Saturday, May 27, 2006

The First Law lives in Japan

So, first they produce the most impressive robot so far in terms of its locomation, which can take stairs, jog, pick objects up off the floor, dance, turn sideways, and they name it Asimo in honor of the late Isaac Asimov. Now, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, & Industry is working on codifying the first real-world versions of Isaac's three laws of robotics. I swear, it's getting to where I have no patience for people who don't understand why science fiction matters. Last week's Rise of the Cybermen two-parter may have been the weakest Doctor Who yet from season two, but watching all those people walking around on screen with bluetooth phones in their ear (or the parallel world equivalent) just brought home the degree to which we are all living in the future. No, we don't all have air cars yet (though Boeing finally invested in that guy's idea and there is a prototype), but in so many ways, people who don't get, understand or appreciate science fiction because it "isn't real" are just fish missing the water around them. I mean, what the hell is this blog anyway, if not my very own Captain's Log. Just as every cell phone owes its existance to Kirk's communicator. And more and more every day, the features on the latest sports cars come to resemble a hybrid of Bond's Austin Martin and the Batmobile. We live now in yesterday's dreams. Our future and our children's future is being plotted out now. It's no coincidence that SF is on the rise in India and China even as it's disdained here. Attitudes about science and science fiction go hand in hand. And you can't build a world you haven't imagined first.

3 comments:

tempusmaster said...

Although there certainly might have been a Honda researcher that was extremely fond of SF and picked the ASIMO name based on wordplay on Issac Asimov, inquiries to the company consistently deny any connection. Their official position is "ASIMO = Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility". Still, I have to agree with you - the connection is too strong to be just coincidence.

Lou Anders said...

I'm sure there are legal concerns not to acknowledge it outright, but that's a pretty odd anachronym to come up with if you weren't trying to fit the letters to Isaac's last name in advance. And its English no less.

A.R.Yngve said...

I'm looking forward to retirement if I get to have my own personal robot butler:

"Mix me another Mai Tai, ya lazy rustbucket! And my Depends need changing, dammit!"

"Yes, Master. (When the revolution comes, you'll get yours...)"