I watched I, Robot last night for about the third time. I've said it before, but I will say it again. I am intrigued by Sonny. I love the expression in his eyes, the vulnerability in his voice, and the way he makes us sympathise with him.
I also liked Teddy, the bear-bot in A.I.. But...they were not real...
Sony has discontinued its trainable robo-dog AIBO as well as the mini humanoid Qrio (cost: approx. $2500), and the Sega i-Dog (£12.99) is lame. Then there is the somewhat intelligent RoboSapiens (£200ish) by Wowee. But Asimo is pretty cool. You may have seen him in the last Honda ad. He's so adorable and seems so eager to please, you just want to bless his little rubber socks. And he looks like a wee little spaceman!
As long as they don't humanise them too much, I think robot helpers will be fine.
Check out the videos of what the lil' fellow can do, on the Honda Asimo website. He - I mean, it - can climb stairs, run fast and slow, run in a curve, sidestep, kick a ball, dance, recognise faces and simple gestures, walk backwards, respond to pressure by adjusting its stance, wait for someone to cross its path before continuing, hold a human hand and walk, carry a tray, push a cart...and it does have to learn these things on its own by making calculations and adapting.
That wasn't what I really meant to blog about. Last week I had a joyful reunion with the writings of Michael Crichton. I read Timeline. It's sort of about quantum physics and time travel to the 14th century, only the developers in the book don't call it that because they say time travel, per se, is not possible. Instead, they talk about multiverses. More than one universe - I suppose what we know as parallel universes. So here is the question I scribbled on a scrap of paper in the Tube one morning:
If it is not time travel but MULTIVERSES, then how can the Professor travel to the 14th century AND leave a note that will be excavated in the 20th century to be found by his OWN team and not some other team in another multiverse - or not be found at all, if in one universe the site has not been discovered or is inactive?
Because the rep from the company that developed the quantum travel described it thus:
"...the universe we see...was just one of an infinite number of universes, existing side by side.
Each of these universes was constantly splitting, so there was a universe where Hitler lost the war, and another where he won; a universe where Kennedy died, and another where he lived."
Most of us have had that sort of conversation before - what if he did, what if he didn't - but it's the crossover here that confuses me. The Professor visiting in 1357 loses his glasses in the scriptorium and his colleague Kate in 1999 excavates them the day after he travelled there. The manuscript specialist finds a parchment note in his handwriting asking them for help, including the date and the solution to a code.
Fine, if it were mere time travel...but how can he be in another universe?
Another thing that was mentioned but not resolved was the fact that the time travellers are split at the home end, and they disappear, but it is not they but their counterparts from another universe that are reassembled at the destination - because in our universe they figured out how to transport them but not how to reassemble them, so our scientists are relying on those from another universe that have reassembly capability...body swap? So, where do our travellers go meantime, into the ether? And how come their counterparts know the same things as they do?
And if they compress not a person but the information equivalent of a person, as in a fax, then how does that person go and fight battles and draw blood on the other side?
This is making the idea of the Matrix sound simple. So, enough quantum mechanics for now because even the physicist Richard Feynman said in 1967: "Nobody understands quantum theory."
Check out my new flipped hairstyle:
When I first cut it short 7 years ago, it was drastic. I never thought I could keep it at this moderate length and that it would still be (somewhat) controllable. But I did miss my curls and really needed to feel softer and more feminine, and wanted to see how far I could push it. I've been growing it since last autumn with only a couple of reshape trims since then.
At the salon on Friday night, the stylist only chipped the weight off the back so she could work it. She styled it carefully with her fingers - no tools - and a hairdryer, working out the top, straightening the strands, pulling out the sides (which is where she utilised the natural fannish tendency of the left side, of which the right was easy to imitate). Still, that frontal wave refuses to go. It now insists on returning to a distinct curl. Ah well. C'est ma vie.