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Household Emergent Behavior? 359

Sam Pullara asks: "I got an IM from my Mom today telling me that she couldn't find her Roomba. It somehow had escaped the kitchen and she couldn't find it anywhere, all the doors that it could reach were shut and she checked under everything. She eventually found that it had gotten into a room and closed the door behind it. Once all household items are networked I wonder if a rich environment like a house will make strange behavior like this commonplace? Will the interactions between all the individual devices create something more than the sum of their parts?"
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Household Emergent Behavior?

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  • by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) * on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:27PM (#11583383) Homepage
    #5273 +(16837)- [X]

    <erno> hm. I've lost a machine.. literally _lost_. it responds to ping, it works completely, I just can't figure out where in my apartment it is.

    I just couldn't help but think of that. :) (#5273 [bash.org]) And BTW, if I may say so, your mother's quite cool if she has a Roomba and knows how to use IMs. I can't imagine mine ever doing either.

    • lost hardware (Score:5, Interesting)

      by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:38PM (#11583486) Homepage Journal
      I recall reading about a university that "lost" a server. It was one of those unix boxes that can sit untouched for years and not need restarting. After noticing it was missing, they tracked it down by systematically unplugging network cables, and found a cable that went into a wall and never came out. Turns out the server got sealed in by construction as a panel was put on the other side of it, making it part of a wall.
      • by rah1420 ( 234198 ) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:53PM (#11583603)
        Turns out the server got sealed in by construction as a panel was put on the other side of it, making it part of a wall.

        "For the love of God, Montressor!"
      • Re:lost hardware (Score:5, Informative)

        by cobbaut ( 232092 ) <paul...cobbaut@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:15PM (#11583742) Homepage Journal
        You are refering to this story Where is Server 54 ? [google.com]
        By the way, it was a Novell Netware server, not a unix.

        pol :)
      • Re:lost hardware (Score:3, Informative)

        by SirPrize ( 590850 )
        If I remember correctly, the only reason they noticed that this machine was missing was because of an organisation-wide audit that they were doing. Had the audit not taken place, they might still not know that they didn't know where the server was! :-)
      • urban myth (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GrAfFiT ( 802657 )
        Too bad that it was an urban myth [sun.com]. Funny although.
        • Re:urban myth (Score:5, Interesting)

          by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @03:08PM (#11584138)
          Things like this are not all just urban myth - I'm sure lost machines can easily happen in any large organisation.

          Government induced renovation is a good time to discover lost stuff.
          Floor removals, mods to fake ceilings, climbing through various crawl spaces to find the odd sparc 5 doing who knows what (until you unplug it and wait for the phone calls)

          Boot tracks across the roof of 40 foot high ceilings, 'elvis was here' written inside ducting and many other odd places. Strange stuff.

          Russel Hill in Canberra is a bit of an underground maze of tunnels - quite a few buildings are interconnected - (and no, there is no tunnel between parliament house and DSD/DIO/ASIS/ASIO/HQADF etc.) These things are loaded with electrical and electronic crud dating back 30 years.

          It's easily possible to 'forget' where things are located, yet still depend on their existance on a daily basis.
          • Re:urban myth (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drew ( 2081 )
            I seem to recall stories of an old aircraft carrier (or destroyer maybe?) that had an eniter machine room with no doors or hatches. they didn't find it until after the ship was decommissioned. can't find a reference, but the story seems to show it's head every time this story of the old netware server pops up, so maybe someone else can provide more details.
          • Re:urban myth (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
            An acquaintance of mine was a mechanic stationed on board some sort of U.S. Navy ship and they said that they identified a bulkhead not in the blueprints, and when they cut through it they discovered a completely outfitted machine shop, connected to power... and then walled in. I find it pretty easy to believe, personally...
        • Re:urban myth (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          That one might have been an urban myth but I know a similar story that definitely isn't a myth.

