Options Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from February 18, 2019 Options

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Options February 18, 2019: Maxim Pozdorovkin, director, "The Truth About Killer Robots"

Listen to this show: Pop-up listen Pop-up player!

This week: Maxim Pozdorovkin, director of the documentary "The Truth About Killer Robots"

Links to Maxim:

• On Twitter: @maximpoz

Third Party Films

HBO Documentaries: The Truth About Killer Robots. See also the companion interview: "The obvious angle is that robots are adopting more human-like qualities, but the not-so-obvious call-out the film makes is that humans are asked to adopt more robot-like qualities in exchange."

Interview with Maxim at Museum of the Moving Image (Dec 2018): "I tried to correct certain blind spots that exist in our talking about robots, automation, and artificial intelligence. Most discussions are about what robots can do for you rather than what robots do to you."

The year's most terrifying documentary, writes The Guardian in this review (Nov 26, 2018)

Maxim in conversation with Judith Shulevitz on "Living with Robots" (Jan 30, 2019)

Robots in the news

Tech Is Splitting the U.S. Work Force in Two (NYT, Feb 4): "A small group of well-educated professionals enjoys rising wages, while most workers toil in low-wage jobs with few chances to advance." See also The Hidden Automation Agenda of the Davos Elite (mentioned on Techtonic recently) - by Kevin Roose at the NYT, Jan 29.

• Above: as reported by this Seattle Times article (Sept 2018), "Amazon has patented a system that would put workers in a cage, on top of a robot." Amazon VP Dave Clark posted in response, "Sometimes even bad ideas get submitted for patents. This was never used and we have no plans for usage." (Image above from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.)

• Above: Amazon reveals Scout: The six-wheeled delivery robot (fluff piece from The Independent)

No, The Last Words Of Nasa's Opportunity Rover Weren't 'My Battery Is Low And It's Getting Dark' (Newsweek, today, Feb 18)... nonetheless, the eulogies were heartfelt...

Above by Sarafina Nance (Feb 13, 2019)

......and then this:

Other tech news

• Amazon's HQ2 in Queens is cancelled, which is a victory against "gangster-ification" of American business...

• ...echoing the UK Parliament calling Facebook a "digital gangster" and holding Zuck in "contempt."

• The FTC is looking into Facebook's violation of the consent decree, and math says it's a $3.5 trillion violation.

• Finally, just a reminder that Apple made $9 billion last year by pushing Google's surveillance onto Apple users.

- - -

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

......p.s. thanks to Joe McGasko for the pointer to our outtro song tonight! Catch it on his January 29 episode of Surface Noise.

Artist Track Album Label Images Approx. start time
  Maxim Pozdorovkin, director of the documentary "The Truth About Killer Robots," talks about robots that have been involved in human fatalities.
Tomas Dvorak  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack  No label 
  Mark's intro      
  Interview with Maxim Pozdorovkin      
0:15:30 (Pop-up)
  Your calls and comments 201-536-9368      
0:42:30 (Pop-up)
Sheldon Allman  Univac and the Humanoid   Options Folks Songs for the 21st Century  HiFi Records 
0:55:07 (Pop-up)

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Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:00pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Technicidal Maniacs!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm annie:

long meeting i just got out of... made it in time for tech talk!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm dale:

great image to the left.
Avatar 6:01pm TDK60:

Hello Mark. Do you have robot insurance?
  6:02pm melinda:

Hi Mark and fellow Techtarians
Avatar 🤖 6:02pm Bas NL:

Mark! Techtoninclindes!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm listener james from westwood:

Kid: ¡Alla—viene la tormenta!
Sara Connor: What did he just say?
Gas attendant: He said, there's a storm coming.
Sara: I know.
Avatar 6:02pm Beast of Boonton:

Technoids unite! - Hello Mark
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm queems:

hello all
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:02pm Ike:

Greetings, you lovely bozos!
Avatar 6:02pm geezerette:

Trump without his foam rubber suit?
Avatar 6:03pm geezerette:

...and howdy!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm herb.nyc:

mark said "live"? reminds me of William Berger's into: "it's alive!". RIP William.
Avatar 🤖 6:03pm Bas NL:

Bring on the Killer Robots!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm coelacanth∅:

greetings Mark & all
Avatar 6:05pm TDK60:

Yes, this is heartening news.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm herb.nyc:

what? Amazon will not locate here? but they're my favorite department store. I love walking through dept stores. (sorry, bad joke)
  6:05pm chresti:

