Friday, 28 November 2008

The Ethical Nature of Robots

In my opinion, the greatest examination of the theoretical ethics of robots or artificial intelligence was conducted in fiction by Isaac Asimov. His three rules of robot behaviour that was hard wired into the positronic brain of just about every one of his mechanical creations (there were quite a few who were fine tuned to place more or less importance on one or another of the rules) pretty much covers most of the potential situations that could arrive. He looks into what could happen when something goes wrong - either within the robot or the robot's environment) and has considered more real world (and absolutely fantastic world) situations than just about any other.

And let's not forget the fan fiction and thousands of other stories written by others in the canon.

Unfortunately, the real development in autonomous robot intelligence is happening in the military. And the first rule "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." - the most important one - is hardly going to work when a military robot is designed to kill people. There are lots of robots that do relatively peaceable things like bomb disarming, reconaissance and decoding but these are steps in developing a machine that will mean soldiers don't have to go in and risk themselves and the robots will do the killing.

It's a real pity that such an important treatise on the morals of artificial intelligence has to be wasted but because the most important work on robotics is being made by the war industry. The technology will trickle down to the rest of us eventually and some amazing robots are being developed in the civilian world but it seems as we're finally moving towards a reality that includes true AI they're going to be built for war and that's not an ethic I can trust.

It's very important that the issues of robot ethics are examined and considered before we have the technology to build them - there will always be those who want to defeat their enemies no matter the human cost - but I think Asimov is the best place to start when considering a moral code for the robots.

A Man Of Principle

Who says that bureaucrats aren't real human people?

USDA Official Takes Courageous Stand Against Interstate Countercyclical Potato Pricing

Thursday, 27 November 2008


Back in the confidential world - having to explain the sling a thousand times over - nothing's changed except I'm a bit more unshaven and wearing a buttoned down shirt.  Such is life.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Public Horror

Public health system is great in theory but in practice it has its drawbacks - and there's a real problem when the private system is even worse.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Patiend 30 YO Male

Saturday's racing mishap seems to have drawn on a bit more than i'd have liked - sure, it's great to get some time off from the confidential place but one can get rather tense when confined to local walking areas (even if one used to be famed for having a great pedestrian range). Still managed to keep myself relatively busy and have been mAintaining a 1-movie per day minimum but overall personal comfort is extremely low. Despite having insured myself against this srort of mishap it seems far more efficient to take the public route to repair - my faith in western medicine has taken a hit though - far too many doctors younger than me and, can i even say it, but less knowledge than me. Admittedly only in certain areas but these guys are in rotation, learning what they can about the intricacies of being a sawbones - nobody has been able to give me a clear understanding of what I need to do to prevent further injury and recover. As it was, it was this lack of expertise which may have prompted a late shift of bones which caused more pain, more discomfort and a midnight panic attack which drove me and my disgruntled ladyfriend back to the emergenc ward. Googling seems to create more nausea than reassurance at the moment.
Typing vey ucomfortable ... may need to move to podcast ...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A good Samaritan?

I wonder if Miranda Devine considers acts like this when she berates the messenger community???

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Well, I may not be published in the world of print but a shekel or two has come my way through the written word (in a roundabout way).  Pressures of the confidential world alleviated slightly but are sure to redouble when what goes away comes back.  After giving Puck the scrubbing of a lifetime I may have cracked the theory of derailleur adjustment but have still not learned the art and for some reason beyond me a slipping axle is causing me grave concern.  And Hans My Hedgehog ... how sweet you are and what a word you brought to my life.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Here's Hoping

One could say it's been a week of slightly overwhelming proportions ... what with a training course in the confidential arts taking me out to the middle of the commercial industrial wasteland that is Lane Cove West - a somewhat isolated outpost of the corporate sector that was surprisingly well hooked up with bike facilities (which, whilst not complete, were pretty good and also almost completely unknown to me), the workaholic in me was coaxed out of his shell with some impromptu visits to the office and semi-frequent utilisation of the work from home technology (which I should be using with far more frequency).  Missed the Melbourne Cup for the second time in living memory (the first was when in Vancouver) - closest miss was when I was ridden off my erse whilst employed by the dubious courier company of Crisis but I did manage to slide into a city pub, swill one of the very few alcoholic bevarages I can claim to have imbibed while on that job and slide out but this year I read about it in the paper (admittedly, only minutes after it happened and on an online version but I missed the telecast and it didn't really bother me ... at least at the time). 
There was also the slightly under exposed American election - couldn't avoid it, heard the speeches, exalted in the hope that can only be experienced in the few days between the expectation and the letdown.  For the moment, I'm on the side of hope - what comes may come but right now my heart is soaring.  It's already been overused and is on the verge of cliche but I think we can still say 'Yes we can' and cringe at the glurge.
Riding a lot - watching movies in the gaps - finishing books (only the reading of) here and there (woefully neglectful of the printed word) and trying not to think about the fact that the boss is back on Monday ...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Sarah Palin Prank Call

This is hilarious ... I guess she's just not that bright ...

Monday, 3 November 2008

A humbled man ...

How nice to see my name amongst the victors ... admittedly at the bottom (or near the bottom) of a list of victors and a dubious victory but nonetheless there it is.
Pity the victory snap is of someone else ...