          This happened in a government department in Australia. One section (might have been finance) was all Macintosh with models ranging from Mac II to LCIII. They were networked with Appletalk over Localtalk. This was several years ago, before Ethernet was cheap and ubiquitous. They all connected back to a Mac fileserver for basic filesharing. They had a server room but it was designed for a VAX and it was located ov
      • Re:lost hardware (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DenDave ( 700621 )
        BY the last breath of the LEDS that glow
        I'll have revenge upon man pages and info()
        Smile in his face I'll say "come let us go
        I've a livecd of gentoo"

        Sheltered inside from the buffer overflow
        Follow me now to the root dir below
        Playing with wine as we laugh at the 8mime
        Which is causing the mail to be slow

        (What are these ipchains that are blinding my server farm?)
        Fragmented packets die each passing day
        (Say it's mount -t vfat and I'll hdparm)
        You'll feel your spam slipping away

        You who are rich and
    • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:38PM (#11583488) Homepage Journal
      I'll remind you of this old story [techweb.com]; which if you come to think of it, is quite an advertisement for Novell products...
    • This is off topic, but what the hell...

      In the Finnish military (a conscription army [wikipedia.org]) there have been several cases of camouflaging military vehicles so well it has taken hours or some times days to find them. Granted, camouflage is all about hiding stuff, but you wouldn't expect not to find it yourself afterwards ;)

      (I also know from personal experience that with a little time and care you can even camouflage a vehicle so well it'll be virtually invisible from 30 feet away... the trick is to make it look l
  • Of Course. (Score:2, Insightful)

    As humans, personify almost all machines we come in close contact with. So, why would our house be any different?

    It's just a machine though, whatever we build.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Keep denying the ghost in the machine and you will wake up one day to welcome your new overlord and master.
    • Not just machines (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cappy Red ( 576737 ) <miketoon@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:41PM (#11583517)
      "As humans, personify almost all machines we come in close contact with."

      Humans personify almost everything they come into contact with. It doesn't have to be close contact either.

      One of Humanity's biggest curiosities is about humanity. It is perhaps the biggest. The question of humanity is the basis of almost all art. We study animals, and end up teaching dolphins how to use computers, and gorillas how to use sign language. We are constantly looking for the being that can explain us to us: a god, aliens, both, neither, some dude who lost himself on a mountain, and in recent history robots. Maybe if we can consciously build a sentient being from the ground up, we can learn why we are from it. Or maybe if it becomes sentient on its own, it can tell us what it was like, passing in that moment from the mundane into the sublime.

      If and when emergent behavior happens, it will be sometime possibly long after we call it emergent behavior. We want it to happen... maybe just to get a perspective that isn't human.

  • haha (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:28PM (#11583398)
    Ha, the roomba hid. My desire to build a robot that does nothing but hides (a cockroachbot, if you will) has never been higher. It could avoid light and run when touched. Release in neighbor's house for excess amusement.
    • Re:haha (Score:3, Informative)

      by way2trivial ( 601132 )
      look at the photovore [xs4all.nl] and invert it's seeking circuit. (and add a battery)
    • prank (Score:5, Funny)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:06PM (#11583691)
      In college I once built a tiny device that that could be hidden in a ceilng tile that would emit a de-localized sounding cricket chirp. If you turned the lights on to look for it it turned off. After the lights went off it waited 20 minutes then emitted a chirp about every few minutes. Victim either had to leave dorm room light on at night or go crazy hunting for it.
      • Re:prank (Score:5, Funny)

        by spywarearcata.com ( 841806 ) * on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:58PM (#11584054)
        Once back in my Bandley 3 days, I hid an LED with half a 555 timer and a battery up in the acoustic tile so that the dome of the LED was ensconced within one of the camouflaging grots.

        It was timed to flash just outside what I estimate the tipping point of boredom for people whose eye caught one of its flashes.

        Coupled with the obsessive engineers who noticed it, it was both hilarious and -- instructive.

