Thursday, January 23, 2014

Robots as Appliances

I've been thinking about robots again.  And the more I think, the more I believe that they should use a common operating system.  If they need to have a specialized routine for an arm movement, they should be able to go to a central site to get that routine.  But what's more, eventually they will all be part of a centralized mindset.  while they will be individual machines, they will all be part of the same network.  Possibly the same being.  This is actually an old idea, perpetrated by science fiction.  I offer the following quite as evidence.  The italics are mine:

Quote from "The Age of the Pussyfoot" by Frederik Pohl

     A girl with hair like transparent cellophane greeted him.  "I have your reservation, Man Forrester.  Will you follow me, please?"
     He did, walking behind her across a quartz-pebbled court and into the hall that was the tea room, admiring the swing of her hips and wondering just what it was that she did to her hair to make it stand out like a sculptured puffball and rob it of opacity.
     She seated him beside a reflecting pool, with silvery fish swimming slowly about.  Even with the peculiar hairdo, she was a pretty girl.  She had dimples and dark, amused eyes.
     He said, "I don't know what I want, actually.  Anyway, who do I order from?"
     "We are all the same, Man Forrester,"  she said.  "May I choose for you?  Some tea and cakes?"
     Numbly, he nodded and, as she turned and left, watched the sway of her hips with an entirely different kind of interest.
     He sighed.  This was a confusing world!

     The self-programming, shared-time girl with the dark, grave eyes brought Forrester his tea and cakes.  "Thank you," he said, staring at her.  He was still not quite sure of his deductions about her.  He tried an experiment.  "Can you give me my messages?" he asked.
     "Certainly, Man Forrester, if you wish," she said promptly.  "Alfred Guysman wishes to see you on political business.  Adne Benson asks you to return her message of this morning.  The Nineteenth Chromatic Trust informs you that arrangements have been made for you to establish banking facilities with them---"
     "That's enough," he said, marveling at how nicely a shared-time transponder could be packaged.  "I'll take the rest later."

Eventually, if we forget our phones at home, we can simply go to any machine that is connected to the net, and interact with it in a casual conversation, asking it for email, or what have you.