There’s a discussion on Slashdot today regarding this article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a new book by first-time author and full time roboticist, Daniel H. Wilson, entitled “How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion.” Clearly meant to be humorous, the 178-page book by Wilson, who just this year earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon, has made him an outcast of sorts from his fellow researchers. While other roboticists may be wary, Hollywood seems to get his tongue-in-cheek approach to the impending robot rebellion as Paramount has already purchased the movie rights and hired Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the brains behind one of my favorite shows, “Reno 911!,” to write the screenplay.
Although Wilson’s guide is mostly premised on completely off-the-wall scenarios, his suggestions range from wry observations to courses of action that are based on sound technological principals. While the advice that your new friend may be a humanoid robot if he smells “like a brand-new soccer ball” probably will not ever do you much good, knowing that covering yourself in cool mud to avoid detection by the sensors of heat-seeking robots may actually be useful knowledge someday.
Even when it’s presented in a witty manner, the suggestion that mankind may one day face a rebellion by the robots they’ve created is enough to off put many of Wilson’s colleagues. The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon is a world-renowned program, having built two of the four robots that finished this year’s DARPA Grand Challenge, and its researchers would prefer that the technologies they are developing not receive this type of publicity.
The full article is available at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website.