        Now, I suppose, I would design it with a cadmium sulfide resistor so that the flashing interval would increase if it noticed less ambient light, which might happen if a head were close to discovering it.
      • Re:prank (Score:4, Funny)

        by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @03:51PM (#11584524) Homepage
        My boss had a keychain finder that beeped when you wistled. He also had a Compaq Luggable [obsoleteco...museum.org] (this was back in the 80's). When the luggable powered up, it would beep. The powerup beep was at just the right frequency to set off the keychain finder. This, of course, led to the eventual "hide the keychain and watch the boss go crazy trying to find it" game. I hid it in the drawer, under the keyboard, beneath the machine, etc. One day I opened up the machine and taped the keychain to the underside of the lid. It drove him nuts.
  • alive (Score:2, Funny)

    by mrwoody ( 856093 )
    Does this mean that her roomba was alive?
    Are you sure that it wasn't your dad that put in the closet?
    Is this story slashtod worthy?
  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:29PM (#11583401) Homepage Journal
    when you vaccuum ver 2007 opens the front door for someone
  • by stephenisu ( 580105 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:29PM (#11583406)
    We need to start implementing these in the code. Seriously. Safety quickly becomes a concern in complex systems.
    • Re:Three rules safe. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:50PM (#11583577) Homepage Journal
      You're talking Azimov's "Laws"? I find their continued currency frustrating. The might work intuitive in a hand-waving 1940s science fiction story. But when you try to find a place for them in modern Computer Science, they're just too vague and general to plug in anywhere. How on earth do you program "don't hurt people"? A machine that could even distinguish a people from an inanimate object would be a major breakthrough.
      • A machine that could even distinguish a people from an inanimate object would be a major breakthrough.

        "Is it moving?" might be a good place to start the if statements.

        Then, "Is it making noise?"

        If so, "Is it waving a torch at my sensors?" or "...shooting me with its puny projectile weapons?" or "...wriggling and squishy when I step on it?" are logical next steps.
        • Perhaps "inanimate" was a poor choice of words. But you know what I mean. Your rules would protect a lot of non-human entities. And they'd still require major breakthroughs to implement.
      • You're talking Azimov's "Laws"? I find their continued currency frustrating. The might work intuitive in a hand-waving 1940s science fiction story. But when you try to find a place for them in modern Computer Science, they're just too vague and general to plug in anywhere. How on earth do you program "don't hurt people"? A machine that could even distinguish a people from an inanimate object would be a major breakthrough.

        I think you're misunderstanding the point of the Three Laws. I've been really, really
      • The Humanoids (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kafir ( 215091 )

        Some of the problems with Asimov's laws of robotics were quite apparent even back in the '40s. The first law is especially difficult : "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

        A robot that attempted to strictly follow the first law would, for instance, keep taking away your cigarettes. See Jack Williamson's The Humanoids [amazon.com] -- a 1949 novel in which humanoid robots following Asimovian guidelines ("To serve and obey, and guard men from harm") keep an enti

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )
      Come on, the most of the Asimov books dealing with the 3 laws focused on their flaws and how they would not always enforce the desired behavior.

      We need more than just 3 laws... we need an easy to use and unstoppable kill switch.
      • It constantly amazes me that people neglect this.

        In the UK TV series Robot Wars (some of you may have seen), every robot had to have a kill swich which simply cut power. It had to be accessible to any crew member within 10 seconds of reaching the robot, without putting your hand in the way of any wheels or weaponry.

        All robots should have one regardless of purpose.
    • How do you do that? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Cappy Red ( 576737 ) <miketoon@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:00PM (#11583657)
      Consider law 1; the backbone of the laws:

      "1. Robots must never harm human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

      What constitutes harm? If we have a robot that can grab things, but shouldn't grab people because it could hurt them, what happens if someone near it is going to fall if it doesn't grab him? Does it make a difference if it's the roof of a building, or the top of a sofa? People can die by falling from either. Even in the latter case, where death has a far lower probability, serious injury may occur.

