Maybe Not

People who knock on doors and proselytize on behalf of some set of beliefs are people riddled with doubt about those beliefs and probably every other thing they claim to believe. The reason I know this is that if they were sure about the things they were saying, they would not care what I think about those things. They would not be on my doorstep trying to convince me to come around to their way of thinking. If they were so sure, they could just send me a post card or wait until I discovered the truth as they did.

The point here is that people trying to convince you of something, in almost all cases, are not doing it because of altruism. Sure, dad telling you not to drink and drive is doing it because he loves you. The cop telling you the same thing is doing it because he has a soul and hates seeing car accidents. Outside of those very narrow areas, people trying to convince you of something are either full of doubt and looking for validation or they are full of crap and looking for a sucker. Sometimes it is both.

I find myself thinking these thoughts whenever the robot future is pitched to me in news stories or by John Derbyshire in his podcast. In John’s case, the doomsday nature of the robot future is, I suspect, the main appeal. If the robot future promised puppies and ice cream he would dismiss the idea as silliness. In the case of news stories, my instinct is that the people pitching the idea really really want to believe it, so they try really hard to get everyone else to believe it. This piece is a good example.

One of the most convenient changes in the modern era of air travel has been the ability to check in online, drop your bags at the counter, and stroll off to security, potentially without having to speak to a single human. But when everyone else started doing the same thing, the lines at check-in got shorter, but the drop-off line got longer.
SITA, a Swiss telecoms firm specializing in the air transport industry, working in parternship with robotics firm BlueBotics, has a solution: Autonomous robots that check your bags at the curb.
SITA’s robot, called Leo, is being tested at Geneva Airport, the company said in a release late last month. To use the bot, passengers with luggage tap a few buttons on Leo’s touchscreen, scan their boarding passes, drop their bags in its cargo bay, and affix the luggage tags that Leo prints out. The bot then closes up its cargo area—so that no one can tamper with your bag while it’s in transit—and drops the bags off at a loading station, where a human drops the bags on a conveyor belt to be scanned and loaded onto the correct plane.

For starters, the person writing this has not been in an airport since the 90’s if their last memory is “drop your bags at the counter, and stroll off to security.” Maybe in fantasy land or at small airports for private aircraft this is the norm, but in normalville, standing in endless lines and suffering endless humiliations is the norm. I’ve been flying for decades and I don’t remember a time when air travel was anything but a hassle and it has not been made better by technology.

Putting that aside, there’s the fact that this wonderful leap into the robot future has existed for a long time. In America, many airports have kiosks where you check your bags. You slide your credit card, answer a few questions, get the bag sticker and then deposit your bag onto the belt. Maybe an attendant puts it on the belt, but that’s his only job and you have no reason to speak with him. After 9/11, DC airports had you put your bag through a screening machine first. Again, no humans involved.

Having a clumsy mechanical man handle the placing of the bags on the belt is hardly a great leap forward. It looks like a publicity stunt. That’s the thing with the robot future stories. They are short on practical specifics and long on predictions about how the clumsy mechanical man will soon be ruling over us as a mechanical overlord. Yet, we remain stuck in the clumsy and inefficient mechanical man stage. It always feels like we are being sold something that the seller does not truly believe. They just want to believe or pretend to believe it.

Don’t get me wrong. I tend to agree that automation is the great challenge to Western civilization in the long run, but it is the long run. No one reading this is going to live to see the day when they are enslaved by smart robots. In fact, few will see the day when smart robots are doing work in public places. That day is a lot further off than the futurists want to believe. Technologically, it is really hard and expensive to replicate even the most basic of human labor. Getting more complex stuff right and cheap is going to take a long time.

It’s the solar power narrative. For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been hearing about how solar is ready to take over the world and make fossil fuels obsolete. It never happens. The best we have are small panels for running a small devise like a traffic camera. We’ve had those for decades. The large scale projects turn into tax sinks and then white elephants. The solar companies spring up and then go bust. The glorious solar future always seems to be just over the next hill, along with electric cars and forever life.

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Old Codger
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Old Codger

I just want to see a robot that will tirelessly clean up the garbage, trash, debris and sh*t the average run-of-the-mill ghetto-dweller-porch-monkeys refuse to pick up in their own ‘hoods! Or is that wish too “white privileged “?

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Why would anyone invest in technology for such a venture when all those folks can do the job themselves, if they would only choose to? I know, I know, companies will get the government to do so and they will make lots of money. Just think of the money to be made in the replacement business when the robots start disappearing?? Ever seen cars stripped and chassis’ sitting on cinder blocks? Same same. Bad idea.

Shelby
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Shelby

Perhaps the robots can inhabit moon and Mars bases. Make them livable for humans.
Too many legal eagles hear on earth, just waiting for a robot to slip up.
And as for the trash, Old Codger, mama told us ” we might have to live poor but we don’t have to live dirty”.

Member

“People who knock on doors and proselytize on behalf of some set of beliefs are people riddled with doubt about those beliefs and probably every other thing they claim to believe.”

Salak. Bay waqoof. Bishour.

Larry Darrell
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Larry Darrell

You are wrong about solar power. Travel through the more greenie parts of Europe, e.g., Germany, and even U.K., and you will often see almost half of houses with huge solar panels covering the roofs – they supply almost all the electricity for the residents. Of course the panels are ridiculously expensive and therefore mostly “free,” i.e., paid for by “someone else, certainly not me” through taxes and borrowing from China.

