Re: Humanoid Robots on the Mass Market

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 17:49:43 MDT

Franklin Wayne Poley <> writes:

> Speaking of Sweden...have you been to Vasteras? I have read that they have
> a heating system under the streets to melt the snow. Does it work
> well?

I have not seen that system, but similar things are in place here and
there. The problem is that the range of snow and temperatures where it
is useful is somewhat limited: either there is no snow, enough snow to
melt, or too much snow so that you instead end up with is a big area
of hazardous water or ice, and the "enough" range appears to be small
enough in our current climate that the idea seldom pays for
itself. Naturally, it also eats enormous amounts of energy, making it
troublesome whenever funding for public works get cut or the energy
prices rise.

> That is an example of an automated system to substitute for human.
> Not unpleasant or chaotic (if it works). And how about "moving sidewalks",
> another example of automation.

They are a good example of just why much automaton fails in real
life. Notice that they are rather uncommon - old sf predicted moving
sidewalks in the streets and just about everywhere, but we only find
them in airports, malls, here and there in the Stockholm subway
etc. Controlled indoors environments with specific uses. Implementing
a robustly working versions for other environments have proved too
expensive and inconvenient.

> In fact the whole internal transportation
> system could be automated ... safe, pollution-free. Villages designed this
> way could be linked by inter-village transportation methods, also safe and
> pollution-free. People can leave their cars on the city perimeter.

This idea is old, I think Disney wanted it at Epcot. The problem is
that the internal transportation systems envisioned seldom took into
account how and where people *really* wanted to move, had lots of
moving parts that could snag or break, had high maintenance costs and
could not adapt easily if things changed (such as shifts in load or
socio-geography). If you look at modern books in city planning you will see
that such schemes are today criticized as being the epitome of the
technocratic form of city planning, and there are usually examples
describing just how wrong these projects went.

I think self-organisation is much better. We need systems that can
adapt/be adapted to the users, where new ideas can be tested by people
individually without any need for strong central control or risking
the entire network crashing.

> It could get pretty nighmarish if the humans who start the GA's off don't
> put them on the right path.

My experience is that GAs seldom do what you want them to do. In the
cases where you can set them on the right path the problem is usually
so simple it can be solved by hand.

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:11:36 MDT