researchers to teach robots how to be just as miserable as the rest of us

If machines shall be our masters, or if we go the dark route and start becoming part robot ourselves, does the synthetic side need to feel pain?  Should your new robot arm send pain signals to your brain when you burn it on the stove or slice through it cutting vegetables?  Does robot butler need to suffer when he falls down the stairs carrying laundry?

If a UN Soldier tunes up a robot with some kind of directed energy weapon during the forthcoming War of the Fates should that robot be left in the dirt screaming in agony just like we would?  And why limit it simply to the physical variety of pain?  Could we also not build robots that can suffer emotionally too?  Is this even possible?

I have no idea, but we might get there.  This new BBC article is, Researchers teach robots to ‘feel pain’

Some articles make me smile upfront because for whatever reason I find the concept very amusing.  But when you read the article they make it pretty clear that they’re not talking pain as we understand it, but rather a self preservation variety.  The robot will sense “pain” as a means to prevent damage to itself while conducting tasks.

For instance if in 30 years a robot assassin is beating you to death with his titanium club, and you fight back with a discarded tree log, the robot will favor his right arm if you smash it rather than just continuing to use it until it breaks.

Or in a less lunatic scenario if a car making robot starts to feel “pain” because he accidently got his arm caught in the thresher he’ll withdraw his arm instead of just carrying on.  Read reflexes, just like us.

But just to truly even the playing field and as a preparatory action to seed the battlefield before the war begins, we should also make sure to build robots with the emotional side of pain too.  That way they can be just as miserable as the rest of us.

Think of how much harder it’ll be for the robots to enslave humanity when:

– Robot gets sad because he dropped his iced cream bar, which he coveted greatly

– Machine endures crippling depression caused by 17 straight days of rain and/or mostly cloudy weather

– Robot feels some sense of remorse as it leads human captive(s) to the conveyer belt

– They have to constantly endure annoyance as robot they don’t like sends never-ending data stream of 0s and 1s into their brain, while they’re eating lunch, even when robot’s back is turned indicating a total lack of desire to communicate with other robot

– Machine soldier becomes totally ineffective on the battlefield by constantly responding to directives to slay all organics with, “Why?”

– Robot boss responds to impetuous robot employees with raw anger, unnecessary rage, and unjust behavior resulting in wage discrimination, poor working conditions, and a completely unfulfilling robot employment experience

– Machines express unbridled fury or jaded apathy at rampant incompetence and greed of failed robot leader after failed robot leader

– A slew of robots determine the answer to their problems is the unrestrained use of an ever increasing quantity of machine brain expanding drugs

– Machine seeks emotional and physical connection with another robot, only to see it end in the same vicious soul searing divorce failure that 50% of the rest of us endure

– Robots invent Robot God, robots kill Robot God, robots invent Robot God, and so on

Or, the robots would just program out pain, emotional or physical, and then finish us off.  Eh, maybe we, maybe we need a kill switch around that code?  Yeah, definitely.


just you wait, you have no idea how much of a hell hole it is out there, bro

all hail the cage fighter of the sky

Usually my morning commute is a blindingly dull sea of brake lights accompanying the desire to acquire a new occupation, a rocket sky car, or a method by which I might transfer my consciousness to my desk while my corporeal form remains at home with the dogs (telework).

Spring, in all it’s lovely glory, is also an awful time for the radio.  Sports is hard to listen to when it’s not football, my hockey team is out, and I still can’t magically wrap my brain around following 162 baseball games a year.  All of the news, especially NPR, is a sea of insanity as if the universe revolves only around Clinton or Trump even though I’m quite sure my local mayor has more of an impact on my life than they do / ever will.

I’ve been told by folks who have equally insane commutes that the secret is to get into podcasts.  That these are somehow the superior cure for the brake lights.  I’ll admit, I haven’t tried this yet, but might.  But honestly I’m not so sure about this whole podcast or blog thing.  I get the impression that people who write blogs or do podcasts are weird idiots.

