Time to get rid of the word ROBOT

Time to get rid of the word ROBOT

Robot is problematic. Not because it was originally derived from the Czech word for forced labor but because we commonly use it to describe two distinct classes of machine.

The first is a something that is either fully scripted (a Disney ride) or fully operated by a human (a bomb disposal robot). Most 'robots' are like this.

The second is a machine with some autonomy that makes potentially unpredictable decisions based on its programming. Like a Tesla.

If the first one kills you it's either an industrial accident or a person killing you through more levels of indirection than usual. When the second one kills you it's a little murkier. Was it the driver of the Tesla? The programmer? Elon?

I bring up killing because the San Francisco Police Department is claiming the power to kill people with robots on some state mandated paperwork. I'm being asked to tell my supervisor to stop this kind of thing, but on reflection I'm all for it because SFPDs robots are very much the first kind and not the second and we should be far more worried about self-driving cars running us down than a remote controlled wheelbarrow with a shotgun.

I'd prefer SFPD to use lethal force only when absolutely necessary but I really don't think we should constrain how they pull the trigger. Imagine a hostage situation with an active shooter in an inaccessible location. Would you rather resolve the situation with a SWAT team and potentially large scale loss of life or would you use the shotgun equipped wheelbarrow?

But I'm certainly not in favor of Robocop or pretty much anything out of Runaway and so SFPD shouldn't be able to use the word robot to describe their policy.

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Reviews and Links for March 2012

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

No books this month.


RT @drclue: "drclue: #pearlhunt making progress... http://t.co/FAgLQ2UH" --http://www.twitter.com/drclue/status/185829093244280832

We won #pearlhunt and all we won was this... http://t.co/vUBgLWeK

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ITHCWY: Agua: Little known fact, geologists would tell you that Bernal Hill is made of chert, actually it's mostly… http://t.co/xMRm2J9n

ITHCWY: Mangler: I don't know what the machine attached to our office does but it's giving me nightmares. http://t.co/BSbvoshq

ITHCWY: It was where he left it: Not to bang on about the BBC and their horrible headlines but 'lost' is a bit… http://t.co/bDKjUbl4

ITHCWY: Executive Clubbing: I used to really love British Airways. I even got over their silly new livery and… http://t.co/NC2Bt9bM

ITHCWY: Sand Ladder at Fort Funston http://t.co/5aeQjoti

ITHCWY: SFO http://t.co/sB1QdXCt

BBC News - The Spanish link in cracking the Enigma code http://t.co/Qv6qYqqQ #fb

ITHCWY: Robot Ahead http://t.co/tn7mHTI8

ITHCWY: Goldilocks: Israel just banned models with a BMI under 18.5. That's not severely underweight, it's the… http://t.co/G5HCE5Ey

External impact report for @IDEX at http://t.co/BsMp8ADa

RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: Vernal (Spring) #Equinox 2012 in Catfood #Earth: Spring starts right now in the… http://t.co/xxnASTMp

Good weekend to skip Fort Funston: http://t.co/UE8blE4c

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RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: Catfood #PdfScan 1.40: I’ve just released Catfood PdfScan 1.40. This is a minor update… http://t.co/6bzjCdfi

Shamed... http://t.co/AlSwTzzY

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Why is this firefighting robot familiar: http://t.co/rqXLfCdC vs. http://t.co/wCL3Hu2d US Navy, call Cybernetics #fb

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"not a threat to the penguins, we don't suspect" - http://t.co/oIrzQOEj - it wasn't a dream!

http://t.co/qRCS8Qhb (new #SF data portal) #todo @myEN

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Robot Ahead

Updated on Friday, April 17, 2020

Robot Ahead

In Zimbabwe a traffic light is a robot (or at least it was circa 1994 when this photo was taken).

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