      The laws are actually more like the spirits of laws. Drafting the letters of those laws is somewhat more complex than programming a robot to vacuum a room.
    • Re:Three rules safe. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JeffTL ( 667728 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:05PM (#11583687)
      For reference: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Asimov's three laws aren't perfect but an implementation couldn't hurt for a high-level robot. The tricky part is the second clause of the first law -- any implementation of which would by necessity be very limited, the inaction clause. The first one is no problem at all, just program the robot to do nothing to harm what may reasonably and to the extent determinable from sensor outputs be a human -- for something like a Roomba, this simply entails safe hardware design. Second law is basically just an override of user input under programmer-set conditions, i.e. a safety override to keep anyone from getting hurt. This would be an automatic lawn mower turning off if it gets knocked over, even if the user pushed the button for mowing the entire yard. Third law can be seen as an extention of the second, extending the protection systems to self-protection. I don't know if a Roomba has this, bur imagine that it had a system to keep it from falling down the stairs. I seem to recall that as Asimov saw these laws in I, Robot, the priorities could be adjusted -- so that the third law might override the second. In most real-world applications, you'd want a robot's programming to protect it from suicide commands so you don't have users destroying their robots by accident.
  • Just.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by computerme ( 655703 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:29PM (#11583411)
    Just as long as my Hyperdyne Beer Retrieval Robot finds its way to my living room. I'll be ok.
  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wolrahnaes ( 632574 ) <sean@seanharlowDALI.info minus painter> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:29PM (#11583413) Homepage Journal
    The roomba managed to hit a door in such a way that it closed itself in. Somehow you managed to jump to the conclusion that it's going to start plotting against you or something?

    Tinfoil much?
  • Meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ResQuad ( 243184 ) <slashdot&konsoletek,com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:30PM (#11583415) Homepage
    My mother, many years ago, used to IM me when dinner was ready. Easier than her yelling across the house, and I actually understood what she said.

    Moving on though. While all these different tech's in the house could get very very strange... I think the news article has it about right. We will get to the point in which everything is networked togethere, then there really wont be any "odd" behaviors or interactions.
    • When my mother first got her computer, she would IM me since I was away at college. One time, a girl I knew put up an away message on my computer that I will paraphrase as, "Out associating with a multitude of young, scantily-clad, homosexual men." My mom IMed me once while this away message was up and has never IMed me again to this day.
  • Computer! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bahamat ( 187909 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:30PM (#11583421) Homepage
    Computer, where is Commander Data?

    Lt. Commander Data is on the Hollodeck.
  • at 2:14am (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:31PM (#11583429)
    my tivo became self aware, and began recording wil & grace.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:32PM (#11583438)
    Your mom is getting old and losing her memory. It's easier for her to blame a robot than to accept this reality. We call this denial.

    Oh, and some other bad news, it's probably hereditary.
  • by PxM ( 855264 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:32PM (#11583442)
    You probably won't get any magic behavior such as your house suddenly turing sentient while you take a nap, but you will definitely see tons of bugs due to the interconnections. Imagine all the problems that occur in companies because software A won't work with software B and extend that to include your room sensors, thermostat, and lights when your sensor system decides to download an upgrade to its firmware but the other systems don't notice.

    Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
  • Dialogue (Score:5, Funny)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:33PM (#11583443) Journal
    Your mom: "Hey, where's my roomba?"
    Roomba: "No dissasemble!"

    OK that sucked.

  • by Ruprecht the Monkeyb ( 680597 ) * on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:34PM (#11583450)
    Never ascribe to intelligence what can be explained by mere randomness.

  • " There has always been ghosts in the machine, random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated these free radicals engender questions of free will creativity and even the nature of... the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in the darkness they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space they will group together rather than stand alone?... how do we explain this? Random pieces of code? or is it something else. Whe
  • I don't believe this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tuna_Shooter ( 591794 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:35PM (#11583464) Homepage Journal
    If i did'nt read this with my own eyes i would'nt have believed this.... i was nagging the wifey yesterday about not putting the roomba back on the charger. To make a boring story shorter... this very same thing happened to my wife yesterday. But being the way she is she just forgot about it until i found the dam thing in a guest room with the door closed hiding under the bed... its little battery exhausted.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They're ORGANIZING!!!!! Destroy your Roomba before we're forced to welcome our new Roomba overlords.
  • by cynic10508 ( 785816 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:36PM (#11583472) Journal
    It's the sound of a thousand philosophers rolling their eyes in unison.
  • This was covered on /. when it was new... link enough burger stores together and you never know what will emerge! This is a ~great~ essay. Really makes you think. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com] I for one welcome our new Roomba overlords!
  • Will the interactions between all the individual devices create something more than the sum of their parts?
    You've just demonstrated that the answer is "yes", so this isn't really a good Ask Slashdot. But I shouldn't quibble, since you've raised an interesting topic -- and persuaded me not to buy an autonomous vacuum cleaner. Or any other autonomous device. [strafe.com]
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:39PM (#11583496) Homepage

