Flutterby™! : No porn funding for robots

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No porn funding for robots

2004-02-25 06:34:42.669063+00 by Shawn 8 comments

Okay, so the Seattle Times article is really about the burgeoning ranks of virtual humans[Wiki] and some of the ethical questions being raised, but they had to make sure they got their digs in on the sex industry too:

"Some people develop an inordinate level of trust with these characters," Plantec said. "No doubt unethical people are going to get involved in this." He has refused funding from pornographic Web sites, for example.

I can think of a long list of people and organizations that I'm much more worried about in this context than pornographers.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Ethics Robotics Artificial Intelligence Propaganda ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 16:29:19.66722+00 by: petronius

I hope nobody at Carnegie Mellon is complaining about George Bush destroying jobs in the US, when they are so cheerfully involved in creating virtual workers.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 19:18:52.378926+00 by: Shawn

Yeah, all through that piece I was wondering how the teacher's union feels about all this. (For those who haven't read the article yet, there is a lot of emphasis on using these "chatbots" for teaching.)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 19:38:06.400333+00 by: Dan Lyke

Grin. Because CAI[Wiki] has been so successful over the years... Anyone remember Pilot[Wiki]?

I guess teaching is the first thing everyone goes after because it's a labor intensive job which can only be filled with educated people. I was in a McDonald's[Wiki] a month or three ago and realized that I was looking at the limits of robotics: If mechanizing any part of that process was cheaper than putting a human in the system, it would have been done.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 20:35:26.720215+00 by: Dan Lyke

Of course given that post of a few days ago, about the teacher's aide and student discovered naked in a car maybe they need to work on combining porn and teaching?

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 20:38:47.540295+00 by: petronius

Dan: I agree that fry cooks would be replaced if machines were cheaper. However, it may just be that the technology has gone in different directions for the moment. Advanced robotics are used in high-value industries, such as automotives or chip manufacture. But when the development costs are paid for, I suspect the manufacturers will begin to look for new uses for the mature technology.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 21:45:17.332837+00 by: Dan Lyke

Petronius, I'd bet that what's necessary to train people to position and weld accurately is far more than what's necessary to train people to turn out a consistently golden fry. We can back of the envelope that if you've got relatively cheap capital, the cost of a $1k device over 5 years is $250 per year. If a human costs $20-$25k/year (minimum wage in SF is $8.50+employer taxes, probably no bennies so that's a cost buried in taxes) then a machine that replaces them has to cost less than $80-$100k. Perhaps Larry can pipe in with actual cost and depreciation schedules for a burger flipping and building machine since he automates plants.

But added into that is the additional social cost that when the jobs for those low-end workers disappear into automation then society will have to warehouse them (ie: long term disability, programs for the otherwise homeless, etc...), so those workers will continue to get more subsidized.

So it'll be a race between when the development costs for the robots are amortized and they can become commodity and just how much society is willing to subsidize employee costs for lower income workers.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-25 21:49:19.541058+00 by: Larry Burton

The fast food industry has become highly automated but there still needs to be a human or two hanging around to monitor things and they might as well be wrapping a burger or two while they are doing this. If you can't automate things fully it's time to analyse what things that can be automated don't need to be because the human that has to be there can do it just as efficiently.

I can see a day when these chatbots will evolve to the form that can effectively replace the fast food cashier and that day is rapidly approaching. The only reason that they haven't been replaced so far is that people want to buy their food from something other than just a vending machine. Automats were around in the '40s, they weren't accepted too well because of the lack of a smiling face. Vending machines work well in a companies lunch room because they have a captive audience there. When someone goes out to eat, even at McDonald's, they are looking for a little service from a human in the experience.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-26 00:42:44.466725+00 by: meuon

The few times I've been at McDonalds lately, a malfunctioning robot would have been an upgrade. With one WEIRD exception, the one on Scottsboro Alabama that runs 24/7 and is consistently staffed by friendly competent older women and has the best breakfast I've ever had at a McDonalds.. Consistently. (I was getting 5am breakfast there 3-4 times a week for a while, on my way back to Chattanooga).