The Phoenix

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do We Live In "The Age of the Pussyfoot?"

In the sci-fi novel, The Age of the Pussyfoot, Frederik Pohl writes about Earth in the year 2527. It's a world where everyone has a device that carries all of a person's most intimate information and can provide services based on this personal profile. Image a world where a handheld computer knows you love pizza late on Sunday afternoons and immediately orders one for you via the worldwide web. How convenient!

In the book, this handheld device loaded with all your most intimate information is called a Joymaker. What a perfect name for such a gadget. If you're feeling depressed, a Joymaker could even immediately diagnose you and then dispense, in mist form, some nice medication to make you feel better.

Although all this stuff sounds so out-of-this-world...there are signs all around that the future is now.

Recently, the Korean Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (KAIST) has unveiled it's latest creation: a virtual robot capable of emotions named "Rity."

Rity is a software robot, or "sobot" that is capable of a full range of emotions. On a screen, Rity looks very similar to the cute dog on Blue's Clues. Its creators were able to implement an artificial genome made up of 14 chromosomes in 1800 bytes that control Rity's 77 different behaviors.

I'm not exactly sure what all that means, except that Rity has pretty sophisticated programming that allows it to learn, adapt, and be as moody as any little pet. It can also react to his "master's" facial expressions, gestures, and even tone of voice.

If that wasn't amazing enough, Rity has the power to become mobile and follow it's "master" everywhere he goes! Rity can upload/download to any computer necessary in order to do so. It can even utilize a building's security camera to find his master and then transfer himself to a nearby computer, ready to obey his master's every command.

This is so very cool...but isn't it a little creepy too?

The researchers ultimate goal is for everyone to have their own personal Rity, a personal agent that followes you around, that knows your likes and dislikes, and that is ready to help you with anything you need. This digital assistant would know everything about you, and make all kinds of recommendations based on your personal tastes and even current mood.

Life's so full of choices, why bother making them? Just let your own personal Joymaker make them for you.

I'm sure Wal-Mart is loving this idea, as it can then gather that data and stock its shelves properly for all its customers. Personal freedom is such an overrated thing anyway. Who needs privacy when you can be provided with extraordinary convenience and customization?

If this future is going to be a present reality, I think I could benefit from having a virtual assistant like Rity...

Maybe it could do all my Christmas shopping for me.

I think this lady could use a Joymaker.


Blogger Metal Mark said...

That sounds like the government, well except for the helping you part. Although I am sure they would like to know all about us if they don't already.

12/05/2006 1:12 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Couldnt she get a kart ?

But I dont think I would like that much info about me being recorded somewhere, Big brother knows enough as it is...

12/05/2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger KC said...

That's exactly what I thought, Pixie! She should've got a cart. She was only making things hard on herself with that babycarriage.

Do you think the Joymaker would pick up the dry-cleaning, do the laundry, and clean out the shower stall? Oh, and don't forget to clean the toilets, too. I hate that the most. I'd be very joyful if it did all that for me.

12/05/2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

metal mark: Walmart is Big Brother. They have that gigantic secret facility in Bentonville, AR storing millions and millions of hours of video footage. Scary.

pixie and KC: I think that pic was taken at Kohl's. They have those weird cloth carts there, and they usually only have 3 of them.

12/05/2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger Tai said...

Ugh. It sounds kind of dangerous, giving up all your wants and needs and such to a blue dog.
You're right.
Creepy is the word that best fits in.

12/05/2006 5:49 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Cool, but creepy for sure! I think technology is gonna make us too dependent and we will evetually screw ourselves. We will end up in the matrix, or are we already? LOL

12/05/2006 7:43 PM  
Blogger Jon Cox said...

Hahahaha! CrAzYness!

12/05/2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger LBseahag said...

the joymaker idea gets me hot.

can Rity come in a headless chicken sort, or does he have to be a dog?

12/05/2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't know about this, you mean it tells you when to and then when to again? sorta like havin' the pointy headed boss with you 24/7, yikes!!

12/05/2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

oddly enough, "Joymaker" was my nickname in high school :(

12/05/2006 9:56 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Creepy! Not for me.


12/05/2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

JOYMAKER? LOL...I love that.

This Rity creature sounds like some kind of computer virus though? It mean, it can upload/download itself no matter where you are? UGH. No thanks. Isn't it bad enough that our employers can keep track of us day and night because of cell phones/crackberries, etc.?

12/06/2006 5:56 AM  
Blogger cube said...

I think I'd rather slog through life Rity-less. If I were to have a robot aide, I wouldn't pick a cutesy one like that.

12/06/2006 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Phoenix,
you don't have to wait 'till 2527 for some of this stuff. check out America: Freedom to Fascism for a look at the way we will be monitored in the next few years.

12/06/2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger starbender said...

I want a joymaker!
...I don't think mankind will ever make it to that yr.

12/06/2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger vani said...

lol- first comes cencorship and now this, and they call this a democracy..haha.

12/06/2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger mad said...

It's enough to make you want to become a Luddite!

12/06/2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I'm just waiting for those sick child molesters to get hold of this technology. Ugh.

-- david

12/06/2006 3:54 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I'm just waiting for those sick child molesters to get hold of this technology. Ugh.

-- david

12/06/2006 3:56 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

I've read enough pessimistic sci-fi to know that the human-obliterating disadvantages of the robot FAR outweigh any slight conveniences they may trick is with in the beginning.

12/06/2006 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is getting kinda scary with all this technology. The robots are going to take over the world, aren't they Phoenix? Please help me. What should I do? Maybe I will get my own version of a joymaker. I call it a 12-pack of Coors Light.

12/06/2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I think we all have our own personal "Joymaker."

It's incredibly fascinating how "science fiction" eventually becomes just "science."

12/06/2006 8:42 PM  
Blogger goddess said...

that's a little creepy... it takes the mystery away from my mystique.

12/06/2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someday we'll just be thoughts floating in the air and then poof, we won't even be there.

12/07/2006 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In typical Yawning Anus fashion I skipped the links and cut right to the author's own words. What if the owner of such articial companions is drunk and likes to get his pets drunk. What if the owner hates animals and somehow abuses Rity?

Many movies have hinted at the concept, but it sure would be interesting to do a study in the year 2145 on virtual/robotic pets/partners/companions who have suffered, possibly existed, for the sole purpose of receiving the harshest of treatment from humans who keep them around as victims of the darker, baser of desires. Then again, perhaps having a virtual punching bag could cure many of the ills of the world. For instance, I violently sodomize and mercilessly beat my R-2000 model who is capable of screaming, crying, and feeling victimized so I can go home and be at peace with my wife.

African slaves used to fulfill that purpose in the U.S. and single women in many countries fulfill that purpose for others to this day. It's good to know we live in a civilized society that can substitute the virtual and/or robotic for real live humans so we as people can still do horrible things without hurting anything considered "human."

12/08/2006 2:03 AM  
Blogger O Ceallaigh said...

Butlerian Jihad, anyone?

12/11/2006 2:17 PM  

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