Re: Humanoid Robots on the Mass Market

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 21:59:07 MDT

Franklin Wayne Poley writes:
> > Floor
> > cleaners will mostl likely come first, will be just a box on wheels,
> > and they will be considerably cheaper than a car.
> Given that Honda's P2 and P3 can walk and climb stairs, why not program
> them to use a vacuum cleaner?

1) the price tag 2) if they can walk stairs (I'd like to see it. Can I
push them while they'll be doing it? Throwing/removing stuff in their
path? Operate them while children/pets are present?), it doesn't mean
they can vacuum a room. No sir. Anyone who wants my office cleaned
without turning it into a mess (it's all hidden order, I'm telling
you), he's facing a quite superhuman task.
> I agree. Now what could be done with 100 billion $ or 100 trillion
> $? These are the questions I am putting forward to the Vancouver

Some of it can't be hurried, but some of it can. 100 gigabucks, now
that would be serious money. (100 terabucks is meaningless, because
the market is not enough to absorb it without being changed radically)
However, I'd rather have it spent in nanotechnology and gerontology,
and space industry, if it was mine to command.

> television group which says it wants to do an ed tv documentary on
> "machine psychology". I want the top experts in the world to answer and I
> think they will.
The phrase "machine psychology" is rather purple, considered that we
even can't get the low-level motorics done properly. So far, this
falls under the cathegory "algorithmic artefacts", at best.

> > Japan has pioneered some remarkably audacious and unremarkably failing
> > projects in the past.
> Hey...I remember the Alamo...or was it Pearl Harbour? Anyway, to use your
> expression, below, So what?
If you point towards an ambitious AI project in Nippon, I can point
towards a series of very impressive failures. Meaning, the fact alone
that Japan is doing a particular AI project is not sufficient to get
me all wet and flushed. This doesn't mean that robotics is a dead
horse, but this doesn't mean that particular project is going to go
critical, either.
> > Yes, so what.
> Oh I can think of all kinds of so whats. Like "robot robots" which is what

I don't know what "robot robots" are. Please explain before you use an
unfamiliar term.

> Pearson from BT expects to see happening in about a decade. Like the
> transformation of society when it really is "The End of Work" (Rifkin's

The end of work? I thought we worked more and later hours, at reduced
wage. Humans are still a great deal more flexible, and cheaper than
robots. Only in very few areas are robots going to outperform the
price/performance on an illegal immigrant.

> title). And you know what? For those willing to use a little savvy (and I
> don't mean just high tech people) I think the era of "The End of
> Work" (total automation) has arrived. The choices are whether to go
> "anthropomorphic" or "nonanthropmorphic" in planning totally automated new

Well, let's have this discussion by the time a breakeven point between
human and robotic vehicles on the road has arrived. Meanwhile, there
are much juicier topics to sink our fangs into. Let's deal with them,
as they arise.

> communities. NOW.
> FWP.

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