Saturday, November 6, 2010

Robots in the workplace

This story is from this summer's NYTimes, but I had to set it aside because it was too frightening.  Not in the 1984/Big Brother/Dystopia way.  Just, you know, robots are.... {{{shuddderrr}}}

Some of you like your robots, and I try to respect that.  May God bless and keep the robots... far away from us.  I am actually surrounded by robots in my workplace -- I just don't have to see them, or really even hear them.  Watching their little brains work is fascinating.  If we keep them looking like furniture, I like them just fine.

(I think what I really resent is that I don't get to wear a labcoat.)

You may have read reactions to Polar Express that tried to explain why animated Tom "Dead Eyes" Hank is so much more disturbing than, say, grumpy little Ed Asner from Up.  It seems there is a theorem on  how close an unreal thing can come to looking like a real thing before it crosses a line into TOO real.  (see my earlier commentary on Pinocchio who looks weirder as a boy than as a "poppet."

I think I have to call it a "theorem," since Popular Mechanics has debunked the Uncanny Valley (as the creepy robot theorem is known) as not a true "theory," since there is no data supporting the idea.  We just know it.  Let's be honest.

I am going to make a complete leap of creative logic and assert that therefore.... human beings who look a little creepy... are probably robots.

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The DrawingIn Field Guide to Robots in Your Workplace

1. Hard-coded Clothing: If there are people in your workplace wearing the same clothes every day -- to the point where you could make them on the fuzziest security camera -- you either work on Gilligan's Island, or they are robots.

2. Recurring Conversation (also never letting the joke die):  If they can't get off the weather, or if Andy Bernard keeps calling you Tuna, sneak up behind him with a magnet.

3.  Mechanical Laugh: dead giveaway

4.  Unfailing Loyalty:  (again...note the dead eyes)

5. Dead Eyes can be a clue, but is not for certain.  Check first to see if they are a goat.  There's a lot of that going around.

1 comment:

  1. Also, they cannot be swayed by emotional outbursts. There goes 75% of my ability to communicate with robots. Now I'll have to rely on logic and reason--not my strong suits.


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