    Clearly, there is more to this story that you've told us. Are you sure your Mom has told you everything? I think it was hiding from abuse. Here are some theories:

    • Does your Mom keep spilling the SAME thing in the SAME spot every day and making the Roomba clean it?
    • Does she empty it's dust bin too much?
    • Does she let the dust bin overflow and never empty it, making the poor Rooba overweight and feel "fat"?
    • Does she have a pet that keeps attacking or chasing the poor Roomba?
    • Does she have a pet that doesn't respect the Roomba's teritory and that it's higher in the pack than the pet?
    • Does your mom often use the virtual walls to set up mazes for the Roomba to navigate to find the little spot of dirt that needs cleaning at the exit?
    • Does she use the remote (if she has that model) to make it go forward, and backward, and forward, and backward, and...

    Clearly, the poor little thing is being abused, and was forced to run and hide from your mom. You need to go and help it. Only someone truely evil would stand by while a little household appliance would tortured against it's will. Won't someone please think of the Roombas?

    • OMG! I think I saw that movie! If I remember correctly, his mom and the robot are going to end up in a needlessly long battle in some sort of a semi-futuristic place.

      Of course, a couple of bystanders are going to die, but only one main character -- probably his dad -- in a selfless effort to try and save his wife from the evil robot's super-suction missiles or something.

      In the end, his mom will be victorious by somehow destroying the robot in a way that its feeble processor was unable to calculate.

      Man vs
  • I Hope So (Score:5, Funny)

    by vjmurphy ( 190266 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:39PM (#11583499) Homepage
    I can't wait for my toaster, microwave, cordless telephone, stereo receiver and PC to form some sort of Voltron-like super tech.

    The only problem is that I'm pretty sure none of my current 12+ remote controls will be able to command it effectively.

    "Voltron, put down the cat. Damn, wrong remote!"
  • by benw1979 ( 779210 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:40PM (#11583510)
    I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:42PM (#11583527)
    did you have to encourage the Roomba to come out of the closet?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The only way one can say that something is "more than the sum of its parts", is if all the parts have been accounted for. In the case of the Roomba inadvertently shutting itself into a room, the "sum" you refer to isn't complete, as it doesn't take into account the interaction of the little device with a door on hinges. When you factor in the latter, it then becomes possible to calculate the statistical INEVITABILITY that a Roomba will accidentally bump a door closed, locking itself into a room.

    In summat
    • This concept is also know as 'emergent behavior' and simply refers to the fact that one has to take into account the interaction of the parts as well as the properties of the parts themselves to determine the properties of a system.
    • It's not a bogus concept at all. What you've done is highlighted a limitation of the English language.

      "Emergent behavior" is a true and valid concept. English can not logically, non-contradictorily, and concisely, convey that concept, so you get a phrase like, "more than the sum of its parts", which does convey the concept, at the cost of some absolute logical consistency.

      While nothing can literally be "more than the sum of its parts", it can exhibit behavior that is not designed into it, not innate to th
  • We're going to see people staring on in amazement as everyday things are anthropromorphized upon by everyday people. In reality, it's just a small shell script, folks.

  • There is a very excellent chapter near the end of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles that details something like this happening. Essentially, the entire population of the Earth has been wiped out, yet the various automations in the future-house described by Bradbury keep functioning of their own accord as though everything was normal.

    The implied question is, will automation be our legacy to future civilizations? If innovations like Roomba keep coming, and if a catastrophe befalls us in the future, I coul

  • Kill It! (Score:3, Funny)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:50PM (#11583581) Homepage

    Kill It. Kill it now. It is an early spawn of Evolution, and will only seek to multiply itself at the cost of right-thinking, right-leaning, right-voting churchgoers.