Hi mark and techtronobots!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:06pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Greetings Presdient Techtonic and listeners.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm ɨkɛ:

I hope to see other cities standing up to crony capitalist corporate-welfare tax giveaways as well, but I'm not optimistic. (Of course Amazon will continue to quietly employ hundreds of people in NYC and Newark anyway, so why any politician felt they needed to pay them $3B in incentives for half of an "HQ2" in LIC is totally beyond me.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:07pm dale:

hmmmm....today fb asked me to turn on my camera and mic. no thanks.
Avatar 6:09pm Fredericks:

Mark kicked Amazon out of NYC. What is gonna be his next target?
Avatar 6:10pm Linda Lee:

'evening Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Phillippe Bastille:

Hi all
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:10pm brycepunk1:

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Webhamster Henry:

Hello Presidents Day celebrators!
Avatar 6:10pm Fredericks:

Seal a canth!
  6:11pm chresti:

Haha Fredricks
Avatar 6:11pm Fredericks:

Are drones considered robots?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm coelacanth∅:

haha! i'm not a maniac! my technocide is very reasoned out.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm queems:

ok so killer robots are my worst nightmare. when i was a kid i used to have nightmares about cars coming to life and driving around wildly. once i had a dream that the lawnmower came to life and chased me around the yard yelling POWER POWER over and over again.
Avatar 🤖 6:12pm Bas NL:

It's solar panels dusted up in a storm.. no more power.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm herb.nyc:

maybe NASA should buy a new battery on AMAZON and then have the latter drone it over. (the delivery charge is a killer! wait, nasa must have a prime acct)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm ultradamno:

I find it hard to get misty over the rover.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:13pm Webhamster Henry:

It's "sibling" robot Spirit died some time ago, but also lasted a long time.
  6:14pm kevlicki:

This is always the wittiest comments thread. TY technoids
  6:14pm chresti:

Rover is a dog’s name
  6:14pm HuskLife:

On the flipside. when a person passes away their job gets listed before their obituary
Avatar 6:14pm Linda Lee:

misty over the rover? clearly, we're missing sufficient human connection.
  6:14pm chresti:

So is scout
Avatar 6:15pm Fredericks:

Killer robots are less empathetic than psychopaths.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm herb.nyc:

NYPost headline: Amazon delivery robot killed on Queens Boulevard"
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm Webhamster Henry:

New Horizons is sending back great photos from more than 12 light hours away.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm ultradamno:

Scout reminds me of the little garbage bot thing in Netflix's Maniac.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm Webhamster Henry:

For comparison, we're 8 light minutes from the sun.
Avatar 6:16pm Fredericks:

But, can it kill, Webmaster?
Avatar 6:17pm Linda Lee:

well, really, their human employees in shipping are in cages already. they're just not visible.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm Webhamster Henry:

Fredricks, nothing is alive out there. So we're safe!
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:17pm Ken From Hyde Park:

One of Opportunity's photos: apod.nasa.gov... Hang tight, little buddy. We'll visit some day.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:17pm ultradamno:

For all we know there was life on Mars until Oppo got there.
Avatar 6:18pm Fredericks:

Great News! Thanks, Webmaster.
Avatar 6:19pm Fredericks:

Life may have come from Mars
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Webhamster Henry:

... that is, safe from THAT robot. Helpful tip. unplug your appliances after use. Lock the Roomba in the closet.
  6:19pm JakeGould:

As far as Amazon in Queens goes, let’s not forget:

• Amazon was originally looking for ONE second headquarters known as HQ2. Then suddenly it became TWO second headquarters without much explanation.
• Now it is back to ONE; the one Virginia.
• Also, Amazon killed the NYC deal after meeting with labor union officials on February 13th.

Amazon is vocally anti-union and if they conceded to NYC unions, then all Amazon locations would have to be unionized. And Amazon doesn’t want that to happen.

