Friday, June 24, 2011

Finally and truly, it begins...

Nevada gives green light to self-driving cars.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Robopocalypse: A NovelThis, my friends, is how it's going to go down.

Daniel H. Wilson, real-life robotocist and author of one of this blog's all time favorite books, How To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion, returns with a novel - one that just happened to get picked up by a certain Steven Spielberg as movie fodder.

That novel, Robopocalypse, is an instant classic in the burgeoning subgenre of World Robot Domination. It's fast-paced, accessible to general readers and a rip-roaring good time. Take it with you on your trip to the beach or, for more chills, your tour through an automated factory.

The novel comes assembled in bits, oral history chunks that tell the story of humankind's battle against Archos, the self-aware machine intelligence that sets out to destroy meat-based intelligence. The chunks give us linked character portraits as well as terrific action sequences. One bone-crushing scene in particular had me grimacing with the realization of what a true battle against robots might be like.

The novel begins at the end, with a brief prologue that's worth rereading after you've finished. Meanwhile, the story proper starts at the birth of Archos, then steps forward in time, giving us snapshot incidents of machine failures as Archos begins assembling an army and infecting even our most seemingly innocuous machines - maybe rigging up that vending machine to accept orders over the internet wasn't such a good idea after all.

We meet a quiet Japanese technician. A watchful Oklahoma police officer. A congresswoman who sponsors the Robot Defense Act. A self-absorbed hacker. These and others become our windows into the New War, the battle to survive against killer machines, even as they reveal their - and humanity's - strengths and weaknesses.

Author Wilson does a great job keeping the pace tight and the action both interesting and believable. His insider knowledge of robots shines through in the descriptions of the advantages and disadvantages robots face in battle. He also does a fine job with the human characters, giving us some relatable and interesting folks with whom we can journey. In the end, it's a strikingly visual and engrossing book. I, for one, look forward to a movie adaptation.

And I am NEVER going to connect my toaster to the internet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Explosion at stricken Japanese nuclear facility blamed on, yes, a robot.

"Kyodo News reported that an explosion at 2.30pm on Tuesday was heard at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

Tepco said a remote controlled robot deployed on the southern side of the No. 4 reactor building  to remove wreckage could have ruptured a gas tank under the plant.
Tepco confirmed that radiation levels had not increased and there had been no injuries from the incident."

Let's send a robot in to help with the cleanup. What could possibly go wro--