Karl Hungus
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Karl Hungus

Especially during Winter!

Doug
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Doug

Hey, not so fast. I built my own stand alone off grid system piece by piece, nobody but me paid for it. The components have come way down in price too. Kyrocea’s primo 150 watt 12 volt cells are down to $285, from close to 8 bills 6-7 years ago. Motive power battery sets are half what they where in 07. Some really innovative small mom and pop wind turbine inventor’s/sellers have made small wind practical and highly efficient. It is a really great time right now to set yourself up with a stand alone system. A Voltaic/Wind system is… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

“There are a lot of wives tails about off grid …” ha ha, I’ll bet there are!!

Sam J.
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Sam J.

I agree with Doug. Solar City can install a whole solar system and you pay payments. In many cases the payments are less than the former electricity cost. When batteries come down that, and they are, that will be the death of a large portion of the power companies profits. It’s going to cause them a lot of strain. It will also change living accommodations. With solar becoming cheaper you could live in areas that before would be impractical.

Larry Darrell
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Larry Darrell

I just hope to see the “female” nooky robots become common – I will probably be too geriatric to manage a coupling with one, but their effect on the feminists’ bush cartel will be hilarious. Milo had a great article on this a few months ago.

Member

Life is very situational. I realized this at a funeral when I was filled with grief, and yet the sun shined and the birds chirped and most people went on with their lives as if nothing had happened. AI may only be Doomsday to us, because it has to destroy our world, since the two can’t exist together. We’ll have to suffer the birth pains to bring this, possible, boon to humanity into the world. Whether it will be good or evil is still unknown, but we aren’t going to stop it.

Doug
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Doug

Gee, sounds just like a description of cultural marxism, islam, and the oligarchy, excuse me, federal government, rolled into one pithy brief post.

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

I think you are mixing two different things. Proselytizing about “beliefs” is one thing but “marketing hype” about a future technology is another. For the technology side, the hype is all about getting investors to keep funding that rainbow that is “oh so close, you can almost taste it!” The initial investors lose out but the corporations gets their high incomes and keeps rolling on and even in the event they go belly up, they wind up with their golden parachutes all thanks to the investors. But hey, it they don’t know it’s all a crap shoot, they shouldn’t be… Read more »

NotquiteunBuckley
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https://cumulus.hillsdale.edu/Buckley/index2.html#1466826135719_1 “People who knock on doors and proselytize on behalf of some set of beliefs are people riddled with doubt about those beliefs and probably every other thing they claim to believe.” You have a lot of good ideas and don’t seem to be a drunk like me so read Buckley to learn how to create sychophants; simultaneously both what you want and deserve, Sir. Don’t doubt Rush, and he would agree with me here, so, like, don’t doubt me bro. Here. “People who write blog posts or best-selling Buckleyesque “Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist” example-wise might contemplate Mark Cuban… Read more »

NotquiteunBuckley
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You can make “Wild Horses” seem better than Gram, even if Mick Jagger did it because he knew it needed to be accomplished for all in Gram’s wake, but you can never replicate followingwise Buckley’s legacy.

Bill would never have given a thought to me if I had met him for some reason if I were born earlier; I care not about that.

Any Ted Kennedy death appreciation is encouraged basely because on the Ted Sorenson quote that Mary Kopechne was one of Teddy Teddy Teddy boy’s favorite sources of humor.

Member

Way up here in the wilds of western Canada McDs has installed touch screens. They are badly designed mechanically; insensitive to touch. They have a rigid tree menu set up for the 70 IQs of the world. They are slow: you touch and 3 seconds later the screen changes. Even so, they work. The girl in my McDs who helps the dummies press the screen at the right spots is a very attractive, very intelligent, Mexican immigrant. Har, har, hardy har, cute, clever Mexican girls in the frozen north. I love it. I marry ’em all, I betcha! As Fred… Read more »

LetsPlay
Member
LetsPlay

Fred, I think you forget the effect of cold on fluids. Makes things like blood, brain fluid, liquid crystal displays, etc. more viscous hence things just work a little bit slower up there in the frozen tundra! So maybe those 70 IQ’s are not so low, just a function of the cold up there. I think the solution is to get some more of those hot cute Mexican girls up there to “warm” things up a bit. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Works for me. ha ha

Koevoet
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Koevoet

Z, I think where the story of the robotic future gets into the realm of hype and fantasy is typically the story jumps immediately to some end point of AI and robots working in harmony to make our daily lives better or worse depending on which future state you subscribe to. The reality is that the path between here and there is going to be fraught with twists and turns that no one can correctly predict and itself subject to disruptive innovations. The key point here is that on in incremental scale, the benefits of machine based automation, or tasks… Read more »

Sam J.
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Sam J.

You’re wrong about AI. The reason you’re wrong is you haven’t factored in the exponential function progress of computers. It’s been said that most people have a hard time grasping this even if they know the results so you’re not alone. Read Dennis M. Bushnell, Future Strategic Issues/Future Warfare [Circa 2025] ” he goes over the trends of technology coming up and how they may play out. His report is not some wild eyed fanaticism it’s based on reasonable trends. Link. https://archive.org/details/FutureStrategicIssuesFutureWarfareCirca2025 Page 19 shows capability of the human brain and time line for human level computation. Page 70 gives… Read more »