Amazon will now just boost the staffing at existing NJ and NYC facilities.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm queems:

this reminds me of the video game portal
Avatar 6:21pm Fredericks:

"Helpful tip. unplug your appliances after use." Oh, I can second that wholeheartedly.
  6:21pm JakeGould:

I think I posted this here before, but look at this grocery store droid that they made “more human” with Googly eyes. www.popularmechanics.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:22pm Webhamster Henry:

Automation in the Creative arts: Raymond Scott's Electronium , a composing machine, was supposed to compose for Motown, and supported by them!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:23pm listener james from westwood:

Remember Robert Williams! Butlerian Jihad now!
Avatar 6:24pm Fredericks:

Jake, does your mother's name begin with the letter "J" by any chance?
  6:25pm JakeGould:

@WebhamsterHenry: So the idea was to create a one-robot music factory? Why pay actually humans to sing about love, sorrow and joy. Just create a MisteryBot™.

@Fredericks: No, and my mother is dead so please have a good reason for prying like this.
Avatar 6:26pm Fredericks:

Jake, that robot looks like it would like some attention.
  6:26pm kevlicki:

Amazon is looking to build a new fulfillment Warehouse in the town of Montgomery, NY. No one will admit whom it’s proposed for, but it’s been alluded to
  6:27pm JakeGould:

The laws of robotics don’t matter if someone doesn’t program it to care. Case in point: The premise of Robocop’s 4th “Prime Directive.”
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:28pm Webhamster Henry:

@Jake Gould crank up the Botnik show in the Techtonic Archives!
Avatar 6:28pm Fredericks:

I knew a guy with that exact same name. Thought it might be possible we knew each other from a long time ago. That's all.
  Swag For Life Member 6:28pm Moto Guy:

Hi from Chicago....read Vonnegut’s. Player Piano....
  6:28pm JakeGould:

@Fredericks: 100% positive no.
  6:30pm JakeGould:

Also, in the world of “Star Wars” there are homeless and discarded droids and many of them are simple servants in many cases. If you really think about it, “Star Wars” is a world of robot slavery.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm Webhamster Henry:

No authority was in charge of enforcing those Robotic Laws. These laws, though, are simply lightly disguised laws that should apply to human slaves, and indirectly, condone slavery. In short, "slavery is OK, if they aren't humans". And people like to change the definition of what's a human all the time.
  6:32pm seedfriend:

Montgomery kinda makes sense very close to Stewart and the thruway and 84.
Avatar 6:32pm Fredericks:

In Rome, they used slaves to do what we intend to have robots do for us.

What happens to the newly unburdened masses?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm listener james from westwood:

"You call THIS a glitch?!"
Avatar 6:33pm Jeff Moore:

Do Not Make ED-209.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm dale:

kevliki - is that going to just be right off rte 84? deep in the heart of montgomery is way too picturesque for that otherwise.
  6:34pm Mike tp:

RoboCop N it's soundtrack I love..this show is pretty deep so I may also have to explore N check archives.thanks
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm ultradamno:

Was the bot counseled for post-traumatic malfunction disorder?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:36pm herb.nyc:

"we need more technology"? kinda like the Simpsons with kids playing in the ballroom. one kid cries. worker - "more balls".
  6:36pm JakeGould:

RoboCop’s prime directives:

1. "Serve the public trust"
2. "Protect the innocent"
3. "Uphold the law"
4: "Any attempt to arrest a senior officer of OCP results in shutdown"

And here some of the extra prime directives that were programmed into RoboCop after it visited a Park Slope parenting group meeting:

238. "Avoid destructive behavior"
239. "Be accessible"
240. "Participate in group activities"
241. "Avoid interpersonal conflicts"
242. "Avoid premature value judgements"
243. "Pool opinions before expressing yourself"
244. "Discourage feelings of negativity and hostility"
245. "If you haven't got anything nice to say don't talk"
246. "Don't rush traffic lights"
247. "Don't run through puddles and splash pedestrians or other cars"
248. "Don't say that you are always prompt when you are not"
249. "Don't be over-sensitive to the hostility and negativity of others"
250. "Don't walk across a ball room floor swinging your arms"

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:36pm annie:

i would love a show covering the "co-operation" of the US Gov in making futuristic movies...
Avatar 6:38pm Jeff Moore:


Avatar 6:39pm Fredericks:

I'm down with 242.
Avatar 6:40pm geezerette:

Annie, great subject!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm ultradamno:

Did Asimov have a law of sex robotics?
Avatar 🤖 6:40pm Bas NL:

Let he who is without sin program the first intelligent robot..
  6:41pm JakeGould:

@Jeff: I think those “extra” directives came from someone decoding Hex code being programmed into RoboCop in “RoboCop II.” Very geeky in-joke…
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:42pm Webhamster Henry:

