Robots And Humans


“Fewer astronauts, more robots” is the call of three European aerospace engineers, Alex Ellery, Joerg Kreidsel and Bernd Sommer. They believe that sending humans in to space to repair the ISS or even Hubble, are wasteful, expensive, and aren’t sending the right message for the space community.

I totally agree with this statement. I think it would be cheaper and more productive to send drones rather than humans to space missions AS A PRECURSOR to sending human beings. I understand the need to send drones for minial jobs and to undertake missions which are still in a prototype stage, but man needs to be inspired by exploration of the final frontier and drones and Robots can never inspire.

But that does not mean we do not require Robots or artificial intelligence at all. I know there is intense debate about Robots Vs Humans and I am coming on the side of Robots in this debate.

I don’t understand why there is a fear of Robots (and of AI : Artificial Intelligence) when human are inexorably moving in that direction. I know Hollywood has done a great job in showing us how machines can rebel against us but it is, as with everything else in Hollywood, made up. In the future we are all going to be Borgs (hopefully, without the nasty temperament as depicted in Star Trek, to destroy everything in our path). As the link explains, Borgs are an amalgamation of technology (machines, AI etc) and organic beings (that’s us) to better ourselves and our lives. And that is what is going to happen to us.

Why is there a fear of AI and robots? I can only say, fear sells. Fear of communists, of ghosts, of AI, of Liberal media etc. sells and that is what everyone is doing right now.

And So Begins A New Era……

Way to go ISRO!!!

India blasted into the international space race Wednesday with the successful launch of an ambitious two-year mission to study the moon’s landscape.

The unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1, or “moon craft” in ancient Sanskrit, launched at 6:20 a.m. (8:50 p.m. ET) from the Sriharikota space center in southern India.

The mission seeks high-resolution imaging of the moon’s surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions, according to the Indian Space Research Organization. It will also search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical breakdown of certain lunar rocks, the group said.

And the best part is…….

The Chandrayaan-1 is carrying payloads from the United States, European Union countries Germany, Britain, Sweden and Bulgaria, and India plans to share the data from the mission with other programs, including NASA.

And the most inane part is………..

Critics of the mission have questioned its $80 million price tag, saying the money should have been spent by the government to improve education and fight poverty.

Of course the critics do not account for the fact that the PR advantages of this launch for education and science. Nope, they want to spend millions of dollars on education like they always have….

The government’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP (blue line in Figure 1) has never ever risen above 4.3% of GDP, despite the target of 6% having been set as far back as 1968 by the Kothari Commission.

And here is the picture of the moon impactor sure to make every one of Indian origin, proud….

Update : This has got to be the funniest take on the moon-mission by India, Indian style!!!

The Green Shift

Well, well. Stephen Dion finally shows some spine and comes out swinging. I had thought that he was going to be a foot note in history books but looks like he is fighting to be on the front pages.

I read the plan (PDF) and on paper it looks like a bold initiative and seems do-able. Here is my take on the plan:


I was once part of a focus group where environment was the focus. I remember one of the questions was, how much would you be willing to spend more per month to help pay for the environment. And it was obvious right away that the younger crowd (less than 40 year) was willing to put in more money than the older crowd (a couple of the oldies actually said “the environment can go to hell”). This was a couple of years ago and environment is not on top in the minds of fickle minded Canadians. However, what we need desperately is leadership in fighting global warming. And for my money, Stephen Dion has come up with a very good plan. Will I have to pay for it? Of course, the gas prices will go up, the food costs will go up, the manufactured items will go up and jobs will be lost. So, I and millions will have to pay for the cost in some form. But if it’s good for the economy in the long run and helps my kid, I will pay for it.

I think that this plan is revolutionary and very helpful to the environment and the economy. That’s right, the plan helps save taxes for individuals and the industrial sector. Do not be sucked into this belief that the plan is going to hammer the economy. The industrial sector (the largest polluters) will be getting major tax breaks from the plan. The small businesses will get larger cuts from the plan so it’s win win for all parties concerned. The plan proposes to set up auditing to make sure that each dollar earned from the polluters will go to the Canadians in form of tax breaks and credits.

Politically, this plan will be a hard sell. I mean, Alberta and Saskatchewan would be violently opposed to the plan. Ontario’s manufaturing sector will be opposed to it as well. But if the message can be streamlined by the Liberal party and can elucidate the key points of the plan, majority of the Canadians will go for it. And the Liberal, once in power, can cajol and negotiate it’s way to implementation of the plan.

I intend on watching the Liberals very closely on this. If they ho hum their way through the PR campaign of the plan, I am going to assume that they have every intention of loosing to the Conservatives and vote another way. If they take the fight to the Conservatives, I will be a big proponent of the Liberals and talk to all my friends and acquaintenances to vote Liberals.

Next few months would be interesting.

Is It Necessary?


Dear Prime Minister:

We, the undersigned, urge the parliament of Canada to take immediate action to ban handguns in Canada.

Handguns are intended for one purpose and that is to kill people. Their presence in Canada has resulted in the deaths of far too many people and have no place in our country.

It is time to ban the private ownership of handguns.

This is being pushed quite hard here. Have you seen the youtube clip?

I have no clue how this is going to help? All I know is that owning a handgun in a city is stupid, stupid, stupid.

And please don’t give me any statistics on murders against gun ownership. If you do, then I think I will look into ownership of keeping a 30 foot anaconda in my house. I mean, how many people in Toronto have actual died from an anaconda attack, right?

So, sign away people!!

Who In Their Right Mind, Want Something Like This?

Just what the world needs……an alarm clock that doesn’t shut up!! 

The alarm clock that runs away and hides when you don’t wake up. Clocky gives you one chance to get up. But if you snooze, Clocky will jump off of your nightstand and wheel around your room looking for a place to hide. Clocky is kind of like a misbehaving pet, only he will get up at the right time.

Check out the featuers…..

  • Set your snooze time, 0-9 min
  • Snooze once before he runs away
  • Choose 0 and he runs right away
  • Can jump from up to 3 feet
  • Moves on wood and carpet
  • Press snooze to view time at night
  • Screen flashes when beeping/running
  • Alarm beeps in random pattern
  • Clocky is small: 5.25″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″
  • Want him to stay put? Disable wheels.
  • Early low battery warning
  • Colors: almond white, aqua and mint and soon in mustard orange!

So, this isn’t just an alarm clock, but also an irritating machine. Do you know what I would do if I was woken up by the clock after a bad night? E.g. after a fight with my wife I go to bed thinking let me get a little sleep out of the night and lo and behold, at 5:30am, the clock goes off and doesn’t let me turn it off…….I would tear off the floors and break the furniture if I couldn’t find it. Nope, this is a bad idea!!! At least for me.