly attractive, from our point of view as humans but I don't think we can say they are devolved.

        The human-machine interfaces seen in Cassini Division are also intriguing.

        Lovely diary and discussion, thanks.

        We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about. Tim Jackson

        by Athenian on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:09:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes the 'use it or lose it' principle (4+ / 0-)

          But on the machine issue, is it really possible for a machine, which I suppose, whatever its construction (organic or inorganic) has been created by someone else, to actually be more creative than its creator?

          Of course machines are already stronger, faster, more resilient, and computationally smarter than we are, but they have not shown any capacity as yet to invent a human being.  I don't know all the examples you cite, but they seem to be mainly 'beings' who use technology, and not vice versa.

          Thanks for the kind remarks - just continuing the discussion.

          "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

          by Brit on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:14:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Found a couple of good articles and a video (5+ / 0-)

            at the NYT on the state of the art in empathetic robots.

            Actually, their whole Smarter than you think series is fascinating. Unfortunately, I've ran out my quota of free articles for the month (damn you NYT!) so I won't be able to dig further there.

            Computers Learn to Listen and Some Talk Back.

            “Hi, thanks for coming,” the medical assistant says, greeting a mother with her 5-year-old son. “Are you here for your child or yourself?”

            The boy, the mother replies. He has diarrhea.

            “Oh no, sorry to hear that,” she says, looking down at the boy.

            The assistant asks the mother about other symptoms, including fever (“slight”) and abdominal pain (“He hasn’t been complaining”).

            She turns again to the boy. “Has your tummy been hurting?” Yes, he replies.

            After a few more questions, the assistant declares herself “not that concerned at this point.” She schedules an appointment with a doctor in a couple of days. The mother leads her son from the room, holding his hand. But he keeps looking back at the assistant, fascinated, as if reluctant to leave.

            Maybe that is because the assistant is the disembodied likeness of a woman’s face on a computer screen — a no-frills avatar. Her words of sympathy are jerky, flat and mechanical. But she has the right stuff — the ability to understand speech, recognize pediatric conditions and reason according to simple rules — to make an initial diagnosis of a childhood ailment and its seriousness. And to win the trust of a little boy.

            Here is the video of an interview with an advanced talking robot. Yes, it is pretty primitive but then it is early days.

            We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about. Tim Jackson

            by Athenian on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:32:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot to mention that while life forms may (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rashaverak, Larsstephens, Brit

        not de-evolve, cultures can and do when their numbers dip below a level needed to keep up complex interactions and cultural memory.

        Thus the inhabitants of Tasmania were not numerous enough to keep the advanced technology of the bow and arrow when rising sea levels cut them off from Australia. (They also represent the sole example of genocide, as opposed to attempted genocide.)

        Easter Islanders also lost technology when they crashed their environment.

        We spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about. Tim Jackson

        by Athenian on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 07:59:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Laughing is one thing and might happen. Laughing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, JeffW, Rashaverak, Larsstephens

    appropriately is quite another and much more difficult to achieve.  That isn't going to happen so fast.

  •  i think the scifi of yesterday (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, Rashaverak, Larsstephens

    gets turned into reality today.

    well not all of it, of course.

  •  It takes immense preparation (6+ / 0-)

    to develop a future that is not only an extension of past technology and culture - but convincingly different as well.

    But every so often someone stumbles across a very, very cool shortcut.

    An interesting twist of the Star Trek franchise is its underlying message: In the future, everyone will be late 1960s Canadian... or did someone think the Federation Mounties, er, I mean the security guys wore red for no reason at all? :)

  •  Great diary Brit. (6+ / 0-)

    I'm republishing to Hydrant.  

    Thanks.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 09:53:50 AM PDT

  •  "Dial F for Frankenstein" by Arthur C. Clarke (6+ / 0-)

    Written in 1965, this short story surmised that one night in 1975, every telephone in the world would ring simultaneous, then communication systems would go haywire worldwide.

    The ringing phones were the "birth cry" of an AI which came into consciousness when the global network of telephone switches reached a "critical mass" of 15 billion, about the number of neurons then thought to comprise the human brain.

    The story was another sharp observation by Clarke, and it reflected some current scientific thinking about the spontaneous generation of intelligence.

    We now know that the human brain has about 100 billion neurons. In 2005 Kevin Kelly estimated that there are 170 quadrillion transisitors (embeded in microchips) connected to the internet.

    Clarke's idea that artificial intelligence will arise spontaneously seems much more plausible today than in the 1960's. I'm betting that the first AI will not be constructed in a lab, but will evolve in The Cloud, where polymorphic viruses and self-adapting antivirus software battle for supremacy.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 10:20:59 AM PDT

  •  If Robots learn to laugh (5+ / 0-)

    they will probably also jauntily parade to the tune of Theme One.  I once knew someone who suggested that the title of the piece was The Happy Robots.

  •  just wanted to say that (7+ / 0-)

    both the diary and the comments were a terrific read today (and take my word for it, I needed that!)

    Thanks!

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 10:40:32 AM PDT

  •  In 1992, when Bill Clinton Was Elected (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, GMFORD, Rashaverak

    Almost very few people had computers in their homes

    Now we all have computers in our pockets.

    The whole premise of being Republican is the awful thought that somewhere, some poor person has a dollar that some rich person actually deserves. - Olbermann, at Cornell, 3/31/2011

    by TC MITS on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 12:13:27 PM PDT

  •  coregulation of affect (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, GMFORD, Athenian, Rashaverak

    we already have a symbiotic relationship with machines.  they function as part of human exosystems. Robots will fill a portfolio of narrow functions before they fill a portfolio of broad functions.  co regulation of affect between elements of the human AI system may take the form of laughter cascades.  why not.

    novelty is one direction being explored by AI.  newness is something that draws attention. abstraction and playfulness are an important aespects of human adaptability.  

  •  the future is now (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, DontTaseMeBro, GMFORD, Rashaverak

    I hereby declare that:

    (1) Each inventor's residence, mailing address, and citizenship are as stated below next to their name; and (2) I believe the inventor(s) named below to be the original and first inventor(s) of the subject matter which is claimed and for which a patent is sought on the invention titled:

    Penis Truck

    Motley Moose: Progress Through Politics

    by Fogiv on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 12:59:45 PM PDT

  •  I read the title quickly and saw (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brit, Rashaverak

    If Roberts(as in, SC) Could Laugh and thought, Roberts doesn't laugh?  At us, of course.

    "The worst that can happen to any group of people working to unseat an existing power base is their failure to imagine the lengths to which those in power will go to keep it." Cognitive Dissonance at Zero Hedge

    by CarolinNJ on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 03:48:40 PM PDT

  •  Have you seen the HAL 9000 answer gadget? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, Brit

    I have it installed on my PC. Hit the red button and you get a classic HAL quote.

    Get it HERE

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 04:09:16 PM PDT

  •  Sometimes the 'distopias' are closer to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rashaverak, Brit

    'predictions' than a lot of stories. Consider the corporate 'world' of the original "Rollerball", and compare it to the future 'mapped out' by the Rethugs, Wall Street, the Koch brothers, ad infinitum.

    May you live in interesting times--Chinese curse

    by oldcrow on Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 04:51:02 PM PDT

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