Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Everything has a price.

No doubt you've seen this ad. This copy is from National Geographic. Technology is a good thing. Atomic fusion, the internet, automobiles, fast food, cell phones. No moral judgements. Just know this and make no mistake:
Everything has a price. Actions have consequences.
I didn't make this up, it's the way the universe is made, no matter how you look at it.

So. let's look at this ad.
"We're building a dream." Whose?
"One robot at a time". Uh, no, not for long. There's no profit in one at a time.
Look at this family. Stepford meets Target.
Even the dog is average white upper middle class. Perfectly manicured lawn, nice big entrance. Ok. This is who we're to believe can afford ASIMO.
ASIMO. ASIMOV. Is it just me? No, didn't think so. You saw that way back. Does this family read ASIMOV? Is this a family? Possibly they are talent.

ASIMO is waving. Why? Because he can't smile? Note---the humans aren't waving. They're smiling. Waving, smiling. Same, samey same. Very human.
Why is ASIMO shown outside the home, waving to us and not inside, carrying a beer or changing the litter box?
Ok. The text explains that one. "Right now ASIMO walks forward and backward, turns corners and goes up and down stairs with ease. All with a remarkable sense of strength and balance." So much for changing the litter box.

So, why is ASIMO shown outside the home, waving and not inside the home, waving? Maybe because people don't normally wave inside? Is it possible the most important aspect of this ad is the wave?
The text goes on to say:
"But ASIMO has the potential to respond to simple voice commands, recognize faces, carry loads and even push wheeled objects. Which means that one day ASIMO could be quite useful......assisting the elderly....etc."
Cause, damn. No human wants to waste time helping the elderly. God forbid we help each other.
Ok. So ASIMO is a potential new product. That's no surprise. People have been expecting robots since the fifties. I grew up with the Jetsons. I thought by 2000 we'd all have flying cars.
Note that ASIMO is referred to as ASIMO, not THE ASIMO. So, a name is implied, but they carefully avoid using 'he", "she" or "it". Clever bastards.

It's not the technology that bothers me. It's the ad. ASIMO isn't here yet, but the herding is.

Who at Honda (or not) put this ad together? Whom did they consult? Where are they leading us? I sound paranoid? Fine. But all these things, down to the #12 on the kids jersey, are DECIDED and the choices made are for REASONS. What are they?
What do you think?

baaaaaaaah baaaaaaaaaaaah baaaaaaaaaah baaaaaaaaaaaah baaah

I saw my sister's name online and pinged her. I got her husband, K. I asked after him, and told him I'd email my sister, that I was concerned about how she'd
done with the anniversary of our mother's death. Usually, it's a hard day for her.
He typed:
"Oh, she's doing just fine now. I bought her a diamond necklace."
.................cone of silence...
."That's great, Kirby. Nothing cures grief like a diamond necklace."
I'm so popular back home. I got a two- sentence email recently, regarding my 'career in California':
"Potty mouth. Your mother would have been ashamed."
Goddammit. We wantsss to stick a fork in our eye, preciousssss.
I love 'em, but I don't get 'em. Same as they don't get me.

Everything has a price.
Everything has a price.

I take it back---I don't miss rain. Rain is good.



Carl V. Anderson said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry! I just wish that when they made the decision to build a robot over at Honda that they had built something that looked kinda cool, a little retro, and not something that looks like it was made out of leftover 1979 Civic parts...

ravyn said...

i have a good friend who, because of complications from Lyme disease, has a companion animal (a dog) to help her around the house. Maybe a robot would be less messy (you *shouldn't* have to walk it), and maybe it would last longer (hah!), but, no matter how well a robot can be designed to respond to commands or recognize faces, it will never have the natural empathy that animals do.

And..... if you've ever had a fancy gadget, um, like a computer???, suddenly stop working, you can imagine what a problem that can create for a "person in need."

Also, your comment about humans not wanting to waste time helping the elderly, made me think. Imagine this robot taking over housecleaning chores. Imagine robots doing all sorts of minimum wage-ish tasks that people now do. Consider how many other jobs are being shipped overseas. What are all the displaced computer programmers going to do when they find they can't even get a housekeeping job because robots don't need salaries?

But i digress.

What we need are robots intelligent enough to tell them lazy housewives to get off their fat asses and vacuum their own carpets!