The movie HER is a little about that , and not a trivial treatment of how AI could be integrated into society.
  6:42pm miktp:

herb trimmers
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm annie:

yeah, geezer, there's an odd connection... too odd to ignore
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm Webhamster Henry:

Auto checkout is a miserable experience.
  6:43pm JakeGould:

Anyone remember “The Bride of Frankenstein?” The second she comes to life she sits up, takes one look at Frankenstein and then screams and pushes him away. She was built as his “bride” but the second she comes to life? “Oh! Hell no!”
  6:43pm RobinSays:

I like how informative this show is. I really don't like robots. I don't want Skynet to happen.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:44pm Webhamster Henry:

@jake the good doctor should have stuck with the humunculi.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 6:45pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Robots replacing farm workers: www.washingtonpost.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:46pm Webhamster Henry:

Truck driving is the most common job in a lot of states. www.npr.org...
  6:46pm kevlicki:

Remember what happened to John Henry
Avatar 6:46pm Number Six:

Avatar 6:46pm Fredericks:

Just another example, Ken.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:47pm Webhamster Henry:

So autonomous trucking - which is actually a great idea - should better lead to guaranteed minimal income.
Avatar 6:49pm Fredericks:

Web, I heard that the Uber/Lyft folks are simply giving AI the data it needs to replace them.
Avatar 6:50pm geezerette:

Mark, this program is both a public service and a pleasure. Great interview.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm Webhamster Henry:

@kevlicki Henry the accountant:
  6:51pm JakeGould:

@kevlicki: The story of “John Henry” is really one of the earliest “Man versus machine…” tales I can recall. I think everyone wants less work and more time for life, but there is no proper controls or taxation of entities profiting from mass automation like this.

If most people could pay 1/2 their rent and solid healthcare that is government-based—instead of employer—based—we would really be living in the future.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm melinda:

@Henry there is a Democratic candidate, Andrew Yang, who is running on UBI as his main theme. Along with using new metrics for measuring economic well-being (ditching GDP) and weed legalization.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:52pm melinda:

I hate all the ipads in airports.
Avatar 6:53pm geezerette:

Agree with Jake. Not holding breath though.
Avatar 6:53pm TDK60:

said it before...people acting more robotically, walking round glued to their screen gizmos; irks me.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm Webhamster Henry:

@melinda - yes, getting "meaningful metrics" is part of what makes UBI work, since GDP, and "joblessness", among many others, measures are all cherry picked.
Avatar 6:55pm Fredericks:

Particularly high speed trading on Wall Street, Jake.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:55pm herb.nyc:

UBI is universal basic income? Douglas rushkoff wrote of it in an email blast. I think he said it was a good idea, but upon further thinking, it's not. (I hope I have that right)
Avatar 6:55pm geezerette:

There's so much to say that I'm speechless.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm ɨkɛ:

There aren't a lot of killer robots in it, but check out The Expanse! First three seasons streaming on... errr... Am*z*n Prime! (Despite being on there, it's good.)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:56pm Webhamster Henry:

High speed trading is AI in action... and needs to be taxed at a really high rate.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm ultradamno:

This one demands a follow-up ep. Thanks Mark.
Avatar 6:57pm Fredericks:

Even a tiny rate would be an enormous amount of money.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm coelacanth∅:

Thanks Mark and Thanks Maxim!
Avatar 6:57pm geezerette:

Mark, thanks for this.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Webhamster Henry:

The follow up should be: what political action can be enacted based on these ideas.
Avatar 🤖 6:57pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark, Maxim!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm melinda:

GDP also doesn't take into account environmental costs.
  6:58pm Bic Lighter :

Great show!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm listener james from westwood:

Thanks, Mark and Maxim!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm annie:

i love this show
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm melinda:

thanks mark
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:58pm Webhamster Henry:

@melinda there is what I call "the debt to the earth" which makes all other debts look tiny.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:59pm annie:

i love this song!
  6:59pm JakeGould:

Debt is a fantasy if you understand how economics work.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Webhamster Henry:

"Not Programmed For Love" is more mambo-y.
Avatar 🤖 Swag For Life Member 7:01pm Ken From Hyde Park:

On Futurama, Fry fell in love with a Lucy Liu robot. "Fry, I'll never forget you. *Memory deleted!*"
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:03pm Webhamster Henry:

Lots of food for thought tonight. You kind of need a 2 hour show.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:19pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Great comments tonight.
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