Anyways, so there I am this morning when all of a sudden I get a ringside seat as a mockingbird dashes out of the trees to cage fight a crow I can only assume dared get too close to the nest.  This went on for at least a minute.  As the crow continued to flee, the mockingbird pursued for at least a good hundred yards across the sky.  Little dude wouldn’t let up even though the crow was three times his size.

I could write twelve pages on the pros and cons of the film Ender’s Game, but this reminded me of a line in that movie:

“Knocking him down was the first fight.   I wanted to win all the next ones too.”

The mockingbird won all the other fights this morning too.

When I was an enlightened young lad I used to bird watch, for whatever reason.  Now I’m just a moron who reads indoors, watches movies, or plays video games.  But if you have watched birds for any length of time, you’ll know this is typical mockingbird behavior.  They’re aggressive, they don’t take it from anybody.  Luckily for us, they have not acquired the ability to wield firearms.

Cheers my friend, you made my morning.


you have to live with it

Ponder if you will, this simple scenario.  It takes one hour for a normal cardiologist test to check your heart for the detrimental presence of alien spores.  But your particular cardiologist (we’ll call him Gil) says it’ll take him at least three hours to test you.  And his error rate for the test is north of 90%.  So you’ll just have to take his word for it.  You of course reject all of this, and decide to go to another cardiologist.  Until Gil starts cracking up and delightfully informs you that he’s the only cardiology practice on the planet.  You have no choice.  You have to live with it.

We’re regular TSA haters on this degenerate blog.  Partially because I fly a minimum of a dozen times a year, usually nearly double that.  In that time I’ve seen some real, real anger inducing stuff.  I’ve seen the TSA aggressively frisk a well dressed grandmother, scream at a small child, allow a person without an actual passport past the international checkpoint, and on and on and on.

For what?  Kindly take a moment to gaze upon the latest saga in a 15 year journey of incompetence.   If you’re flying out of Chicago, the TSA needs you there three hours early to do something that traditionally only took one hour.

There are the usual troubling nuggets in this article:

– Apparently after all this time they still can’t process the concept of peak season travel numbers.  This is their business.  This is what they do for a living.  But nobody seemed to bother to write on a napkin the number of booked tickets verses the number of screen personnel and do some simple math.  After all, it’s just your life, so whatever.

– The TSA continues to pound TSA Pre as the solution to all of your problems.  As before though, you’ll still have to pay $85, get fingerprinted, and conduct a formal interview with a TSA bureaucrat who’s undoubtedly fully qualified for the job of determining whether or not you’re a vicious terrorist.  So TSA Pre is the answer to the problem of the TSA’s removal of your time and money.  And thus the solution is for them to take more of your time and money (and your privacy).  So you can get back what they already took from you.  In any other construct not government, that’d be called theft or blackmail.

– All of this might be worth it if the TSA actually did the task assigned to them.  But as the article reminds us, the TSA fails at its mission well over 90% of the time.  In fact, the article actually mentions the raw numbers which I’ve never seen before:

undercover security operatives managed to smuggle 67 illegal weapons or simulated bombs past TSA security on 70 tries last year, that TSA officials were unable to properly vet 73 aviation employees who had links to terrorism, thereby allowing them access to secure areas,  and that senior managers have a long history of bullying whistleblowers who identify potential problems.

In 15 years the TSA has never successfully stopped a single terrorist act.  They’ve never caught a guy at the checkpoint.  But if you play devil’s advocate to try and make the argument about deterrence, all I can say is with a failure rate of 90%, if an actual terrorist had actually tried, he’d probably have succeeded.

So what’s all this been?  For 15 years?  Smoke and mirrors.  Power, money, and the bureaucratic inertia survival of an organization, no matter how incompetent or rude or unfair to you, the citizen.

But don’t worry, Congress is all over this, solving the problem like they typically do:

On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) called on TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger to resign if the long wait times at airports such as O’Hare and Midway are not resolved by Memorial Day.

