Re: Humanoid Robots on the Mass Market

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 05:57:47 MDT

Franklin Wayne Poley <> writes:

> I'll forward a posting on a proposal for a maximally automated
> village. The question is, How far could we go with automating all standard
> maintenance and chores like vacuuming, scrubbing, lawn mowing etc? I am
> sure we can go very far if we are flexible with the initial design. Then
> let's see how well the "genetic agorithms" do with improving the design
> over time.

Of course, by designing everything to fit the machines it can be made
trivial (actually not even then, but anyway) to run an automated
village. However, it might not be entirely pleasant to live in such a
place since it will not be designed for human chaos.

The problems one should think of carefully before setting up something
like this is: what are you trying to achieve? Is this solution brittle
and overplanned? Here in Sweden we have many buildings from the 30's
created by progressive functionalists that had a lot of apparently
great ideas about the house as a machine for living in. Unfortunately
they ignored social realities, and all the helpful automation and
systems they had added went unused.

Genetic algorithms would likely turn the village into a nicely
dangerous and chaotic place. After all, you can never be entirely sure
the robots will be doing the right thing, and occasionally (likely
quite often) unanticipated quirks will appear. When other robots
encounter these quirks their quirks will also be activated, and the
resulting co-ecolution might lead to something very much different
from the efficient all-automated village originally enticipated:

"Why is that half of the garden so unkempt? Well, our first lawnmower
apparently had a mutation that made it avoid it. Then our neighbour's
mower instead began to mowe it, and everything was fine for a
while. Unfortunately it was rather "aggressive", running into any
mower that came close, but it did a great job. After a few months our
mowers learned never to go there. But then the neighbour's mower had
an upgrade and only tended its part of the garden, and our mowers have
long since bred out any genes that make them mowe that part. So we
tried introducing some new ones, but they mowed my rosebushes, earning
a lot of negative fitness, and the other mowers prevented them from
going into the unmowed area since they had learned that overall
fitness decreased when one of them got there and was ejected. So after
a while we were left again with mowers that refused to mowe that
half. Now we are planning to buy some lawnmower herder robots - we
hope they can fix it."

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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