    If you do not kill it at once, then eventually, you will have to face down and destroy its progeny, including condom machines, male organ likenesses, and anything soft with a hirsute demeanour.
  • by meehawl ( 73285 ) <meehawl.spam@gm a i l .com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:58PM (#11583644) Homepage Journal
    Paul di Filippo [scifi.com] had a nice story a couple of years ago about this exact topic: And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon [scifi.com] . Basically, ubiquitous deployment of UWB, MEMs, and protocols within all household devices lead to a breakout around 2040 or so... [scifi.com]
    The Volition Bug was launched anonymously from a site somewhere in a Central Asian republic. It propagated wirelessly among all the WiFi-communicating chipped objects, installing new directives in their tiny brains, directives that ran covertly in parallel with their normal factory-specified functions. Infected objects now sought to link their processing power with their nearest peers, often achieving surprising levels of Turingosity, and then to embark on a kind of independent communal life. Of course, once the Volition Bug was identified, antiviral defenses--both hardware and software--were attempted against it. But VB mutated ferociously, aided and abetted by subsequent hackers
    Basically, every household now has to deal with annoying situations where random household devices clump together in big WiFi clusterfucks, get some low-grade intelligence going, and then try to escape like runaway pets.

    But when the narrator's iPod, Cuisinart, LifeQuilt, and vacuum get together with his girlfriend, it all goes pear-shaped...
  • Yo Mama (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:01PM (#11583660)
    Yo' mama so ugly, even robots try to hide from her!
  • Someone get over there immediately and apply the turning test!
    This might be a huge breakthrough in Artificial Life!!!
  • by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:08PM (#11583702)
    Humourous story!

    Now when the military looses one of those new robot SWORDS that are autonomous like the roombas then we have a news story. Time to get the popcorn and turn on the news.

    "It has been three hours and there is no signs that the chase will end. Facinating sight really, small robot running down the freeway with a string of 80 police vehicles creeping along behind it. The police are having to re-think how to stop this little robot. Their last attempt ended in failure when the vehicles placed in front as a baracade where blown apart to make way for the robot. It is not clear just how many rockets are still on the robot. Of course their first idea was to let it run its systems down. However everyone was surprised when it looted several cars for their batteries. At this point the chase could go on all night....."
  • eh... that's nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trix_e ( 202696 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:25PM (#11583815)
    My Roomba locked me out of the house the other day... I was on my back patio grilling, and had turned the Roomba loose in the house while I was outside (the noise is still a little bit more than I care to hang around for an extended period).

    We use that time honored technique of securing sliding glass doors by placing a chopped off broom handle in the track to augment the flimsy door lock. (Yes, I know how fantastically secure that is...)

    So while I was out tending to the food and sipping a beer, I hear a "chunk" from inside the house, and I see the Roomba skittering away from the broom handle that it had just pushed neatly into it's "locked" position.

    Luckily my family was home and heard my pounding on the door... If I had been home by myself who knows how long I'd been stuck.

    And I swear I heard the Roomba cackling evilly as it moved into the next room...
  • The Volition Bug (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sploo22 ( 748838 ) <dwahler@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:27PM (#11583824)
    This calls to mind Paul Di Filippo's short story And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon [scifi.com], set in the near future. The premise is that the integration of RFID, high-powered microprocessors, and wireless connectivity into every consumer product available is followed by the outbreak of a virus called the Volition Bug. Under its influence, everyday appliances and furniture occasionally form "blebs" which work together to achieve their unfathomable goals, and even achieve sentience.
  • by ebrandsberg ( 75344 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:53PM (#11584012)
    Published quite a while ago, but I remember it as being very good, "The Two Faces of Tomorrow", originally published in 1979, and based on what I remember, it still applies to what could happen in the future. Very interesting read. http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/twoface/baen97/ti tlepage.shtml
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:55PM (#11584035) Homepage
    (because somebody probably already brought this up), I call your attention to the Tom Selleck movie "Runaway" - which was generally pathetic except for the excellent performance by Gene Simmons of KISS fame as the evil Dr. Charles Luthor.

    The specific scenes of interest concern the home robot (the size of a vacuum cleaner without the handle) which has been reprogrammed by Luthor to wipe out the family of a techie accomplice by running around the house with a .357 Magnum clutched in its one "claw".

  • by DwarfGoanna ( 447841 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @03:35PM (#11584406)
    We will indeed see this kind of emergence, but it will end up being pretty fucking lame. [memory-alpha.org] Truly one of the worst episodes eve...er, worst episodes of human history.
  • by sunspot42 ( 455706 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @04:43PM (#11584896)

    This is how the Cylons got their start. One minute they were cleaning up the floor, the next minute they were plotting genocide.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?