May 12th, 2005


The Future is Last Week


Or not. Cornell has created a self replicating robot, but we hardly have to fear that it will conquer the world. These cute little cubes don't seem terribly threatening, and they don't seem like much.

And, from a practical standpoint, they're not. But, what we have here is a robot, that from a uncontrolled environment, can find resources and employ those resources to construct another robot like itself. And the other robot is smart enough to give it a hand with this job.

Hardly poster children for the "Grey Goo" scenario. For those that have escaped some of the bane of idiocy, the "Grey Goo" scenario basically posits that we'll create nanotechnology with self-reproducing nanites that operate on a molecular level, and they'll start consuming everything and reproducing everywhere.

There's some very good reasons why this is unlikely. The wikipedia thinks so, and this Center For Responsible Nanotechnology points out that we're not dumb enough to create Grey Goo. Even the guy who started all this stuff about Grey Goo doesn't think it's an issue.

In other words, people are faced with a technology they can't understand and react with fear. Sometimes, I look at the world, and wonder how many people I could convince that my digital camera steals their soul, and it seems like a depressingly large number.

At any rate, putting aside my ranting on Grey Goo, what does this self-assembling robot do for us? Well, it puts us on the path of understanding how complex systems can replicate, which opens up a wealth of understanding in fields like biology, geology, and pretty much anything else. Heck, I'm sure that this could find applications in computer security someday, as models based on this replication are used to predict the behavior of virus outbreaks.

But we don't care about that. What about gizmos? How about regenerating materials? We've already created a few, like aircraft parts that automatically seal microfractures in themselves. But what about cars that undent? Last night, I went and enjoyed H2G2 (On Douglas Adams' birthday no less!) and suffered through a trailer for a new Love Bug movie. The saddest part- that technology isn't that far off.
johnny cash

Assault of the Stupid

Stupidity has been on a sharp increase the past few days. Let's do a recap.

First off, a blogger in France was critisizing the running of the town. So the Mayor sends the goon squad and slaps him with a lawsuit. Man-o-man. If the Mayor was worried about the bad press he was getting, he really should have thought twice before this move. Fucking Frogs.

This darling of legislation, the Real ID act, is a delightfully Draconian little number the flew through the House and Senate (the linked article is somewhat old- it's passed both houses) attatched as a rider to a military spending bill. Long story short- you'll need to present your papers to do damn near anything. And getting this "Real ID" will require more proof of identification than I believe I'm capable of. Oh, and Shrub already announced that he's going to sign it into law.

If nothing else, this should really make people reconsider how riders get attatched to bills. To append something so sweeping to a military spending bill- a bill that's sure to pass (unless you want the terrists to win!) is dangerous. Riders have always been a rough deal, paving the way for massive pork barrel legislation, and now they institute a national identification system, a complete violation of State's Rights, without a how-do-ya-do.

The upshot- I'm fairly certain it's unconstitutional. Something about "all rights no listed here are reserved expressly for the states," but- who's going to contest it? And is the SCOTUS going to pay attention to that little tidbit in this rise of Centralized Government?

That's not enough stupid just yet. Denver has emplaced a ban on pitbulls. They've been dragging them out of people's homes and putting them down. miusheri can attest to the stream of profanity that flowed from me in light of this. It's wrong, wrong wrong wrong wrong. Big breeds of dogs are strong, but the only bad dogs have bad owners. Period. Someone tried to claim that pit bulls were genetically bred to be violent, and that is a half truth. They were bred to be violent to other dogs, to bears (as they were used for bear baiting) but they were also bred to never hurt a human- so that the injured pit bulls could be retrieved from the pit without the handler losing an arm.

What we have now, however, are piles upon piles of morons who want a tough dog and train it to be mean, to fight, or really- don't train it at all. And one of these dogs gets loose and kills a kid. Guess what folks? Put that dog down if it makes you feel better, and hit the owners with first degree manslaughter charges. Because it is entirely the owner's responsibility.

Fucking 'A folks. Don't make me revoke your breathing priveleges, okay? I'm seriously considering it, and I will turn this planet around and go back to the pliestocine if you can't fucking get it together. Are we clear?