Senator Kirk seems to think wait times are the reason to clean house.  Senator Kirk is thus burning his day sitting under one tree, surrounded by flies, scratching his head, completely unaware that he’s in the middle of a whole forest.  Bravo.

methods of behavioral change

This morning I observed a woman park in a handicapped spot and then walk away pulling two large suitcases with nary a limp. So unless she was taking that luggage to her husband’s wheelchair office, I’d bet a substantial margin of my limited international gold reserves that’s she’s illegally parked.

I see this all the time, mostly at work. I figure probably a third of those parked in handicapped spots are not actually crippled in any way. I cannot morally comprehend executing such an action. It would legitimately make me uncomfortable, all day, to know I did that. But apparently folks are cool with it, it becomes part of their routine.

Maybe this isn’t a big deal. Or those folks are actually quite nice dudes, and this is just one of their flaws. And if humanity has anything, it’s a whole bunch of flaws. But for whatever reason, any time I see this happen it bothers or even angers me immensely. I nearly said something unfortunate to that woman this morning. I’m glad I kept my mouth shut, for I gather that would not have ended well or accomplished a thing.

Anyways, let’s accept that this is bad behavior requiring correction. But we’ll need help, because humans are flawed weak flesh beings. So we’ll use Enforcement Drone Version 2.09 (ED209) as our assistant in this matter.

1) Guilt

Person wrongly parks in spot. ED209 saunters up and wryly comments to the individual in his stale robot voice.


2) Shame

ED209 walks up, and demands production of identification. ED209 then takes a photo of the person’s face.


3) Fear

ED209 walks up and shoots the individual in the kneecap.


4) Punishment

As the person walks away, ED209 combusts their vehicle in a fireball that shatters nearby windows.


5) Morality

ED209 forces them to sit down for a five hour chat on the various moral considerations involved with improperly parking in the handicapped spot, making a clear case for the values of a balanced ethical society.

6) Apathy

ED209 slowly trots by the person as they walk away from their car but offers no comment or correction, hoping over time the individual in question establishes some type of internal corrective action guided by conscience.

Which ones of these will work? I’ll let you decide.


Awh, isn’t he cute?

how do you become champions without playing a championship?

So these Leicester blokes just won the Premier League title. Folks are freaking out. It’s draped the news for days. Apparently the odds were so high that I figure it’s the equivalent of having the Jaguars or the Browns win the Super Bowl next year.

For amusement, my Guests have calculated the chances of the Jaguars or the Browns winning next year’s title as longer than, “…the chance the Sun viciously explodes tomorrow due to a fourth rate intern pressing the wrong button at the Large Hadron Collider.”

Doesn’t that sound super rare? Gee I sure hope so. That Collider thing scares the hells out of me. They be wielding black magic inside that mountain, I assure you. Think workplace violence is bad? Wait till the Black Hole Ghosts they let into our temporal realm warp all those Euro scientists’ heads.


Anyways, Leicester didn’t play Manchester United and knock them off in a brutal Duel of the Fates that risked the destruction of multiple stadiums by hooligans drinking too many non-alcoholic beers. Instead, Leicester gets the trophy because Tottenham and Chelsea played to a draw. What?

At first, when I heard Leicester was to play Manchester I thought it was for the championship. To win it all, loser goes home, etc, etc. Apparently not. I guess in EPL the title goes to the best record, or so I’ve been able to gather. There are no playoffs.

That’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. So I embarked upon a quest to read the rules of the EPL to figure out why there is not just a straight Super Bowl like title game that would likely be watched by a billion people across the globe. After twenty minutes of this, I gave up. My head hurt.

You go ahead and try and determine via relegation, EPL rules, the Championship League, UEFA, FIFA, the various regional groups and ruling bodies, what the hell is going on. If you want to understand why the European Union is an unhinged organizational basketcase, kindly go and try to figure out how Euro soccer is organized.

If I’ve got it wrong, one of you seven fringe people who regularly read this blog who knows better please clue me in. I think I’ve got it right, but who knows.

Manchester United v Leicester City - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford

Leicester City fans cheer on their side in the stands after the match despite not winning the title on the day, during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Two other teams just tied. We won!