Archive for November, 2017

People are expensive. If you’re an employer in this late capitalist stage of Western society, you have to consider your overheads. For the conscientious there are pensions and healthcare, even before you get into the basics of heating buildings, IT support, toilet facilities, refreshments…

Thankfully, hard-nosed profiteers and shoppers at ASDA can take heart. Parent company, and long-term resistor to workers’ rights, Walmart, are trialling robot cleaners in some of their larger US stores. Just think of all the money they’ll save downsizing their global janitorial staff. Savings that will allow them to work even greater margins on their sweat shop manufactured clothing ranges. Savings that shoppers will experience via more bargain deals and a fuller shopping cart.

It’s just one troubling factor in the growing roboticism of our world, and while we here at Drozbot advocate that technology isn’t inherently evil, the repercussions of its application really should be highlighted and questioned.

In the UK, Channel 4 is doing just that with a series of programmes dedicated to the “Rise of the Robots”. From automated cars to the increasing sophistication of sex and psychoanalytic bots, the five shows – and subsequent discussions on forums and social media – should go some way to broadening the discussion.

Sci-Fi still has its role to play too within the blurring lines of fact and fiction. While we like to laugh at just how crude and vulnerable robots remain, short films like Slaughterbots and Rise seem less and less far fetched. Especially when you look at yet another landmark video from Boston Dynamics – albeit one reassuringly underpinned with its own out-take.

Be in no doubt, the robots aren’t coming, they’re already here in the guise of automated factories, toilets, gene sequencers, toys… What we need to be concerned with is where they’re going and what the destination will mean for their weak and transient creators.

Tags: , , , ,

Tomorrow’s World returning to our lives, albeit as a podcast, is a good thing.

The original show ran from 1965 until 1999, promoting a popularist approach to technology that kept audiences tuning in every Thursday night – partly to see the live demonstrations impressively fail, but also to get a sense of what the future held for the average UK citizen. The mobile phone received its first public airing, CD players were shown off, as were early home computers and games consoles – wonderfully demonstrated by ex WW2 spitfire ace Raymond Baxter. To a young and impressionable Sci-Fi fan, the show held the power to present difficult realities in a pragmatic, down-to-earth manner. You couldn’t help confront you own mortality when faced with the technological revolution of carbon fibre replacement heart valves. However, any existential angst was off-set by the presenters’ air that, despite setbacks, science really was the best tool with which to shape our future.

Lampooned by alternative comedians for its cheesy presentation, the show did dip and dive into the realms of ‘cool’. The programme’s 1980s theme tune, by Richard Denton and Martin Cook, was a great piece of electronica that has stood the test of time. Let’s also not forget the show’s regular showcase of electronic keyboards, including an early recording of German electro pioneers, Kraftwerk, playing live. There was also some cross-pollination between this show, and the altogether more challenging work of one of its early presenters James Burke. His shows on the nature of reality were mind-bending stuff.

Now, in the very capable hands of Brit Wray and Ellie Cosgrave, Tomorrow’s World is back as a multi-layered piece of audio excellence. Shows are coming in around an hour in duration, with topics such as the well-spring of scientific ideas, floating cities and artificial intelligence all receiving in-depth consideration. If you haven’t already had a chance to sample their informative and yet playful approach, head over to the show’s home page and get involved!

Tags: , , , , ,