Hungry, Hungry Robots

January 31, 2009

Sources: Slashdot, Reuters

Robot Eat Cat

This should give you an idea of what DARPA’s latest robot nightmare project is about; The EATR Project seeks to create robots that can “consume” organic matter for fuel.

Appetite for Destruction. A Potomac, MD, US company called Robotic Technologies Inc. (RTI) has just contracted Florida-based Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. to develop engines for a new DARPA robot project. These engines will use biomass as their fuel source. Doesn’t sound like major news… unless you know that the project is called EATR: Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR(TM)).

The EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling. The system is designed to obtain its energy by foraging — engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. The patent pending robotic system can find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil and solar) when suitable.

In other words, the EATR-bots will power itself by doing something nature has been doing for millions of years: Ingest “food” by grazing (herbivore), hunting (carnivore), and/or scavenging. A PDF presentation of the project can be found/downloaded here.

 

Terabytes… or TERROR BITES? It’s not hard to imagine a pack of hungry, hungry robots being let loose in a densely populated area like a big city or a Midwest farm where their appetites can cause a major catastrophe, unless you program them to not eat certain targets. They can also be used in “clean-up” work such as clearing brush to prevent or control forest fires, cleaning up landfills, or even the recent turmoil in Gaza…

Then you have to figure what the kooks at PETA may try to do to “convince” the EATRs to go vegan. Maybe a spin-off like RETHA: Robots for the Ethical Treatment of Humans and Animals? And it may also lead to another question: What sauce do you use to serve a PETA member to an EATR?

EATR Warning Sign

I ate that PETA branch with some fava beans and a nice chianti. They had flava’. Om nom nom nom nom nom!
This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

The Unwillingness to Think for Ourselves

January 14, 2009

Source: The Student Operated Press (SOP)

A little something to tweak your brain. One thing I like about cyberpunk is how it makes you think about how technology is taking over our lives, and what good or harm that does. Consider this little essay a subtle hint about the “harm” part.

Actually, it’s about the author’s preference of Faulkner over Hemingway; A rejection of media-for-the-masses in favor of more intellectual fare, and why this may have saved his brain from mutating into sheeple-think:

We didn`t know it then, but the age of instant gratification and horse-race criticism was aborning. From there on fiction would be adjudged by whether it was a page-turner or a beach read. The best-seller list would reflect not literary quality but marketing expertise.

So, how does this relate to cyberpunk? This op-ed piece seems to touch on two cyberpunk themes: Control over society, and access to information. You control the information, you control what the sheeple think, and therefore, you control the society. You REALLY think that all those national firewalls and “filters” going up is to combat porn and piracy?

What happens to a society that can’t think for itself?

Clarity and forward motion would become buzz words for an underlying unwillingness to embark on the adventure that Proust`s marvelous powers of observation posed, just as the Republican Southern Strategy of the 1960s was actually a buzz term for license to keep on hating and oppressing. It was assumed that Crane had tied a mass of knots that were not worth untying, whereas in fact he had pressed the language into service for a voyage, much like fitting a spaceship. The critics were licensing the public to dumb down. The marketers were supplanting the editors. Such a society was bound sooner or later to accept a George W. Bush or Dick Cheney as leaders, because it had given up its intellectual future without a whimper.

We have allowed taste-making apparatchiks to turn literature into a horse race in which someone has to win and someone has to lose, a fundamentally silly idea. The winners of course will be the worst books, the worst minds, and, it goes without saying, the most venal.

Still need a clue? Check this Guidespot.com post called “SHEEPLE” things we LOVE because we can’t think for ourselves.

This is mass-media on your brain. Any Questions?

Cyberpunk, the cure for non-functional brains. Fortunately for us, cyberpunk has managed to stay out of the mass-media spotlight enough to not be co-opted into a propaganda brain-cell killer, though not from the lack of trying. Despite Time Magazine’s best efforts in 1993, cyberpunk survived the limelight and remained mostly underground. This kept the genre vital and interesting to inspire newer generations of CP fans and artists.

So next time you feel your brain-cells being anesthetized by mass-media, reach for a cyberpunk book, movie, or CD, and reboot your brain.

This post has been filed under Internet Find, Essays by Mr. Roboto.

io9’s 2K9 Movie Preview – Some may be reviewed here!

January 9, 2009

Source: io9

Sci-Fi site io9 has posted its list of movies for 2009 to watch… or avoid; Some 30 such movies expected over the next twelve months. While some are predictable blockbusters (J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, a live-action Dragonball, and the Wolverine movie), there’s a few we’ll be keeping an eye-cam out for and possibly reviewing so you can go watch… or avoid… as necessary.

Here’s what’s coming up, chronologically:

Terminator: Salvation (May 22). The latest of the series (this time sans-Schwarzenegger) looks and sounds like a big rebound from the T3 fiasco.

Terminator Salvation - Harvester

At least the Harvester is impressive.

 

Game (Sept. 4). Imagine playing your favorite FPS or shoot-em-up using REAL people and REAL weapons. For some convicts with controller chips in their heads, it becomes all-too REAL. Early reviews say it REALLY sucks, but we’ll give you our view of it… for REAL.

 

9 (Sept. 9). The machines have succeeded in exterminating humanity. Now, only one stands in the way of total mechanized domination… a RAG DOLL???!!!???

Believe it or don’t, this Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov production may have something to show John Conner in terms of fighting against killer robots.

This 11-minute short by Shane Acker should give you a little hint of what to expect from the full movie.

 

The Surrogates (Sept. 25). In a world where “going out” means firing up your robot (a “surrogate”) and maneuvering it through reality like playing an FPS, Bruce Willis finally snaps from cabin fever and exclaims:

Bruce Willis in “The Surrogates”

SCREW YOU GUYS! I AM OUTTA HERE!

And he does just that… he goes outside… physically outside! It is based on a little-known graphic novel (I’ve got to look for it!), and has some real potential for reviews here.

 

Astro Boy (Oct. 23). Another classic anime get the Hollywood makeover, and a Pinocchio-esque storyline to boot. Might be worth a laugh… and a brief review… maybe.

 

But wait… There’s more! Not only will these movies be reviewed… maybe… but there are some from the past year, and earlier years, I and my fellow reviewers will try to review for you. I have 6 DVDs planned for viewing and reviewing, so we’ll be busy getting the best of cyberpunk cinema to you this year.

This post has been filed under Movie News, Upcoming Movies by Mr. Roboto.