Stray Robot Update

1) Bagbot


It follows your cellphone.

The reason I like this is because it looks like the AIs from Iain Banks culture novels. I think… they’re kindof like floating suitcases that follow you around talking to you. They have knife-missiles and can carry your underpants. etc. You can take the smaller ones on planes. Probably. Someone had one in the shape of a vibrator once. It didn’t fool anyone.

2) Space-debris clearance by harpoon idea.


It’ll never happen.

I have an idea of my own for collecting orbital debris – which would also work for the smaller bits as well. The idea was inspired by that “Armageddon” with Bruce Willis, in which the earth is nearly destroyed by a MASSIVE lump of cheese. So my idea is to use an actual massive lump of cheese… but as a force for good. The debris would get stuck in it… replacing a million little problems with one big one. Simple really.

I’m thinking one of the more inclusive cheeses – like mozzarella rather than parmesan… or maybe one of the firmer cheddars surrounded by a thick layer of mozzarella… because it needs to be firm enough to trap the debris rather than have them punch straight through… because if that happens you’re replacing a million little problems, with a million little problems with cheese toppings.

3) Little RC Helicopter from Kickstarter

I think in the future… or present, there’s going to be a sub-category of grammar pedants who get all ratty because things that are actually remote controlled… toys, are called robots. I mean true, they have sensors etc, but unless they’ve got “free will”, they’re not proper robots. That’s why God created Man. The other gods were all “nah, that’s bullshit man, those are just RC drones. They’ve been around for years”… so he made proper autonomous ones, and all Olympus was laughing…

… until we go and split the atom.

But the reason I find this interesting is that they’re making the thing hackable from the outset. Hackability is the Intel Inside. Community is the Intel Inside. The two go together. If you’re building a product that doesn’t have hackability and community then you’re a dinosaur, and out there somewhere is a small furry mammal that looks pathetic… but which has hackability and community… and it’s going to wind up eating your lunch.

They’re asking for around $250k though, which they’re probably not going to get – at least partly because the prototype they’ve created looks exactly like a cheap Chinese-built toy from a $2 shop. They would have been better presenting it as a skeleton with wires and things hanging out.

4) Stalactite Building 3D Printer

That’s totally cool man. Generative art, kindof… and another example of a “thing” where the “thing” part is kindof incidental to the actual art, which is the video of the making-of. I mean sure, you could put the stalactites in an art gallery, or even the entire workshop in an art-gallery, and it would still be really cool – but the art is the video… and I’m not sure that it’s terribly good art… or if it’s possible to make terribly good art using video as a medium, without having a proper story with proper story-arcs etc… I mean there are classic pop-music videos, but they don’t come anywhere near Rembrant’s The Night Watch or The Shining.

Video art tends (so far) to be a bit like writing a book which is made up of random words arranged into interesting shapes… or a book which only has pictures. Sure… interesting maybe, but it’s not how good, standing-the-test-of-time art is done. You’re not ever going to see a Tolstoy of Collage. If it’s got a time component, then it probably needs a narrative arc. Still, what do I know.

5) Incidentally – the robots that you see at the end of that video are buyable off ebay for about $10k, albeit in states of moderate disrepair… and there are other, similar sorts of things for 1/2 that…


But I’m guessing that you’ll be spending a whole lot more than that to actually get the thing to go… ie: controllers/SW. Still… the one above is about $3,997.50… and I’m guessing a good hacker would be able to get the thing to go. This guy I known in NZ bought one and found that the software cost about 10 times what the hardware cost… but… $4k? That’s getting to be in the same ballpark as a “hobbyist” machine.

6) Lastly this. No explanation etc.

The video above lost me the moment it said the word “Imagine” in that patronising, talking to a 12-year-old, Hollywood voice-over-wanker way… which is utterly, utterly endemic on any documentary made in the US. What is it with these people? Why can’t they talk to their audience as adults? I mean can you “imagine” talking to an actual adult, starting the conversation with “Imagine”, spoken in that dripping-with-anticipation way? It’d be all “who’s this cunt? Have I died and woken up in a vacuum cleaner infomercial?”